Let’s be honest, raising kids is not a walk in the park. There are school schedules to keep track of, food to be made, laundry to be cleaned, and to top it all off, we have to be sure are kids our safe. In today’s world with mass shootings, terrorists, and diseases, this can be challenging, to say the least. Thinking about all of these things on a daily basis can make anyone’s anxiety flare up. While anxiety does have some genetic basis, the way we parent our children can increase their chance of becoming an anxious child, teen, and adult. It’s time to take a look at anxiety & kids, how it may affect your child, and what you can do about it.
A study in the American Journal of Psychiatry looked at a total of 900 families, the adults of whom were twins and had children. The study found that children picked up on their parents’ worries and adapted them as their own. This was done by overhearing conversations, giving in to the children’s anxieties, or parents over protecting the kids because of their own fears and anxieties. So what can we do about this?
Be aware of your mood
Kids pick up much more than we realize, and this includes our moods. If you find yourself overwhelmed or frustrated, take a second and think about where it is coming from. Is it anxiety? Chances are your kids will see this mood and adapt it as their own. This is especially harmful if you are going to an event or driving in the car. If the same reaction happens over and over again, eventually your children are going to be anxious every time in similar situations. How can we stop this?
Stress management techniques
Stress management techniques may be the most effective way to soothe your anxiety. If needed, a mental health professional will provide you with helpful tools and techniques that you can use on a daily basis. There is also a variety of resources online to help manage your stress. WebMD has compiled a list of 10 techniques that can be done almost anywhere. Some of these include deep breathing, meditating, and listening to music. The last one is very helpful when traveling in the car with kids, which we all know can be a little stressful. Find a favorite song, turn it up, and sing during the car ride. Your kids will have fun and you will find you are not as anxious as you first were.
Talk about anxiety with your kids
Sitting down with your kids and talking about your anxiety is helpful as well. Explain to them why you got frustrated or felt overwhelmed. This will show your children it is okay to feel stress and to talk about feelings. Once you have talked about the problem, discuss a solution. For example, explain why you were anxious driving in the car or going to the event. Was it because you were late? If so, talk about how you can streamline leaving the house so everyone knows what to expect next time.
Take care of yourself
Along with these techniques, we need to remember to take care of ourselves as parents. Parenting is tough, so it’s okay to take some alone time to recuperate. This also may mean reaching out to family, friends, or your support network to vent or ask for help with the kids. Always seek help from a mental health professional if you feel your anxiety is getting out of control, or you feel it is unmanageable.
We as parents can unknowingly pass down our anxieties to our kids. To help combat this, try the techniques above and always seek professional help when it gets out of control.