Do parents that worry raise anxious children?
Are we raising ourselves?
This question is the classic nature vs. nurture debate that has plagued man for many centuries. Let’s define these concepts a bit more clearly. Nature is the genetic disposition that we are born with such as hair color, size, intelligence, and even anxiety. Nurture is the idea that we are taught to be the way that we are—our environment impacts how we behave. No matter what side of the debate you are on, the answer to our question is YES—we are raising ourselves.
The classic debate of which influences behavior more has never really been won. The modern day belief, however, is that nature provides us with certain inborn abilities and traits, but nurture and/or the environment shapes our behaviors, especially as kids grow and mature. In other words, anxiety may be biological but we have the power to control parental and child anxiety because we can create an environment that allows us to do so.
Today’s children and parents have a lot to be anxious about, and our worries are much bigger than the “monster under the bed”. There is 24/7 news coverage that tells about tragic, hostile, and scary situations from around the world. There are internet predators, chemicals in our food, real-life predators, medical vaccination concerns, and on and on. No place is safe–tragedies happen at school, the mall, and at the neighbor’s house down the street.
It is natural for parents to worry, but too much will negatively impact your children’s development. Overly anxious parents tend to be critical and catastrophizing which creates a home where kids become worriers. If you don’t want to raise anxious children, then provide an environment to help your kids reduce life’s stressors.
Here are a few tips:
- Control the need to control – As parents you can’t “control” your children or your children’s friends. You can control your thoughts, feelings, and reactions, and you can teach your child to do the same.
- Plan – Planning reduces anxiety, and worrying is not an effective way to deal with a situation. Teach your kids to plan and both you and your children will worry less.
- Relax – everyone should know a few relaxation techniques-breathing, listening to music, or gentle stretching can turn a tense situation into a doable task. Show you children how to do this.
Let me know what strategies you use to reduce household anxiety?