Anxiety in Parenting: Caring for Yourself and Your Children

Anxiety in Parenting: Caring for Yourself and Your Children

Being an anxious parent isn’t that uncommon. Children can’t care for themselves and often get into trouble. As a parent, you may worry about their diet, if they’re making friends, if they’re happy, if they’re developing physically and mentally on time and more. Unfortunately, this anxiety can be incredibly intense for individuals with an anxiety disorder before becoming a parent. This leaves many wondering, “Do anxious kids come from anxious parents?” The answer is yes, but there’s hope to fix it.

What Is Anxiety?

Anxiety is a type of mental health condition in which a person is highly impacted by concerns about the future. Individuals can have emotional, behavioral, psychological and physical reactions to anxiety. Some of the most common symptoms of anxiety include:

  • Feel nervous or tense
  • Having a sense of impending doom
  • Rapid breathing and heart rate
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Avoiding people or situations due to concerns about things that haven’t yet happened

The condition can range from mild to severe, but the symptoms are manageable with proper treatment.

Understanding Parental Anxiety

Parental anxiety is a type of anxiety that’s primarily focused on being a caregiver or about your children. Some parental anxiety symptoms can include:

  • Constant worrying about your child’s safety
  • Concerns about your child’s development and opportunities
  • Thoughts about your child’s health and well-being at all times

Parental anxiety can be overwhelming because it’s natural for parents to think about their kids frequently. However, for an anxious parent, these thoughts are primarily of concern and worry rather than happy memories and thoughts.

Overall, parental anxiety is common and impacts women slightly more than men. One study found that 55% of mothers reported experiencing anxiety symptoms, while the number was somewhat lower at 38% for fathers.

Often, parental anxiety stems from:

  • A parent who’s had something dangerous or frightening happen to their child previously (such as a car accident, a health scare, an injury, etc.)
  • A person who had an anxiety disorder before becoming a parent

Unfortunately, parental anxiety harms the family as a whole. But the good news is that anxiety disorders are highly treatable, and symptoms can easily be managed.

Anxious Kids and Anxious Parents

Parents with anxiety might have trouble accepting their condition, but all caregivers must understand the impact parental anxiety can have on children.

An anxious parent’s effect on a child has been heavily studied. One study found that approximately 65% of children of parents with an anxiety disorder end up developing an anxiety disorder themselves.

The phrase “Children are like sponges” is frequently used for a reason — kids carefully watch their parents and pick up on what they do. If a parent is constantly displaying being anxious and worried, their children will likely learn to do the same. The children will learn to worry about things that haven’t happened. As a result, they may avoid situations, become less willing to take risks and limit their experiences in life.

The best gift an anxious parent can give their children is getting help for their condition. Becoming less anxious will allow the parent to be more present and happy in the moment, be a better parent and set a good example for their children so they aren’t at risk for developing anxiety too.

Treatment for Parental Anxiety

Check out some of the treatment options for parental anxiety below.

Practicing Self-Care

Anyone with anxiety should try to incorporate self-care into their routine. Self-care often forces us to slow down and relax, which can help reduce stress and anxious thoughts. Some practical and easy ways to incorporate self-care into your daily routine are:

  • Take up a yoga class.
  • Start meditating as soon as you wake up or right before bed when your kids aren’t awake.
  • Start journaling.
  • Schedule monthly massage appointments.
  • Get more physical activity (you can do this with your kids!).

Seeking Support

Parents should seek support from partners, family, friends or professional resources. Anxiety symptoms are entirely manageable, but usually, help is needed. Even if you want to start incorporating more self-care into your routine, you might need your partner or family to watch your kids.

Additionally, if you feel self-care isn’t doing enough, professional help can make a big difference. There’s no shame in seeking help. Therapy and medication are both standard options to treat anxiety that are very effective.

Nurturing Resilience in Children

If you’re concerned that your anxiety has already affected your children, know that it’s never too late to turn things around. You can still foster resilience and emotional well-being in your children by:

  • Having undivided one-on-one time with your child where you’re conscious about not displaying any anxiety — make it a happy, positive experience
  • Ensuring your child is getting adequate sleep
  • Frequently getting outside with your child and being active
  • Modeling gratitude and always expressing the ways in which you’re lucky
  • Setting an example by showing your child that problems can be addressed head-on without panic
  • Encouraging your child to ask questions and share their feelings, so you can calm them when they do worry

Help Your Child by Helping Yourself

It’s known that anxious kids can stem from anxious parents. You can care for your family by caring for yourself and addressing your parental anxiety. Remember that when your mental health is in a good place, you’re able to be the best parent you can be.

Anxiety Treatment at Restore Mental Health

At Restore Mental Health, we know that a better life is within reach with treatment. Our professional, dedicated and compassionate staff has helped hundreds work through their mental health conditions so they can live the lives they deserve. We know that patients have preferences in their treatment, which is why we offer a variety of programs you can choose from. Contact us today to find out how we can help you resolve your parental anxiety so you can be the parent you’ve always wanted to be.