As a parent with an anxiety disorder you may worry about whether you are causing your kids to be anxious. Seeing a parent deal with anxiety can be difficult for children. Kids rely on their parents for many things including how to interpret confusing situations. So if you are often anxious, then your children will see a lot of situations as unsafe.
Research shows that if you are anxious, then your children may be anxious. This is likely to be a combination of learned behaviour and genetics.
Learning that your anxiety disorder can affect your kids can be painful. You may be struggling to cope. Even though you try your best to minimise your anxiety affecting your children, you may find it does affect them anyway. Try not to feel guilty. You cannot help being anxious and it is hard to disguise it. But you can put strategies in place to manage your own anxiety as well as any experienced by your children.
How to Manage your Anxiety around the Kids
It is important to try to manage your anxiety so it does not affect your children. This means managing your stress and helping your kids manage their anxiety. Here are some strategies to help you.
Ensure Talking in Private is really Private
Children have an uncanny habit of hearing what they should not hear. Even though you can tell them over and over to do something until you are blue in the face, they may suddenly choose to tune in when you are talking with a friend.
While it is important to talk about your anxiety with someone you trust, try to make sure the kids are not listening. If they do, they are likely to only hear snippets of the conversation which may be scary. This means they will fill in the blanks themselves. For example, talking about your fears such as not having enough money or a war overseas with a friend is good for you. It can make you feel less anxious. But talking about it and your kids overhear your anxiety about the situation can scare and worry them. And they may fear the worst and act out or overreact.
Talk about your Anxiety
While you do not want the kids witnessing every time your anxiety takes hold, it is important that you do not always supress how you feel. It is important for the children to see how you cope with stress sometimes. But make sure you talk through with them why you handled a situation the way that you did.
For example, maybe you resorted to screaming at the kids to get ready for school so you can all be on time to start the day. And as soon as you do it you regret your actions. Later, at the end of the day, maybe sit down with the kids and explain your actions. Let them know you screamed at them out of frustration. Talk to them about finding better ways to deal with getting ready and out of the house in the mornings. Ask them for their help.
It is extremely important to talk stressful times through with the kids. It tells them it is ok to feel stressed and that they can learn to manage how they feel. If you continually hide your negative emotions from them, they can feel they cannot express those types of feelings as well.
Try not to Display Avoidance Behavior
Do you respond to what you fear by avoiding it? And do you constantly talk about what you fear? For example, you avoid cats because you were attacked by one as a child. And every time you go out of your way to avoid a cat, you explain this is what happened and why you fear cats. While this reaction is common to what happened, your kids will pick up on your avoidance behavior. In this example the message they receive is that cats will attack and are frightening and they should avoid them
It is hard working through the fears that cause your anxiety. It takes time and a lot of practice and patience. But to avoid passing your fears onto the kids, get either your partner or someone you trust to expose them to what you fear. In the case of cats, have your partner or a friend take the kids to visit people with cats they can interact safely with.
Anxiety can take hold and at times you can feel intense fear. When in a state of high levels of stress your imagination can run away with you. For example, you may find your child in what you perceive to be a dangerous situation and immediately imagine the worst. And you may act accordingly. This is catastrophizing. And this is not beneficial for you or for your children. It can frighten them and leave them confused. Instead tell yourself to stop, take a deep breath and focus on what is actually happening rather than the what ifs. Imagine the best outcome rather than the worst.
Stop overly Shielding your Kids
Do you constantly shield your kids from potential harm? Are you always telling them to be careful when playing? Do you put limits on how high they can climb or the types of things they can do? This is shielding your kids when they are playing. The message you send them is that playing is dangerous and there is a high possibility of getting hurt. And this stems from your own anxiety.
It is important for children to take healthy risks so they learn how to make good decisions and find out what they can do. When you shield your children from potential risks especially ones that may not even exist, they can become reluctant to take risks of any type at all.
Instead, encourage your children to take healthy risks so they learn how to push their limits. This helps them to understand their strengths and weaknesses, and work out how to excel.
When what your child is doing triggers your anxiety, walk away for a while. If you have trouble coping with crowded social scenes, do not deprive your children of socialising. Drop them off at parties or let your partner or a friend take them. You need to let them have a go at what triggers your anxiety so remove yourself from the situation.
Have a Plan
Have a plan in place to manage situations that trigger your anxieties before they arise. Even get the kids involved in the plan. An example of this is if you get anxious about getting your child ready for school on time, talk to them about how you can work together to make it easier for you both. Maybe get their clothes out the night before ready for the morning and have lunches already made. Involve them in choosing what to wear the next day and helping you to make their lunch. You may even put in place a reward system where they earn points towards a certain reward if they get ready for school on time when you ask them.
Blissiree Pty Ltd
Suffering with anxiety can make life difficult. And it may turn into a nightmare when anxiety is out of control. It can affect all parts of your life and relationships. You can also risk your anxiety affecting your children.
You may often wish you could just take everything in your stride like other people. But if your anxiety is out of control, you may need to seek help to break its hold. Until you do something to change the way you see yourself and the world, anxiety will continue to negatively impact your life.
The Blissiree Pty Ltd is pioneering a new technique. A natural treatment that may help you cope with the symptoms and triggers of anxiety. It only requires for you to relax. Highly trained facilitators help you learn to recognise the triggers and how to manage them to give you a new perspective. This may help you control your excessive worrying and anxious feelings. And you may notice an improvement after the first session.
If anxiety affects your daily life, it is time to turn it around. Time to do something positive. Seek help. Take back control. You do not have to go through it alone. The sooner you get help, the sooner you can start taking good care of your mental health. And get back to enjoying life.
If anxiety is leaving you exhausted every day, reach out to our professionals. When you are not coping, contact us. We can talk to you about how to get your life back on track. But if you reach a crisis point, call us immediately. We are here to support you.
We can work with you over the phone, via Skype or in our Spa. Book in today for my special introductory offer of just $49 (private health rebates apply) so you may turn your life around. We aim to help you cope with any mental health challenges and the symptoms of anxiety that negatively affects your life. Our facilitators may help you manage your anxiety better so you start enjoying life again.
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