The verdict is out. If you are an anxious person, your child will more likely be anxious too. Therefore, you owe it to your child, as much as to yourself, to learn how to manage your anxiety.
Tips for parents:
- Be honest with yourself. How anxious are you on a daily basis? If you are not sure, do this anxiety test.
- If you suffer from anxiety, make a commitment to learn how to manage your anxiety. You may need professional help. Or you may find that doing a mindfulness course, or attending regular yoga sessions, is all you need.
- Be honest about your behaviour in relation to your child. How much pressure do you put on your child to perform? Remove all pressure. Find ways of increasing your child’s self-motivation so that he will succeed without your pressure.
- What messages do you give your child about the world? Do you teach him/her that the world is a scary place? If so, stop it. Find a life philosophy that will help you to see the world more positively and then share it with your child.
- Are you a helicopter parent? That is not good because it will deprive your child of the opportunity to develop autonomy which boosts confidence. Back off.
- Do you overprotect your child? Do you fight your child’s battles? Not a good idea. Your child will forever be afraid of confrontation and sticking up for himself. Learning to stand up to other people’s negativity is an important life skill that promotes wellness.
- Is avoidance of tough situations encouraged by you? Do you allow your child to miss school if there is a race she does not want to run? Avoidance increases anxiety. Facing one’s fear reduces anxiety, so make sure that your child faces challenges head on.
- Get real. Life is full of stress. Sh*t happens. Your child needs to be able to face it and step over it rather than get you to clean it up. Or run away from it. Teach your child to face adversity.
- If necessary, learn a few tools that you can practice with your child. This can include breathing, distraction or exercise.
You will be pleasantly surprised that if you become more real, and less frightened yourself, your child will organically be calmer and more resilient. Life is an obstacle course that needs to be faced, not run away from. Be your child’s calm, wise teacher about life.