Helicopter parents to blame for child anxiety > Over protective parents who mollycoddle their toddlers, could be causing them to develop anxiety in later childhood. Tonic’s clients of tomorrow!
Research coming out of Australia suggests that so-called ‘helicopter parents‘ who constantly monitor their kids’ safety and progress, could have a long-term bad effect. Those that were already anxious at the younger age, largely due to parental over-protection, were most likely to be anxious at nine. So the notion that nervous pre-schoolers will grow out of their fears may not be the case. The strongest predictor of anxiety at age nine was the child’s anxiety levels at age four!
So well established is this phenomenum that there is no shortage of initiatives around the world to re-establish a reasonable risk balance. For example, in the States an urban adventure playground has just opened which encourages rough-and-tumble, unstructured play.
The Australian researchers reported that children who show signs of anxiety and who are inhibited – such as being reluctant to talk or explore new situations as pre-schoolers – are probably ‘suffering’ from parental over-protection.
The research goes on to predict that pre-school children are more likely to have a clinical anxiety diagnosis in middle childhood if their mothers were over-involved or too protective. In addition, mothers who themselves showed signs of anxiety and depressive disorders were also more likely to have anxious children.
The barrier to avoiding these dangers is parents accepting that they ARE the problem and having the courage to step back. A good starting point in recognising the symptoms is to join one of numerous on-line support groups or discussion blogs. You will immediately see you are not alone!
As Robert A. Heinlein warned, “Do not handicap your children by making their lives easy“.
Footnote > The wetheparents website has some useful tips on this subject.