Anxious parents = anxious children

Helicopter parents to blame for child anxiety >  Over protective h111parents 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 ph222re-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.
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7 thoughts on “Anxious parents = anxious children

  1. Mrs Rose Canning (child therapist) says:

    You understate the negative impact of over protection. Foir examples, instilling fear of failure can result in kids being denied the chance to learn how to persevere while standing on their own, plus undermining self-confidence so that they develop inabilities to take care of themselves and get things done.

  2. Laura (Cheam) says:

    Children are being suffocated by their parents. One of the hardest duties to do as a parent is to trust. Kids must be left to to earn their parents’ trust and prove that they can enjoy independence without abusing the privilege.

  3. This debate all seems ‘anti-mum’. I know many fathers who are far worse and over protective.

  4. Hilary Dramm says:

    Even if parents don’t know where to draw a line, teachers should. But too often this guidance within the safe schhol environment is lacking. The point of parenting should be to grow a child who is capable of surviving unaided in the real world. It is always better to empower children to make good choices for themselves rather than having them remain dependent on parents to sort out life’s woes for them.

  5. Theo (Client 89) says:

    We are breeding a generation of helpless teenagers who always look for mum to swoop in and save them. Heaven help the world of tomorrow.

  6. I.R. Todd says:

    Part of the problem is caused by mobile phones. It is common for kids to be calling and checking in with their mums throughout the day. They are calling for them to make mundane decisions such a whether to skip a class, make a purchase, or dealing with any kind of setback. The fact is that our phones have created a dependency which has resulted in a lack of confidence.

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