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Impact of Anxious Parenting Style on the Child: Causes and Consequences

Updated: 2 days ago

Anxiety disorders are among the most common mental health problems experienced by youths during childhood and adolescence.


Anxious parenting is a style of parenting characterised by high level of anxiety, overprotection and control. It has been implicated in the development of anxiety in children. Overprotection can undermine children’s self-competence and promote dependence on the caregiver. Furthermore, anxious parenting can communicate to children that the world is a dangerous place, encourage avoidance and restrict children’s opportunities to face challenges that can promote confidence and skill building.


Causes of Anxious Parenting Style


Anxious parenting style can be caused by various factors, such as past experiences, personality traits and societal pressure. Parents who experienced trauma or loss may become overprotective of their children. Maternal anxiety can be an attribute relevant to maternal overprotection. Anxious mothers may engage in overprotective parenting to lessen their own anguish. Moreover, anxious mothers may be overprotective as a result of greater inclination to perceive threats to their children in environment. Personality traits like neuroticism and perfectionism can contribute to anxious parenting. In addition, societal pressure, such as fear of being judged by others can lead to increased anxiety and overprotectiveness.

Consequences of Anxious Parenting Style on the Child

Anxious parenting style can have grim consequences on children’s development, leading to anxiety, low self-esteem and limited autonomy. Children of anxious parents may become overly dependent on their parents, have difficulty making decisions and often experience negative emotions such as fear and worry. They can also internalise their parents’ anxiety and develop anxiety themselves.


Furthermore, anxious parenting can impact the parent-child relationship, leading to a circle of anxiety and avoidance. Parents can become overprotective and controlling, leading children to feel restricted and suffocated. As a result, children may become avoidant and withhold their emotions, further exacerbating parents’ anxiety.


Children of overprotective parents have a higher risk of emotional and disruptive behaviour patterns throughout childhood and adolescence. Additionally, they display greater risk of reporting depressive symptoms.


Strategies to Support Children of Anxious Parents


  • Practice self-care. Take care of yourself by engaging in activities that promote your well-being. This can include exercise, spending time with friends, or engaging in a hobby that you enjoy.


  • Develop and cultivate healthy coping strategies. This can include deep breathing exercises, journalling, or mindfulness.


  • Challenge negative self-talk. Anxious parenting can lead to negative self-talk and negative beliefs about yourself. Challenge these negative thoughts by focusing on your strengths and accomplishments.


  • Seek support. It can be challenging to navigate the effects of anxious parenting on your own. Seek out support from a trusted friend, counsellor or a family member. They can provide a listening ear and help you developing coping strategies.


  • Set boundaries. If your parent’s anxiety and over controlling are negatively impacting your well-being, it may be necessary to set boundaries. This may include setting limits on how often your parent checks in on you or having for more autonomy in decision making.


Negative Impact of Anxious Parenting Style on Children.


References:

Chorpita, B.F., & Weisz, J.R. (2009). Modular approach to therapy for children with anxiety, depression, trauma, or conduct problems. PracticeWise, LLC.


Ginsburg, G.S. & Schlossberg,, M.C. (2002). Family based treatment of childhood anxiety disorders. International Review of Psychiatry, 14(2), 143-154







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