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Being a parent is a full-time job that can sometimes be overwhelming. Whether you’re worried about your child’s safety walking home from school or how the latest mumps outbreak could harm your kids, parental instincts are strongly embedded into us and they can kick into overdrive.
However, you know that being an anxious parent doesn’t help. You’ve probably heard stories of helicopter parents who end up raising kids that are anxious as well. You don’t want to go down this route yourself, so why can’t you stop being so anxious? And how can you help if it’s your child that’s anxious?
What Anxiety and Anxiety Disorders Are
It may first be helpful to understand what anxiety and anxiety disorders are. Anxiety is a natural response, and it’s a good one. Without it, our ancestors would not have been able to protect their offspring from predators.
While we need a little anxiety in our lives to keep us safe, too much anxiety can negatively impact our work, relationships, and how we care for our kids. According to the American Psychiatric Association, an anxiety disorder may be diagnosed if the anxiety is A) out of proportion and inappropriate to the situation or age of the person, and B) impair your ability to function in everyday life.
When Your Child is Anxious
You may be anxious because your child is anxious. If your child is extremely shy or has trouble making friends, for example, you may begin to worry about their wellbeing. You may even be worried that their anxiety was caused by yours, that you “spread” it to them. This can push you into a spiral of self-blame.
The truth is, many different factors are believed to affect the development of an anxiety disorder, including genetics, brain chemistry, and the environment. You may not have control over all or any of these things, so don't be quick to blame yourself. Instead, brainstorm ways to help you and your child.
Get Help (for You and/or Your Child)
If you suspect you (or your child) has symptoms of an anxiety disorder, don’t hesitate to visit your health-care provider. A doctor or pediatrician can do the appropriate tests to weed out possible physical causes to the symptoms. If an anxiety disorder is diagnosed, you may be offered different treatment options, such as notably psychotherapy or medication.
Psychotherapy (Talk Therapy)
Anxiety disorders are often treated with a type of therapy called cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT). CBT teaches people to identify and change the unhelpful ways they think and act. Rather than discuss the cause of their condition, such as childhood trauma, CBT is focused on the here and now. With CBT, you’ll practice real-world skills, and you may be assigned homework too.
Medication might be the right route for some. Don’t label yourself as a bad or failed mother if you take anxiety medication. Instead, be proud of yourself for taking the responsibility to heal. Some people also find that medication helps them become successful in therapy, so you may want to combine the two.
Anxiety medications, such as antidepressants, may need to be taken regularly to be effective. This can get expensive. To save money, you can access cheaper international or Canada drugs such as Paxil (paroxetine) through an online pharmacy referral service. There, you can buy prescription drugs from licensed pharmacies in countries where drug prices are lower, such as Canada.
Helping Your Child
If your child is the one who needs professional help with anxiety, you can help by being involved in their treatment. Talk to your child’s therapist often and stay updated on your child’s progress. If your child gets assigned therapy homework, make sure they do it just as they should do their school homework!
More importantly, be patient. Progress can happen slowly, but any progress is progress. Lastly, be kinder to yourself if you are an anxious parent. Everyone makes mistakes, and parents are no exception. At the end of the day, if you are there to support your child, you’re probably on the right track.