Researchers from the University of Montreal “are studying how harsh parenting can impact the emotional development of a child.” Scientists believe that “harsh parenting methods may lead to anxiety disorders such as social phobia, separation anxiety and panic attacks.” As someone who has dealt with both anxiety and harsh parenting, this connection seems pretty logical to me. It stands to reason that if a child doesn’t feel safe at home, they’re likely to feel threatened by and/or fearful of the world at large.
Françoise Maheu, lead investigator of the study, notes that several studies have already proven that “coercive parenting practices are linked to anxiety,” but she hopes to detail specifically how the anatomy or physiology of the brain is affected by aggressive parenting, in an effort to curb anxiety in children before it becomes acute.
Maheu notes that “common practices such as spanking or excessive punishment do not instill a strong discipline.” Instead, they have a lasting negative psychological impact on children. Maheu hopes to isolate the areas in the brain that mediate the anxiety aroused by dealing with parents who are rough. She says, “Investigating the links among harsh parenting, fear circuitry and anxiety in youths will provide key insights on the developmental neurobiology of harsh parenting and anxiety. Understanding this while individuals are young is crucial as it could lead to early interventions that would effectively interrupt a development trajectory early in its course, before anxiety becomes chronic.”
Image: Psych Central
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