Parenting anxiety comes disguised in many different costumes depending on the stage your child is at. When you have a newborn, you might obsessively check to see whether your baby is breathing. Once your kid goes to preschool, you might hide and watch him or her from a corner outside the classroom to make sure he or she’s okay. Then as you find yourself raising a tween or preteen, you begin wondering when to allow them more independence in the form of sleepovers, riding their bike on their own, allowing them to have a cell phone or even a social media account.
I know this because I’ve been through all of these stages in my almost twelve years as a mom. Every single time I feel I am okay with this parenting thing and not completely failing at it, a new challenge comes up. Whether it is allowing my 11-year-old son to walk to the nearby park with his friends or giving him permission to watch a movie at the mall with his buddies without me being in the theater, every situation makes me question whether he’s ready for it. Then, I realize the issue really is am I ready for it? I question my decisions and my actions, wondering if I am going to ruin my child’s life, whether socially, emotionally, or even physically.
Over-thinking everything is part of an anxious person’s personality. Your brain has the distinctive ability of being able to run a thousand different worst-case scenarios through your head in just a few seconds. What ifs plague you, your adrenaline rushes, your heart pounds in your chest, worry creeps up, and you cannot seem to make up your mind on what to do. In the meantime, you are trying to hold it together in front of your children and appear calm and confident. You know that kids can smell doubt and indecision from miles away, so you try to fake being sure of what you’re about to say.
Even though I cannot say I have conquered my parenting anxiety, there is one thing that has helped me mute it at times. You have to stop parenting from fear. Fear of the what ifs, of everything you cannot control, of the worst-case scenario. Unless you want to raise an anxious and frightful child, realize what your fears are, confront them, and don’t allow them to paralyze you while not allowing your child the chance to soar. Then learn to give your child a little independence so it boosts his or her self-esteem and confidence. That is something I really want to do, because the more confident my kids feel about themselves, I hope the less anxious they’ll feel as they face the challenges of growing up.
7 Tips for Being a Less Anxious Parent:
- Be aware of your fears and work on facing them.
- Stop yourself when you realize you are over-thinking even the simplest of things.
- Know that you are trying your best but that you will make mistakes along the way. There’s nothing wrong with that!
- Take small steps to empower your child with more independence.
- Understand that your child needs to be confident and self-reliant. To achieve this, you have to let go.
- Explain to your child that trust is built every single day and that each time he or she complies with your rules, it allows you to relax and allow for more freedom.
- Instead of parenting from fear, try to parent from trust, acceptance, and love.
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