Are you raising an anxious child?

Are you raising an anxious child?

Are you raising an anxious child?  Where do we draw the line between guiding and mentoring our children and over-controlling them?  This is a dilemma for all parents today, particularly in a South African situation where crime is high, roads are dangerous and unemployment is at its peak.  Our children have to thrive in their development to stand out amongst the crowd.  Parents of young children are busy taking their tots and preschoolers to endless extra activities for them to get the benefits of “extra” development.  We have probably heard by now that so much activity is not good for our little ones.  Do we really understand why and do we understand why we get on the rat race of parenting and buy into the endless commitments to a new activity?  The answer is probably, that we are generally anxious and specifically, very anxious when it comes to our children and tying to give them everything they need for them to develop and thrive.

However, research is showing that there is a link between anxious parents being over-controlling with their children which leads to anxious children.  (Stams & Bogels, 2008).   Chances are that if you are over-controlling with your children, then you had similar experiences with your own parents and the way you were brought up.   Dr Dan Neuharth, author of “If you had controlling parents” gives a checklist for you to understand yourself if you had very controlling parents:

Boy holding onto his mother --- Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

Boy holding onto his mother — Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

TEN SIGNS EARLY UNHEALTHY CONTROL MAY STILL AFFECT YOU
In your adult life, you…
1. Feel perfectionistic, driven, or rarely satisfied
2. Feel intimidated or easily angered around controlling people
3. Lose yourself in relationships by automatically putting others’ needs first
4. Find it hard to relax, laugh or be spontaneous
5. Feel as if you are under scrutiny even when no one else is around
6. Have an eating disorder or addictive behaviors
7. Have trouble finding a spiritual belief that feels right
8. Expect others to hurt, judge, or take advantage of you
9. Have harsh “inner critics”
10. Have trouble asserting yourself or feeling proud of your accomplishments

 

He then gives another checklist as a guideline to acknowledge if you are passing on that controlling characteristic to your children:

 

TEN SIGNS YOU MAY BE OVERCONTROLLING YOUR CHILDREN
In raising your children, you…
1. Micromanage their eating, appearance, hobbies, or social life
2. Give affection as a reward but withdraw it as punishment
3. Criticize your children far more than you praise them
4. Violate your children’s privacy
5. Override, discount or ridicule your children’s strong emotions
6. Forbid your children from asking questions or disagreeing with you
7. Are unwilling to admit your mistakes in parenting
8. Believe that you own your children and that they have to earn your love
9. See your children’s desires for independence and autonomy as a personal rejection
10. Inflict physical, sexual, verbal, or emotional abuse on your children

 

If you have ticked any of these items on the checklist, become more aware of where you could loosen the apron strings with your children.  Some ideas for you to try are:

  1. let them choose what they want to wear from a young age (only ensuring that they are appropriately dressed for the weather conditions), but not worrying if they have no fashion sense or have mixed crazy contrasting colours or patterns,
  2. allow them to choose between two cereals in the morning for breakfast or one of two fillings for a sandwich
  3. allow them to choose between watching one cartoon or another.
  4. Also, validate your children’s feelings even if you don’t fully understand them. You can validate the feeling without giving into the behavior they are exhibiting or the item

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