Worrying and parenting can go hand-in-hand. It’s normal to worry about your child’s future and to worry about your child getting hurt. But some parents, struggle to handle that anxiety. So rather than cope with the discomfort, they become overprotective. Unfortunately, that can stunt a child’s development and prevent him from gaining the skills he needs to become a responsible adult.
Whether you’re a bit of a worry wart, or you’ve got a diagnosed anxiety disorder, be mindful of these five ways your anxiety could get in the way of raising a responsible child:
1. You Do Everything Yourself
Anxious parents often predict their child will break something or mess something up. Rather than allow him to pack his own suitcase or load the dishwasher on his own, an anxious parent may simply do it for him.
Although it may be easier to do everything yourself, kids learn life skills by doing things independently. Even though they’ll mess up sometimes, mistakes is how they learn. Accept that there will be times when your child will spill his drink or break his toys, but know that it’s all part of the learning process.
2. You Intervene as Soon as Your Child Struggles
No one wants to see a child suffer, but for parents, watching a child experience discomfort can be especially anxiety-provoking. A child who lets out a loud sigh while doing his homework, or one who says,
“I can’t do this,” when his blocks fall over, could lead an anxious parent to come to his immediate rescue.
Kids need to learn how to deal with uncomfortable emotions, like frustration. They also need opportunities to practice problem-solving skills on their own.
Rescuing them at the first sign of a struggle can prevent them from learning how to overcome challenges on their own.
3. You Micromanage Your Child’s Activities
Watching a child to do things his own way, and according to his own terms, can skyrocket some parent’s anxiety. They struggle to let a child do something independently for fear he may not ‘do it
right.’ In an effort to keep anxiety at bay, some parents stand over a child, insisting he do things appropriately.
A parent who micromanages a child’s daily activities causes the child to become increasingly dependent. Kids need opportunities to show they can behave responsibly and having a parent monitor everything they do prevents them from learning how to do things on their own.
4. You Won’t Let Child Do Age Appropriate Activities
Letting a child stay home alone or cross the street for the first time, can be anxiety-provoking for almost any parent. But rather than cope with the discomfort, some parents reduce their anxiety by refusing to allow their child to participate in age appropriate activities.
Kids sometimes mistakes, get hurt, and take risks they shouldn’t. But natural consequences can be a good teacher. Kids often need more guidance, and less restrictions, so they can learn to make healthy choices on their own.
5. You Maintain Hard and Fast Rules
Sometimes parents feel more at ease when they have hard and fast rules, even when there’s no real reason for them. Whether you insist lunch must be served at noon on the dot, or you never allow your child to stay up a minute past bedtime, militant rules may only serve one purpose – keeping your anxiety at bay.
While it’s important to have clear rules, being overly rigid and authoritarian can be harmful. Kids need to understand that there are exceptions to the rule – like it’s OK to interrupt if the house is on fire. Teach your child that critical thinking and flexibility by showing a willingness to bend the rules sometimes.