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How To Prevent Kids With Anxious Parents From Having Anxiety

How To Prevent Kids With Anxious Parents From Having Anxiety

Will anxious parents raise anxious kids? A recent research study shows that there certainly is a greater risk for those kids. About 10% of all kids in the USA are suffering from some sort of anxiety disorder. They are liable to be clinging, wash their hands compulsively or be obsessively tidy and are fearful about home security. The ideal would be to stop anxiety so that these kids will be able to conquer their fears and worries so that they can become more resilient and enjoy a more independent and productive childhood. If they have anxious parents, the chances of this happening are much less. Let us look at what this and other studies found. We can also examine what can be effective ways to help these kids.

Main research findings

The researchers decided to monitor 136 families for a year. In each family there was one parent who had been diagnosed as having an anxiety disorder. None of the kids had been diagnosed with anxiety at the beginning of the experiment.

Families were divided into two groups. The first was given an information pack on anxiety and they were not given any other advice at all. The parents were expected to read through all the material and basically left to their own devices.

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The second group of families were invited to attend eight therapy sessions held once a week plus a few other additional sessions. The first two sessions were exclusively for the parents while the others involved the whole family. Basically, the families were helped to cope with anxiety, parenting skills, and techniques to deal with it.

Results of the research were not surprising

In the first group who were left to sort out the anxiety issues on their own, 30% of the children were found to be suffering from anxiety. In the second group who had been given therapy, only 5% of the kids were found to have an anxiety disorder. It is a startling difference and the basic message is that anxious parents are far too busy protecting them from worrying and fearful situations. They should be doing the opposite as the lead researcher Dr. Golda Ginsburg remarked:

“They need to help them face their fears in order to reduce their anxiety.”

More research needs to be done because this particular study involved only volunteers and they were not from poorer, single parent families or non-white backgrounds.

Other research studies

One research study at the Iowa State University by Dr. Russell Laczniak found that children of anxious parents were more likely to play violent video games than those kids who had more authoritative parents.

“If parents want to reduce the amount of violent video games that their kids play, be warm when dealing with them, but somewhat restrictive at the same time, and set rules and those rules will work. For parents, who are more anxious, the rules become less effective and those kids are going to play more.” – Prof. Russell Laczniak.

Another study from King’s College London found that although anxiety was passed on genetically, parenting choices were much more influential on how kids turned out.

“The right thing to do is to help the child have opportunities to take on challenges and tasks appropriate to their age and level of fear,” – Thalia Eley, head researcher.

How can anxious parents help their children?

Parents need to stop avoiding worrisome situations by protecting and accommodating their anxious kids. This may take the form of avoiding social outings or stressful sports activities and parents think that their children will be calmer, more secure and comfortable. Nothing could be further from the truth because these kids will grow up fearful and incapable of coping with their anxiety.

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Parents must be able to help their kids overcome these fears and worries. One way is that they can talk to their kids about it and how they cope with it themselves. They can give worry a persona or make it into a game where they have to conquer and beat anxiety. This is just one suggestion from the authors of the excellent book called Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous and Independent Children by Wilson and Lyons

Parents have to become aware of how they can overestimate the risk of danger and underestimate their kids’ capability in learning to face these worries, fears and obstacles to their happiness. If they never learn how to do that, their kids will always be trapped in their anxiety and their world will become smaller and smaller.

Featured photo credit: Morgan, anxious/ Sage Ross via flickr.com

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More by this author

Robert Locke

Author of Ziger the Tiger Stories, a health enthusiast specializing in relationships, life improvement and mental health.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

18 Benefits of Journaling That Will Change Your Life

The act of writing in a journal often seems daunting or unnecessary to many people. Even authors who work on novels might shun the idea of daily diaries. What purpose does jotting down words on a regular basis do if not contributing to the next novel, play or song? I know from experience many benefits of journaling that I wish to share.

1. Understand Yourself Better

Though many people and even writers avoid keeping journals, I vow to do it more often. Not only do I desire to take up daily journaling but also I plan to do it with pen to paper.

Some of the benefits I’ve found from my more active days include finding myself in the sense of understanding what matters to me and what I want out of life. I’ve been incredibly fortunate to find a spouse who is my best friend and advocate in raising children. I attribute this and much more to what I learned about myself in keeping journals for years.

2. Keep Track of Small Changes

I’ll admit that I never got very far with my guitar lessons, but in writing in a journal, I have seen the ability to track small changes like those that come when you practice anything.

Those learning a musical instrument often fail to see the small improvements that come with regular practice. Writing won’t help you switch chords any faster, but it will help you to develop a better sense for language and grammar just by doing it.

3. Become Aware of What Matters

As you continue to write in a journal, following a stream-of-consciousness feel, you can look back on the topics that you chose to write about. Those issues and emotions that poured out of you will provide insight on to what matters most to you.

You may not even realize that you’re job is depressing you or that you want to spend more time with your kids until you look over your thoughts that you weren’t really thinking about.

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4. Boost Creativity

The idea that the brain and its neural activity across hemispheres encourages learning also shows up in increased creativity. Just like with learning an instrument, your increased activity will inspire your thoughts to connect and reconnect in different ways.

When I wrote in a journal, I often wrote poetry as well as just my thoughts as they came out. I started to hear poems more in my mind; so much so that I took to scrawling lines on napkins and finding metaphors in mundane activities.

You really are what you do, so writing helps grow more than being a writer. Writing boosts the way you communicate and structure language, which really is a creative process.

5. Represents Your Emotions in a Safe Environment

A journal is as private as it gets. You can lock it in a safe or tuck it under a pillow and no one will accidentally share it on social media or have an opportunity to “leave a comment.”

Write about your sorrow as much as your happiness and frustration and know that you don’t have to keep your emotions inside your body. You can put them on paper.

6. Process Life Experiences

When you take the time to look back over what you’ve written, be it a week or a year later, you will have the distance you need to more objectively interpret your raw feelings.

Everything from losing a job to losing a loved one can emerge in a new light for a fresh perspective. Figuring out how the benefits of journaling affect your perspective on life will create connection and increase creativity.

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7. Stress Relief

In combining the exercise inherent in fine motor coordination that comes from the act of writing with the emotional release of self expression, those who maintain a journal relieve stress.

Try it out. Go home and write about your day. Write about the traffic. Write about the coffee order the barista got wrong but you didn’t have time to change. See how you can physically purge some of that pent-up stress by putting it on paper.

8. Provide Direction

Though journaling is often conducted as an activity without much direction, it often provides direction.

One of the biggest benefits of journaling is that your chaotic thoughts merge to show a direction in which to head. Asking the right questions is the only way to achieve the best solutions, so look to your journal to find your way toward your next goal.

9. Solve Problems

Just as in practicing math problems, we all get better at finding hidden solutions through the act of processing.

Think of your next goal as X and solve your life problems by reading your journals as word problems. The benefit of journaling here is that you write, explore and process to recognize and then solve problems.

When life is too in-your-face, you have to step back to see reality. Living in the moment allows us to write in the moment and use that expression to solve problems.

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10. Find Relief From Fighting

Solving your problems only comes after time to process, recognize and strategize. Just as in the benefit of journaling where relief comes from the act of writing, relief from fighting comes when you decide to “sit this one out” and communicate one-way.

Fighting is only productive when the fighters care to communicate and find common ground. When the emotions are as high as the stress levels, writing will function as the best time out.

11. Find Meaning in Life

Journaling will show you why you are living, whether you are wallowing in things you wish to change or striving to make the changes. Your life will begin to take on new meaning and your own words will reveal the actions that got you where you are so that you can assess and pave a new path for your future.

12. Allow Yourself to Focus

Taking even a small amount of time out of every day will provide you with not only peace of mind but also increased focus. Taking a break to meditate in writing and journaling will sharpen your mental faculties.

13. Sharpen Your Spirituality

When we write, we allow all the energy and experiences to flow through us, which often provides further insight into our own spirituality. Even if your parents didn’t raise you to follow a specific religion, your thoughts will start to show you what you believe about the universe and your place in it.

14. Let the Past Go

I’ve mentioned a few examples where going back over your writing offers advice and direction, but the simply truth is that writing down our feelings can be the best way to let them go. We can choose to literally throw these pages away when they’re filled with negativity and hate.

15. Allow Freedom

Journaling is the perfect way to not only express yourself but to also experience the freedom of being who you are. Your books can stay private or you can publish them. Your freedom stems from your sense of self and your perception of your thoughts.

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16. Enhance Your Career

Again, the private act of pen-to-paper processing provides the benefits of journaling mentioned above, but you can also enhance your career when you take similar ideas and categorize, edit and publish them in an online blog.

Your thoughts will often be personal and express emotions, but another benefit of journaling is uncovering fresh ideas about your work.

17. Literally Explore Your Dreams

All the benefits I’ve mentioned explore ideas, thoughts and emotions, which is also what our dreams and nightmares do. Through writing down your dreams from the previous night, you can enhance your creativity as well as connect some of the metaphorical dots from the rest of your journal.

18. Catalog Your Life for Others

No one wants to think about dying, but we all die. Leaving a journal will act as a way to reconnect with family and friends left behind. The ideas you wish to keep personal while you process the life you’re living will serve to rekindle and inspire those who loved you through the process.

We consider our partners our life witnesses, but writing provides a tangible mark on the world.

Now that you’ve learned all the benefits of journaling, it’s time to start writing a journal:

Featured photo credit: Kelly Sikkema via unsplash.com

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