Anxiety in Children

Anxiety lives in our minds it knows no bounds.  This is where the imagination lies, and the imagination of children is huge and creative being able to imagine scary and frightening things.


An anxious child is going to overestimate the negative and downplay the positive events.  Anxious children are not created by parents or their parenting style.  They tend to be more rigid, inflexible or bossy as they are trying to have some control over their environment to reduce their anxiety.  Nobody likes to lose control, so the child then prefers things to be predictable or repetitive.  This can make trying to help them frustrating and difficult.


In a family with an anxious child, the parents can become the chief re-assurers, avoiding going to places or doing things that can trigger their child’s anxiety.  When a child is anxious, they look to their parents for help, to get to a place of safety.  Teaching a child to not fear their anxiety and develop their ability to cope is the key.  It is a developmental process, like learning to walk and for some children they need extra help to develop this skill.


The trouble is that if we live with an anxious child, we make accommodations for them because we love them.  Around 97-100% of parents do.  Once your notice the accommodating that is taking place, you have the ability to change your responses and help the child to develop their anxiety-defeating muscle.


Some new research shows that parents can reduce their child’s anxiety with supportive parenting techniques.  I believe that we all need to understand that life is not always comfortable, and learning to lean into the discomfort can make us stronger in all aspects of our life.


SPACE program for parents of anxious children