Posted on: May 3rd, 2024

Parental Anxiety

By: Elizabeth weer, msw

Most people experience [parental] anxiety at some point in their lives; it is a normal human response to stressful or fearful situations. It’s especially normal for parents to experience anxiety, as we are constantly worried about our children’s health, well-being, and safety. You may even have anxiety about transferring your own worries to your children. Parental anxiety can feel like a heavy worry or dread that something bad is going to happen, particularly to your children. It can also cause physical symptoms; a racing heartbeat, butterflies in your tummy, sweatiness, muscle tension and nausea are all common of anxiety, too. Some people may even notice behavioral changes in themselves, such as avoiding anxiety-inducing situations, feeling particularly restless or having the inability to relax, experiencing difficulty concentrating on things, and seeking extra reassurance from others to comfort yourself. Parental anxiety can also cause you to feel worried and stressed about your own success at being in the parent or caregiver role.

“Am I doing a good enough job at keeping my child safe?”
“Am I making the right decisions about my child?”
“Am I doing as good as other parents?”
“Is the way I’m parenting going to negatively impact my child?”
“What if something terrible happens to my child?”

These are just a few examples of the anxious thoughts that may have crossed your mind as a parent with anxiety. Theres thoughts may be overwhelming and you may find that they are interfering with your daily life.

Here are some coping skills that you might find helpful:
  • Engage in self-care activities by doing things that you enjoy, things that help you to feel relaxed, and things that help you recharge: taking care of yourself is undoubtedly the most important step in taking care of your children.
  • Seek support from family, friends, or fellow parents as ways to alleviate your worries, feel connected to others, and gain valuable perspective. Remember: “it takes a village” to raise children, and asking for help is okay.
  • Practice mindfulness by doing deep breathing exercises or meditation to help you stay in the present moment and feel more connected to yourself.
  • Set realistic expectations for yourself and break large tasks down into smaller pieces instead of overwhelming yourself with too much at one time. Remember that none of us can do it
  • Practice self-compassion by reminding yourself that no parent is perfect and that parenting is an incredibly hard job sometimes. Remember that as long as you’re doing what’s best for
    your child, you’re doing great.
  • Seek professional help if your anxiety is interfering too much with your daily life or relationships with others. If traditional therapy is not for you, consider a support group with like-minded people who can share their experiences with you.
  • Practice using positive self-talk when feeling anxious. For instance, remind yourself that “feeling anxious is natural sometimes,” “you can handle this,” or “one hard day doesn’t make me a bad parent.”
  • Encourage open communication with your children and be open with them about your concerns in an age-appropriate way. Not only will this make you feel better, but it will help your child express their concerns if they arise, too!

Remember that anxiety is normal and there are lots of ways you can help manage it. And, if you’re worried about how well you’re doing as a parent to your children, you are likely doing a pretty good job!