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How to Avoid Passing Anxiety on to Your Kids

https://childmind.org/article/how-to-avoid-passing-anxiety-on-to-your-kids/

childmind.org

How to Avoid Passing Anxiety on to Your Kids
Witnessing a parent in a state of anxiety can be more than just momentarily unsettling for children. Kids look to their parents for information about how to interpret ambiguous situations; if a parent seems consistently anxious and fearful, the child will determine that a variety of scenarios are unsafe.

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Taking cues from you

When children witness a parent in a state of anxiety, they can become unsettled, because they take information about how to interpret situations from the parent.

If you notice your child shows anxious behaviors, don't punish yourself for it. Implement strategies to help ensure you do not pass your anxiety on to your kids.

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Learn stress management techniques

A big part of treatment for children with anxiety is to teach parents stress tolerance.

A mental health professional can help you work through methods of stress management for your specific needs.

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Model stress tolerance

You might learn strategies in therapy that you can impart to your child when she is feeling anxious.

Try to maintain a calm, neutral demeanor in front of your child, even if you are still trying to manage your anxiety. Children are quick to read facial expressions.

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Explain your anxiety

It's okay not to suppress your emotions constantly. Your children need to see how you cope with stress every now and then. Explain to your children why you behaved the way you did.

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Make a plan

Come up with ways to manage specific situations that trigger your stress. You may even speak to your child about it, but don't put the responsibility on your child to manage your anxiety. However, seeing you implement a plan to curb an anxious moment shows him how stress can be managed.

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Know when to disengage

If you know that a situation might cause you to stress, plan ahead to disengage from that situation so your children will not interpret it as unsafe.

If you feel you are becoming overwhelmed with anxiety in the presence of your child, try and take a break.

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Smartphones and Social Media

Across age groups, social media is potentially hazardous, with its tendency to amplify the social divide.

There is a strong relationship between anxiety/depression and the use of smartphones, particularly social media usage among kids, though the data also seem to show the positive effects of staying connected with their peers. Online distractions also make youngsters give up their offline life, leading to isolation and further depression.

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How depression is measured

Depression is often measured by scientists using something called the Hamilton Scale. It runs from 0 (where you are dancing in ecstasy) to 59 (where you are suicidal). 

Causes of depression

Many leading scientists believe the whole idea that depression is caused by a “chemically imbalanced” brain is wrong. 

There are in fact nine major causes of depression and anxiety that are unfolding all around us. Two are biological, and seven are out in here in the world, rather than sealed away inside our skulls.

Childhood trauma can cause depression

When you’re a child, you have very little power to change your environment. So, you have two choices.

  1. You can admit to yourself that you are powerless and there’s simply nothing you can do about it.
  2. You can tell yourself it’s your fault and at some strange level under your control. If you were responsible for being hurt, then at some level, you have to think you deserved it.

Awareness minimizes stress

Anxiety tends to build over time. Through awareness, we can help minimize its effects.

Our anxiety is trying to help us. Our body is trying to tell us it has new needs.

Meditate to calm your nervous system

Meditation as a practice is useful to tune into awareness and to calm your nervous system.

To start, take a minute or two to pay attention to where your mind wanders. When you're able to begin noticing problematic situations through the practice of awareness, you can stop doing them.

Stress can come in many forms

It often arise from something beyond our control, whether a breakup or loss of someone dear. We can even feel anxiety when trying something new.

We tend to desire a quick-fix for problems, but when dealing with anxiety, it's better to think of it as a practice where you build muscles.