Parental Anxiety Can be Overwhelming — Take These Steps to Cope
There is a long list of what causes anxiety for parents: worries about the dangers of abduction or abuse, their child’s school performance and goals, their association, online threats of cyber bullying and pornography, or instilling proper habits and values in their children. Some parents also face anxieties because their children have a behavioral disorder or developmental disability.
Whatever the cause of our worry, we tend to think that if we just worry enough, we can control matters. But the exact opposite is true. Of course, every parent wants to protect their child from life’s struggles and disappointments. But fretting about it too much and trying to do the impossible only increases stress and anxiety.
The fact is, stress is a normal aspect of parenting. It continues throughout our lives and the lives of our children, no matter how old they get. We can’t eliminate it!
However, that doesn’t mean a parent is powerless. There are ways to effectively reduce and manage parental anxieties.
Read more on how to help your child cope with anxiety.
Take Steps to Cope With Parental Anxiety
Use any or all of these steps according to what your individual situation dictates. These methods are flexible and can grow with you as your family’s circumstances change.
Understand What You Can and Can’t Control
Remind yourself that you care about your child and that you’re doing the best you can as a parent. Accept that you can’t control everything. Put your efforts into what you can control and let go of what you can’t. There’s nothing more you can do.
Address Your Fears with Reasonable and Practical Actions
If you have a pool and fear your child could drown, have it fenced in. If you worry that your child may have a developmental disability or behavioral disorder, have them assessed by a professional. And if you worry that your child may be exploited, arm them with the knowledge they need to protect themselves when they feel uncomfortable with a situation.
Take Time to Have Fun
Spending more time together improves the parent-child relationship. The important part is to have fun! You don’t have to only engage in activities with the goal of later putting them on your child’s resume. Do something out of pure enjoyment – playing catch, running around in the park, coloring, dancing around to music, or a family game night. Keeping it free of expectations and judgments opens up communication with your child.
Make Time to Focus on Yourself
Parents with children that have disabilities or disorders often have an especially hard time taking a break for themselves. Yet, it’s actually healthy and beneficial for you to take some time off. But the same goes for parents whose children don’t have these problems. You have to find a way to make yourself a priority as well. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t take care of your child!
Become More Organized
Much of parental stress and anxiety comes from their daily environment. When it’s chaotic, it affects your mind and mood. Establish systems and routines to make things run smoother. Address the biggest challenges first. When things are easier to find, it makes it easier to be on time, and that reduces stress. But remember, it’s about what functions best for your family’s situation, not about a perfect home.
Have a Support System
Accept the help that others – like family and friends – offer with household chores or child care. Or you may want to consider hiring professionals to handle some chores for you temporarily. Also, consider looking for support groups or individuals and talk about how they cope.
Thinking about the steps mentioned above and acting on the things that are possible, reasonable, and realistic will make your life function better. It will help you to be calmer and less stressed, and to successfully cope with parental anxiety.
Consider counseling to learn anxiety management strategies or to discuss your parenting concerns. Or learn more about therapy for families.
Moms, Do You Need More Support?
Join our support group for moms! This is a self-care group focused on YOUR needs, not how to be better mom. Having other women to talk with that understand what you are going through can be a really important source of support.
If a group doesn’t fit with your schedule, individual therapy in Houston can also be a helpful resource to help you cope with the demands of parenting and parental anxiety while also getting support and empowerment for yourself. Alexandra is a therapist in Houston who specializes in the unique needs of mothers. To get started now give us a call to schedule an appointment at 832-559-2622 or schedule an appointment online.
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