How Parents May be Increasing Child Anxiety

Although parents want to make their children’s lives as comfortable and stress-free as possible, mom and dad can actually be increasing their child’s anxiety without even realizing it. Several habits and behaviors can add to child anxiety, with children following a parent’s lead as a model for their own behavior.

Avoiding Uncomfortable Situations

Certain situations may be uncomfortable, but moving through them can be healthier than trying to hide from them. Taking great pains to avoid uncomfortable situations can teach your children that experiencing any level of discomfort is bad and must be prevented.

Anxiety is reinforced by avoidance behaviors, and steering clear of any situation that may create discomfort definitely counts. People who consistently avoid situations that stir up anxiety miss the opportunity to learn how to cope with it. Try moving through discomfort instead of attempting to go around it.

Being Perpetually Anxious

If you’re prone to being anxious about, well, everything, there’s a good chance your child will also experience perpetual anxiety. When parents consistently appear anxious, regardless of the situation, children are prone to picking up the idea that the world around them is generally unsafe.

Parents can break this habit by going outside their comfort zones, even if it brings on an initial feeling of discomfort. The more frequently you encounter new situations with confidence, the more likely your child is to learn that the world is not necessarily a scary place.

Being Inconsistent

Inconsistency can contribute to child anxiety, particularly when a parent is attentive one minute and dismissive the next. This type of unpredictable behavior can leave a child unsure of the type of treatment he or she will receive at any given moment, resulting in an anxious attachment.

That feeling of anxiety and insecurity in the relationship with an inconsistent parent can spill over into other relationships. It can also follow anxious children into adulthood, leaving them feeling unsure about their relationships with everyone.


Also known as the helicopter parent, the too-involved parent hovers around their child at every turn. While parent may think it’s making their children feel safe, the behavior can also imply that children are not safe when the parent is not around.

Children can find themselves filled with anxiety whenever they have to deal with a new situation on their own. Backing off a bit can help teach your children that they can, indeed, deal with situations without a parent coming to the rescue each and every time.

Even if you catch yourself engaging in one of these behaviors, all is not lost. Awareness is the first step toward change. Once you’re aware of an old behavior you want to eliminate, you can teach yourself a new behavior to take its place. Your children will then have a new model of behavior to follow, one that helps them increase confidence instead of anxiety.