Anxiety in children caused by parental attitudes

Symptoms of anxiety is very frequent in childhood and adulthood as well. Often the reasons are connected to childhood and to understand them can help to increase anxiety but also not repeating the same mistakes as a parent.

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Source of anxiety can be when a child “learns” that she/he can get love from the parents just by accomplishment. If the child got compliments and kindness just when she/he has got good grades or could have filled up the parents expectations, can develop accomplishment compulsion and the sense of insecurity. This kind of parental behaviour makes the child believe, she/he must do things for being loved and just by being herself/himself is not able to be loved. The same happens also if the child experiences love deprivation as a reaction of the parent for doing mistakes or having defects.

Secrets in the family also cause anxiety in children and often can be instrumental in a development of personality disorders. When a family or one of the parent keeps a secret (can be the child involved-worse) even if the child doesn’t know about it gives a feeling, something is wrong. Children and their negatively changed behaviour or their changed accomplishment in school is the first and most accurate sign of something is going wrong in the family. They are able to sense it. I often ask my clients to see objectively, what kind of changes they can see on their children, because they act like a mirror, showing exactly what the problem is. Like keeping secrets, parents lose being authentic and trustful and that can influence their children’s feeling of security or they become arrogant, showing that parents have lost their position being honest and authentic, so they are weak. Keeping secrets also can make children feel shame as well. So unlogical how so many parents teach their children for the importance of being honest but they don’t act according to their own lessons.

Rigid hard and fast rules and belief system. Consistent parental behaviour provides security for the child but too rigid and strict rules can mean very strong restrictions which can hinder the development of internal control and scale of values of the child. Children can develop a mindset which is connected to external control, compulsion of conformity and a rigid way of thinking where there is an internal insecurity behind. These children can see things and people just in black or white, their mind is not opened for another “category”.

Interchange of roles happens mainly after a trauma or crises, like divorce, absence of one of the parents, serious sickness or death. But also can happen if one or both of the parents are emotionally immature. In this interchange the child takes more responsibility physically and emotionally, more than supposed to do. Learns to repress or overshadow own emotions and needs, develops a very strong and rigid self-control which also can be a source of anxiety.

Repressing emotions. If expressing emotions is prohibited for a child, he/she learns to hide them. That doesn’t mean they disappear but after a while just to experience that having or feel those negative emotions can cause sense of guilt, shame or discomfort in the child. There are families where to express anger or sadness is prohibited. Which doesn’t make any sense, because we are human and have negative emotions as well. But those parents instead of teaching their children how to handle those negative emotions, ordering them to repress it. Repressed anger works under the surface, doesn’t matter how deep it’s delved.

Over-protecting, over attentive attitude. None of the parents think they might be over-protective or having over-attentive attitude because they are the pledge of being a good parent, normal acting like that. Of course protecting our children is one of the main obligations as a parent till a certain level. If parents are over-protective they prevent their children to develop a well-functioning physical and mental immune system by experiences. If they don’t let the child to climb a tree or having adventures, skills won’t develop or if they protect him/her from every conflict, this child in adulthood will be without useful knowledge or experience in conflict situations. Over-protecting attitude also transmits another message, which is the world is a dangerous place.

Before you get angry for your own parents or starting panicking how you are a “bad” parent you need to know that serious damages caused by more causes in the same time or one or two for a long time period. What to do? The solution like almost all the time is getting a proper and detailed self-knowledge. When we understand ourselves, we understand our actions and understand others.

Delphi oracle: Know thyself!

Picture: http://www.gozen.com

Parental perfectionism

Every parents want to raise their child or children perfectly but what happens if they go too far?

First of all nowadays one thing is scientifically clear and proved; perfectionists are made and not were born. The occurrence of perfectionism is growing. One of the reason is those parents look for their own status in their children’s achievements and its pressure on children just grows. They can take this pressure as a critic for their mistakes. A lot of parents believe if their children have difficulties in school or his/her performance is not satisfactory (according to them), it means they do something wrong, they are not enough good parents and what the other parents will think. I often can see that; parents identify their parental ability with the performance of children in school or in other part of life. “If my child is not a good student, I am not a good parent or if my child is an excellent student I give a good parental care.”  Honestly, they are not even connected to each other. Perfectionism is one of the type of parental control. Nowadays parents not just take part in their children’s life inordinately but also expect perfect performance from them. One thing is striving for perfectionism and another one is to demand it.

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Perfectionism can be a model for children, anxious parents so often raise (create-make) similar child like them. Those children who deal with high perfectionism experience their own mistakes as a personal failure – they are characterized with high depression and anxiety. In the same way characterized those children as well whom feel their parents overrate them. Perfectionist parents’ children feel if they do not perform on the level which was expected, that will decrease love, respect and recognition what they can get. The problem most of the time is the perfectionist’s level is not 100% of performance, it is 120% which can be unachievable for a child. Perfectionist parents actually do not consider children’s individual abilities and capacities because it is not about their children; it is all about themselves as parents.

How does a perfectionist parent control a child?

Parental perfectionism directs the psychological world of children. Two sources had been identified. One source is the parent own perfectionism that is exaggerated worry about general parental mistakes. Perfectionist parents accept their children just if they perform above the average. I must highlight that it is not just about performance in school, perfectionism presented in all parts of daily life. They use hidden and indirect techniques to maintain their psychological control and use them to encourage their own children to use substantial self-criticism. For instance a technique like sigh, silence or raised eyebrows. Directly they don’t discipline them but clearly make children feel their dislike.

The other source of psychological control is the parents’ fear of detachment from children. Perfectionist parents are over-attached to their children and they worry about their growing autonomy and their children continuous growth threats them with emotional and physical detachment.

Perfectionist parents excite a feeling which is a sense of guilt and they approve their children’s behaviour if they remain emotionally close to them. They are susceptible to keep children in a dependent situation if their adult relationships don’t satisfy their emotional expectations or needs. We can state that; perfectionist parents whom use psychological control on their children (doesn’t matter why – fear of loss or demand of status) are focus on their own needs instead of their children’s needs and personalities.

Striving for perfectionism forces children into an illusion. Perfectionism destroys the real self. Actually instead of creating harmony and self-satisfaction, it creates self-destruction. The continuous feeling of failure (not being able to fill up the parents expectations) destroys children’s self-confidence and often they feel worthless. In children’s mind being loved by existence gets confused with an idea-feeling of being loved because of action; “I am able to be loved if I am doing things perfectly or if I am able to satisfy my parents.

Children pay a very high price for perfectionism. The main problem with perfectionism might be that; it covers the real beauty and joy of life. People do not become stronger by making them perfectionist but let them to be passionate about something what they are interested in.