Anxious parents may create anxious children

school anxiety

Parents with social anxiety disorder are more inclined than other parents to behave in ways that put their kids at risk for developing stress disorders of their own. A new report shows that these parents take part in anxiety-provoking behaviors.

Behaviors like the absence of warmth and affection, as well as elevated levels of uncertainty and criticism directed toward the child, can increase anxiety in children.

“There is a broad range of anxiety disorders, so what we did was hone in on social anxiety, and we found that anxiety-promoting parental behaviors may be unique to the parent’s diagnosis and not necessarily common to all those with anxiety,” said Golda Ginsburg, PhD, a child anxiety expert at Johns Hopkins Children’s Center and professor of child and adolescent psychiatry.

Causality not proven, but the risk exists

While the study did not prove causality with the parents’ stress, it is a definite risk factor.

"Parental social anxiety should be considered a risk factor for childhood anxiety, and physicians who care for parents with this disorder would be wise to discuss that risk with their patients," explained Ginsburg.

“Children with an inherited propensity to anxiety do not just become anxious because of their genes, so what we need are ways to prevent the environmental catalysts—in this case, parental behaviors—from unlocking the underlying genetic mechanisms responsible for the disease,” cautioned Ginsburg.

Source: MedicalNewsToday, Child Psychiatry and Human Development


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