The Parenting Anxiety

I am a worrier. There are no two ways about it. I am the kind of person that attempts to think through every single scenario of a given situation and come up with a plan to cope with it. I lose sleep over it, I get migraines because of it, I even sometimes end up avoiding the given situation because of some bizarre scenario I have come up with that I can’t find a way of resolving. The more unknowns the worse I am.

This was before I had children. I fully anticipated this getting much worse when I had two little people to take into consideration. After all they were coming from a fairly unknown background, with unknown medical history and multiple other things which are unknown. Oddly though, for the most part, this hasn’t been the case.

I made a decision before we adopted that I didn’t want to project my anxieties onto my children, so I do my best not to show it in front of them. I know I worry too much, and I don’t want them to worry about the same things I do because many of them are totally unnecessary. It’s probably too late for me to completely change, but they haven’t even started yet!

I’m not sure why but I am now no longer worrying quite so much about all those scenarios and how to resolve them, it’s all still there in the back of my mind but it doesn’t cause me any loss of sleep. So, maybe pretending not to be anxious in front of my children has caused a shift in the way my brain works when it comes to certain things which I have always known I shouldn’t be worrying about.

I do worry about how I’m parenting my children, I watch other parents and I know what I do comes across far more harsh than what they do. At the same time I know that the perceived harshness is the result of the necessity to provide reassurance and structure without providing sympathy and positive attention for unnecessary or disproportionate behaviour.

For instance, we recently had an episode of almost epic nature because flies were buzzing round a certain toddler’s head. I know that for whatever reason he has a fear of flies and when he started screaming and crying I didn’t immediately run up to him, give him a hug and comfort him or tell him everything would be okay. I know that if I had done this it would tell him that if he overreacts to a situation he will get hugs and sympathy for it, therefore that is what he should do more often. He craves positive attention because he lacked it in his first 2 years of life, and anything he finds that gets it he will repeat even if that is detrimental to himself (such as wetting himself on purpose after we reacted with too much sympathy when he did it accidentally).

So, instead I took him to one side away from the flies, got down to his level and together we acknowledged that yes, they were incredibly annoying and we didn’t really like them very much, but no they can’t really hurt us and we should just tell them to buzz off somewhere else. It reassured him that he was right to not like them, but that his level of reaction was a bit too much and a ‘little bit silly’. After that he was happy, he went back to playing, and he got congratulated when I heard him saying ‘buzz off flies’ every now and again, reinforcing a proportionate response with positivity. He clearly hates flies and I’m sure we will have to have this talk with him again a few more times before it becomes his conditioned response if it ever does.

Still, I worry that people think I’m one of those harsh parents who just tells their children off for everything they do. I know I’m not, but I know what I do appears harsh and intolerant. We know our son better than anyone else, and it is what he needs to help him deal with life.

I shouldn’t worry I know, but that’s me. I need something to worry about or I might end up being some sort of sane person and no one wants to be completely sane, right?


One comment

  1. If you get time for reading, take a look at Rainy Brain, Sunny Brain by Elaine Fox. There’s a lot about anxiety and how to deal with it. Though you seem to be on track to deal with it your own way!

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