Do parents make children anxious? : Nature or Nurture
Updated: Jan 3
Many parents are aware of how much children learn from them - the positive qualities as well as the ... well, less helpful ones.
Yes, we’ve all been in the supermarket when our child says something inappropriate, people look, we want to disappear, and to make it worse we recognise that what they just came out with was learnt directly from us.
NATURE OR NURTURE?
Many people are also aware than anxiety seems to run in families. Is this to do with learning and environmental influences or is there some genetic link? In other words, do we teach children anxiety - if I am afraid of spiders, does my child also learn this fear?
A recent study titled ‘The Intergenerational Transmission of Anxiety: A Children-of-Twins Study’ and published in The American Journal of Psychiatry investigated this.
The researchers studied anxiety levels in 385 identical and 486 non-identical twin families from the Swedish Twin and Offspring Study.
The results supported environmental influences as being a source of anxiety in children, i.e. anxiety transmitted from parents to their children. Their was no significant evidence of genetic transmission.
WHAT CAN PARENTS DO?
Well, these results are probably not a surprise for most people but are certainly interesting, especially in the ongoing debate between environmental and genetic influences on behaviour.
For parents it indicates what many already know, i.e. that it is important to model positive behaviours and coping strategies to children, protect children from witnessing and being involved in our emotional states and in particular to try as much as possible not to show anxiety in front of children.
Instead, encourage proportional responses to risk and fear and reasonable risk-taking, model positive coping strategies and allow and support children to develop their own emotional maturity over time.
If we can teach our children to be anxious, we also have the potential to teach them to be calm, relaxed and confident.
It is also inportant to remember that not all anxiety in children is learned from parents. For example, anxiety can develop in children thorugh a fear response being associated with a particular object, animal or situation/place, or; a traumatic incident leading to development of seperation anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder.
Anxiety is a common and growing problem in the UK. According to Anxiety UK, more than 1 in 10 people are likely to experience a disabling anxiety disorder, 13% develop a phobia and 2.5% experience obssessive-compulsive disorder at some time in their life. The Mental Health Foundation report that in 2013 there were 8.2 million cases of anxiety in the UK, with women almost twice as likely to be diagnosed than men.
Anxiety treatment with clinical hypnotherapy is a specialism at Positive Change Hypnotherapy in Bolton.
Stuart Rose, Clinical Hypnotherapist in Bolton at Positive Change has been working therapeutically with people experiencing anxiety since 1999. Stuart Rose is a talented hypnotherapist who highly qualified, eperienced, caring and profesisonal.
Book your free consultation now.
Eley, T. C., McAdams, T. A., Rijsdijk, F. V., Lichtenstein, P., Narusyte, J., Reiss, D., Spotts, E. L., Ganiban, J. M., and Neiderhiser, J. M. (2015) The Intergenerational Transmission of Anxiety: A Children-of-Twins Study. The American Journal of Psychiatry, [online] Available at: <http://ajp.psychiatryonline.org/doi/10.1176/appi.ajp.2015.14070818> Accessed 30/09/15.