Could our children be anxious because of us?

There seems to be more children with anxiety in our society than ever before. This is something that I have been reading quite a bit about recently and the facts are quite staggering. In fact the research shows that as many as one in six young people in the UK suffer from anxiety. To look it another way, one in five teenagers in an average class will be suffering from anxiety (anxiety.org.uk). This is a frightening statistic frankly and it got me thinking about why this is happening.  As a mum, I know that there are many pressure of our teenagers which I have written about Here.

As a teacher and a mum I come across many, many children and their parents. I’m not a mental health expert and I’m only offering my opinions gathered from my experiences in this post. I certainly wouldn’t want to offend anyone but I wonder if the way we parent is adding to the anxiety that our young people are experiencing? In being such caring parents perhaps we are not helping our youngsters?

 

Here are my thoughts:

1. Perhaps by always telling our children that they are amazing at things, we are creating anxiety?

As parents and teachers, we want to praise our children for the things that they have done but I think the words we use are so important. Telling relatives that your child is going to play for a county team because they are amazing at sport actually creates tension, as your child is then expected to make that team. We’ve all done it; I know I have but labelling your child as ‘really good at maths’ creates a pressure for your child to always be really good at maths when their flair for maths may just be a stage. We want our children to enjoy what they enjoy or are motivated by, not become burdened by adult expectation.

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2. Do we overplay a ‘blip’?

As parents, we worry when our children get a bad grade in science or stick on a reading level but we really shouldn’t. All children plateau with their learning as that is the nature of learning! I’m often dismayed to hear that children as young as 6 years old are having tutor support because they received one poor maths grade. It may be just that they need to consolidate what they have learnt and then they will start making progress again. Tutors are great for children who need a little confidence or who have a barrier to learning such as dyslexia but all children will plateau at some point. This does not mean that they need extra tuition. If our children think the ‘blip’ is important enough to need support, they become anxious about their performance. Learning is a process that is complex and children must feel confident in their own abilities to make those next steps.

3. Do we overplay friendship issues?

One moment of unkindness is not bullying. Seeing you get upset when your child is working through a friendship issue will make them think the issue is more important than it really is. It really isn’t. All children have friendship woes, it’s a normal part of growing up. We need to help our children talk about their worries but not add to them by making small issues bigger than they actually are. I’ve noticed in my career that more and more parents are rushing in to talk about their child’s friendships when they should be allowing their child to figure some things out for themselves. Many, many children hit, scratch, kick, bite, pull hair and say unkind things. We need to teach our children tolerance, kindness and how to say sorry and forgive. Holding a grudge about a certain child that once pulled your child’s hair will also add to your child’s anxiety. They need to learn to get along with their peers and this anxiety about another child will not help them.

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4. Do we hide our feelings from our children?

I do this. I find it tricky to show my children if I’m sad or worried by something. I think that this is not healthy though. Obviously we shouldn’t be sharing things that are not appropriate with young children but if we are feeling sad we could tell our children that. ‘Mummy feels sad today but your smiley face is helping me feel happier.’ I think that children need to know that life can make us feel a range of emotions on a daily basis and that’s ok.

I’ve done all these things as parent at some time or another.
As a teacher, I know that praising effort is more important than praising attainment and I have always tried hard to do this with my own children. It does develop confidence and that is the one thing that young children need to try new things. Try it. Praise your children for the efforts they have made with a new skill rather than praising them when they achieve the end result. This is especially important for bright children when things come easier to them because they need the confidence to push themselves out of their comfort zone and learn that small failures are ok. Resilience to failure learnt young is better than feeling anxious as a teenager when exams hit.

I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Take care everyone. X

 

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6 Teen Sayings of the Summer

I read an excellent post by Four Princesses and the Cheese Here

A brilliant post about the things Kirstin’s little children have repeatedly said over the summer. It made me laugh as I thought about what my teenagers have been repeatedly saying over the summer. So here is my version….. thankyou Kirstin for the inspiration!

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1. I’ll do it in a minute…..

Well you clearly won’t though will you?? Whether it be chores (my kids get chores each day) or taking your dirty dishes to the kitchen you won’t “do it in a minute!” You will leave it until I remind you and then get cross because I am apparently nagging you to do your chores! Sometimes your chores need to be done so that I can get on and do mine. For example, I would like you to walk Dottie dog so that I can mop the floors when she’s out….actually hang on, you don’t walk Dottie because that would mean getting out of bed before lunch. Doing it ‘in a minute’ means doing whatever the ‘it’ is when you are ready to do it. Perhaps you should say, “I will do it when I want to?”
2. Is that what we’re eating??

Yes, clearly this is what we are eating! Actually, I’ve decided to lay the table with food that I think you may like to eat but if you don’t I’ll just go and prepare something else…….obviously. We have actually eaten this before as I’m not a cook and I have about 3 things that we eat in rotation. Dad cooks more than me and you know that so yes, this is what I am eating and this is what is being offered to you. Eat and be happy.

3. There is never any food in this house!

Clearly as I let you both starve. Let’s look in the cupboards…..oh look! There is lots of food in there. In fact, there is also lots of food in the freezer. No, we haven’t got any treats/snacks/cereal left as you have eaten all of that in 2 days since I went to the supermarket. Why not eat an apple? No? Try toast then and why not drink more milk! I only bought 6 pints yesterday and I will have to go later to buy more bread and milk.

4. Where is my blue top/black jeans/clean sports socks?

I have no idea. Perhaps the clothing fairy has taken it?? The clothing fairy takes all sorts in this house and will sometimes wash and dry clothes too if she feels like it. Or perhaps it is in the washing basket having been already washed by the washing fairy aka me, and needs to be put away? Oh, that was your chore was it? Ok, well that’s where it will be unless……oh look it’s stuffed at the back of your wardrobe where you stuffed it!

5. You are so annoying!

Yeap. It’s my life ambition to be annoying. I love to be annoying so much that I go out of my way to be annoying, just for you. I’m not particularly annoying to your Dad or friends or even work colleagues. I leave that especially for you. Call me annoying mum! Do all of the things you need to do and I become not annoying mum. She is much nicer and less annoying apparently.

6. It’s only like £50…..

Yes. I also love that top/jeans/makeup brush for “only £50.” It doesn’t mean that I’m going to buy it for you. You’ve spent your allowance/earnings by August 1st? Oh! sorry to hear that! Yes, it’s only £50…a bargain apparently. And no, I won’t lend you the money until next month because you already owe me money and I told you not to buy that make-up/pair of ridiculously expensive socks. Yes, I know I’m annoying, you already said that!

So there you have it! The 6 teen sayings of the summer thanks to my lovely children. They are great really and I have enjoyed the summer with them but they can go back to school now please. Thank you. 😉

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