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Am I making my child's anxiety worse?

Updated: Aug 24, 2022

In this FAQ series, we asked clinical psychologist Catherine Gallagher “am I making my child's anxiety worse?”

This is a big one for parents, particularly young and first time parents. In fact, when we make our children do things which their worried brain is telling them is dangerous, or if we stop recognising their worries and concerns, it can appear in the short term like we're making our child’s anxiety worse. In fact, it can become quite consuming.

The reality is though that it is a short term issue. We need our children to actually feel some anxiety about situations, and to still be in them long enough so that they realise that their anxiety wasn't based on truth. It was based on their worried brain, overestimating risk and underestimating the resources they actually had to cope with it.

In short, children can come across as more anxious, particularly when we are encouraging them and supporting them to do things they don't necessarily want to do. But in the long term, in doing that, by being those people, we are actually helping their anxiety shrink down to a manageable size, allowing them to become accustomed to feel worried, and therefore helping them approach life in a much more functional and brave manner.

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