As a parent, you face challenges every day. Before having your child, you might have been worried about issues like postpartum depression, or how a lack of sleep could negatively affect your mental health. But you might not have anticipated that so many aspects of parenthood could trigger your anxiety.
Maybe you already struggled with anxiety before having a child, and while you were concerned about how this major life change could exacerbate your symptoms, you hoped you would be able to get it under control. Or perhaps you never had issues with anxiety before. But now, your child might trigger anxiety, whether it’s because they’re having a tantrum, or because you can’t stop worrying about their safety even when they’re not in any danger.
If your child occasionally triggers your anxiety, it’s time to get to the root of the issue. Here’s how to handle your anxiety as a parent.
Identify What’s Being Triggered
Maybe when your child is in the midst of a tantrum, you feel your anxiety rear its head. Or perhaps you feel nervous when your child is outside playing, and you have to take your eyes away from them for a moment. At times, you might feel anxious when your child acts up in public.
During moments like these, it’s important to consider why you’re feeling triggered. Do you have a good reason to worry about your child’s wellbeing? Are you worried about what other parents will think? Or have you been reminded of a difficult moment from your own childhood? Honing in on the roots of your anxiety can help you find healthy ways to address these feelings.
Counteract Your Feelings
When you’re feeling anxious around your child, or because of them, it’s important not to take it out on your child. Instead, take a moment to counteract these feelings. This is especially important if your child is having a meltdown. As their parent, you need to balance out their energy so that you can help calm them down.
For instance, you might want to put a hand on their back and tell them that things will be okay. Talking to them in a soothing voice might help you steady yourself, too. If you’re alone, but you’re worried about your child, sitting down and taking a few deep breaths can help you release some of these feelings. It’s not a cure, but it certainly doesn’t hurt.
Remember That All Parents Face Obstacles
Maybe you feel anxious because you worry other parents will judge you when your child acts out or makes a mistake. You might feel nervous when you have to make a big decision for your child. You may even feel your anxiety spiking when you compare yourself to other parents.
It’s crucial to remember that no parent is perfect. Every parent has moments when they are overwhelmed, embarrassed, frustrated, and uncertain. You do not have to compare yourself to the “highlight reels” of other families—just focus on doing what’s best for your own.
Work With a Therapist
Living with anxiety can make parenting even more difficult than it already is. If you feel like you’re having trouble just keeping your head above water, you may want to talk to a therapist. There is no shame in seeking professional support if you’re dealing with anxiety as a parent. Therapy can equip you with the strategies you need to better manage your anxiety and become more confident as a parent.
Are you struggling with anxiety after becoming a parent? Talking to a therapist can help. Reach out to us today to discuss your options after scheduling your first session.