Causes of Anxiety: Overprotective and Controlling Parents

One very obvious cause of social anxiety and other anxiety disorders is parents who are overprotective and overcontrolling of their children’s lives. Overprotection stunts a person’s growth as a person and does not allow him or her to successfully deal with fear.

The overprotective parent is one who never seems to let his or her child do anything, and if he or she is allowed to do something, it is only done with careful supervision from that parent and also a large amount of unnecessary rules. Take a look at the child who is not allowed to go on a merry-go-round until he or she is seven years old, for example. Most children (merry-go-rounds are old and hard to find anymore, but simply replace them with another piece of playground equipment that seems dangerous if it makes the reader more comfortable) have experienced a merry-go-round several times by that age, but say a parent decides not to let his or her child on one until he or she is seven.

It is well-known to everyone that people become anxious when doing new things. This child will be especially anxious because merry-go-rounds can make people’s bodies feel quite queasy inside, especially if they have never been experienced before. Imagine how ridiculous this child looks when other children who are much younger come to the playground and hop right on the merry-go-round without any hesitation. Meanwhile, next to them stands a shaking seven-year-old who is beside him or herself with anxiety because he or she has not experienced a merry-go-round before.

The child’s parent is trying to do the child good. The parent is worried that his or her child will get hurt, and this parent is dealing with that worry by rationalizing that it is good for children to not get hurt. Not letting a child get hurt, speaking in physical and emotional terms, is a very bad thing for a parent to do. The anxiety of the child will actually build because he or she is unfamiliar with many situations in life, and also because he or she does not have the practice of getting back on his or her own feet after a setback.

Instead of allowing the child to experience the situation, the parents are shielding that child from the situation, which is great (but practically impossible) if the parent plans on holding his or her children’s hands until the day their children die. Part of being an adult is being able to deal effectively with life’s setbacks, and this is something that needs to be taught from a young age.

The desire to protect stems from a seemingly good intention, but it can have profound long-term effects on the child. Severely overprotected children will have a hard time moving out into the world and finding a spouse, job, or place to live because they are not used to having to do things on their own; mommy or daddy has been there all along to help in any emergency.

But, mommy or daddy cannot ask a girl out on a date, perform a job interview, or pay the rent (in many cases anyway). These are things that a child needs to learn how to do on his or her own. The appropriate way for parents to raise their children is to allow the children to be hurt and experience in life, but not so much hurt that the child is overwhelmed (this is the other extreme and it happens as well). When a child needs help, the parent should be right there to help. But, the parent should not take the steps for the child; instead he or she should help the child understand what is good to do and let the child to take his or her own steps.

This strategy applies to every situation in the emotional or physical realm. Trying to micromanage every aspect of a child’s life so that he or she is not hurt, or so that the parent can do everything for the child which the child should be able to do for him or herself, can be practically devastating in real life, and severe anxiety disorders are one effect of overprotective parenting.

In sum, this means that anxiety sufferers who believe their anxiety is a result of this should regularly engage in doing things that are appropriate for their age and practice on handling these things on their own. It is wise and helpful to ask others for help, but the anxious person needs to take the steps so that he or she learns how to take care of him or her self. This will probably shed a lot of light on some people’s lives; armed with this new knowledge, it is now time to get out there and live life!

Good luck to those who decide they have had enough and move out into the real world!

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