Parental Anxiety

What is Parental Anxiety?

Parental anxiety is a form of anxiety that can develop in parents or caregivers. It stems from the worry or fear a parent/caregiver may have in regards to their child. These fears can be triggered by concerns for aspects of their child’s life, such as their child’s health, development, or social skills. Parental anxiety can affect parents of children of any age, it does not only develop in parents of young children.

What are the Signs of Parental Anxiety?

There are a variety of general anxiety symptoms, such as:

  • Fatigue
  • Muscle aches
  • Stomach aches
  • Sweating
  • Nervousness
  • Irritability
  • Trouble sleeping

For parental anxiety, the signs of anxiety specifically involve the child’s well-being, such as:

  • Having frequent worry that their child may be harmed in some way
  • Viewing relatively safe situations as harmful to their child, to the extent that they prevent their child from interacting with the situation.
  • Voicing worry to their partner or friend about their child’s well-being

Often with parental anxiety, much of the worry is rooted in fear of their child’s health and development, performance in school, social skills, and mental health.


Can Parental Anxiety Affect Children?

Yes, parental anxiety can negatively impact the mental health of a child. Whether intentionally or not, parents/caregivers with parental anxiety who express their anxiety towards their child are more likely to find their child also develops childhood depression or anxiety. Although worries and fears in young children are normal, if these fears persist or begin to impact their performance at school, at home, or activities, it is possible they have developed an anxiety disorder.

Are There Ways to Manage Parental Anxiety?

There are a variety of ways to try to manage parental anxiety. Practicing coping skills, such as breathing exercises, exercise, or journaling, can be helpful methods to tolerate stress. I recommend trying the Breethe App, Calm App, and/or the Rootd App to help manage your anxiety symptoms. Further, planning in advance for different ways to handle stressful situations can help put your mind at ease, such as putting your child into swim lessons if you have fear of your child’s safety while swimming. It can also be helpful to be honest with your child about how you are coping with your anxiety. For example, if you find you are raising your voice with your child due to your anxiety, explain why you are feeling worried and better ways you could have reacted.

If you find you are struggling to manage your parental anxiety on your own, seeking help from a doctor or mental health professional is another effective way to manage your anxiety.

Overall, parental anxiety is a form of anxiety that can affect parents/caregivers with children of any age. Using methods such as mindfulness, breathing exercises, or talking with a mental health professional can help manage anxiety symptoms.