It is well said that children learn not from what their parents say, but from what their parents do and feel. A study reports that parental social anxiety is a risk factor for children to develop it as well. Lack of affection and excessive criticism are the behaviors through which parents demonstrate this anxiety and pass it on to their children .

When you become a father or mother, the most beautiful and important gift comes into your life. The love and respect in your home will be the model for these children to grow up in a healthy emotional environment. They are a “photocopier” of everything you say and the emotions you express. Therefore, it is not a coincidence that emotions are also learned. If the parents suffer from social anxiety (the most common type of anxiety), the children can also develop that type of disorder.

A recent study conducted by doctors at the John Hopkins Children’s Center confirms that when parents suffer from social anxiety disorder, which is the most common form of anxiety, children are at greater risk of developing anxiety . In addition, the study gave examples of parental behaviors that increase this risk in children: lack of warmth and affection, and constant criticism and doubt.

To reach these conclusions, the research team analyzed the interactions between 66 anxious parents (21 diagnosed with social anxiety and the rest with another form of anxiety such as panic or  obsessive -compulsive disorder ) and their children between the ages of 7 and 12. .

Father-son teams were put together and a video was recorded as they worked together to write speeches about themselves and to copy designs. They had to complete this task within 5 minutes, while the researchers rated the affection and criticism that parents showed their children on a scale of 1 to 5.

At the end of the test, parents with social anxiety were shown to be less affectionate and warm towards their children. They also tended to be more critical of their children and to doubt their ability to complete homework.

This study provides useful data for psychologists treating parents with anxiety to note that it is important to discuss how this condition may impact their children’s mental health. In the same way, it provides information that anxiety is not only inherited, but that environmental factors and interaction with parents are catalysts for its development.

It is important to prevent anxiety in children, because if it is not treated or detected, it can lead to depression , substance abuse  and poor performance in school.

If you have any questions regarding anxiety disorders, consult your doctor or a qualified professional. Think that in addition to your health, the health of your children is also at stake.

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