How to not be an anxious parent

Chansky

Every mom or dad can (and will!)  beat themselves up over a parenting misstep here and there. But if you’re constantly berating yourself — and your negative thoughts are taking over — you should accept that in life, and especially in parenting, nobody’s perfect. Let Tamar E. Chansky, Ph.D., author of “Freeing Yourself from Anxiety,” teach you how.

Let go of expectations

Whether it’s your expectations for your child that he never pick his nose in public and always get straight A’s, or your expectations for yourself — that your kitchen counters always sparkle and your clothes never have PB and J on them — let them go. Real life has smudges, crumbs and B-minuses. If all of our energy is spent warding these moments off, we’ll be stressed to the max and we’ll miss out on what’s really happening in our lives.

Don’t jump to conclusions
When our children cry at a birthday party or the first day of school, we race ahead to the future and catastrophize that they will always be this way and they’ll never be able to handle these moments. Snap back to the present. Things may be hard now, but trust your children: With your help and acceptance, they will move through these struggles.

Choose your support wisely
If your social network consists of people who compare and contrast their kids and worry about their 5-year-old not getting into Harvard, keep looking! Parenting is hard enough without other parents raising the stakes and your blood pressure. Seek out other parents who share your values and desire for sanity.

Allow your child to struggle (a little)  
We race ahead trying to remove every obstacle for our children, every forgotten lunch box and umbrella. Like us, kids learn best from their mistakes, so let them have them. Resilience is like a muscle: It benefits from practice.

Allow yourself some worry time
Worry is a natural part of life and of love. If your worry is becoming the default mode every day, make it wait for your attention. Schedule five minutes each day when you go into that dark tunnel, and if worry comes at you at other times of the day, tell it that it’s not time yet. When it’s worry time, make two columns in your head (or on paper): Fears on one side, facts on the other. Fear always gets the story wrong — recite the facts of the matter.


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