A CDC Study April 19, 2019 found that 7.1% of children aged 3-17 (approximately 4.4 million) have been diagnosed with anxiety. For children aged 3-17 years with behavior problems, more than 1 in 3 – that is 36.6% also have anxiety. The question is why are millions of children grappling with that horrible feeling we call anxiety?

One major reason:

They have a low sense of self-worth. They don’t believe in themselves. They have come to the conclusion that who they are is not enough – just not good enough. And so, the epidemic of anxiety in children is accompanied by an epidemic of children who believe they are ‘not enough’.

Anxious parents raise anxious children.

If you have an anxious child with low self-esteem do you sometimes wonder how this happened? Do you wonder, ‘Why does my child struggle with these awful feelings that makes his life so difficult?’ The answer is that anxious parents raise anxious children. Well intentioned, loving, anxious parents spend a great deal of time trying to ‘improve’ their children or ‘fix’ their children by focusing on the negatives, more often than they focus on the positives. Parents do this out of fear – fear that their beloved children won’t be successful, happy, smart, popular, courageous, resilient and confident.

The problem lies in the fact that the chemistry of anxiety is very contagious – and, especially if the child has a sensitive nature. Children are so perceptive. They are scanning us all the time. They are reading our energy. They will sense your anxiety. This leads them to start believing that Mom/Dad are worried about me because they believe ‘I am not enough’. Soon they begin to be afraid that they won’t be able to meet the expectations of their parents, teachers and friends, because they are just not enough.

Parents arguing in front of anxious child

If you have an anxious child, Moms and Dads, know this:

Your child’s anxiety will be healed and gone only when you heal and reverse YOUR anxiety. This is because neuroscience shows us that what is happening inside of you is happening inside of your children. This is known as Interpersonal Neurobiology. Your children begin to copy your anxious behaviors, they start to think anxious thoughts, like you do, and they begin to expect the worst case scenarios, just as you do.

If we look backwards at your parents, the grandparents of your anxious children, we will find that one or both of them were also anxious, even feeling, ‘I am not enough.’ And if you don’t break this generational program, then your children will program their children to be anxious, perpetuating this awful trait of anxiety from generation to generation.

You cannot give your children what you yourself don’t have.

We all want our children to be anxiety-free, to feel whole and confident, to be emotionally resilient, and to love life. For this to happen, WE have to show up that way. WE have to be the living example of what being anxiety-free this looks like, how it sounds, and feels and behaves. Taking children to therapists to improve their self-esteem is ridiculous if they then come home, sense your anxiety and absorb it. The good feelings the therapist may have been able to generate in the child will dissipate and be quickly replaced by the same level of anxiety Mom/Dad are projecting.

Using medication as the answer is equally dysfunctional as is trying to ‘fix’ the child without fixing yourself first. I have parents who visit and tell me, “I have been on this medication for my anxiety for years, I want you to put my son on it too. It’s the only thing that works.’ What an awful message to pass on to a child.

Two mothers reflecting on how they parent their kids

Are you Brave enough for this? 4 Steps to Replace Anxiety with Self-Confidence

1. Look in the Mirror.

Have the courage and insight to take ownership of the fact that if your child is anxious, this will mean that one or both parents are anxious.

Understand that your anxiety is contagious. The chemistry of anxiety within you is being picked up by your children and is disrupting their chemistry, causing them to feel anxious.

2. Decide: ‘Enough! It is time for me to heal so my child can heal.

Do your research and find a trustworthy practitioner who can help you ‘change your brain’. I emphasize ‘change your brain’ because talking about changing will not heal your anxiety. Choose a practitioner who knows how to literally help you rewire your brain. When done with the right practitioner this is truly life-changing.

3. Avoid using the Language of Anxiety.

Become aware of your conversations with your children and others. Consciously stop speaking about your anxiety and begin speaking more about what you are grateful for. Let yourself become aware of the tone of your voice when you are anxious and change it. Realize that your words and your voice and your body language impart either anxious energy or joyful energy, which changes your child’s chemistry for the better or the worse.

4. Invest in your Healing

Changing our brains from being anxious to feeling joy, appreciation of life, gratitude, serenity and peace does not happen overnight or in a few weeks. It is an exciting and fulfilling journey that requires an investment of time to make this happen.

If you want powerful parenting tools to help you on this journey see Healing Your Child’s Anxiety and Fear. Click on the link and learn all about my tool box that contains 7 videos, of 15 minutes each, that will give you the information and tools you need to free your child of anxiety. Using these tools has the potential to change the trajectory of your child’s life. Imagine being able to give your child the gift of an anxious-free life!