Dr. Greg Smith
July 25, 2014
Parenting Styles and Anxiety Disorders in Children and Adolescents It is safe to assume that the methods of child rearing chosen by parents have a great and lasting impact on a child’s life. Unfortunately though, not all parenting styles create strong and resilient children. There are some parenting styles that breed anxiety sensitivity and anxiety disorders in children, and than there are some parenting styles that result in independent children with good coping skills. Not only does the actual way of parenting affect children, but the perceived parenting style—the way a child sees his or her parents parenting style to be—can affect and or cause anxiety sensitivity and anxiety disorders in children and adolescents. After researching in depth the different parenting styles and their outcomes, I have come to the conclusion that children raised by overprotective and authoritarian parents have a higher risk of developing anxiety sensitivity—the fear of anxiety, which in turn causes anxiety—and anxiety and panic disorders (Erozkan 52). In regards to the perceived parenting style, children are often very sensitive to what their parents are saying to them, or rather, what they think their parents are saying. When children perceive what is not there or read between the lines too much, that can cause trouble in parenting, especially when children perceive what is being said to them, or the manner in which they are being disciplined, to be negative. That is why the perceived parenting style is so important; a negatively perceived style is just as bad as an actually negative style. According to the article, “Parenting Styles and Eating Disorders,” children who perceive their parents to be affectionless and controlling scored higher for anxiety (Lobera 731-32). The same can be said for children raised in authoritarian and overprotective homes (Erozkan 53). Before children raised in the above mentioned environments develop anxiety, they tend to first develop anxiety sensitivity, which according to Erozkan means:
…[F]ear of internal anxiety symptoms arising form the belief that the symptoms have harmful physical, psychological, and/or social consequences. Anxiety sensitivity refers to the extent of beliefs that anxiety symptoms or arousal can have harmful consequences (Erozkan 52).
This does not just occur on its own as a result of overprotective or authoritarian parents, this appears as a result to watching or listening to their parents perceive anxiety or panic disorders in a negative light. After considering anxiety as bad, the fear of it settles in and slowly but surely anxiety sensitivity develops in the minds of these young children. Parenting styles do not just produce negative affects in children and adolescents; they can also have a positive affect—as most parents hope for. Parents who portray warm and positive emotions tend to raise children who