Parents should motivate kids to step out of their comfort zone, especially fathers. A new study suggests when fathers encourage kids, it helps them avoid social anxiety in young adulthood.
“Most research on the role that parenting plays in anxiety focuses on the child’s interaction with the mother. In this study, we show that fathers play an important role in encouraging children to push themselves a bit more socially and take safe risks,” professor Jennie Hudson, Macquarie University’s Centre for Emotional Health, was quoted saying.
The study’s emphasis on the role of fathers can be traced back to the traditional gender stereotype in parenting where physical play is usually the domain of fathers, as is encouraging kids to take risk. The study found that fathers, who challenged kids to endless games of chess, basketball or backyard cricket and never let them win may have been helping kids to cope with anxiety as they grow.
How do you teach your child to be assertive? By throwing them challenges and by encouraging them to stand up for their opinions or beliefs, for instance.
The study was published in the Journal of Cognitive Therapy and Research in September. For the study, 442 people in the ’emerging adult’ category were surveyed, who reported on anxiety symptoms, generalised anxiety, stress and social anxiety–and their parents’ behaviour.
Another important finding was that if either parent was overly critical, kids were more likely to have more signs of general anxiety and stress.
Some parents also tend to shield their child from disappointment and give them more help than they need at their age or with their abilities. This can actually increase stress or anxiety because children are led to believe they need help and protection from the outside world,” said lead author Anna Smout.