Tag Archive for: worry

By Aisha Givens, LCSW – June 16, 2021 –

As parents, we often worry about our children. It’s part of the job. We worry when they are young and continue to worry as they grow into teenagers and adults. Being concerned about your child is a healthy and appropriate feeling. However, constant or excessive worrying can be detrimental to both parent and child. This is known as parental paranoia.

Parental paranoia is constant supervision of a child. This type of paranoia often leads parents to limit their child’s activities to ensure that an adult is always present to observe and control the child’s behavior. This kind of attention can suppress creativity and prevents independent thinking. It can also negatively affect a child’s personal relationships later in life.

When I was a child, my parents gave us rules, but many of us freely wandered our neighborhoods. This was just another part of growing up. I remember walking to the store at least three blocks away at the age of four with my five-year-old brother and his five-year-old friend. 

“Adult geographic solidarity,” or lack thereof, plays a role in the parental paranoia we see in today’s society. We all know the saying, “It takes a village.” The village in the past was usually made up of family members and friends who all lived in the same neighborhood. This gave children the opportunity to freely roam, like I used to when I was a child.

Since extended families generally no longer share backyards or neighborhoods, it leaves today’s parents without the reassurance that their children are safely in the hands of other trusted adults.

These days, most parents don’t allow the same freedoms to their children that many of us enjoyed when we were young. The world has changed so much since then. When my girls were eleven years old and wanted to go the mall for the first time without me, my immediate thought was “Are they going to be safe?”

All of us have these questions about safety. They are normal and healthy responses to perceived risk. However, it is important to remember that in our constantly modernizing world, children are much safer today than during our childhoods.

Today’s most common parenting styles require parents to be observant about safety, which is a good thing in moderation. Most socialization is organized in the form of sports teams, play dates, and extracurricular activities.

These activities are wonderful ways for children to form bonds with each other without direct adult supervision. Make an effort to take a step back in situations like these and take comfort in the fact that don’t you have to worry.  

Ultimately, you want your children to be responsible, respected, and successful. Too much parental observation can add to a child’s stress and anxiety and take away opportunities for children to gain independence. Hovering and micromanaging reduces their ability to lead their own lives.

Strive to find a balance and allow your children the space to learn and grow independently from you. Think about what will happen when it’s time for them to leave home. Will they be ready to face the world, having been protected from it throughout their lives?

Childhood is meant to provide an emotionally secure grounding and a space for freedom, play, and learning from mistakes. Give your children that space and freedom to become their best selves.

By Heather Miller, LCSW, Courier & Press, April 11, 2017 –

If you are the parent of a teen, you have most likely thought, “You’re seriously worried about that?” a few dozen times.

The issues that worry adults are often completely different than the issues that worry teens.  Adults may often be confused about why a teen would be worried about a particular issue and may also wonder how to best give support.

It may be difficult to not trivialize a teen’s worries at times, but validating your child’s emotions is crucial to the adult-teen relationship.

According to the National Institute for Mental Health, immaturity of the brain plays a large role in why teens worry.  A study utilizing MRI found that when attempting to distinguish between safety and threat, teens use the part of the brain responsible for basic fear responses.

When given the same scenario, findings indicate that adults utilize a more mature part of the brain responsible for reasoned judgments.  This suggests that teens may be more fearful in general due to their physical inability to adequately distinguish between safety and threat.

What do teens worry about the most? An article found on familyeducation.com notes that teens worry about the following:

  • What others think of them
  • Grades
  • Lack of time
  • Family difficulties
  • The future

Parents and caregivers can help teens get through worrisome situations.  This assistance will strengthen the parent-child relationship and teach the teen coping skills to use independently in the future.

Here are three ideas for supporting your worried teen:

  • Validate that your teen is worried and, without judgment, allow them to tell you what is leading to the worry.
  • Assist your teen in narrowing down the actual issue as well as brainstorming possible solutions.  Allow your teen to think of possible solutions rather than telling them what to do to solve the issue.
  • Remain focused on how your teen is feeling rather than trying to “cheerlead” them out of a worry.  Being positive and supportive is very important; however, comments such as “Oh, it will be just fine – don’t worry,” often feel generic and uncaring.

While some amount of worrying is a normal part of every teen’s experience, excessive worry that interferes with functioning or quality of life may require professional intervention. If you feel your teen is consumed with worry and this is affecting their daily activities, contact the Youth First Social Worker at your child’s school, a guidance counselor, an outpatient therapist, or your teen’s pediatrician to discuss these concerns.

Additionally, if communicating with your teen is difficult, Youth First programs such as Strengthening Families can help develop communication skills for families with children of all ages. Please call 812-421-8336 or visit youthfirstinc.org for more information about Strengthening Families or other Youth First programs.