Skip to Content

Can I be a good parent if I have anxiety?

Having anxiety does not mean you cannot be a good parent. Many caring and competent parents live with anxiety disorders. With self-care, social support, and proper treatment, parents with anxiety can provide their children with love, security, and guidance.

Does having anxiety make me unfit to be a parent?

No, having an anxiety disorder does not automatically make you an unfit parent. Anxiety is a highly treatable mental health condition. With therapy, medication, or other interventions, many people with anxiety learn to manage their symptoms and lead fulfilling lives as parents.

The key is to seek help and commit to your own wellbeing. A parent who prioritizes their mental health is better equipped to handle the stresses of parenting. Getting anxiety under control enables you to be fully present and attentive to your child’s needs.

How does anxiety affect parenting abilities?

Left untreated, anxiety can interfere with parenting in several ways:

  • Hypervigilance and worry may cause you to be overprotective.
  • Panic attacks may make you unavailable when your child needs comfort or reassurance.
  • Perfectionism could lead to unreasonable expectations of your child.
  • Social anxiety may inhibit you from participating in your child’s school and social activities.
  • Obsessions could make it hard to be flexible and attuned to your child’s changing needs.

However, with therapy and self-care, you can keep anxiety from negatively impacting your child. Treatment helps prevent symptoms like panic attacks while enabling you to maintain appropriate boundaries, flexibility, and presence.

How can I manage anxiety while parenting?

Here are some tips for balancing anxiety and parenting:

  • Seek therapy. Work with a mental health professional to learn anxiety management skills. Consider both therapy and medication.
  • Learn your triggers. Notice when certain situations tend to heighten your anxiety, whether it’s large crowds, driving, or your child’s tantrums. Plan coping strategies.
  • Practice self-care. Make time for healthy habits like exercise, relaxing hobbies, and social connection. Aim for balance rather than perfection.
  • Share your feelings. Let close friends and family know what you are experiencing. Their support can be invaluable.
  • Educate yourself. Read up on child development and positive parenting approaches. Knowledge is empowering.
  • Give yourself credit. Acknowledge your efforts and celebrate your victories, both big and small.

What are some anxiety management skills I can use while parenting?

Specific techniques that can help calm anxiety in the moment include:

  • Deep breathing. Inhale slowly through your nose, hold briefly, and exhale slowly through pursed lips. Repeat.
  • Progressive muscle relaxation. Tense and relax muscle groups one at a time to release tension.
  • Guided imagery. Picture a peaceful scene like a beach or forest. Engage all your senses.
  • Mindfulness. Bring your attention fully to the present moment without judgment.
  • Grounding. Notice concrete sensations like sights, sounds, and textures around you.
  • Self-soothing. Speak gently to yourself. Place a hand over your heart.

Practice these when you notice anxiety building. Over time, they will help you stay calm and focused.

What type of treatment is recommended for anxious parents?

Cognitive behavioral therapy (CBT) is considered the most effective form of therapy for anxiety disorders. CBT teaches you to identify and challenge unhelpful thought patterns.

Some key elements of CBT include:

  • Identifying automatic negative thoughts
  • Developing rational responses to those thoughts
  • Learning to reframe feared situations in a more positive light
  • Facing anxious feelings gradually through exposure therapy

Anti-anxiety medications like SSRIs may also be recommended as an adjunct to therapy. Other holistic options like acupuncture, exercise, and mediation can also complement treatment.

Seeing a specialist like a psychiatrist or psychologist with expertise in anxiety disorders is advised. They can help design a customized treatment plan. Ongoing counseling provides crucial support as you balance parenting and anxiety management.

What tips can help anxious parents build a secure attachment with their child?

Here are some ways for anxious parents to foster healthy bonding and attachment:

  • Make time for child-led play. Let your child take the lead during playtime while you follow their cues.
  • Establish routines. Regular schedules for things like meals, naps, and bedtime help kids feel secure.
  • Respond sensitively. Meet your child’s needs for comfort and reassurance in a prompt, caring way.
  • Make eye contact. Get down to your child’s level and look them in the eyes often.
  • Provide physical affection. Give plenty of hugs, cuddles, and positive touches when your child seeks connection.
  • Acknowledge feelings. Help your child label emotions. Empathize even during upsets.
  • Stay present. Minimize distractions to focus fully on time together.

Anxious or not, any parent can build security through consistent nurturing. Therapy helps ensure anxiety doesn’t interfere with meaningful parent-child interactions.

What are some indicators my anxiety is significantly impacting my child?

Signs your anxiety may be affecting your child’s wellbeing include:

  • Excessive worrying or fearful behavior
  • Regressive behavior like bedwetting or tantrums
  • Difficulty separating from you
  • Seeking constant reassurance
  • Somatic complaints like headaches or stomachaches
  • Trouble sleeping
  • Changes in eating habits
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Withdrawal from peers

If you notice several of these behaviors, speak to your child’s pediatrician. Consulting a child therapist can also help determine any impacts and recommend interventions.

The good news is that children are resilient. With your commitment to healing, they can learn to manage anxiety as well.

When should I seek help for parenting with anxiety?

It’s important to seek help when:

  • Your anxiety prevents you from providing basic care and supervision
  • You think your anxiety may be traumatizing your child
  • Symptoms like panic attacks happen regularly
  • You rely heavily on avoidance or compensating behaviors
  • Your child begins exhibiting concerning signs of distress
  • You have thoughts of harming yourself or your child

In an emergency, call emergency services or a crisis hotline. For a non-urgent referral, contact your primary care doctor or insurance provider. Waiting allows anxiety to become more severe, so reach out promptly.

With the right mix of treatments tailored to your needs, you can learn to be the parent you want to be.

What social support is recommended for parents with anxiety?

It’s essential for parents with anxiety to have a strong social support system. Recommended forms of support include:

  • Individual therapy. Work through concerns without judgment and gain healthy coping tools.
  • Support groups. Connect with other parents who relate to your experiences.
  • Family involvement. Share your feelings and limitations to enlist understanding and practical help.
  • Peer support. Spend time with empathetic friends who lift your spirits.
  • Childcare help. Accept offers from trusted family and friends to watch your child while you recharge.
  • Medical providers. Keep open communication with doctors managing your treatment.
  • Online forums. Anonymously discuss your challenges and successes with the anxious parent community.

You don’t have to navigate anxiety alone. Give yourself permission to ask for and accept assistance.

What self-care habits are important for anxious parents?

Essential self-care practices for anxious parents include:

  • Relaxation techniques. Try yoga, deep breathing, meditation, massage, etc. Use whatever helps you destress.
  • Physical activity. Aim for 30 minutes of exercise most days to boost mood and resilience.
  • Quality sleep. Follow good sleep hygiene habits like limiting electronics before bed.
  • Healthy eating. Choose nutritious whole foods and stay hydrated throughout the day.
  • Fun hobbies. Make time for activities you enjoy, even in small doses.
  • Nature time. Spend time outdoors which can reduce anxiety.
  • Saying “no.” Don’t overcommit. Keep your schedule manageable.
  • Professional help. Seek therapy, medication, or other treatments that improve your symptoms.

Balancing self-care while meeting your child’s needs takes practice. Be proud of each step you take in prioritizing your wellbeing.


While anxiety poses unique challenges, you can absolutely be a loving, capable parent. The keys are seeking professional help, surrounding yourself with support, and having compassion for yourself. With the right tools, anxiety does not have to define your parenting journey. Your children need you to show up as your best self. Making your mental health a priority allows you to do just that.