As a parent, it can be incredibly difficult to see your child struggling with anxiety. It can be stressful, overwhelming, and emotionally draining to support your child through their struggles while also trying to take care of yourself and your other family members. But it is important to remember that as a caregiver, you cannot pour from an empty cup. To effectively support your child, you need to take care of yourself as well. JFS’s counseling team has put together this list of ways to care for yourself while caring for your child with anxiety.
#1: Ask for Help. One way to support yourself as a parent of a child with anxiety is by getting help for yourself. This can include counseling or therapy, where you can talk about your own feelings and learn coping strategies for dealing with the stress of caregiving. SPACE is a specific type of treatment that can be particularly helpful for parents of children with anxiety. SPACE stands for Supportive Parenting for Anxious Childhood Emotions. SPACE focuses on helping parents to understand and support their child’s anxiety, while also taking care of their own emotional needs. The treatment is based on the idea that when parents can manage their own reactions, they are better equipped to help their child.
#2: Build Your Network. Another way to support yourself as a parent of a child with anxiety is by building a support network. This can include friends, family, or support groups for parents of children with anxiety. Joining a support group can provide you with a sense of community, where you can share your experiences and learn from others who understand what you are going through. SPACE can help in this case as well, as it often includes parent groups, where parents can learn and support each other in a safe and confidential environment.
#3: Learn More About the Anxiety Your Child is Experiencing. Learning about anxiety and how to best support your child can also help you manage stress and better equip your entire family for managing anxiety. This can include reading books, attending workshops, or talking to a therapist or counselor. SPACE can help you better understand and manage childhood anxiety so you can better support your child and yourself as you navigate challenges. The counseling is designed to teach parents how to recognize and respond to their child’s anxiety in a supportive and understanding way, and how to create a home environment that is conducive to healing.
#4. Be Sure to Balance. Don’t underestimate how much taking care of your physical and emotional well-being can benefit not only you, but also your child who suffers from anxiety. When you get enough sleep, eat well, socialize with your partner or friends, and take time for yourself you can recharge and infuse your home with a more positive atmosphere that benefits everyone. It’s important to create a balance between caring for your child and caring for yourself, and how to make time for self-care in your busy schedule. Self-care for parents of children with anxiety is a critical element of ensuring everyone in your family is as healthy as possible.
#5: Set Boundaries. A final way to support yourself as a parent of a child with anxiety is by setting boundaries and learning to say no. As a caregiver, it is easy to put everyone else’s needs before your own. It’s important to set boundaries and prioritize your own needs, while also continuing to support your child. This can be difficult, but it is important to remember that setting boundaries is not only good for you, but it is also good for your child.
Being a parent of a child with anxiety can be incredibly challenging. But it is important to remember that to effectively support your child, you need to take care of yourself as well. Parents in Rochester can access SPACE through The Counseling Center at JFS in both individual and group settings. The program provides strategies for supporting a child with anxiety and provides parents with the knowledge, skills, and support needed to navigate the challenges and stress of caregiving. For more information about SPACE, other services at The Counseling Center at JFS, or to schedule an appointment contact us at email@example.com or call (585) 506-3060.