Research suggests that mothers of anxious children tend to be over-involved. The question is this – which comes first, the child who becomes anxious in reaction to mum’s overprotection or the mum who reacts to an anxious child by being overprotective?
According to a new study from the Journal of Clinical Child & Adolescent Psychology, over- protectiveness in mums may be a response to, rather than the cause of, anxious children. Researchers compared ‘clinically anxious’ kids to their non-anxious peers as they socialised with other people’s mums. They found that, “when mothers interacted with an anxious child, they provided significantly more help to the child than mothers interacting with a child who did not have an anxiety disorder.” In other words, the fretful child made the mum more fussy and not vice-versa.
Whether we buy into this explanation or not, it’s a reminder that apportioning blame is not as simple as it can appear. Especially not when you’re passing judgement on something as difficult and sensitive as parenting skills. Parents, my hat goes off to you – we’ve only got cats and it’s a miracle they’re still living, let alone sane.