# Children mirror parents’ anxiety

Children learn by copying and mirroring. This is also why we humans can empathise.

Unfortunately, all of the worries and fears that we express will also trickle down to children.

See also: Narcissism blocks flow.

# References

The Self-Driven Child (p. 83)

Bad news first, anxiety tends to run in families. Up to 50 percent of children of anxious parents to develop anxiety disorders themselves.

The Self-Driven Child (p. 85)

For example, when parents are anxious about math, their kids are more likely to be anxious about math, too, but only if the anxious parents often help with the homework.7

The Self-Driven Child (p. 85)

It works the other way too, When your kid is upset, your amygdala reacts, which makes it even harder to be calm. This is why so many parents find themselves, ironically and often comically, angrily yelling at their kids for losing their temper.

The Self-Driven Child (p. 85)

Second, the prefrontal cortex, the Pilot, includes what are called mirror neurone. As the name suggests, mirror neuron seem to imitate what a person is seeing, which is why they’re important to emotions like empathy. (In people with autism, who have trouble imitating other people, the functioning of these neutron is atypical.) These mirror neurone are what make kids learn through observation, but they also help kids pick up their parents’ anxiety.

Intergenerational Effects of Parents’ Math Anxiety on Children’s Math Achievement and Anxiety - Erin A. Maloney, Gerardo Ramirez, Elizabeth A. Gunderson, Susan C. Levine, Sian L. Beilock, 2015 (opens new window)

We found that when parents are more math anxious, their children learn significantly less math over the school year and have more math anxiety by the school year’s end—but only if math-anxious parents report providing frequent help with math homework. Notably, when parents reported helping with math homework less often, children’s math achievement and attitudes were not related to parents’ math anxiety. Parents’ math anxiety did not predict children’s reading achievement, which suggests that the effects of parents’ math anxiety are specific to children’s math achievement.