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Is My Child Destined to be a Worry-Wart Like Me?

By , SparkPeople Blogger
There are lots of traits I hope to pass on to my kids, such as my strong work ethic and desire to succeed. But there are a few traits I hope they donít inherit, and my tendency to worry is at the top of the list. My daughter (who is 3) has already started to exhibit some of those traits, being a little adult who wants to take care of everyone and everything. For a long time Iíve thought that it was in her genes, and maybe sheís just destined to be like me. But a new study is showing that environment might have an even bigger influence.

The study, published in the journal Nature, analyzed the brains of rhesus monkeys to see how genetic and environmental influences affect the parts of the brain that cause anxiety. The researchers estimated that only about 35% of anxiety risk is inherited- at least in monkeys. The scientists did brain scans, and were able to predict which monkeys would be more anxious based on their brain activity. This could be helpful when diagnosing anxiety problems in young children.

Honestly, I worry about everything. Did my kids eat enough breakfast? Did we read enough books today? Am I going to be late for work? Is the house clean? The list goes on and onÖ.. It creates a certain degree of stress in my life, but it is something Iím trying to work on. It was manageable when I just had me to worry about, but once I got married and had kids, worrying about me and everyone else just became too much. So Iím learning to relax about some of the things that just arenít important enough to worry about.

Iíve also found that worrying about things in front of my daughter causes her to worry. If Iím stressed out because weíre late for her tumbling class, then she gets stressed out too. Setting a good example and creating a more relaxed environment have been key to helping her stay calm and prevent her from worrying about things that she doesnít understand or are totally out of her control. If she wants to worry about which outfit to put on her baby doll, I guess thatís not the worst problem in the world.

Are you a worrier? Have you passed that trait along to your children? How have you been able to prevent that from happening?

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I use to be a worrier. But i have learned not to sweat the little things or things i have no control over. My biggest worries was what will people think of me, will my kids behavior reflex on my parenting skills. Is my house clean enough. Through the years i have learned that no matter what you do, there will always be people who approve and some who will disapprove. I now just do my best and if someone is offended by it that is their problem not mine. Report
I was a worrier and a very wise friend whose two sons have grown up to be wonderful young men taught me two things.
1) Worry is a useless emotion. It doesn't change anything
2) Pick your battles with the children - if it's not important let it go. As a result, when my youngest had her sister take her senior pictures and we sent them to my sister she asked if Sarah had a parrot on her shoulder - rather than a parrot - it was her fushia colored hair streak - and it and many other colors have grown out now and she is at least today back to her natural color.
Don't worry - it won't change a thing - except make your children worriers, they will grow up fine following your example - so again don't worry. Report
I try not to worry, but it is hard mom worries enough for my whole family too. Report
I'm definitely a worrier. So is my mom. So is my daughter. Sigh. Report
My mom worries for everything and I guess I have little of her habit within me.. Report
my mother is a worry wart!!! she drives me insane!!!! Report
I am a worry-wart. Like I plan a lot before going on a trip, or going out etc. I like to be sure of things. While my mom, on the other hand, always thinks everything will turn out fine without preparations needed. Report
im not usally a worrywart. but now im worried about car accidents. Report
My mother's a big worrier and I'm glad to say I did not inherit that from her! I think worrying takes energy away from showing love and belief, so I really try to catch it if it sneaks in. When my kids were growing up, I'd say to them, "I realize ..(blank).. could happen, but I can't prevent it by worrying and I have faith that you will do a good job looking out for yourselves and making the right decisions." And honestly, I'd experienced the ..(blanks).. happening when I was a girl, because my mother worried more than she protected me by teaching me and showing me how to believe in myself. It's so important to believe in your kids' native wisdom and your own. Report
I tend to worry about money the most. We use most of our income tax as savings for the year and only one time have we run out (dh quit his welding job to haul horses when our oldest sons were 3 years and 6 months old). They didn't get paid for some of their trips and we ended up borrowing money from both sets of parents, something I NEVER wanted to have to do. He got his old job back and I got pg with #3 that summer. Things still get tight, but we alway have some left over and always have food on the table and a nice warm house in the winter.

My mother worries alot. And I think I inherited some of that from her. My dad just tends to laugh things off. I often worry about what people think about me after I have said or done something that make look or sound stupid or insensitive, but I don't realize what I have done or said until after they have already gone. If I think I have done or said something like that then I will apologize.

Last night was my son's 10th birthday party and it looked like it was going to rain. It did sprinkle a bit, but it didn't rain until much later after the party was over. wasn't too hot or too cold, just right!

I try not to worry about the small stuff. You can't control everything and it only leads to other problems. Report
I'm a born worrier! But I always tell my kids not to worry cos I can do enough worrying for all of us! LOL Most of the time that works, except when I'm ill, like recently. Then they worry themselves silly about me, which I appreciate, if I'm honest. :-) It's nice to know they care. Report
My mom worries ALL the time. I too am a huge worrier, but my sister doesn't worry about anything ever! Report
I am a HUGE worrier and I hope it doesn't rub off on my future children! Report
I'm not a worrier what will be will be, if there's a prolem I do my best to fix it, somtimes you just have walk away. Report
So many people like me who worry about random things we cannot control. My mother is a worrier and always has been. I take after her in that respect, even knowing that it does no good. Our oldest daughter seemed to start the worry issue and her boyfriend actually helped her nip it in the bud. Our youngest daughter appears not to worry much at all, thank goodness. My DH does not worry.

Yes, it seems to be more prevalent in women (in my limited scope of knowledge on the subject). I am really trying to be better now. Ironic that I did not sleep well at all last night--worrying about what someone thought of something I planned to do! RRRRGGGHHH! So I ran this morning and have lots of stuff to do today and hope that I can let this issue go and sleep well tonight!

Thanks everyone for sharing your thoughts! Report
I used to be a real Worry wart....wonder who coined that worry wart title? I am working on it and I a getting better at keeping things in perspective....and accepting there are situations we just plain have no control over. Life is short and I spent far too much time wasting a day worrying bout things that never happened. ( I still do worry ....just not as much) Report
My mother was the queen of worriers, and although she always told me that when I grew up, became a mom, etc., I'd worry too, I'm 54 and still waiting for it to happen. My son, however, shows some of the worrying characteristics. My mom and dad were his babysitters growing up, so it's hard to say if it's genetics or environment there. Report
I'm a hardcore worrier. My sister always has lingering anxieties over something. Yet I don't think either of us can think of a time that our parents were being anxious, overly stressed, or unduly worried about something. My parents are some of the LEAST worry-ridden people I know, and yet they managed to produce two micro-managing, nail-biting, worried daughters. So, while I'm sure my parents did manage to foster this in us in some way, being anxious themselves is NOT one of them. Some folks.... are just worriers! Report
Children learn what they see. If we teach our kids to be over worrying, we rob them of pleasure time. Report
I once read a saying which I try to remember to decrease my worry habit, "Strong is the enemy with outposts in your head". Also as someone else suggested (as do many psychologists), taking time to write down concerns is most helpful. It seems to ease the problem; a relief of sorts, and helps me realize now that its' down on paper, it doesn't have to hover in the back of my brain! Report
I used to worry about things. But then I realised its just wasted energy.

So if I'm running late, my thoughts go like "oh dear, I'm going to be late. Gosh, what will they think of me! Hmm.. but everyone is allowed to be late sometimes and its not like I often am. Never mind then - I'll get there when I get there".

Being late for stuff used to be my biggest stress. I was quite weird about it. It used to really upset me.

Now I do worry about some things, but not lots because it does feel like a waste. For me worry or anxiety is the trigger for action. It is only an initial emotion. So when I feel worried I either rationalise it and stop worrying, or I accept that it is a big issue. If it is a big issue I stop worrying then too. Because I'm moving on to action, or a plan for action, that is going to fix it. Report
Now I really am worrying Report
My mother was an Orphan, whose mother died when she was six and her father died when she was 7 and she was sent to an Orphan's home, where she worked daylight to night taking care of younger children, until she was taken as a foster child at 10 and they worked her in the fields and in the house like a slave. So, she worried about everything when I was a child and I learned to not worry about much of anything but to be prepared and organized. Worry does nothing, like Dr. Wayne Dyer says. But, I certainly think you can reward your child for the behavior if you are a person who is like that. Report
Kids mimic their parents and some adults (like caretakers) so everyone has to be careful around children. One of my co-workers was about 4 when she started grabbing her legs, rubbing them and saying, "Oh, they really hurt so bad" and similar comments. Her parents took her to the doctor. First her parents had to watch what she was doing when the pain started. There was no pattern. Then they put her through a lot of medical tests, some painful, and found nothing. She was sent to a teaching hospital for a diagnosis. She was there over a week. One day a nurse walked into the room and saw the mother grab her legs, rub them and say, "Oh, they hurt so bad." The mother had severe arthritis and she grabbed her legs a lot and made comments about the pain. There was nothing wrong with her daughter other than she liked to be like her mom! Report
I totally have and it's a bummer. I actually have OCD and I see some of those traits in my children as well... Report
I used to be more of a worrier but I think with 2 kids and a full-time job I just don't have time for it anymore. Now my attitude is much more relaxed - if it's meant to be, it's meant to be. And I do agree that you pass the tension on to your kids, so I try and avoid worrying when it is about something I can't control. I'm far from a reformed worrier (was up at 3am this past Wednesday cause I couldn't shut down my mind) but I'm working on it. Report
My father was a big worrier. That and other destructive traits of him & my mother have really affected all 6 of us kids. I think people with anxiety disorders owe it to their kids to seek treatment. (If you don't have kids, do whatever you want.)

Here's one tip that might help you. Carry a small notebook with you. Every time you have an anxious thought, write it down. When I do this I've found that it usually stops the worrying in its tracks and gives me a mood lift immediately. I'm not sure why this works, but it seems to. (It is a bit of a drag and a time commitment, though. Also, I don't have kids. If you have kids you might be concerned that they will sneak a look at the notebook.) Report
I have a PhD in worrying!!! But recently I read a blog by a sparker (SANDIEGOJOHN) that spoke of worry and attidude and FINALLY I got the message. Now I actively catch myself and stop myself. If a situation arises and I can do something about it....I do. If I cannot contol it - then I am going to work really hard to LET IT GO!! My kids do NOT worry - They still think I am sitting at home worrying FOR them!!! Report
I think most women usually worry more about details than men, and we are more often the caretakers who worry especially about the children. Children learn by example. Some attention to detail is necessary for successful living. When it starts to overpower one's life, though, or turn into fearfulness, then I'd classify that as a problem. Our hectic lives can make too much to "worry" about, and sometimes we need to learn how to relax and unwind. If tension starts to mount, I try to remind myself to breathe and relax. That usually helps. Report
I am a huge worried & have anxiety attacks as a result.
My son is only 3 and i hope to squash the anxiety bug for his sake.
I know I got it from my mom, who is just a very anxious person in general. My sister has it too.
My sister and I plan to stop this cycle from repeating itself by nipping it in the bud. We dont want our kids to live with the same issues we did. Report
I am definitely a worrier. My daughters say, "Mom, you think EVERYTHING is dangerous!" Report
I can be a worrier and I do feel my almost 9 year old daughter may have inherited it too.
Sometimes though her anxieties seem so small in the world and I find it hard to understand some of them.

I try to stay calm (it does help her) but its SO difficult sometimes!
I'm a worrier too! Yet while my parents worry (and with them I'm talking "normal" worrying) I take it to the extreme. I worry about everything from how I look, to what to say to someone etc. Report
Well my mom is a super worrier and always has been. My siblings and I, however, are not at all. Maybe even too relaxed about some things. So while it is a strong possibility that they will become worriers, it is not set in stone. My dad is quite laid back so maybe that helped? Either way, it isn't an inevitable! Report
Oh, me too! I can see it in my son, who just turned 9, more than my girls. I'd been thinking he'd inherited it from me. It's true about how anxiety multiplies with kids, and it's taken years to train myself to relax about a few things. And I'm still struggling, for me and for him. Now, if I even sigh, he starts asking me what's wrong. He's anxious about social stuff, school performance, even the small cat we saw in the street that he thought might be abandoned. Luckily, my husband is definitely NOT a worrier, and that helps us balance out. I'm trying to teach both of us about those negative internal dialogues, and how to turn them around, or turn them off. And that quote, something along the lines of, "There are only two types of problems in the world, those you can fix and those you can't. If you can fix it, fix it and don't worry about it. If you can't, why worry about it?" Simplistic, I guess, but taking some kind of action, no matter how small, seems to help. I'd love to see more information about dealing with anxiety -- without resorting to comfort food, among other things! :-) Report
I used to worry because of work stress & life in general, but now I just go to the gym and workout the stress with either a cardio workout or Yoga. I feel great afterwards. Report
I have always been a worrier as is my mother. My daughter seems to have picked up on it also. The 3 generations of female worriers. The men don't seem to have the problem. Why?
I am getting better though. After years of listening to dire predictions and alerts about terrorism and keeping people in fear, I have finally realized that it is all about fear and the "what ifs" that don't usually happen. So now I just follow the scout motto of "Be Prepared" and I refuse to live in fear of all the things fed to us through the media. There is always a food scare or health scare or cancer causing scare or political scare going on.
The women's magazines are full of them too. Are we getting enough of the right vitamins, are we exercising or eating right to prevent thinning bones. Are we doing the right things so our kids won't have ADD or autism or stunted growth, or poor nutrition, etc. They even have you question how you dress and how others judge you. So you worry about how you look. Too much info. I have stopped reading women's magazine and watching the news. I scan the news on the internet and that is it. I recognize scare tactics in every political speech or general articles and I ignore it. I live in the moment and try not to worry/fear about what will happen tomorrow or next week or if I am getting the right vitamins or if a meteor will hit the earth! Don't worry, be happy is my new motto. Report
Very timely article for me. My child is a very anxious child and also "Spirited" and an "Active Alert". Just checked out some books to help me with parenting to make both our lives a little less stressful. Good points in the article. Thanks Report
Once upon a time I was a worrier also. A phone call from my boss, a random look from a co-worker, or even food left on a plate uneaten would turn me into a bundle of nerves. Then I discovered Effexor! What a difference it has made in my life--I am a grant writer under alot of pressure and deadlines, but I handle it now without upset or worry. Effexor has assisted me with putting out my best and feeling secure with it. Stress produces cortisol, which is a hormone responsible for weight gain. See your doctor and don't be embarassed. I am sooo happy! Report
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