The Lion in the Room: Modern Causes for the Increase in Anxiety in Our Kids

If there were a lion in your room, would you be able to eat, sleep, or concentrate? The chances are slim. Rather, your brain would be on high alert — ready to fight or flee.

Many young adults today live with anxiety that behaves like a lurking lion, leaving their brains in a state of hyperarousal that makes it hard to work, sleep, eat or concentrate.

So what's causing this rise in anxiety in our children?

Although this answer is multi-faceted, one factor points to anxious parenting. Despite their best intentions, parents with anxiety may "pass it on" in one of two ways:

  1. Over-pressuring their children and teens ("to be ready for this competitive world") and/or
  2. Over-protecting them from hurt, disappointment, frustration.

Having adults in their lives, both at home and at church, who can model and teach emotional regulation and distress tolerance is an effective way to prepare children for the future. This includes acknowledging that life is hard and that the Bible doesn't promise otherwise; Then offering solutions to manage these anxieties and challenges.

Children and adolescents who develop the "muscles" of emotional regulation and distress tolerance (including learning to rely on God, using faith as a resilience resource) will be better prepared to cope with real life. Through self-aware parenting and an open, encouraging faith community, the next generation can be set up to exercise resilience and regulate their emotions in healthier ways.