Research shows that fathers who encourage their children to play hard, be more assertive and step outside their comfort zone may help their child avoid social anxiety in young adulthood.
STUDY reveals dads should NEVER let the kids win
The study looked at emerging adults, who are defined as a group aged from 18 to 25, according to Professor Jennie Hudson, who heads up Macquarie University’s Centre for Emotional Health.
“Most research on the role that parenting plays in anxiety focuses on the child’s interaction with the mother. In this study, we show that fathers play an important role in encouraging children to push themselves a bit more socially and take safe risks,” said Hudson, who explained that this kind of parenting is called ‘challenging parenting behaviour’.
The study, published in the Journal of Cognitive Therapy and Research in September, also found that if either parent was overly critical (using what is called ‘rejecting parenting behaviours’), emerging adults were more likely to have more signs of general anxiety and stress.
The researchers surveyed 442 people in the ‘emerging adult’ category, who reported on their anxiety symptoms and on their parents’ behaviours.
“Emerging adulthood is a period of exploration, change and identity formation and is often overlooked in the parenting literature,” said Anna Smout, lead author on the paper and a student researcher with Hudson and Dr Rebecca Lazarus, who is a co-author on the paper.
“An interesting finding in the current study was showing that fathers were important for this emerging adult period.”
“Some parents might be more likely to shelter their children from disappointment and give their child more help than they need according to their age or abilities. “This can actually increase stress or anxiety because children are led to believe they need help and protection from the outside world,” explains Anna Smout.
The stereotype where dad won’t let their kid win at a game of cards or soccer is a classic way that fathers challenge their children.
“Dads who challenge their kids to endless games of chess, or basketball, or backyard cricket and never let them win are actually helping to develop less anxiety in their children as they became emerging adults.”
“Most kids will then start to beat dad to the ball or sneak a chess move past him, and that hard-won win will give them confidence. “
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