People are wired to be anxious, but scientists say the way we think about ourselves may make us more susceptible.
Dr. David K. G. Harris and Dr. Andrew B. J. Lees of the University of Michigan School of Medicine examined the relationship between how we think and how we act in preschoolers, and what they found can be quite alarming.
Harris and Lees found that preschoolers who were more anxious than others were less likely to experience any symptoms of anxiety in their first two years.
They said preschoolers are less likely than adults to experience social isolation, and are more likely to have trouble sleeping at night, which may contribute to their tendency to become hypervigilant.
According to Harris, a preschooler is less likely if they are more anxious about their social isolation and they’re more likely if their parents are anxious.
The authors suggest that parents who are anxious may be less inclined to make sure their children are well cared for and less likely have regular routines in place.
Harris said parents are likely to blame their children for the way they behave and the way their behavior is treated by the school system.
“We think it’s a matter of children blaming the adults in the home for their anxiety,” Harris said.
“If you think about it, if a child is a victim, then maybe the adults aren’t doing a good job and the child needs help.”
The researchers say the stress that a preschool child faces in their own home can have a negative impact on their self-esteem, self-image and mood.
Harris said if the child feels that they have no control over their parents, then it can lead to depression and other negative consequences.