The Master of Psychology (counselling) student and mother of two said her main goal was to understand what it was like for mothers and fathers to parent an anxious child.
‘I am interested in hearing about the challenges they face, and how it impacts upon their relationships, sense of well-being and confidence as a parent, in ways that may differ from parents who do not have an anxious child,’ Ms Jessen said.
She said without the right support, parents could feel isolated as they tried to cope with their child’s anxiety.
‘It is very normal for children to experience some degree of fear and anxiety and, with support from others, most children learn how to manage these feelings,’ she said.
‘But some children experience a level of anxiety far beyond this, that may affect their ability to function resulting in significant distress, difficulties in interpersonal relationships and impact upon their school performance.’
She said anxiety disorders ranked among the most common psychological disorders affecting children in Australia today, affecting not only the child, but whole families.
‘Despite a growing awareness of anxiety in children, the challenges that parents face in raising an anxious child, are little understood,’ she said.
‘Children with anxiety commonly experience crippling fears, overwhelming emotions and ‘melt-downs’, which may be more intense in family settings.
‘Parents may be told that there is ‘nothing wrong’, or given well-meaning advice or parenting strategies, that are not suitable for their child with anxiety.’
Ms Jessen is looking for volunteers willing to take part in a short interview to talk about their experiences as a parent of a child with an anxiety disorder.
‘This is an opportunity to share what life is like and help further our understanding of how childhood anxiety impacts the whole family,’ she said.
‘Gaining insight into the experiences of parents who have a child with anxiety is a vital step in developing treatment approaches that provide support for the entire family.’
Email email@example.com if you or someone you know has a child with an anxiety disorder, and would be interested in finding out more about the research or taking part. Michele Nugent