Anxiety in motherhood takes on many forms because all moms are unique. As mothers, we carry around the weight of self-doubt about our parenting, but we need to recognize we only have to be “Good Enough,” a concept designed by pediatrician and psychoanalyst, Dr. Donald Winnicott in the 1950s.
The 5 steps of Parental Intelligence, a concept whereby parents learn how to read non-verbal as well as verbal communication and enjoy open dialogue their children, can reduce a mother’s anxiety, allow her to discover what is good enough mothering, and thereby use the interaction (the relationship with the child), to define the most pressing problem to solve.
Take for example an anxious mother and her 8-year-old daughter with a reading disability who avoids homework. This has become a daily struggle that ends up with the little girl yelling furiously at her mother when she’s told she has a reading assignment to complete. Is the actual problem the reading disability?
5 Steps To Parental Intelligence To Reduce Anxiety
Step One: Stepping Back — Observe yourself and your child. That is, offer some waiting, not jumping in impulsively as if something urgent is going on which only escalates everyone’s anxiety. Just waiting after your child complains or even shouts and screams about not wanting to do her reading assignment is good enough. See what your little girl takes from your waiting. Probably she’ll calm down a bit.
Step Two: Self-Reflecting — This is when the mother has an internal meeting with herself while she is waiting. She can notice that her head is starting to hurt. Her feelings are in a flutter. She reflects on what she is worried about and why. Perhaps, she fears that it’s not only a reading problem that her child is suffering from, but also anxiety about her performance. She recalls her own anxieties about schoolwork as a child and now she has performance anxiety about being a mother. This mother calms down somewhat because she has become much more in touch with herself. Calming herself down results in her child being calmer.