It was the first parent-teacher night at school and I was looking forward to it.

Getting information out of my son was like pulling teeth so, given this lack of insight, I was keen to find out what he was learning, his academic abilities and his social skills.

"He's doing well. He's popular, and he likes to be involved," his teacher told me. Tick on all those fronts, I thought proudly, writes Jo Hartley for News.com.au.

"And he definitely likes everything to be in order and in its place," she added.

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This revelation made my stomach somersault. Most people would question why, and so they should. In fact, most parents would see it as a compliment and a reflection on their teachings at home. For me, it was more than that.

As someone who's struggled with anxiety for most of my adult life, there often feels like there's so much out of my control.

I can't control what people around me are doing, I can't control it when things don't go to plan and I can't always control my mood. What I can control however is my environment.

For years I've been a neat and clean freak and it's something of a learned behaviour.

Growing up I was witness to my mum's obsessional cleaning.

She would repeatedly dust, vacuum and bleach. All surfaces would need to be clear of clutter, all toys were to be put away and, heaven forbid, if the dog was caught with fleas.

In hindsight, Mum suffered with anxiety and depression and, for her, cleaning was about control. And so it is for me.

I struggle to sit down and relax if there are dishes in the sink. If I see tumbleweeds of dog fur whistling through the house I vacuum immediately.

I'm known to tidy up toys before the kids have even finished playing, and I can't cope with more than one activity out at a time.

Yet, hearing my son's teacher relate this information made me stop and think. It made me reflect on little behaviours in him that I'd started to notice myself.

It was the way that he packed his suitcase in a certain way. The way his cars had to be lined up, and the way that he meticulously knew when something was out of place. All behaviours that shouldn't be instilled in a five-year-old boy.

Given my own personal experience, this mimicked behaviour should come as no surprise - after, all monkey see, monkey do. But, when I investigated more, my findings opened my eyes to the potential damage I could be doing.

A study undertaken at Kings College in London found that anxiety could be transmitted from parent to child. By simply observing their parents' fears or worries, children too could adopt those feelings and, subsequently, the associated behaviours.

Other research has also backed this up, with findings showing that children of parents diagnosed with an anxiety disorder are up to seven times more likely to develop an anxiety disorder themselves.

With the teacher's words echoing in my head and the facts before me, I knew that I needed to seek help. I knew that only my behavioural changes could impact my son's and I was worried that, if not addressed soon, his potential for anxiety may increase.

The therapist was quick to reaffirm that my control over my environment was anxiety driven.

But this anxiety was not only linked to order. It was deeper rooted. It was linked to my perfectionist tendencies, and my need to achieve success. In this instance, I was equating success to a perfectly maintained home.

With a couple of sessions and some strategies under my belt, I started to recognise when anxiety was raising its head. I started noting my behaviours and recalled the therapist's words of advice.

I had to challenge my ingrained thought process. I had to take a step back and objectively ask myself, "Is this good enough?" "Does the kitchen really need to be spotless?", "Does it matter that there are toys on the floor?"

Eight months on and I'm still practising this approach. It's slowly getting easier and I'm slowly learning to retrain my brain. There are days when I still struggle and the fight is too hard but, for the most part, I'm doing well and I judge this by my son.

Sitting amid an array of toys and mess he's truly comfortable at home. The TV doesn't have to be on loud to compensate for the noise of the vacuum, and he doesn't fear dropping a crumb or two.

Only the other day, he dripped his ice-cream on the sofa and looked at me with worry. "It doesn't matter," I said, and he returned my smile. "'It's only ice-cream', he replied - and he's exactly right."