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Episode 30: Managing Kids’ Anxiety in Stressful Times (with Sissy Goff)
It can feel challenging—and even overwhelming—to navigate our anxiety. We watch the headlines, we see the hardships our loved ones face, we try to be as helpful as we can while caring for ourselves. It’s a lot, and it can feel overwhelming at times. But if we feel this way as adults who can process complicated emotions, imagine how stressful and scary these times can feel for kids. Children need our help to navigate their big feelings more than ever—which is why we’re delighted to have therapist Sissy Goff on the podcast this week! Sissy is the director of child and adolescent counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministries in Nashville. Emily and Sissy talk about how to recognize anxiety in your kids (even when it’s lurking beneath the surface), how to strike the balance between protecting kids while raising them to be resilient and knowledgeable, and why a “calm kit” will be one of the best new tools in your toolbox. Sissy reminds us that the end of the day, kids need to feel safe. And right now, cultivating a home that's a safe place for them to land, for them to take off their masks and ask questions over lemon chicken and mashed potatoes, to climb into a soft bed with a story or two—that’s really impactful.
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“Kids need to feel safe, period. And right now, cultivating a home that's a safe place for them to land, for them to take off their masks and ask questions over lemon chicken and mashed potatoes, to climb into a soft bed at night with clean hair and pajamas and a story or two, that's more important than ever.” — Emily Ley
“Kids are so intuitive even if they're not saying it. They're picking up on whatever we're feeling, whatever we're saying on the phone, however we're reacting to the news—they watch everything. So even if they're not mimicking exactly what you're saying or what you're doing emotionally, they're feeling the reverberations of that in their little selves.” — Sissy Goff
“Pre-pandemic, we were looking at one in four kids dealing with anxiety, with girls twice as likely to deal with it than boys. The pandemic hit, and where we were a year ago with one in four, I can't even imagine where we are now.” — Sissy Goff
Statistically, even though girls have more anxiety, more boys are taken in for treatment. Because often for girls, they're the kids we go to parent teacher conferences with and the teacher says, ‘I wish every child in my class was like your daughter.’ Because those girls are holding it in so much. They're imploding. They're hard on themselves. They're trying to stay below the radar, trying to please everybody.”— Sissy Goff
“Bryan and I want to raise our kids to be very aware. We've always been very transparent and very honest with them. They hear a bad word, we tell them what it means. They have a question about where babies come from, we'll explain it in an age-appropriate way. My dad always says, ‘You're raising adults, not children.’ So we keep that in our heads.”
— Emily Ley
A Blessing for Your Week
Even when it's painful, I hope you have the courage to keep looking at the hard things in front of you.
Even when your arms are weary, I hope you find the strength to keep shepherding your little ones.
And when the world feels too much, I hope you have your own soft place to land with somewhere and someone that makes you feel safe.
Simplicity Tip of the Week
If you’re a parent, one of the best things you can do, no matter what’s going on in the world, is to check in with your kids to see what kinds of information they’re processing right now. What are they hearing on the news? How do they feel about it? What are the things they’re worried about? Is anything you’re doing as a parent that’s making it better or worse? How can you help?
Even if you don’t have all the answers right now, sitting down with your kids and asking them these kinds of questions really helps them feel heard. And kids who feel heard also feel safe.
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