Fifteen-year-old Grace doesn’t know it yet, but her troubling anxiety symptoms—which include excessive worrying about her grades and the health of her family dog Rufus—are run of the mill. Like most anxious kids, it’s not the content of her worries that’s the real issue, but the way her mind and body react to them.
Troubled by their daughter’s symptoms and eager for her to succeed and feel safe, Grace's parents regularly text her throughout the day to keep her from becoming anxious. But even with a crack team of protective adults working to make her feel secure around the clock, Grace still feels overwhelmed by her worries.
Enter Lynn Lyons, a childhood anxiety specialist and coauthor of Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents.
She’s worked with Grace and many other children whose worries are compounded by the hovering attention of anxious parents. In her Networker
article “Taming the Wild Things
,” Lynn writes, “Often in our anxiety to stop the anxiety, we surround the child with an anxiety-reinforcing system
, comprised of family, school personnel, physicians, and even therapists, all fixated on protecting the child from any twinge of the dreaded disease.” This system “not only rewards the anxiety, but encourages it to consume ever more of the child’s life.”
In this brief video clip, Lynn encourages therapists to help parents find more effective ways to soothe their child’s anxiety. Instead of inadvertently ramping up their child’s fears, parents can provide more constructive support by addressing their own anxieties, remaining calm, and reexamining the ways they talk about their child. Throughout her session in the Networker Webcast series Treating Anxiety
, Lynn shares therapy homework, activities, and practices that give parents and children the tools they need to tame anxiety.
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