This episode of “The Power of Prevention” provides answers through an interview with renowned psychotherapist, Lynn Lyons.
According to research found in The Journal of American Medical Association, twice as many children around the world are experiencing anxiety and depression since the beginning of the global pandemic. Family Connectedness Helps Manage Worry & Anxiety, the latest episode in the Power of Prevention podcast provides a deep dive into childhood anxiety, its relationship with depression, and ways families can help children learn to cope with their feelings of worry.
The episode features a conversation with renowned psychotherapist, author, and speaker, Lynn Lyons who shares her knowledge and experience gathered over 30 years of her career. Lyons says worry is a normal part of growing, changing, and learning. But worry and anxiety can also become powerful and disrupting to families in ways that lead to avoidance, missed school, outbursts, conflict, and depression if left untreated.
Oftentimes parents of anxious children do all they can to remove the situations that trigger their children’s worries and fears. This is understandable, but are we getting it all wrong? Lyons suggests a different and more constructive approach. “Anxiety wants certainty and comfort. That’s what it’s looking for; it wants to know exactly what’s going to happen and it wants to feel comfortable,” says Lyons. “When we talk to kids as parents, we really need to normalize the idea that you’re going to step into situations that feel uncomfortable and uncertain, and that you have to be able to tolerate not knowing.” She cautions that removing circumstances that cause the anxiety often leads to the child using avoidance as a tool. Potentially, a child could then learn to use substances as a way to become more comfortable with situations.
The key to helping anxious children, according to Lyons, is to explain to them early that it is okay and normal to feel uncomfortable about situations like being around new people, starting a new school, getting a cavity filled, or trying out for a team.
Lyons says children can begin to feel less worry and stress through family connectedness, learning to be able to manage emotions, and “the ability to put words to your feelings: the ability to talk to people about what’s going on inside of you. Another thing for me in terms of anxiety is giving kids the opportunity to problem-solve and develop autonomy.”
The conversation also touches on the impact of isolation and social media, as well as ways to help children feel connected.
Lynn Lyons is a respected and renowned psychotherapist, public speaker, coach, author and award winning podcaster of Flusterclux. She is a friendly face and reassuring voice with her regular appearances on WMUR as a featured guest during the COVID lockdown – providing sound advice to help families cope with the disruption and uncertainty of the pandemic.
The Power of Prevention podcast series provides important information about the prevention of alcohol, tobacco and other substances misuse. Produced by The Partnership @drugfreeNH, each episode features some of the great work taking place in the Granite State in the prevention arena.