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Helping Kids Navigate Worry in Healthy Ways

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly
The Truth Network Radio
March 8, 2022 5:00 am

Helping Kids Navigate Worry in Healthy Ways

Focus on the Family / Jim Daly

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March 8, 2022 5:00 am

You may think your child is acting out when, in fact, they are struggling with worry. Dr. Josh and Christi Straub describe how to help your young child identify their emotions and navigate fear in a healthy way.

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We want to prevent kids from entering the worry fan environment that we want to acquit them and also given the language that they know how to handle Kristi Straub joins us today on Focus on the Family along with her husband, Dr. Josh Straub together and offer some ways and some tools to help your child manage worry in a healthy way. Thanks for joining us today your hostess focus president and author Jim Daly and I'm John Fuller, John. Every child has worries that come and go as part of growing up I remember being afraid of the dark is just as common childhood fears and those are kind of normal experiences for kids to go through part of life to have that kind of anxiety in many scenarios.

Fear is a healthy response. You want your child to know fight or flight right you don't want to be the wrong place without thinking I better get out of here so it's not bad today were going to offer some advice so you can equip your child to manage fear in a healthy way not to eliminated mom and dad let me tell you if you're trying to eliminate fear, your you're not going about it in the right way, you need to equip your children to manage that for her and our guests have a great little book called what do I do with worry and it's a kids book that has some great principles in it.

Get your copy at Focus on the Family its Dr. Josh and Kristi Straub. As I mentioned other popular broadcast guests and they cofounded famous at home which trains leaders in emotional intelligence and promotes healthy families Josh and Kristi, welcome back.

It's a good C is always in on what a great theme.

You know were were kind of coming out of the turbulent time with pandemic and let's start there. That fear, the children are feeling right now.

Generally how to go about parenting that yeah it's a big loaded question. I think you know one of the most important factors is being able to look at identifying in your children may be changes in behavior patterns that have changed over time in your children's behavior and an this is what we have to become students of our kids because every child is different and every child manages their emotions differently. For example, you might have some children who just withdraw and they they go into hiding.

You know it's like the become more quiet. Other kids might be on the other end of the spectrum, and they start acting out.

You think that it's behavioral you think that they're being defiant.

You think that there you know disrespecting you when the reality is that underneath that there's something deeper going on and then most of us I think in the middle of this is you might just start seeing you.

No changes with school changes with the way that they're interacting with their no peers at school grades. The school work and in the withdraw and so there's a lot of different ways but you have to be able to. I think this is where as parents we have to become students of our kids to kinda pay attention to that and in the busy world that we live in. We as parents also have those fears so you are asking how his parents. How do we how we parent.

This ultimately we get to this. I think it starts with us as parents we have to figure out how to be managing our own fear, so that we are not superimposing our own fears onto our kids limits are true, Kristi.

Your son Landon was starting a new school and he wasn't acting like himself. Completely understandable. All the anxiety of having the make new friends and what will people think of me when I can get that I went to seven different elementary schools, six years and so I get that transition anxiety. I think it did help me to be more of a people person.

Ironically because I had to make friends. Now every year with new class in school and but speak to your son Landon's anxieties had, how did you figure out what was going on underneath the surface generally to think of saying I think often we look at worry if it's this big scary thing, even if parents we don't want to see it and I can't frantically wanting to walk in the confidence you know you know who you are returning, establishing out who they are in God and right in this identity and then worry is just a normal part of life. We have to understand as parents if we have a fear, anxiety or worry script going on in our own heads when we see it in our kids. We feel it magnified. It feels worse to last for a child they could just be experiencing and normal fear going to a new school. Normal worry like and also it's building in things like you've just that you learn how to adapt in social situations that we want to prevent kids from entering these worry San environments that we want to acquit them and also given the language that they know how to handle info for Landon when he started going to school we noticed it was coming out behaviorally and so you will see like sometimes and we talk about and what I do is worry what it right what the question only starts it's what if, and it's where mine starts spinning and we go down to the end of the road of like what if the teacher doesn't like me or what if I don't have friends or what if I walk in and I forget the kid's name. What if I don't have anyone to sit with at the lunch table if we don't pay attention as parents, you start to realize our kids and so often. I think their worries are not what we assume them to be very different things that we might assume they're worried about and that's why I like Tasha's thing is just being a student to be into leaning into just ask the right questions to get beneath it, really, because for Landon.

We realize some of those insecurities for him. Worse, help I mean, you almost want to laugh in some way I what some of that the fears are well in one things you're stressing. I want to stress even further. Being that student every child. I think that's so critical and in our adult busyness in a week.

We can go right by that and we just think it's behavioral and then we responded no, go to your room for the next hour some kind of disciplinary issue and really missing the deeper cry of our childhood heart and that veterans can set you up for a disastrous relationship with your kids because then there not knowing if they can trust you.

And even if they can't articulate it. You have to be the adult circuit. Let's talk about this. What are you feeling what's going on in your life right now, but it takes time to do that you slow down and talk, and I think he'll we can't be afraid of what working to find, I think so.

Often parents ignore it because were afraid of what's going on underneath will certainly by age yet you have that conversation with the teenager different than with your five-year-old exactly. Let's talk about that. What are some of the signs that you see by age and stage if I could say. That way you know in a five-year-old water signs maybe than a 1012-year-old and a 15-year-old yet great question and I think you know I don't speak to us, even as adults because how do we manifest fears adults to developmentally you know you goes on lease or let me ask you your PhD these are patterns that are developing your child that you will carry into adulthood if you're not taught or you don't learn when we suppress how a manager you can't suppress you know it's it's interesting.

Solomon wrote this in Proverbs 24 he said patients is better than power in controlling one's emotions than capturing the city you know any idea there's if you can't identify your emotion. You know it's going to have control of you and so you know it doesn't mean that you know I think what his parents were so afraid this Kristi was seen earlier of what's really going to come out and it's like if we ask you to lose control over it.

The reality is if you don't ask is when you lose control over as we suppress we deny or we repress these emotions. That's when it gets dangerous enough as adults as children and I think what's interesting today is is again just becoming students of your children. The danger is, especially as you hit those teenage years. You know, and five-year-olds. You know preschoolers you can see behaviorally you can see it in as I mentioned earlier withdrawing, you know, maybe there's some changes in social situations.

But as you get up into those 10, 11, 12, and teenage years were doing now is finding his unit screens that are a major problem as it relates to how we suppress emotion even as adults, you know, we turn to screens instead of being able to sit with our motion to be able to experience our motion.

We use screens to numb it out, and I think especially in those pre-teen years, games, video games for boys.

This is generally speaking but video games for boys typically and then social media for girls in the idea of building social relationships. Those preteen years are really really difficult years for teenage girls trying to find where they fit in relationships and and and so if we as parents are paying attention or were just giving them the screen and letting him kinda do their thing where building a wall between our heart and their heart will that it and that's the next question I want to ask you what our kids see in us as parents right yeah you know, sometimes I'm feeling good about that analysis what damage have I done in this area of worry, particularly we as parents can be demonstrating worry without even knowing it in our kids are picking up on his mom and dad are worried. I should be worried to speak to that modeling that, especially as Christians, you know, fear not give your spirit of peace and that's what the Lord's expecting out of a relationship that we have ultimate faith in him to control and be in every circumstance that we find ourselves in, but sometimes we fail trusting in that and that our kids are watching to do anything. I like a lot of power and a sound mind right… Sound mind look like.

And obviously when I can get that right all of the time and I think that's the beautiful thing if we can see it through the lens of grace for ourselves and maybe not even as your listening, you could probably put yourself on a scale of 0 to 10 how big practical retirement where he specifically today.

So for worry.

How loud is that flame in your life because for those of us who it it's not as loud for me personally, but for those parents who maybe they struggled with anxiety is louder for me if I was thinking.

I have yet to sell based on that know you are going to be so much more heightened to C9 your child and that's no condemnation being aware. So if you're aware that worry is louder for you. Just recognize how you deal with it is.

It's not just your personal practice at your abilities cannot get with your kids all in their eyes were wide open and there watch the game they're watching you perfectly. One time my daughter came home and get at least her car and what we so often see for girls social situations for boys as well. But first girls their silly team to social cues, but again don't have the tools to know how to engage as their growing and so for her.

A lot of worry comes around social situations and I member telling her start when I was in first grade and I went out to the recess playground and I walked over to the scope of girls. I remember it like it was yesterday. There standing along the centerline and I walked at and I just thought I would just be able to play with them now and I just locked up and this girl comes out like a bouncer see TV what's on your zipper, and I grew up in Canada right there where I crank it sometime on my way.

And so if you didn't have the letters YYK on your zipper you weren't allowed to play with. That was the Y YK club yeah I just like in that moment. It was the first time I experienced to rejection right and I realized I have no control. I don't set the rules. While there is these arbitrary set of social rules that I don't know and someone else gets to tell me whether I'm included or not. I member locking away and just imprinted something on me so that every time I entered a social situation as a kid. Even after high school, college, even into adulthood that trigger of that wound is like delight. I don't know if I'll be accepted here and see if you think about that park it on the playground first grade. I member standing outside with my daughter and I it was like her eyes got so big to realize it's not just me. Mom mom feels this to mom struggles with more detail and sale and then we talk about in the book really practical ways that we can release our way to God.

I used it like worry Bergstein only talk about that feeling that we feel when we worry what Flick literally felt like your insight flapping around in that the harder and the more we try to control and hold onto that worry and as adults we can all and with that we try to just like like iron grip that right and it just makes it worse. It's like to literally trying to hold onto this flapping bird and the Lord is asking us to just present it to me.

I just lifted up to me because you can't handle this but I can tell. I think getting our kids and were really practical tools and just language around you holding on to worry. Right now what went what what might that look like and if enough a child is either preverbal or just it's difficult to put into language. Having them draw something that they're concerned about all of these things are just ways that we can again lead into their heart, but also give them tools so they realize whenever I face right.

I'm not alone. Nor is there shame around this kids here in young kids. There's a lot of questions like the widest that we talk about, but as they get older it. They stop asking so many questions because there's the shame component and there there concern is mom and dad what working to think of them if they were to ask what's really a vulnerable question and that this something they're concerned about Josh. Let me pick up on what Christie was measuring their you experienced anxiety as a child.

I guess the right questions what was going on and speak to that as an adult now what that was like and what helped you and it's interesting because I don't know that I would've identified it is worry at the time, but it 10 years of age. My parents divorced and I remember my mom coming into the bedroom and you know she said Josh is moving out today. Do you want to stay here with your dad or do you want to come with me.

And while that's pressure the cherries of 10 years old.

I had never seen my parents argue would never see my parents fight and so later on that afternoon. You know, there's this exchange in our driveway because my dad comes home and you know he's seeing his world come crumbling down my moms moving out and there was an exchange there for me as a firstborn was an exchange.

There were I looked at my dad and I said I'm staying here with you, and I didn't say this but it was as if I was saying him and take care of you know this is hard, and so as a result within a department in 19 and they have an amazing relationship with my mom tonight reconciled so much through the years. She's incredible credible grandma and and everything. But for me having to reconcile that in the 19 I found out that my dad's second wife left him and she took everything and so I go out and you don't work in landscaping woman college I go out I take care of him by old furniture and everything to get him back on his feet and it's like there was this me taking responsibility more than I needed to for other people and that transferred over.

I didn't really feel it until we had a family and in I was crashing and burning.

I was taken on all these responsibilities might work really hard not crash and burn and it was fascinating to me how this pattern.

When I entered therapy was.

It took me back to that driveway seen. It took me back to that very moment where I realized all this responsibility, I was hanging onto went back to their and the anxiety that I was feeling about you know, making sure everybody was okay that I was, you know, became a people's response and I was yeah and people were okay with me, and that we were in this anxiety about people will abandon me if I'm not, you know, dancing in relationships really well, but even today this is what parents I think we become the most profound therapist for our kids in our home because neurobiological he what's going on is what happens to us. The worry that were feeling is happening in the right side of the brain.

The left side of the brain is the linguistic language part of the brain as we put language to what it is were experiencing in our ability as parents is Christie was seen earlier to get our kids to label what they're feeling to draw what it is they're feeling is what Mary's the right and left side of the brain together to help them tell their story and Paul talks about this in Philippians 4, which I think is amazing. I mean neurobiological. He understood how a brain work when he said be anxious for nothing, but by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving. Make your requests known to God and the peace of God which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

What he saying there's go to God with your worry with thanksgiving and gratitude that he's gonna show up for you and label it to him what I so appreciate the way you're balancing because some listening or going okay you know or talk a little bit about psychology little uncomfortable with that but really any sciences unfolding God's creation and as Christians that's how we need to look at it. That's not some history of unit science, will I think unfold the truth of God's creation right well and I think I mean this is where I see fear and worry as being a gift you know that worry can be used as a way to build intimacy, you know. And Scripture says that the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, worry helps us to understand who we can trust in life.

Worry helps us to understand how to be vulnerable with the right people and if we negate that the opposite is moving to anxiety like I was doing web dancing in relationships, maybe withdrawing not engaging not partnering with people because I'm afraid what you might hurt me so we put walls up where is if we can tap into fear and a healthy weight and worry in healthy way. It leads us to intimacy in relationships and wonder of God showing up and saying I've got you. I love you.

You have nothing to fear because I am with you.

It's the beginning of wisdom as adults, but also help our children understand you can walk in the ways of the Lord, and this leads to intimacy. Use your worry in a healthy way and you are set up for intimacy and so true. Let's overwrite it till and let's get into the book a little bit further your books about a little girl name Willow give us the overview of the story. What kids will read with their parents when they get a copycat. What will LECs move to new neighbor head and obviously as we experience change in our life. It just announced that a whole bunch of worries and that's normal if you're afraid for your kids. I think especially with the environment of the world right now and in the examples that we used in the but where she's at her grandma comes in and she's helping her process.

She's worried she doesn't know what to where will the kids would accept her will she make friends and so grandma walks her through even seats sharing her own stories.

How to release her waivers to God how how she can derive in the things that she can do every time she faces the worry is your life will never be devoid of that.

But you will have the tools and really she walks out and she's brave.

It's a great read and what it does facilitates the dialogue and gives you the tools as a parent or maybe a grandparent to build no, the course you're going with your kids so you know there's a purpose in over your head. Let me bring in. You know were in front of that post pandemic are nearly post-pandemic environment the all of the research that were saying with the heightened anxiety in children because of what's been happening go to school with the mass without a mask and how to write how I behave as a third-grader. I mean there's a lot more on children today in a very destabilized environment.

I think I read something from the CDC word anxiety is significantly 25% of those 14 to 24 have suicidal ideation.

We need to be paying attention to her kids right now because they need us. Yeah the idea of isolating is just it's not you know we were designed for relationship we were designed for community even as study out of Brown University that found that you know verbal, social and cognitive development is being stunted in children born during the pandemic because when adults where mass children learn to speak by watching you relentlessly and literally watch your lips and and and children learn emotional expression and facial cues all the way up to age 12, and so were seeing this developmental delay, speech delays and I think working to continue to see that and it's difficult because his parents were in a world where it's like okay were were trying to manage illness were trying to manage and make sure that were staying healthy baby elderly parent elderly parents. You know, and so we gotta we want to manage really well and be wise about how work navigating the world around us. But at the same time we also know that some of the ways that we do that. Also hindering and so it's like how do we balance that I think it really begins with us as parents. We've got to be able to find someone we can talk to. We got to limit our the new sources that the fear that comes in through new sources we gotta limit that around our kids, you know, of course, it's important to watch what's happening in the world but if you don't have a way if you don't have an outlet for yourself as a parent as an adult that will come back into you written when you realize it or not there is a trickle-down effect of fear in your home from you, the parent and so I think it starts with us. The parents I think we've got to be able to have people we can talk to before we talk to our kids about it so good.

I'm thinking of Jean my wonderful wife, who once said to because I know I'm in the role here focus. I know things are going on in the culture. I'm reading a lot of reports. The come to me and so I come home and be talking with Jean about the boys. Maybe it done or had boys what it is and Jean had to say.

You might want. You know I think you're filling the kids with fear, talking about all the wrong things that are going on in the country right now and that did that help me to arrest of overzealousness. It is the kids were there like no hope in that and I think a great caution for a lot of Christian parents right now with all of the things going on.

We got to allow the idea that the Lord is in control here. If I can say like I just think now is that opportunity more than ever for us as adults to end Christians is by believing Christians to experience joy and to show people right that I mean that to an end, to exude that in our home. So were huge about the atmosphere home paying attention to the atmosphere home is it is you do we experience a spirit of fear, or are we exuding spirit of joy, a spirit of peace, you know, by playing worship music or by even the way that we are interacting with one another and how were transferring up to our kids and so that's huge because you know there's a lot of times I'll ask our kids, you know, what are you worried about or what don't you know what what are you feeling today and it might be like. I'm really worried dad are really sad and like you know in my inside I'm going okay what's going on what's going on and then you're like oh well, that's all that it is okay so you know it's like I'm not minimizing it but you realize the worries there carrying often on what we think and if we lead with what we think it might be what you're doing is you're planting a bigger seat of worry in their brain right and what they're really worried about and it's unnecessary how I so appreciate that there's greater James call me out on that because it's a great book. What I do with worry, and what a resource for parents to have. To help their children at all ages to really understand how to manage this life and worry. I hope you know the listeners will get in touch with us to get a copy and as we often do, let me just invite you into the ministry here if you can make a gift of any amount. If you do that monthly. That's great. But one time Jeff works to and will send you a copy of the book as always I thank you for being part of the ministry you just give us a call our number is 800 K in the word family 800-232-6459 or stop by the show notes for all the details in this reminder that were here to be a resource for you so please visit our website if you're not sure how to help your child with worry. We have helped. Therefore, talking to your kids about was going on in Ukraine and other difficult topics. Of note, and we have caring Christian counselors just a phone call away if you really struggling with how to best help your child to set up a time with one of those counselors, just click the link in the episode notes or call the toll-free number 880 family coming up next time here on Focus on the Family how one family navigated the tragic loss of their daughter. We just begin praying that the God who made the sun standstill gave Jarvis his daughter back to raise Lazarus.

The God who brought Jesus out of the grave he would never life that give us more time to learn. Got an answer that prayer in behalf of Jim Daly and the entire team.

Thanks for joining us today for Focus on the Family I'm John Fuller inviting you back. As we once again help you and your family thrive in Christ


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