How can I help my child with anxiety?
Learn more about anxiety at our next Parent Quarterly
Sunday, February 23 | 9:30 – 10:30 am | Great Hall
Join Dr. Steven Lytle, PsyD, licensed clinical psychologist and founding partner of Sparrow House Counseling, for our next Parent Quarterly. He’ll be talking about “Calming an Anxious Mind: Strategies to Help Kids Cope with Anxiety.”
Lately, it seems that anxiety, depression, and other mental health issues are surrounding us as a society. Our teenagers, specifically, are processing these emotions and feelings. As a parent, you may be feeling overwhelmed or intimidated by how to figure out how to support your child.
You’re not alone.
This new generation is the most open to speaking about mental health than any other. This is actually a great joy! When people vocalize how they’re feeling, it helps the rest of us to act.
In the Bible, we can actually see how God draws near to some of our favorite characters when they are feeling depressed or anxious.
In Exodus 3 and 4, we see Moses grow anxious while talking with God at the burning bush. God asks Moses to go and free the Hebrew people. However, Moses cries back at God with every anxious thought in the book!
“Who am I to go; what if no one listens to me; I am not good at public speaking; what if no one notices me; please God just send someone else!” You can hear the pleading in Moses’ voice in Exodus 4:13.
I would guess that if your child struggles with anxiety, at some point, you have felt that heartbreaking pleading and felt helpless about what you can do. The Lord gets frustrated with Moses. You may be feeling frustrated, too. That’s okay because even in God’s frustration God decides to help Moses.
God does not force Moses to do what terrifies him or may cause a panic attack. Instead, God sends Moses’ brother, Aaron, to help him lead.
What does your child need? Is their "Aaron" a person such as a therapist or a psychiatrist? Is their "Aaron" a youth pastor or mentor? Perhaps their “Aaron” is exercise or moving to a new school.
I asked our students what was the one thing they wish their parents knew about their anxiety and here is what I heard: They want you to ask about it.
They want you to not freak out and simply listen and ask questions. What triggers them? What calms them down? How long have they been experiencing this?
They want you to partner with them and help lead them to find a solution.
The beauty of the story of Moses is that we see Aaron help him lead for a time. Eventually, Aaron fades into the background of the story. He still matters as a character and we learn a lot from him, but Moses is eventually secure enough to lead on his own and manage his own anxiety. Aaron still exists in Moses' story, just like your child may go from seeing a therapist weekly to monthly.
God loves your child. God is not intimidated by your child's anxiety, panic attacks, and triggers. This may seem like a generation fixated on mental health, but maybe this is just one of the first generations to truly embrace all of the beauty that God has created within our psychology.
Help your child find their "Aaron.” Tell them you love them and that they're not alone in this. This may all seem foreign and new to you, and that is okay. Our church, our youth team, and so many others are here to come alongside you and love you and your family well.
You and your child are not alone in this.