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Lyons Offers Guidance on Childhood Anxiety


Speaker Lynn Lyons is introduced by Kendra Varnell

Assistant Head of School for Student Affairs Kendra Varnell, at left, introduces Lynn Lyons at the afternoon speaker session for Ravenscroft faculty and staff.

On Wednesday, Nov. 15, nationally recognized mental health expert Lynn Lyons brought her knowledge and perspective to Ravenscroft as part of the 2023-24 Parent Education Series. The evening event for families was entitled “Modeling Matters: What Parents Need to Know (and Do) to Decrease Stress, Worry and Anxiety.” Lyons also shared her expertise and insights with faculty and staff earlier in the day.

As Assistant Head of School for Student Affairs Kendra Varnell explained, Lyons’ work focuses on how to equip children with the skills they need to cope when anxiety, which she defines as “an overestimation of a problem and an underestimation of your resources to effectively deal with it,” presents in our daily lives.

“When we try to protect our kids from distress and uncertainty, they don’t have the opportunity to build the skills or confidence they need to navigate the world,” Varnell summarized. “One of the things we can do as adults is help children develop the ability to identify and name their emotions. When we can recognize our emotions, we are then more equipped to understand how to manage them.” 

Or, as Lyons puts it in her book “Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents”: It’s not possible for kids to always feel secure. But learning to tolerate an uncertain outcome and step forward anyway leads to i mportant moments of growth.

Parents and guardians who attended the event said the message and guidance Lyons offered was very informative and helpful.

“The session offered high-yield, invaluable insights into how to equip our children with positive ways to manage their anxiety with a focus on prevention, flexibility in their approach to the unexpected and adequate problem-solving skills, all while promoting autonomy,” Dion and Kim Bennett said. “We welcomed techniques to help us connect with our children and appreciated the conversation starter, ‘What is the unexpected thing that happened to you today, and how did you handle it?’ We learned that, as parents, modeling how to manage our own anxieties is key in helping our children to manage their anxiety.”

“Lynn was relatable and funny, and I left feeling more confident in my ability to deal with anxiety,” Bridget Meggs added. “She explained how we, as parents, think we are helping our children by creating the perfect environment for them to not experience anxiety. She reminded us how it’s normal for children to have these feelings of nervousness or uncertainty when trying something new. Our job is to teach our children how to manage their feelings of anxiousness, rather than try to eliminate their feelings.”

“It was encouraging to hear Lynn talk about studies done with high school freshmen and the importance of letting them know that they have the ability to change – that a diagnosis (anxiety, ADHD, etc.) doesn’t define them. I’m going to make an effort to recognize when my kids handle setbacks well, show flexibility, tolerate uncertainty and handle situations where they had little control,” Lynne Hildreth concluded. “Thank you to Ravenscroft for bringing this engaging speaker to us. I now have a new podcast (Flustercluck) and Facebook group to follow to make sure I heed the great advice we heard Wednesday night.”

Families who want to explore this topic in more detail may join the Ravenscroft counseling team for a virtual book club discussion on Lyons’ book “The Anxiety Audit,” planned for Wednesday, Jan. 10, at 8:30 a.m. More details will be shared as the date approaches.

The Parent Education Series has numerous other programs planned for the spring semester! View and download a PDF of the series’ events.