Learn from the experts how to handle anxiety in children
The Eagle River Youth Coalition is continuing its Eat Chat Parent series with a discussion on anxiety in children. The discussion will take place on Tuesday at Battle Mountain High School and again on Wednesday at Gypsum Creek Middle School.
Eat Chat Parent is a series of free discussions (with dinner, of course) for experts to give advice to parents on dealing with various issues such as overuse of technology or low self-esteem.
This particular discussion will feature two such experts in anxiety: local author and yoga instructor Julie Kiddoo and Dr. Steven Schlozman, a Harvard Medical School child psychiatrist.
“The most recent survey results from 2017 tell us that one-third of local middle school and high school students are vulnerable to this (anxiety issues),” said Carol Johnson, community education manager and facilitator for Eat Chat Parent. “We get concerned when protective factors are lacking, because then unwanted behaviors occur, such as experimentation with substance use.”
Johnson also pointed out that addressing mental health concerns in a student’s own home will provide the youth with a better chance to thrive.
The discussion will specifically address the two types of anxiety that can manifest in children, healthy and unhealthy.
“It’s important for parents to recognize the difference between healthy and unhealthy anxiety in children,” Johnson said. “We conducted a parent survey in 2017 and learned that 50 percent of parents surveyed can’t tell the difference between a moody child and one who needs more support outside of the home.”
According to Johnson, healthy anxiety is totally normal — perhaps what a child experiences before a test — but just requires some extra love. Unhealthy anxiety, however, interferes with a child’s life and requires help from a medical professional.
Outside of teaching parents to distinguish between the two types of anxiety, the discussion is aimed at battling the stigma of mental health issues.
“Our community is great at responding to a friend’s ACL injury, but when it is a mental health issue, many people don’t know how to respond,” Johnson said.
Schlozman, one of the discussion leaders, is well known throughout the world for his work in child psychiatry.
“Dr. Schlozman is an internationally renowned leader, who is at the forefront of the latest child psychological theories, data and best practices,” Johnson said. “We are privileged to have him share his expertise since we do not have anyone of his caliber working in this field in our community.”
However, Schlozman’s approach to solving the issue doesn’t focus solely on the children involved.
“(It’s) our job is to support our kids through what comes naturally difficult for (the kids),” Schlozman said in a press release from Eat Chat Parent. “… If changes are worrisome, then don’t worry alone. This is where community comes in. Talk with other parents, with teachers and with your child’s pediatrician.”
The other presenter will be Kiddoo, who owns and operates Revolution Power Yoga in Avon and recently wrote the book “Bye-Polar,” the autobiographical story of finding peace in yoga after years of struggling with her mental health.
“Make sure you talk to someone you can trust — a parent, a therapist, a friend. There is always hope and good mental health is for everyone,” Kiddoo said in the release. “Go to yoga. Meditate. Journal. All of those tools really work. Never give up. Stay determined to get well. Trust yourself.”
The release also states that a 2017 survey shows that the number of youth reporting depression is rising, with Vail Health CEO Will Cook weighing in.
“We must address the mental health of our youth, and since we know from studies like these that prosocial engagement helps youth feel less anxious and depressed, we must find ways to connect with them,” he said.
Kiddoo and Schlozman will not only provide context for healthy and unhealthy anxieties, but they’ll also discuss tips for what parents, friends and other caregivers can do to support children through anxiety, thereby helping them to succeed and thrive later in life.
Eat Chat Parent is free and open to the public, and those that aren’t parents are welcome to attend — crowds can be as large as 300 people, according to Johnson. RSVP to the event at goo.gl/YRjfiy.
On both Tuesday and Wednesday, dinner will begin at 5:30 p.m., the discussion will begin at 6 and a Q&A session will kick off at 7.