REBROADCAST - Responding to Anxiety in Kids


 00:00:00    Alyssa

You're listening to Voices of Your Village. This is episode 170. Today we are rebroadcasting this episode on anxiety in the tiny humans. It's a topic we've been getting a lot of questions about I think especially after this last year with so much upheaval. For this episode. I got to hang out with my friend Jess. You might know her handle as Our Mama Village over on Instagram and we dove into what anxiety looks like in tiny humans and how to best support kiddos through it. Jess is a therapist out of Canada and I had such a pleasure hanging out with her for this conversation. I can't wait to hear your biggest takeaways. All right folks. Let's dive in. 


00:00:54    Alyssa

Welcome to Voices of Your Village, a place where parents, caregivers, teachers and experts come to support one another on this wild ride of raising tiny humans. We combined decades of experience with the latest research to create the modern parenting village. Let's dive into honest conversation about real parenting challenges, so it doesn't have to be this hard. I'm your host, Alyssa Blask Campbell.


00:01:27    Alyssa

Hey everyone, welcome back to Voices of Your Village, today I'm here with Jessica VanderWier you might know her as Our Mama Village over on the 'gram. She's crushing it over there and provides amazing tools and support if you aren't following her we will pop it into the blog post and chat about it at the end as well. But check out Our Mama Village on Instagram. She is a therapist and a mama to almost two. She's growing her 2nd babe right now. Thanks for joining me today Jessica. 


00:01:56    Jessica

Thanks so much for having me. I'm so excited to be here on your podcast. I've been a longtime listener. So yeah, I'm really excited to be here and chatting with you today. 


00:02:05    Alyssa

Thanks, babe. I would love for you to share with our village a bit about who you are and kind of what brings you here today. 


00:02:12    Jessica

Yeah, for sure. So I'm a psychotherapist and I do a few things, so I run Our Mama Village, which you were just talking about where we share tips and strategies for parents to help their kids with their emotional development similar to what you're doing, which is I think why we're so aligned and why I love your page as well. And I also share support for parents in their own mental health and in my private practice, I do the same. So I work with parents and I work with kids and I absolutely love the work and I'm just really excited to dig into children a little bit more today with you. 


00:02:48    Alyssa

Yeah, so jazzed that you're here. I think, you know, we know that anxiety's never been higher and kids and they say it's also been never been higher in parents than it is today. And I know like there's a lot of fear and just talking about where we go from here. Perhaps ironically that there's fear about anxiety but I think we've come to a really cool place where folks are sharing more and more about feeling anxiety or experiencing anxiety. And now there's this like and now what do we do? I think the old school approach was like you learn to live with anxiety. You learn to welcome it. You learn to recognize where it's coming from and to ride it out. And you know, we've learned that that's not what we have to do anymore, that you can live without anxiety and that there are ways to process this fear and I want to dig into this as it pertains specifically to kiddos. So first, I'm curious like in your private practice. Are you seeing a lot of kiddos coming in experiencing anxiety and if so, like, how young are you starting to see it? 


00:03:56    Jessica

Yeah, for sure. So in my private practice, I'm definitely seeing kids with anxiety and I'm also working with their parents. So it's usually their parents that are bringing them in for the past couple years. I've actually been working at a school. I've been contracting with the school. So I've been seeing kids as young as JK-kindergarten age in the school and then outside of that I have seen children as well, three and four, that's probably the youngest that I've been seeing them and it's a lot of work with their parents as well. 


00:04:29    Alyssa

Yeah, that's wild. I mean, I think it's cool that we're getting kids support early on right? We, I'm going to reference real quick this research out of Yale and then we can dive into what it means and how to implement it so for folks who aren't familiar with it we've talked a lot about it before in our village, but if you're new here there was research out of that came out of Yale last year that dove into kids with anxiety. They found that one in three kids will experience clinically significant anxiety and that if it's left untreated, they'll carry it into adulthood. They also found that only about 50% of kids were responding to therapy and medication for anxiety and the overwhelmingly the most effective form of treatment was teaching parents how to response. Which makes total sense right? Like if a parent is with kiddos consistently if your attachment figures experiencing anxiety and doesn't know how to support you through it. Then naturally, we're going to continue to see it. So I took this research and was like, wow, that's so empowering because I think it makes treating anxiety so accessible if we can support parents with how to do it not everyone has access to therapy or medication, but we can all support parents in how to navigate this so what I found that was interesting and that really aligned with our work was the biggest thing that they noted here was the fear of allowing kids to have fear. So our anxiety about kids fear, right? And it, somebody had reached out and asked the question of like what if a kid is having anxiety about being in a different room of the house than Mom and Dad are, and I was like this is a perfect example that like our inclination might be like, okay, then we won't make them feel that fear and the research showed moving towards if you notice that you're feeling scared in a room by yourself. What can you do to help your body feel calm? 


00:06:37    Jessica

Yeah exactly. I love it. Like when I read that research. What was it last year that it came out? 


00:06:43    Alyssa



00:06:43    Jessica

I was so excited because, and I think a lot of practitioners, I'm sure you were too because it's a lot of the work that we're already doing and I was just confirming that you know the work that we're already doing which is supporting parents is actually very effective and helpful, which I think a lot of us in the field are like, yeah, fired up about it. Yeah, so I was really excited when I read that. And I think what is happening in my perspective is it's really good that we're talking about anxiety so much more and we're talking about mental health and we're so aware of it, but I think what can also happen is parents then become a lot more anxious about their kids being anxious because we just have this higher level of anxiety of like knowledge and awareness of anxiety than we've ever had. And so something that I see a lot in my practice is parents who are going through anxiety themselves who are noticing things that are sometimes developmentally normal or typical in children, but labeling it as anxiety and starting to get kind of concerned and worried about it. And so I think when we can work, with the parents to help them say, and say we don't need to fix all anxious feelings. We just need to help our kids kind of move through them and and learn how to cope with them. And yeah, exactly like, okay, how do you calm your body then if you're in a room by yourself and Mom and Dad can't be there. I think that can be really really empowering for parents and less stress on them. 


00:08:13    Alyssa

I totally agree and I think you hit the nail on the head like we're anxious about anxiety, right good and I think for me one of the things that's really helpful. I struggled with anxiety for a while. I share openly here that I'm a sexual assault survivor and there was a lot of anxiety for about a decade and then I had a therapist, I've been with a couple different therapists throughout the years and I had a therapist who was like you don't have to live with this and I was like, excuse me what? Where were you years ago? And she was like, yeah. I mean you're experiencing fear and we can rewrite these patterns for you and we can give you tools to process the fear and it was wild because simultaneously we were creating the C.E.P. method and about to research it in schools across the U.S. where we would be teaching kids how to process these emotions and I wasn't applying it to myself I think because for me so many of the like anxiety triggers and so much about living with anxiety had just become my norm that I wasn't even noticing it anymore. 


00:09:17    Jessica

Yeah. Yeah, exactly. I think that that's so common. And in the parents I work with too right? Like you don't actually have to live with anxiety. It doesn't have to rule your life and run your mind and for myself as well. I've also been through anxiety. If I look back at myself as a child. I was definitely a child with anxiety, that wasn't something I knew at the time and I thought it was normal. But as I became a counselor, I went through my career is like, oh man that actually wasn't normal. I didn't have to live like that. So I think that can be so encouraging and for any parents out there that you know, you don't have to live with me anxiety and your kids don't either and just that message is just very encouraging I think.


00:09:59    Alyssa

Totally, so you want to break down for folks. Like what's the difference between like fear or excitement say like I'm getting ready to present this science project or I'm going to a new school. I'm going to be starting in a new classroom and the fears that can come up around something new or doing something that also might be exciting and you get the butterflies in your tummy, before I present on stage, at this point I've been presenting for years, every single time beforehand I'm like, Woo, I can feel it and that for me that's not anxiety. But I want to outline like what's the difference between fear and excitement and anxiety. 


00:10:38    Jessica

For sure and I think what might be helpful is to kind of go through some normal fears that infants, preschoolers and school age kids have and then to talk about like what's the difference between these normal fears and then what turns it into anxiety that we might be more concerned about because I think there's a lot of really normal fears that kids have and again when we are anxious about anxiety. We can see those normal fears and be like, oh my goodness my child has anxiety, especially for an anxious parent ourselves and they're just like me, they're anxious about it and that can sometimes kind of fuel it. So for infants usually some common fears that they have is separation from a parent which totally makes sense. They've been with their parent always so to be separated from them. You might see some fears infants and toddlers loud noises, things like taking a bath sometimes can be scary doesn't mean they have anxiety if they're scared of taking a bath and large objects or unknown people that can be fearful. For preschoolers we often see they developed this lovely imagination. I'm seeing this in my daughter. She has this beautiful imagination, but also can get scared by her own imagination of things so they might start to talk about things that aren't real that they're scared of or ghosts or whatever it is that kind of comes up in their mind. They also might start to be more curious about things like what if someone broke into our house at night and that's not anxiety. That's a normal childhood fear that they're just trying to explore and and understand how the world works and things like thunderstorms often I hear that a lot from the kids that I work with too things like thunderstorms, things that are out of out of their control can be a little bit scary. And then as we move into school age, we often see things like snakes, insects, bugs, a fear of death or dying, that becomes a really real concept and kids start to get a little scared of what that's going to look like which makes total sense and sometimes fears of people in authority, police officers, stuff like that. So those are some normal fears that we see and we don't have to kind of freak out about as parents. We can really validate for our kids. Oh, you're scared about that. Let's explore it. How does that feel in your body? Let's talk about it. And I think about any of those normal fears is like really great opportunities for us as parents and educators and support to explore fears with our kids in a safe place and help them learn right away how to deal with it. When they turn into something more. There's a few things like that. The spontaneity of the fear. So how quickly does something turn into fear? Do they because often times when kids have a lot of time to think about things then it becomes something that they're scared of which I think is exactly the same for us as adults like if I know I have a huge presentation three weeks away the more I have to think about it the more anxious I'm getting closer to the date. Whereas if I you know, just know it's tomorrow, then I might not be as nervous. So the spontaneity of fear if it's an instant reaction and if it's an instant reaction to a lot of different things is this intense fear. How excessive the fear is, so is your child just saying I'm scared or I'm nervous and just having this conversation with you or does it turn into like this sobbing, clinging to you to the point where they can't let you go, panic attacks like unable to kind of breathe through it. Those would be things that would be more concerning to me. Can they be calmed with your reassurance or with using things like deep breaths and calming their body? Can that calm them down or do they continue to kind of escalate even when we're trying to use those strategies? So that's something else that I'd be thinking about. Yeah. Does that does that? 


00:14:36    Alyssa

Yeah, I love that. I think it's really important to lay out those distinctions and I had a couple things pop up as you were sharing that I want to go a little deeper on I think when we're looking at those like typically developing fears say I'm going to take separation as one of them. And our inclination can be because they're afraid or upset we shouldn't separate. 


00:15:03    Jessica

Yeah for sure. 


00:15:04    Alyssa

And I want to assure folks that it's okay for them to feel that fear of separation. I even remember I had this little girl who really struggled with separation she had when she was born. She was a twin and they both were in the NICU, so she went from being one of two always together to now in a NICU by herself and she struggled with separation she came to us when she was nine months old and if I even just like stood up or moved as though I might leave in any manner, I could stand up to change a diaper and she could be right next to my leg and she would be sobbing because we formed a bond and an attachment and I became her safe person and when I was going to stand up and potentially leave the room. Even to like go to the bathroom. It wouldn't have been realistic or helpful for her if I never went to the bathroom, if I never ate lunch, if I never took care of my needs too and so what I want to let folks know is that when we're talking about these developmentally appropriate fears. It's also okay for kids to feel them. The goal isn't to avoid them. 


00:16:19    Jessica

I think that's actually key is to let kids feel their fears and to do it in a safe place like exactly in the example you said like you can go to the bathroom and then come back and show her that you come back and I think if we don't let our kids feel their fears then fear just holds this bigger power like this huge power over our kids and over us, but when we can feel it and really moved through it, then we can show our kids that it's okay. And yeah, 


00:16:47    Alyssa

Yeah, it doesn't get to control you. 


00:16:53    Alyssa

We heard you loud and clear and are excited to announce a payment plan for Mama's Getaway this year. A bunch of you reached out and said you really want to be able to come and we're wondering if we could break up the payments into a few months. So we are offering a payment plan where you can do four installments of $159 a month. We want you to be able to join us in Watertown, New York, September 25th and 26th this year to dive deep into this work. Mama's Getaway is unlike any other thing that we do, it's our only in-person event. And in person is just so different than any other space. When we are in person we can dive into this work in a deeper way. We have guests that come and present. It's like a workshop for parenting we get to go into your patterns and habits from childhood and how they're informing how you're showing up today. We get to help you build some tools for yourself for your partnership for navigating boundaries with in-laws and parents and other folks in your village. We also go deep into what this work looks like with the tiny humans and how to support your unique child. It's a series of workshops on Saturday and on Sunday, breakfast and lunch are included and then we have a mama's mingle on Saturday night. It's totally optional, if you want to take off your workshop hat and come out and hang out and connect with other moms who are doing this work. Our villages have been in isolation for so long at this point and we are looking forward to connecting in person. I will be there with my little babe as well. It'll be the only in-person event that I am doing in 2021. So come join us, head over to and sign up today for $159. You are worth taking care of. 


00:19:03    Alyssa

I think it can often come in the way too and when we talk about self-care. I was just interviewing somebody yesterday who we're talking about intergenerational trauma and she was sharing this story of a mom who she had been working with who was struggling to like take a shower or do things because her baby would cry when she was in the shower and she was like, that's okay. It's okay if your baby is upset while you're in the shower, it's also okay for you to take the shower, right? Yeah, but it's that fear, I think of them experiencing a hard feeling and I was chatting with a friend than yesterday about like this instance. We were just going deeper on it and we got to this place where I was like, ooh, I wonder how our fear about secure attachment plays into the fear of allowing kids to feel hard things. Like can you speak to that and like forming a secure attachment and allowing kids to feel fear? 


00:20:03    Jessica

Yeah, exactly. I think that's exactly it and we have so much knowledge and awareness now, which is great. But I think sometimes you know, all of this knowledge it spins around in the parents that I work with in their heads. And so by the time they come to me they're like, okay, well they feel now the fear let's say of separation. Well, I don't want to separate from them because I don't want to impact our attachment. So I'm just going to you know, take pull them out of daycare. Just keep them home with me instead. And so I think these all of us awesome information and knowledge that we have can actually sometimes be to our detriment like we know too much and then we get anxiety about it. But what I really think is what we've been talking about is that it's actually key to let our kids experience all emotions and so fear is one of them, anger and that goes to like meltdowns and stuff like that that you talked about lots on your podcast, but I think it's important to let our kids experience those emotions. And to help them ride through a wave of emotion versus trying to protect our kids from feelings because and I think this is what the Yale study is saying if we always are protecting our kids from feeling feelings, then when they become adults and they no longer have our protection they're going to feel those feelings and then they're not going to know what to do with them. So I think one of the best gifts we can let our kids have is really to feel their emotions and help them develop ways to cope with them when they're young and when they're little and when we have them. 


00:21:35    Alyssa

And knowing like it that it is okay. I think it really starts again with us getting cozy with ourselves feeling and yes, and we can process it. I love how you noted earlier like that projection of like seeing yourself in that child. But their story doesn't have to be your story and you get to rewrite your story. 


00:21:54    Jessica

Yeah, so many parents I work with when we really get to talking. It's like, oh, well, I was anxious for my entire childhood. And so when we really get to talking about it, they're seeing these reflections of themselves and they don't want that for their kids and and no parent wants that for their child and all the parents that come to me. Everyone just wants what's best for their kids, right? Yeah. So I think that there's a lot of fear about fear like you said and like you said if we can get comfy with fear instead and just like all emotions. I always say that's apparent like, okay, let's just get comfortable with this emotion. Let's just sit with it and see what it feels like and and when we can do that I think that can be so powerful for our kids too.


00:22:35    Alyssa

Totally, and everything inside of you might be saying like run or fight or, that's what your body is designed to do and being able to rewrite those narratives is tough. 


00:25:22    Alyssa

We also got a question about information which I think is a huge part of anxiety like how much information to give kids when we look at adults and anxiety it's like a rabbit hole you can go down and like well if I just keep getting more information, I'll feel better. Yeah, we know if you've ever, like I mean right now with Coronavirus. You could have all the information in the world and still feel anxious. Right? And that there is a limit to which information has served its purpose and now it's time for coping. And so I want to speak to that with like giving kids, say they are afraid of a bug or whatever and we're going to explore this bug and then at what point are we saying? Oh, I can tell that you're still feeling nervous about this. You're still feeling scared about this. How can we help our bodies feel calm before we move forward like at what point are you making that shift? 


00:26:17    Jessica

For sure? Yeah I think that's so huge. I always say to my clients. Anxiety loves information and anxiety loves like tips and strategies. People, parents, children alike who are anxious they're like give me all the things, give me all the information but it doesn't, it's not always helpful or useful. What I teach parents, this might be a good time to kind of talk about this is a little acronym called "PAUSE" and I use that in terms of kids with anxiety and responding when they're anxious. So there's a few things before I share, there's a few things that I typically see parents do. So children says they're scared of something and parents say don't worry. So that's that's one common one and we know that's not the most helpful, sometimes parents become anxious about their anxiety. So they're like, oh well, why are you so anxious about that? Like, why are you stressed? Why is this and so and then that tells a child that oh, okay. This emotion isn't safe. Like I'm not safe with feeling this emotion of fear because it makes my my parent fearful as well that I'm feeling this way. So instead I really encourage parents when their child says they're scared or nervous or has these big reactions to "PAUSE." And so P in the acronym PAUSE is pause and so just take a moment before you respond. So anxiety often when we're around anxious people. We feel our own nervous system kind of speed up and go into hyper awareness and and go really quick. So we want to just notice our own reaction slow down take some deep breaths and pause, then we can just acknowledge their feelings. So A is acknowledge and just say wow, like you're feeling scared about this what's going on with that and so just validating, acknowledging their feeling. U is understand. So try and understand why it is that that's scary for them. Sometimes they can give you an answer and sometimes they can't so sometimes they understand why it's scary and sometimes they don't but we can try and understand. S and I think this is the most important one is safety and soothe and so when our kids or other adults anyone is experiencing anxiety their body goes to a place where this is unsafe, I'm not safe, this emotion is not safe and that's really where the kind of panic starts. And so we want to encourage our kids by telling them. You're safe. I'm here. You're like you're safe and then soothe which is okay, how can we calm your body which is what you're talking about, right? So can we take some really deep breaths together and that process of helping your child learn how to cope with anxiety with you is really, really key. And then after their body is calm and they can actually access a logical side of their brain, then we can go to Evaluate and that's when the facts would come in. And so what I say to parents and to kids is we want to find the truth and so I'm mindful about trying to find way too much information on the subject because I think that can just be overwhelming I know even for me like even with Coronavirus I'm like, I don't need to know that all this information like it's just it's too much and the more I know the more anxious I feel about it. So I you know, I don't need to dig into it for hours on end. 


00:29:35    Alyssa

A thousand percent. It's not productive. 


00:29:37    Jessica

No is it doesn't help it doesn't change the situation. And so I think for our kids to like our tendency might be to give them so much information, but instead I like to just simplify and say valuate find what's true and if there is a truth and then once you find that you can move back to safety and soothe and just kind of move through it and keep moving forward. That's a little acronym I give to parents. 


00:30:06    Alyssa

I think that's really helpful. Do you have for folks who might be listening on the go or whatever and couldn't jot it down. Is there something you could send to us at links to something of yours that would outline that? 


00:30:17    Jessica

Yeah. I think I have a blog post on it so I can send you the link to the blog post. Yeah, that would be rad. At that way, we will include this link in our blog post for this episode and then if people want to reference it, they can. 


00:30:29    Alyssa

I've also seen it pop up on Instagram. So if you're scrolling through the arm on the village Instagram, it'll it'll surface as well. 


00:30:37    Jessica

Yeah, you'll find it on my Instagram. 


00:30:39    Alyssa

Yeah rad. Awesome. So one thing that kept coming up is fear around, daytime fear versus nighttime here. So if, and I think like I think there's so much and it's so heavy and convoluted but so we provide sleep support at seed as well with the idea that like if we aren't getting quality restorative sleep it's really hard to show up as a regulated human and providing folks with like what's developmentally appropriate at different ages and stages so that you don't search the internet and think that like your five week old should be sleeping 1-2 hours. It's not developmentally appropriate but one of the questions that kept coming up was around sleep and like how do I, this idea that like during the day I can be there to support them. But if at night they're afraid to be alone in their room, so we're co-sleeping but we don't want to be co-sleeping like this isn't working for us, but now we're doing it because they're afraid and it feels easier like I don't know what else to do. Those questions kept coming up from our village that difference between nighttime and daytime, can you speak to that?


00:31:50    Jessica

Yeah for sure. I'd say if I had to pinpoint something that I see the most in anxiety in kids is this nighttime and co-sleeping when parents don't want to be co-sleeping I'd say like if I had to pinpoint what I see the most and why parents come to me the most and I'd say even up to nine, ten, 11 years old is what that's what I'm seeing. So that's not just in toddlerhood, but that goes outside of that as well. What I usually look at is something that I call a fear ladder and so when you're trying to transition your child back to their own bed. We want to do it in small realistic kind of increments. And so if the end goal is get your child to sleep in their own bed, that's the top of the ladder, what are the steps that we can take to get there? And so usually that's what I work on with families instead of just saying, okay, well we want kids to experience their fear. So let's just throw them in their own bed. Good luck. You know, I don't think that that's healthy either so we need to be able to create these realistic little steps for kids and along the way so if step one in the fear ladder is, you know, they're going to fall asleep in their own bed. If that's step one then we also want to be able to give to give children the tools to be able to do that and you probably do this in your sleep work with kids, too. So, okay. So when you're feeling stressed, what can we do? Can we take some really deep breaths. Can we practice that when you're calm and I'm all about let's practice things with kids when they're not anxious the more we practice when they're calm the more they can access it when they feel anxious. I think it's that's very very key. 


00:33:30    Alyssa

For all of us. 


00:33:31    Jessica

For all of us. Yeah, that's for everybody. Yeah, we can't only practice when we're anxious because it's just not gonna work. Yeah. So then with kids we really make a plan kids know what to expect they know what's going to happen. They know what it's going to look like because a big part of anxiety and kids to is just like the unknown. And then we create these small realistic little steps that bring us to the end goal which would be having our kids in their own beds. And so that's something that I work on a lot with parents the coping strategies often look like practicing this deep breathing with kids. It depends on the age of the child. I see a lot of kids for this actually around 9 and 10, but I know your listeners probably also have lot of littler kids. 


00:34:17    Alyssa

There's quite a range to be honest. And I think it's true like parents will eventually get to a point where they're like, I really don't want to be doing this anymore. There's like a tolerance window of like all right, we can be co-sleeping for this amount of time. And then we get a bunch of folks will reach out and be like, we didn't want to be co-sleeping past 1 or past 2 or whatever and we're still here. We really don't want this, we can't figure it out. So I think we end up getting a lot of clients actually on the older end when we're looking at this specifically.  


00:34:46    Jessica

Okay, yeah. Yeah, and that's typically what I see too. Is that by the time parents have reached out to me about the sleep. It's kind of like their last resort. They've tried everything. They're feeling really discouraged. And so if that's you I also want to say like there's so much hope I've worked with so many families and we always get the kids sleeping back in their own beds, and it's okay. So take a breath because I know...


00:35:13    Jessica

You're not going to college with them...


00:35:13    Jessica

No, no they're not going to be 32 and in your bed. 


00:35:16    Jessica

Right, we can we can help this. Yeah, totally I like what you noted here specifically in the like a kid can't call on a tool that they don't already have in their toolbox. Right? So we get this a lot from folks, especially when we're moving from coping mechanisms to strategies say a parent wants to move away from a pacifier and into coping strategies for processing emotions. We'll get the like, I think we're just gonna like pull the pacifier, and we're like, please don't, support them in building coping strategies before you pull away that calming tool that they have right now and I think in bedtime I'm like, you noted they, we want to be practicing this stuff when they're calm which often can be during the day. We're going to be looking at what do you do when they feel fear during the day? What do they do when they feel fear during the day because if they don't have a tool during the day, they don't have something to call on at night. 


00:36:09    Jessica

Yeah. Yeah, I talk about this. I have an online course where I talk about parenting little kids with big feelings and I talked about this in the course...


00:36:16    Alyssa

First of all that's hilarious because we have, I started a program three and a half years ago called "Tiny Humans, Big Emotions". So I love that. All right, sorry, keep going. 


00:36:29    Speaker 2

We're on the same wavelength! Yeah. So in our course we talked about teaching a replacement skill and basically saying, you know any challenging behavior big emotion that we have for our kids. That's how they know how to cope with it. And so we can't just say don't cope with it that way whether that's hitting or biting like whatever it is. We have to teach them a new way to get that need met and it's the same for at night. So we can't just say like, oh don't wake up and come to us at night because you're scared. We you know, that would be the nice if they're just like, okay, no problem not scared anymore. Just not been my experience as a therapist that that's happened, but it would be nice so we have to teach them new ways to cope. And so I think like you said The more we can add to that coping toolbox, then we can use those as a replacement for co-sleeping or for biting or for kicking and I think that's really really key, really important. 


00:37:25    Alyssa

Yeah, I love this. So two more things that I want to touch on. I want to be mindful of your time. But when we got specific questions of like and it would be designed, I'm thinking of one right now that says, how do I help my child with perfectionism and what I what I want folks to be able to take away is the ability to ask that question of like, what's the fear beneath this right like continuously asking I mean literally in my own therapy session yesterday with my therapist. I was sharing something and she's like, oh, what are you afraid of there, and I was like Gosh, like I do this all the time with folks and like still it's a practice to ask yourself. Like what am I really afraid of here or what are they really afraid of if they have this like perfectionism, what's that actually a fear of and how do we address that? 


00:38:18    Jessica

Yeah, exactly. I think that that's exactly it is. I always think the iceberg metaphor, right? Perfectionism is at the top what's underneath, what's underneath the surface and even with a lot of things regarding anxiety, anxiety might be the presenting symptom. But what like and so something I'm always teaching my audience on Our Mama Village and through my course is how can we be curious about this and it's usually anxiety is not usually just anxiety like what's going on beneath the surface what else is going on in this child's life? What are they trying to communicate with you when they say I'm scared? I had a mom reach out to me the other day and say my child keeps saying that they're scared and she's like, I don't think they're actually scared but I think they're trying to say something and so we talked a lot about okay. Well, let's get curious like going on behind I'm scared it is it they're trying to connect with you and when they say I'm scared they get a big reaction and and it's a really good way to connect with you or is there a big change in their life? So I love that idea of it's not about perfectionism. I mean, that's the symptom that we're seeing but what's the fear what's going on underneath the surface and I think as parents and Educators and caregivers, like if we can really adopt this mindset of curiosity versus Has reaction to really any emotion. I think it could be I think it could be really helpful for us. 


00:39:49    Jessica

Yeah, I think so too. 


00:39:51    Alyssa

And now you said you've been working with kids in schools. Have you been working in the classroom setting as well or individually? 


00:39:57    Jessica

Yeah, so within the past couple years not so much in the classroom setting I have worked with teachers where they'll come into my office and we'll just talk about the students that I'm seeing as well and how they can support them because I really believe in this kind of whole, holistic, like let's get all the professionals and parents and everybody on board on the same page because it's not just about giving the kids strategies. It's about everyone. But prior to having my daughter. So I guess this would have been maybe five years ago. I was working in school a lot of school settings and doing a lot more work in the classroom. So I have done that but it's just been a little while. 


00:40:37    Alyssa

We just have a bunch of teachers who tune in and we have a certification program for child care and home daycare, and so there's a whole bunch of teachers in our village and I'd love to offer up support also to teachers if you're in a classroom and you have 16-18-20 plus kids in your classroom and you're seeing different fears or anxieties popping up like what are some tools that you can employ when it's not a one-to-one or even in a home setting where you might even have like one, two, three children, but one to 16 or 18 children?


00:41:14    Jessica

Yeah, I think that's a really really good question. I think it's so hard. It's so hard for teachers when there's so many kids around. I'd say like if you can kind of connect with a child privately, I think that's good. I think having these conversations in your classroom about fear and just opening up the door to talk about it. If I think back to myself as this like anxious girl who didn't realize she was anxious. No one told me about fear. No one educated me on emotions or, and so I think to really help our kids be emotionally intelligent. We could be talking about that in our classrooms. We can be using examples. We can be just having this open dialogue about it and even using stories. I think stories are such a powerful tool. I talk a lot about that on my page as well as just like using story like books that talk about it. And so we're opening the door. So if a child feels as though they need to talk about it or they're having hard time they can come to you. You're a safe person because you've done the work in the bigger setting of opening the door for that conversation. Yeah, a social stories are so powerful and I think sometimes especially for educators more so than I've seen for parents. There's this like oh, but then I have to like create this book and laminate it and do all and I'm like babe just tell a story like tell a transition. Like tell it at lunch, tell it, it can be audio and you don't have to like actually write it out. 


00:42:40    Jessica

Oh no, I love that about teachers that they're right away like how can I get these graphics and laminate? So true some of my best friends are teachers and I took yeah, but no like we can just we can just talk it out loud. And there's a lot of really good stories that are already out there. And so, you know, just a quick Google search. You can see a lot of great books on anxiety that don't necessarily say anxiety, like right now I'm reading my daughters been having some struggles with separation and going to daycare. So we've been reading her this book "The Invisible String" which is so good and it doesn't say anxious like that word is not in the book at all. But it offers a new perspective and gives her a new way to kind of look at being separated from Mom and Dad. So things like that that are already resources. We don't always have to recreate everything either. 


00:43:33    Alyssa

Totally and I even will just like throughout a book pause, even if it's not talking about like separating or the fear itself, I'll just pause and be like that person sitting by themself on the playground. I wonder how they're feeling. If you were there. What could you do to support them? I see a tear going down their face, right like bringing kids, just bringing awareness into there's so much that's already happening in the book that might not even be a part of the words, but that you could talk about. 


00:44:00    Jessica

Yeah, exactly. Yeah. That's why I love stories. Like they're just so so much we can go from from just even a simple simple story and as a teacher you can kind of decide where you wanna take that which is really cool.


00:44:14    Alyssa

And one of, just for folks. I'll give a quick plug to, we had "Little Feminist Book Club". The owner of it Brit was on the podcast a couple of years ago, but she started a book club to diversify bookshelves. So if you're a teacher, you're a parent and you were like, oh I would like to have more people of color on my bookshelf or would like to represent people with different abilities or different family structures. Check out little The Feminist Book Club they do. 


00:44:42    Jessica

I love that. I'm going to check that out. I'm all about that. That sounds awesome.


00:44:47    Alyssa

It's so good and they actually are like now working to start their own publishing company so that they can really control a little bit more of this and like what is ending up on a bookshelf. 


00:45:01    Jessica

Oh cool. That's awesome. What a great resource. 


00:45:04    Alyssa

Yeah. She's rad, awesome. So before we wrap up here where can folks connect with you, learn more about your work? Yeah, where can they find you? 


00:45:14    Jessica

Yeah, for sure. So I feel like Instagram is probably the best place. I'm on there usually every day doing a post on emotions and kids or parents. So I'd love to have you come follow me there at Our Mama Village and I also have an online course I was talking about it's called How to Parent Little Kids with Big Feelings and it's all about parenting our little kids with big feelings. And so we talk about all the different feelings that come up and really focus as well on behavior and so different challenging behaviors that we see in kids hitting, biting, kicking, sibling rivalry. We kind of cover all of those in the course as well and just give parents some really practical tools to help their little ones with their big feelings. 


00:45:57    Alyssa

Awesome. Thank you so much. Thanks for hanging out with me today. 


00:46:00    Jessica

Yeah, this is awesome. Thanks so much for having me!


00:46:03    Alyssa

You bet!


00:46:05    Alyssa

Thanks for tuning in to Voices of Your Village. Check out the transcript at Did you know that we have a special community over on Instagram hanging out every day with more free content? Come join us at Take a screenshot of you tuning in, share it on the gram and tag to let me know your key takeaway. If you're digging this podcast, make sure to subscribe so you don't miss an episode. We love collaborating with you to raise emotionally intelligent humans.


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