A modern lifestyle brand redefining motherhood

7 Ways to Manage Your Kids’ Anxiety From a Parent Who’s Been There

We were reversing the car down the driveway, headed off to enjoy New Year’s Eve fireworks, when my then two-year-old asked from her car seat, “How many years do you think it will be before I die?”


My husband and I looked at each other but didn’t answer. What kind of parent engages in a conversation about mortality with a toddler, a still-in-diapers kid whose mind ought to be on Elmo or the imminent pyrotechnics?

It turns out I was exactly that kind of mom, though not by choice. It’s taken me years to accept that my daughter’s question at two was not an unsettling aberration, but a preview of things to come, of the anxiety that sometimes paralyzes her and sometimes manifests as anger or depression.

Over the years, I’ve gleaned ideas of what to do (or avoid) to optimize my whole family’s health, techniques that might help other families in need.

1 | Don’t try to talk them out of it

This was a regular pitfall of mine for years. I wanted to explain to my daughter that chlorine was not going to permanently damage her eyes and that she wasn’t going to be poisoned by her acrylic paint set. When my son is worried, we reason through his fears and he moves on. But for anxious kids, the worries run deeper and are more persistent. Trying to talk my daughter out of her feelings has never helped her, or me.

As Adele Faber and Elaine Mazlish note in “How to Talk So Kids Will Listen and How to Listen So Kids Will Talk”, a “steady denial of feelings can confuse and enrage kids.” Ultimately, it can teach kids to bottle up their feelings. I’ve learned that my daughter doesn’t need correction. She needs to feel heard.

2 | Active bodies make for easier minds

When she’s feeling particularly down or anxious, my daughter is inordinately drawn to screens. Pulling her away can be a struggle, but the payoff is worth it. Physical activity gives her an opportunity to channel the nervous energy in a healthy direction. Climbing, running, even swinging on a swingset all help.

An overbooked schedule stresses her, so we minimize formal sports and favor time at the playground, hikes in the woods, bikes rides through town. If she’s busy working her muscles during the day, she sleeps better at night. Being out in nature and getting those endorphins flowing puts us all in a better frame of mind.

3 | Eat well to feel well in body and mind

Living with stress taxes the immune system. Germ season especially can be hell!

When my daughter’s feeling stressed or down, it’s tempting to give into her request for sweets or processed snacks. But as addiction expert Kathleen DesMaisons points out in “Little Sugar Addicts: End the Mood Swings, Meltdowns, Tantrums, and Low Self-Esteem in Your Child Today”, kids are especially vulnerable to the mood imbalances caused by excessive sugar intake.

When my daughter’s on edge, I do my best to pick healthy, whole grain meals and snacks. I sub carob for chocolate to avoid the caffeine jitters. Naturally sweet peppermint tea eases stomach aches caused by rattled nerves.

4 | Establish a routine (and be open to revising it)

Predictable schedules make us all feel more anchored against the stressors of life. Setting out clothes the night before can make the morning routine easier. A set time and space for homework minimizes battles on that front. Bedtime at our house is usually preceded by some reading under a comfy blanket, a cup of chamomile tea in hand.

That said, an overly rigid schedule can be as harmful as none at all, so it’s essential to be flexible and recalibrate throughout the year.

5 | Anticipate assistance, but be ready to advocate

Though my daughter does well academically, school has always been challenging for her. Testing anxiety, a myriad of interpersonal relationships, a host of adults with different rules – it’s a lot to deal with.

In trying to keep peace in the classroom, well-meaning teachers may dismiss a child’s worries, telling them everything’s fine, just go sit down. School counselors can be a useful resource and a chance to get some one-on-one time during the school day. But if the school doesn’t get it, stay the course. Mental health needs are special needs. Anxious kids may need extra help getting in the right frame of mind to learn.

NAMI (National Alliance on Mental Illness) estimates that “one in five kids experiences a mental health condition, but only 20 percent of them actually receive services.” Talk to teachers, principals, school boards. Advocate for training and resources.

6 | Know when you need professional help

This is easier said than done. I dragged my feet getting my daughter the help she needed. Though I blamed the delay on insurance complications and waitlists, behind those excuses was my own reluctance to admit we needed help.

What did it say about me and my parenting? It’s easy to fall down the rabbit hole of blaming yourself.

In “The Worried Child”, Dr. Paul Foxman provides clear advice on when to seek therapy. His checklist helped me see that it was time to reach out to a professional.

7 | Practice self care

When my daughter’s anxiety is most acute, it can be difficult to fulfill professional obligations or even get a decent night’s sleep. My own mental health ends up taking a hit. The best way to stave that off is to keep up with hobbies and be protective of personal space and time. To care of your child, you first need to care for yourself.

Though at times I’ve thought of my daughter’s anxiety as a liability, I see more clearly as the years go by that anxiety is, after all, a symptom of an active mind. The key is pointing that mind power in a positive direction.

With love and help, anxious kids can thrive.

Who said motherhood doesn't come with a manual?

Subscribe to get inspiration and super helpful ideas to rock your #momlife. Motherhood looks amazing on you.

Already a subscriber? Log in here.

Whether you're filling out your own registry or shopping for a soon-to-be-mama in your life, it can be hard to narrow down what exactly new moms need (versus what will just end up cluttering the nursery). That's why we paired up with the baby gear experts at Pottery Barn Kids to create a registry guide featuring everything from the gear you'll use over and over to the perfect gifts under $50.

Check out the picks below, and happy shopping (and registering)!

MUST-HAVE BABY GEAR

These five gift ideas are designed to make #momlife easier while solving some of the most common parenting dilemmas.

1. Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller

One of the first things you learn when you become a mom? Those infant car seats are heavy. Which is what makes the Doona All-In-One Infant Car Seat/Stroller so genius. It's the world's first completely integrated mobility solution, quickly transforming from safe car seat to functional stroller without any extra parts. Simply pop out the wheels, pull up the handle bar, and you're ready to roll.

Doona All-in-one Infant Car Seat / Stroller, $499

BUY


GIFTS THAT CAN BE PERSONALIZED

Even the most utilitarian gift feels a little more special with some personalization. Here are some of our favorite options that can be customized with baby's name or monogram.

1. Nursery Blankets

You'll never forget the blanket you bring your newborn home in. And with Pottery Barn Kids' assortment of blankets, there's a wrap to suit every new mama's style. Choose from fuzzy neutral patterns or stylish printed options, and add baby's name for an extra personal touch.

Nursery Blankets, Starting at $39.50

BUY


GIFTS THAT GROW WITH THEM

Save money and space by gifting items that will last long after baby's first year. These clever gift items will have mama saying "thank you!" for years to come.

1. west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib

A convertible crib is an investment in years of sweet dreams. We love this mid-century-style option made from sustainably sourced wood with child-safe, water-based finishes. When your baby outgrows their crib (sniff!), it easily converts into a toddler bed with the matching conversion kit.

west elm x pbk Mid-Century Convertible Crib, $399

BUY


GIFTS UNDER $50

Sometimes the littlest gifts mean the most. Here are our favorite gifts under $50 they'll be sure to cherish.

1. west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set

When you're raising a newborn, you can never have too many swaddles. Perfect for naptime, burp cloths, stroller covers, and spontaneous play mats, a muslin swaddle will always come in handy. And we especially love this neutral patterned collection in platinum, nightshade, and peacock.

west elm x pbk Dot Muslin Swaddle Set, $45.50

BUY

Learn more and explore all Pottery Barn Kids' registry must-haves here.

In the moments after we give birth, we desperately want to hear our baby cry. In the middle of the night a few months later it's no longer exactly music to our ears, but those cries aren't just telling us that baby needs a night feeding: They're also giving us a hint at what our children may sound like as kindergarteners, and adults.

New research published in the journal Biology Letters suggests the pitch of a 4-month-old's cry predicts the pitch they'll use to ask for more cookies at age five and maybe even later on as adults.

The study saw 2 to 5-month olds recorded while crying. Five years later, the researchers hit record again and chatted with the now speaking children. Their findings, combined with previous work on the subject, suggest it's possible to figure out what a baby's voice will sound like later in life, and that the pitch of our adult voices may be traceable back to the time we spend in utero. Further studies are needed, but scientists are very interested in how factors before birth can impact decades later.

"In utero, you have a lot of different things that can alter and impact your life — not only as a baby, but also at an adult stage," one of the authors of the study, Nicolas Mathevon, told the New York Times.

The New York Times also spoke with Carolyn Hodges, an assistant professor of anthropology at Boston University who was not involved in the study. According to Hodges, while voice pitch may not seem like a big deal, it impacts how we perceive people in very real ways.

Voice pitch is a factor in how attractive we think people are, how trustworthy. But why we find certain pitches more or less appealing isn't known. "There aren't many studies that address these questions, so that makes this research especially intriguing," Hodges said, adding that it "suggests that individual differences in voice pitch may have their origins very, very early in development."

So the pitch of that midnight cry may have been determined months ago, and it may determine part of your child's future, too. There are still so many things we don't know, but as parents we do know one thing: Our babies cries (as much as we don't want to hear them all the time) really are something special.

You might also like:

They say there's no use in crying over it, but for pumping mamas, spilled milk is a major upset.

When you're working so hard to make sure your baby has breast milk, you don't want to lose a drop, and Chrissy Teigen knows this all too well.

The mom of two posted a video to social media Wednesday showing her efforts to rescue breastmilk from a tabletop. She used various utensils and a syringe to try to get the milk back in the bottle.

"I spilled my breastmilk and this is how important it is in this house," she says while suctioning up milk with what appears to be a baster.

In a follow-up video Teigen continues to try to rescue the spilled milk.

"We're trying," she says as she suctions up a drop or two. "I got some."

Teigen is currently breastfeeding baby Miles, her son with husband John Legend, and has been very public about the fact that she pumps a lot as a working mom.

She's also been open about the fact that milk supply has always been an issue for her, not just with Miles but with Luna, too.

"I actually loved [pumping] because I'm a collector of things, and so when I found out I could pump I [did it] so much because I knew the more you pumped, the more milk you'd make," she told POPSUGAR back in March. "So I loved collecting my breast milk and seeing how much I could get, even if it was very, very little."

Like a lot of moms, Teigen did struggle emotionally when a pump session wouldn't get her the ounces she wanted.

"I wasn't producing a lot of milk, and it was frustrating. When you're frustrated, [it can also make you] not produce that much."

Research backs her up. Stress has been linked to lower milk production. Because of that, she's trying to stay positive this time around, but captioned her video post "EVERY DROP COUNTS IN THIS HOUSE" because, well, they do.


So many mothers can relate. Have you ever tried to save your breastmilk?

You might also like:


What is it about networking that's just kind of...awful? Typically inconvenient and often awkward, formal networking events rarely yield the results most women (and especially mamas) are looking for.

Whether you're reentering the workforce post-baby leave or simply looking to make a complicated career switch as a busy mom (or just struggling to juggle play dates and professional meetings), making the right connections is often a hurdle that's difficult to surmount. And more and more often, networking comes up short in providing what moms really need.

When time is truly at a premium—a session swapping business cards can be hard to prioritize. Shapr wants to change all that.

Designed with busy people in mind, Shapr is an app with an algorithm that uses tagged interests, location, and professional experience to match you with 10-15 inspiring professional connections a day. You swipe to indicate interest in networking with any of them, and if the interest is mutual, you're connected. (But don't worry, that's where the similarities to that dating app end.)

It makes it easier to connect with the right people.

From there, you can chat, video conference, and even meet in person with potential mentors, partners, and investors while growing your real-life network. No more wasting hours trying to pick someone's brain only to discover they don't have the right experience you need. And no more awkward, stilted small talk—even suggests a few preset icebreakers to help get the conversation rolling more quickly.

The best part? You could do virtually all your connecting from your couch post-bedtime.

It simplifies switching careers or industries.

Sysamone Phaphone is a real mom who was fed up with traditional networking options. When she quit her full-time job in healthcare to pursue founding a startup, she quickly realized that in-person networking events weren't only failing to connect her to the right people, they were also difficult for a single mom of two to even attend. "I was complaining to a friend that I was so tired and didn't know how I was going to keep doing it this way when she recommended the Shapr app," Phaphone says. "I tried it right there at dinner and started swiping. [Later], in my pajamas, I got my first connection."

From there, Phaphone was hooked. Her network suddenly exploded with developers, potential partners she could work with, and even people to hire for the roles she needed. She was also able to connect with and empower other women in tech. Now, checking in with Shapr connections is just part of her routine. "I look for connections after drop-off at school and on my commute into the city," she says. "Then after bedtime is done, I go on to check if there is anyone I've connected with."

It helps you find a mentor—no matter where they live.

Another common roadblock Shapr removes? Location. While you probably wouldn't fly to LA from New York for a networking event, the Shapr app lets you connect and chat with the person who best meets your needs—regardless of where they're based. Even better for parents, the "mom penalty" many women contend with when trying to get back into the workforce doesn't exist on Shapr—if you have the right experience, the connections will still come.

To connect, simply create your account, enter up to ten hashtags you want to follow (either industry related like #film or #tech or by person you're seeking, such as #developer or #uxui), preset what you're looking for (investors, collaborators, etc.), and indicate how you prefer to meet. To connect with more people at once, Shapr also has community groups within the app around interest topics that you can join. And even though the connection begins in the digital space, it often results in the in-person experiences mamas crave.

"I wish I could encourage more moms and dads to use it because it has been a lifesaver for me," Phaphone says. "It empowered my career and career choices, and it provides so much convenience. I can put my kids to bed and not go to an event, but still meet 20 people in a night."

For women looking to grow their business, position, or simply achieve a little self-growth, Shapr is changing the way we connect. This powerful new app could change everything, mama. Download it today to get started.

Motherly provides information of a general nature and is designed for educational purposes only. This site does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.Your use of the site indicates your agreement to be bound by our  Terms of Use and Privacy Policy. Information on our advertising guidelines can be found here.