310: Becoming a Worry-Free Parent // Sissy Goff

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Anxiety is something that has been with me since childhood. My mom used to say I was born a worrier. Sometimes when she would tuck me into bed at night, I would say things like, “Do you think the people who got in the car accident are okay?” 

“What car accident?” she’d ask. 

“The one that was on the news that you and Dad were watching tonight,” I’d respond. And that’s when she realized that she probably shouldn’t have the news turned on around me because I was always taking in and taking on the difficult things in the world around me. 

This isn’t always a bad thing. I care deeply about other people and about the state of the world, and I think that’s one of my best qualities, but when it is taken to an extreme and turns from compassion and concern to anxiety and panic, it can become very debilitating, very quickly. And I definitely noticed in my first few years of motherhood that all of my tendencies toward worry had amped up now that I had my own precious little humans to take care of. 

Whether or not you have a long history with worry like I do, I know you are going to love today’s episode with licensed professional counselor, Sissy Goff. 

Sissy has worked as the director of child and adolescent counseling at Daystar Counseling Ministries since 1993. She is the author of 13 books including her latest, The Worry-Free Parent, and she also co-hosts the chart-topping podcast, Raising Boys and Girls, with fellow Daystar Counselor David Thomas. I loved having the chance to talk with her all about anxiety…in our kids and in ourselves.

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3 Takeaways from Sissy Goff on Becoming a Worry-Free Parent:

  1. Anxiety has an amazing ability to spread. Research shows that if you have anxiety as a parent, your child is seven times more likely to deal with it themself. This is probably partially a hereditary component, as well as an environmental and modeling component. So the best thing you can do for your anxious child is to get help for your own anxiety and worry. I have done this through therapy and medication, and it’s made a world of difference for me.
  2. Anxiety does its best to define our past, distract us in the present, and defeat us in the future. This speaks to our tendency to “catastrophize” our children’s behaviors and think that just because they are struggling with reading as a first grader, they will never be successful in school, and will therefore drop out of high school, and won’t be able to hold down a job, and who knows? They might end up living on the street. Take a deep breath and bring yourself back to the present moment. As my wise husband Ryan reminds me, “Let’s find out before we freak out.” Let’s stay in today and get our children the support they need while also believing that there are many good things to come in their lives and ours.
  3. The reason you worry about your kids is because you care and truly are a great parent. This reframe is a gentle reminder that there is nothing wrong with you for feeling anxious about your children’s wellbeing–you worry because you love them. But the most loving thing you can do for them is to start  supporting yourself better, and in moments of intense stress or anxiety, Sissy offered us these three actionable tools to calm our nervous systems (it’s like a bonus three takeaways within our three takeaways): 1) Take three deep breaths to get blood flow back to your pre-frontal cortex. 2) Tap into your five senses and bring yourself back into the present moment by asking yourself: What is one thing I see right now? What is one thing I hear? What is one thing I smell? What is one thing I can touch or feel? And what is one thing I taste? 3) Rely on a calming mantra and say it over and over to yourself in a stressful moment, to remind yourself of what you actually believe, even if your nervous system is going haywire. One of my favorites comes from Dr. Becky Kennedy of Good Inside: “I am a good parent having a hard time.” or  “My child is a good kid having a hard time.” This calming reminder anchors me to my values and brings me back to the present so I don’t catastrophize into the future.

>>>Are these tips from Sissy Goff on becoming worry-free helpful? Do you or your child struggle with anxiety or worry?  Tell us in the comments below.

 

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Get in touch with our Guest! 

Mentioned in the Episode

Sponsors

  • K12: Go to K12.com/3IN30 today to learn more and find a tuition-free K12-powered school near you.

  • BetterHelp: This episode is sponsored by BetterHelp. Use the code 3in30 to get 10% off your first month of online therapy!

  • Self-Assured Motherhood Program: If you are interested in being notified when my Self-Assured Motherhood program opens for enrollment in the fall, text the word SAM (which stands for self-assured motherhood) to 33777. That’s SAM to 33777.

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