Building Resiliency in Anxious Children with Mary Wilde

Building Resiliency in Anxious Children with Mary Wilde 

On today’s episode of the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim is joined by Dr. Mary Wilde. Mary is an integrative pediatrician and owner of Imagine Pediatrics Behavioral Health and Wellness. She uses a strength-based, whole-child approach to address emotional and behavioral issues in kids. Her main focus areas are anxiety, ADHD, and parenting. Today, Kim and Mary discuss what anxiety really is, building resiliency in anxious kids, and strategies to help parents of anxious children.

What Is Resiliency? 

Did you know that in the aftermath of the pandemic, anxiety rates have doubled? Before Kim and Mary discuss anxiety, they first address resiliency. Mary defines it in a few ways – resiliency is the ability to bounce back from difficulty, be flexible in times of change and harness the resources needed during times of self-distress. 

Mary says  “we think of resiliency as something you or your children have or don’t have when really it’s something that can be learned and it’s something that’s not fixed in certain situations.” There’s a lot of hope that can be made with resiliency. You can learn what you need to do in order to show up for yourself. 

Common Signs of Anxiety

When it comes to anxiety in children, it’s important to recognize the signs. First, they will verbalize their worries. Second, they will avoid certain opportunities because they’re held back by certain fears and failures. Anxiety can also show up in less obvious ways like chronic stomachaches, headaches, or even anger. We often don’t think anxiety can be the cause of all of that. 

When we don’t address anxiety in children, it tends to get worse. It reinforces these pathways of avoidance in the brain. When kids don’t have the tools to reverse those symptoms, it escalates their anxiety. 

Strategies for Resiliency

The best strategy that Mary gives for kids with anxiety is to experience paradigm shifts. One of the first things we can do to deal with anxiety is to do the opposite of what anxiety is telling us. While sometimes anxiety can be for our safety limits, we need to look at it like an invisible fence. Invisible fences are for dogs, but little do they know that beyond a zap from passing the fence, there’s freedom on the other side. 

With anxiety, if you step through periods of distress, freedom follows. Don’t follow the tyrant that anxiety can be. For this, Mary teaches strategies of the mind, body, and spirit that are evidence-based and can help kids have tools at the moment for anxious feelings. She focuses on brain chemistry and cognitive processing. She says “it’s not about erasing anxiety from your life, it’s about knowing when anxiety comes, you will be ready.” 

Something else Mary likes to teach kids is “tricky thoughts”. These are cognitive distortions that bring up anxiety that is experienced over things that aren’t even true. She loves teaching kids these thoughts because they can catch their own thoughts and feelings. A way to deal with tricky thoughts is to use strategies of the body like grounding with the 5 senses, yoga, and more. 

The Foundations of Anxiety and Resiliency

Being a sleep expert, Kim sees a lot of bedtimes and sleep anxiety. Mary emphasizes that getting the foundation right makes the world of difference for anxiety. This means having a balanced and healthy diet, focusing on movement, quality sleep, and balanced and intentional screen time. 

Sleep is the main thing to nail before any other intervention for anxiety is made. Sleep affects focus, immunity, mental state, and everything for a child. Kim has courses for young and old children to sleep train

Mary’s Resiliency School 

Mary offers a few resiliency coaching programs for both children and adults. She has intensive programs that are in-depth with personal coaching and more self-paced programs. She points out that as parents, we invest a lot in the best camps, teachers, and programs for our kids. But, if kids don’t even have emotional intelligence, they can’t reach their full potential with these things. Investing in something like resiliency will pay off in leaps and bounds for your children. Mary also has a FREE quarterly workshop called “Parenting Anxious Kids” that you can sign up for HERE. See all of her course information on her website, Instagram or Facebook.

The Sleep Lady®

The Sleep Lady is a brand, founded by Kim West, focusing on gentle sleep and parenting solutions. For over 25 years, we have helped hundreds of thousands of families get the rest they need, without leaving their children alone to cry it out. While we focus on sleep-training, we provide resources and tips for parents to help schedule their child’s day, feedings and more.

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The Gentle Parenting Show, created by Kim West - The Sleep Lady

In the Gentle Parenting Show, Kim West will interview parenting experts on everything from mindfulness to developmental milestones and how it relates to gentle parenting. Kim West is a LCSW-C, bestselling author and founder of a world-renowned gentle sleep training method. She and her team of Gentle Sleep Coaches have helped over 1 million families find gentle sleep through her courses, best-selling book and 1:1 coaching. Kim is the only baby sleep expert out there with 25-years of experience, and she’s seen everything when it comes to parenting.

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