Andover Townsman, Andover, MA

March 20, 2014

Tackling anxiety: A parents' guide

Popular speaker returns for series finale


The Andover Townsman

---- — Lynn Lyons, a licensed clinical social worker and psychotherapist from Concord, N.H., returns to Andover next week to wrap up the 2013-2014 Parent to Parent series with a look at “Anxious Kids, Anxious Parents: 7 Ways to Stop the Worry Cycle and Raise Courageous & Independent Children.”

The free program will be held Wednesday, March 26, from 7:30 to 9 p.m. at Doherty Middle School auditorium, 50 Bartlet St.

This is Lyons’ third consecutive year visiting Andover, and Parent to Parent organizers say she has been one of the series’ most-popular presenters.

An anxiety disorder specialist, Lyons has worked for 23 years with individuals, families and groups in helping them overcome their anxiety, compete effectively and parent confidently.

She is the co-author of two books on anxiety, one geared at parents and a companion book for children and teens.

According to Lyons, research shows that children with anxious parents are up to seven times more likely than other children to develop anxiety.

Usually, both parents and children in these families have trouble tolerating uncertainty, handling discomfort and succeeding in problem-solving, Lyons says. An untreated anxiety disorder in a child is one of the top predictors of depression in adolescence and early adulthood, but is also the most successfully treated mental health issue, she says.

Lyons’ presentation next week will explore the difference between healthy worrying and debilitating anxiety and help parents identify patterns in families that increase anxious behavior, as well as the common pitfalls that make it worse.

She will discuss a program of effective, concrete exercises for both parents and children that help normalize anxiety and find innovative, playful ways to deal with it.

Lyons says her goal for families isn’t to try to avoid anxiety, but to help them seek out effective, healthy ways to better manage and hopefully conquer it.