Several months ago, my dear friend sent me a personal message about her sweet 3-year-old who was a soon-to-be big brother. “Lindsay, he’s anxious, he’s regressing, I can tell. I have anxiety so I know and I don’t think he will be able to share me with the baby. Will he be ready for preschool? What is happening and how do I fix it!”
When she was finished, I asked her how she was feeling as she prepped for a new little one. As I suspected, her feelings were similar to that of her 3 year old. She indicated she was feeling overwhelmed about the prospect of sharing her attention, worried that she would miss out on time with her growing 3 year old, and concerned that she might miss out on newborn joy because of her worry about integrating her family. So, I brought up mirror neurons. Mirror neurons make it possible for us to imitate or act out what we are exposed to. These neurons don’t only fire when something is happening to us, they fire when we are exposed to something happening to those around us. So the adage about being careful because our children are watching and learning from each of our words and actions is true—down to the very biology. Imitation is not only the best form of flattery, apparently it’s in our DNA. Remember when the Royals won the World Series? That excitement was FELT by not just the Royals but, by all of Kansas City’s fans. We all had hearts racing, blood pumping, and exuberant joy. This isn’t because you or I are responsible for that victory, it’s because our mirror neurons were working in overdrive that October night. When a baby falls down and a mother reacts out of fear—the tears and crying come no matter if the baby is hurt because the baby’s mirror neurons are mirroring mommy’s reaction. Mirroring is a way that we learn to take action, build our empathy, and grow in our understanding of people and the world around us.
How does this translate to me and my friend—who I have an 8+ year relationship with? Thankfully she heard me when I asked, “Have you checked your anxiety level about this new baby?” And “Are you worried about the upcoming major changes in your life? If so, you need to know that it is being mirrored in your little guy too.” Many parents come to my office sharing that their kiddo is anxious or experiencing feelings of being depressed and I make sure to ask the same question: “Where are you at with these feelings?” Because if a caregiver or parent is experiencing these things, it is likely that their child is reflecting these behaviors as well.
What can we do? Eradicating anxiety and depression in their entirety is first of all, outside of anyone’s scope of practice, and secondly, unhealthy, because we need these feelings to protect us and allow us to process (that’s another article for another day). BUT—acknowledging what is going on with us to our kiddos and teens (in an age appropriate format) can lift some of our fears and it models honesty and vulnerability to them. Additionally, when we address anxiety in our kids head on, we can address it more honestly in ourselves. What better way to model emotional management, growth, and introspection? If you are looking for more resources on mirror neurons (because yes, my friend did not believe me until she looked it up herself) check out Dr. Dan Siegel’s writings The Whole Brained Child and No-Drama Discipline. If you are curious about addressing anxiety with your kiddos at home, check out my favorite article “What if the Tooth Fairy Kills me in My Sleep” by Wendy Spero from the NYT.
So many changes are happening at this time of year. Not only in the weather, and our Expansion Campaign, but also as we said goodbye last month to our Director of Development, Amy Henderson. We are excited for the doors that are opening for her in her future journey. Amy, your love of adventure will take you to so many fun places!
Our new Director of Development, Athena Brattin, joined us in September. Please help us welcome her to our team! She would love to get to know you over coffee, tell you all about our Expansion Campaign and talk about any other ways that you can help us grow! To schedule a meeting, contact her at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
Join our “100 Campaign”
100 people giving $100 to raise $10,000!
1 in 5 kids experience severe mental health struggles. Thankfully, there’s help…right here in our community. Join 100 community members coming together to bring hope to those in need. Donate your $100 gift here.
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Does Your Company Have a Matching Gift Program?
If so, you can double your gifts to Peace Partnership. Check here to see if your company provides a matching gift program to its employees. Still unsure? Contact your company’s HR department or email Athena at email@example.com to learn more.
We are GROWING…
The Holiday Season is quickly approaching and our Expansion Campaign is well underway. Through the support of our generous donors we have raised $74,440 towards our expansion goal of $181,201. Wow! We are blown away by the outpouring of support we have received in this short period of time. We want to give an extra special thank you to the following Expansion Campaign donors:
- Cyndi Eskina, you continue to amaze us with your generous heart, thank you for your gift.
- Thank you, High Street Baptist Church, for helping families get the help and healing they need.
- Michael Hirons, thank you for continuing to support Peace Partnership with your gift from EPR Properties.
- Thank you, Carroll Family Giving Fund, for your belief in our mission.
- We are grateful to Lee & Debbie Miller for their first-time support and belief in Peace Partnership’s mission. We look forward to growing this relationship.
- Dave & Rosie Bourland, we thank you for your continued partnership and generosity.
- Tom & Debbie Reed, thank you for your contribution towards our Expansion Campaign.
Thank you for contributing towards the vision of Peace Partnership through our Expansion Campaign.
We also want to give a heartfelt thank you to our monthly donors who continue to support us through their recurring gifts.
- Annie Brunetti, thank you for your generous gift through EPR Properties.
- Jeff & Janna Cox, we are continually grateful for your support.
- Thank you, MacKenzie Bravo, for supporting Peace Partnership with your gift through Community America. We appreciate your partnership.
To host an event, become a volunteer, or take part in any of our upcoming activities, contact our Director of Development, Athena Brattin at 816.442.3540 or: firstname.lastname@example.org. Please click on the link below to become a Partner.