Posted Apr 03, 2024 | Share this:

In the latest episode of “The Satisfied Soul,” we embark on a crucial conversation about the mental health of our children. As spring blooms around us, it’s a poignant reminder that just as nature needs time to refresh and renew, so do our young ones.

Our host, Sarah, a pastor and clinical therapist, shares her expertise on the importance of mental health breaks, like spring break, to prevent the cabin fever that can overwhelm children during the long stretch between Christmas and summer.

The episode takes a deep dive into the concept of co-regulation, explaining how children’s emotional well-being is often a reflection of the adults around them. This has been especially true in recent years, as the pandemic has heightened levels of anxiety and depression not just in adults but in our kids as well.

Listeners will appreciate the candid discussion on the challenges of parenting in today’s world—a world where letting kids play outside unsupervised has become fraught with concerns, and sleepovers are contingent on knowing the other family well.

As the conversation unfolds, the host sheds light on the different ways introverted and extroverted children have coped with the social restrictions of COVID-19. She introduces the concept of ‘ambiverts’—those who have had to adjust to being both introverted and extroverted as the situation demands.

But it’s not just about identifying problems; this episode is rich with solutions. Drawing on biblical wisdom, particularly Philippians 4:8, the host encourages listeners to focus on the lovely, the commendable, the excellent. It’s a call to fill our minds with joy, to combat the fear and anxiety that can so easily take root.

This episode is a treasure trove of insight for any parent, guardian, or individual who cares deeply about the mental well-being of the younger generation. It’s a reminder that despite the challenges we face, there is hope and there are practical steps we can take to ensure our children have a satisfied soul.

So, if you’re looking for guidance, encouragement, or just a reminder that you’re not alone in this journey, make sure to listen to this heartfelt and enlightening episode. Your soul—and perhaps the soul of a child you love—will thank you.

Don’t forget to leave a rating or review if you find value in the conversation, and connect with the host on Instagram to continue the discussion. Here’s to nurturing a generation of children with resilient, satisfied souls.

Scroll down to read the full transcript.

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>> Sarah: Welcome. You’re listening to the satisfied soul, where I help believers untangle messy theology. As a pastor and clinical therapist, I am passionate about helping people discover how God’s word is intended to bring direction, safety through boundaries, mental healing, and help you enjoy your Christian journey. Join me as we shake off the boring of God’s word, find a love for his truth, and discover a satisfied soul in our everyday life. Hey, listeners, how is everybody today?

I wanted to come to you and talk to you about anxiety, mental health in general for kids. you know, it’s springtime. People tend to get spring fever around this time. Currently, I have some kids on spring break and another child who actually already had spring break, but we actually implemented spring break a long time ago because from Christmas break to summer break is such a long stent of time with kids being in school that they don’t get a break. And so they get so excited when it’s spring break time because it’s a time of rest, a time to kind of goof off and not have to be so serious and to enjoy life. And I just started thinking about how I remember in school when I was in elementary, the chunk of time between Christmas and summer just felt like I had cabin fever. I just felt trapped and didn’t, have peace and just. I just was bothered because there was no break.

And so, you know, for the month of April, I thought I would talk a lot about mental health, especially with kids.

Kids are co regulators.

What does that mean?

They regulate according to the adults in their life. So usually kids can manage their mental health really well, because prior to a few years ago, parents were able to manage their mental health pretty well. And so, you know, even if parents struggled with anxiety or depression, they didn’t typically pour it out into their children, and so the kids would go about their day.

I remember as a kid, our rule in our house was, you have to come home when the streetlights turn on. So we didn’t worry about weirdos in our neighborhood. There wasn’t any, you know, issue with, you know, neighbors being mean or anybody behaving inappropriately. And we just rode our bikes around the neighborhood. We walked around the neighborhood. We, played tag and hide and seek and just had fun with other kids in the neighborhood without any worries. And now, I mean, I will tell you, as a parent of five, I have a hard time letting my kids be outside without somebody having their eyes on them because there are a lot of people that behave very inappropriately with children, and you just never know who those people are. Not to mention the fact that there’s reports of people being taken and we still live in a state where there’s human trafficking. So, I just have a hard time with my kids playing outside or even playing with some neighbor kids, because you just don’t know. Our rule in our house also is you don’t get to spend the night or go to somebody else’s house without us first having met the family. And I know that there are some parents that don’t do that, so that kind of is a concern, as a parent, that others allow those things.

Several years ago, the US had an epidemic of heightened anxiety and depression.

But getting back to the kids mental health, you know, like I said, parents used to do very well at managing their mental health around their kids. And then several years ago, around 2019, we had an epidemic start in the US that was brought over, that heightened anxiety and depression.

And when I say heightened, I am a mental health therapist. I’ve had my own practice for several years, and, co own it with a friend of mine, and we have been in the mental health field for many years, and never did we see the level of patients coming in with anxiety and depression than we did when COVID happened.

Now, most of that is because the level of kids in therapy increased, and they increased because of what was happening with them in their social life, but also because of what they witnessed from their parents. We were in a state of panic, frantic. People were buying things at grocery stores in outrageous numbers, as though the apocalypse was happening and the end of the world was going to happen. And it was out of fear. There was a huge amount of fear that occurred. And because of that, people felt like they had to go to the extreme in their purchasing of certain items and some items that were relatively, like, why would you. I mean, if I was in an apocalypse, I don’t know that I would spend thousands of dollars on toilet paper, because in reality, if you’re in an apocalypse, you’re going to be in survival mode. And before toilet paper, people use leaves. Like, to me, if I’m in survival mode, I would purchase things that might be useful, such as a flashlight with batteries or matches or, flints, so you can start fires.

But regardless, I digress. It was a huge state of panic. And so the kids visually saw this from their family members. They heard the stories, they saw the news. The news was just horrific all the time. Catastrophe. And everything that was being posted was catastrophe.

And so kids co regulate to that. If my most trusted people in all the world, my parents or grandparents, whoever it is that are my actual caregivers. If my most trusted people in all the world are freaking out, then I have to freak out, because there’s obviously a reason why. If my most trusted people in the whole wide world are depressed and can’t get out of bed, well, then there’s something super, important to be sad about. So I’m going to start feeling those same feelings. They co regulate.

So during that time, I was very mindful to address parents and explain. You know, your kids need to be able to see something different in you. Yes, I understand it’s a scary situation. Yes, I understand you’re worried about family members that could possibly be sick and could possibly die. And I also know that, you don’t need to be the cause of your children becoming desensitized to things or becoming, hyper vigilant over things, and they should be able to be kids and enjoy life. Well, unfortunately, that wasn’t the case.

And so our patient numbers increased drastically, and it was because of the changes that occurred. You know, we have introverts and extroverts. more recently, the word ambivert started being used. And I can explain that in a minute. But introverts love to be by themselves. They do very well in one on one type conversations. very little interaction with people. Would rather put their nose in a book, kind of be by themselves and not, have a whole lot of connection with people. And, in fact, in big groups, they get very drained very fast and have to be secluded because they have to recharge. Their recharge happens when they’re by themselves. And so for introverts, when COVID hit, and this included kids, introverts felt like, well, this is my normal. Like, being at home is totally fine. It’s normal. However, they also had to deal with extroverts that were stuck at home. So an introvert who felt being secluded was calming and normal got heightened anxiety because the extroverts who didn’t were kind of invading their calm and causing them to have anxiety because the other person’s nervous energy was basically, toxic to their environment.

So it was hard for them to learn how to negotiate this intrusion of extroverts.

And then when the doors opened back up and we could go back in public, it was hard for introverts to know how to interact with a new way of how people communicated and contacted each other and were interacting with each other. With these rules and guidelines that we had to follow, they had to change to adapt. and even though the word ambivert has been around a long time. It really became, kind of a very visual version of people after post COVID because people had to adjust and make changes to become ambivert, like the other person is the extrovert. When COVID hit and extroverts had to go back home and they couldn’t interact, and they weren’t able to go out and do what they wanted to do, they were freaking out to the point of, like, they would get in their cars just to take a drive because I can’t sit at home anymore. They got angry at the, world for making them not be able to go to the grocery store and buy their own groceries. They hated the idea of having to do, like, instacart or, ordering groceries online and picking them up at the door or having to stand in line and wait, so that the only amount of people that were permitted in a store at a time could go in. They hated having to stand six, feet apart from people. They were depressed because they couldn’t give their loved ones a hug because they were told they couldn’t even interact with their loved ones. extroverts struggled so much during COVID because they thrive on human interaction. dealing with a one on one person is okay, but I have to be in the middle of a huge group to feel charged, and trying to focus on one person actually decreases my energy, and I have to go back to being in big crowds to be charged. And so it was very hard for extroverts when they were limited to interaction with just those within their household. So they couldn’t hang out with their friends, they couldn’t go on vacations. They couldn’t, go visit family members or have family members come visit them. They were stuck with just those in their household. And, it was hard for them to deal with introverts because they wanted to be out in public.

And the introverts are like, shh. This is everyday life for me. I like this. And that bugged them because, they weren’t able to interact with people the way they felt would help them when extroverts. When COVID ban got lifted and COVID risks were decreased, and they were able to go back out into public, they also had to adjust to the new norm of, you know, going to movie theaters and having to sit only with your group with seat spaces between you, or, not being able to go into restaurants, because they had to only have so many amount of people in a restaurant at a time. still having to stand different distances apart, depending on which company’s, store you went into. They still followed some rules. extroverts still weren’t able to just kind of go about their life the way they wanted. They had to identify which locations had which rules.

And so this basically birthed this version of ambiverts where they can appear extroverted at times, but then they can also appear introverted.

My husband and I are actually, by nature, ambiverts and have been. We like having big parties at our house. We like having people over, but we also like just being by ourselves. And we tend to be. I tend to be a little bit more on the introverted side of ambivert. He tends to be a little bit more extroverted side. But people think it’s the opposite. People think that I’m the one that’s closer to the extrovert because I talk and I do m social, interactions. As far as, like, public speaking and preaching. you know, I lead a business. And he is very quiet, keeps to himself, doesn’t really open his mouth very often. But when he does, something profound comes out. And so people believe because of what they witnessed, that I’m the more extroverted and he’s the more introverted. But if you talk to us, that’s not the case. You’d see it if you were closer.

But this version of ambivert came about, and people, it’s because they had to adjust, and kids are no exception to that. Kids had to adjust and learn how to interact differently. And this is why we have a huge generation of kids that are currently socializing via electronics.

April is the month of awareness for depression and anxiety among young people

You have a population of a generation that don’t know really how to have social norms of, like, keeping eye contact and, having a back and forth conversation with assertive listening skills and active listening skills. They have no idea how to do those things. Their form of communication is text talk. They can talk for hours on texting or through, any of their video games that they play online. They have the little chat rooms, and they can chat through those things. That is how they quote unquote, make friends.

But to actually hang out, I’ve actually been in schools where, and my teenagers actually have said this before. They just kind of sit in locations, and my introverted daughter will just hang out in. Some other introverted kid will kind of gradually move in her direction to be in close proximity with another introverted person. But they don’t know how to interact to become friends. They just kind of are in proximity with each other. They’re friend adjacent. And so they struggle with having to say hi to people, learn how to build a relationship, like getting to know a person and, finding common interests and just kind of hanging out and sharing life together. They don’t know how to do that anymore.

And unfortunately, for most of this generation, those kinds of skills happened during this time, these three years of COVID So it’s a hard thing for them to adjust ah, out of it. They don’t know that it’s okay because they all feel awkward. They all feel like, they can’t interact well, which has caused an increase in depression. S

o we’ve had many clients, many patients that have come in that are kids that are thinking of suicide and hurting themselves at, like, a skyrocketing rate. I can’t even tell you how many times we’ve had teenagers or even preteens that have come in and they’ve cut themselves because it gives them an endorphin high. And so it temporarily makes them feel better from feeling so sad that they don’t have friends. And they don’t have friends because they don’t know how to make friends.

So we have created a population of people that struggle so much with mental health, and unfortunately, their parents don’t know how to bring them out of mental health.

So I thought, this month of April, that I would address mental health with my listeners to help parents and others listening on how to fight against depression and anxiety with our children.

Specifically, the Bible says in Philippians four, eight. Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.

This is the verse I want to leave with you today to tell you that, you know, it’s very easy to think about all the sad things that happened, all the things that make us fearful, all the things that we’re lacking. But God’s asking us, through Philippians, through Paul, he’s asking us, think on the lovely things, because when we fill ourselves with the joy that God has for us, we are less likely to allow depression and anxiety to overtake our minds and our hearts, and we live differently.

So throughout the next week, I want you to take some time to just think on the lovely. If you’re having a rough day, look around and give thanks to God for the things that are great. You know, I can look around. I’m currently in my room, and I can just thank God for the furniture that I have that only is there because of the career that I have and the education that I got to get the career. I can thank God for the house that I have because my husband has an amazing job that bought us this home. I can thank God that everybody is safe indoors, out of the rain that’s currently happening, but safe indoors and not being harmed. And that my family is loved and cared for. So take the time to think about those things, because the more you fill your heart and head with those, the less that Satan can attack you and be successful with the fear and the anxiety. You have the tools within you as, the Holy Spirit lives within us to fight against the attacks of the enemy, and he wants nothing more than for you to be in depression and anxiety because it pulls you away from the love of God. Have a very blessed day and remember that you are seen and loved.

Thank you so much for listening to today’s show.

If you left a rating or review of my show on Apple podcasts, thank you so much. I read them all and it touches my heart that you took time out of your day to spend it with me and leave that feedback.

Make sure you come say hi on Instagram pastorsarahjane because I love connecting with my listeners and meeting new people in the online world. If you’d like to give back, you can support the show by rating, reviewing and sharing it with a friend, or you can donate on my

Until the next time you’re here, just remember that you are loved and seen.

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