By: Laurie Olson, Research Strategist
When my daughter was in elementary school, she began experiencing anxiety. It started small with a fear of tornadoes after watching the movie Twister, but grew to the point where any cloud in the sky would evoke terror. It was overwhelming and I often didn’t know how to help her.
It’s been decades since I had that parenting experience, but it all came back to me recently as I volunteered to facilitate a focus group for parents of kids with social anxiety. A good friend of mine is in the process of launching a product to help kids with anxiety and their families, and she wanted input from parents on what would be most helpful.
The product, Connection ZooTM, puts kids in the role of zookeeper, caring for “animals” that represent various symptoms of anxiety and coping techniques for dealing with it. It encourages conversations that help kids safely articulate what they’re experiencing and improves their ability to navigate through their anxiety with the help of those around them. The goal is to get the whole family involved and provide a common language that helps everyone better understand the child’s anxiety.
As I facilitated the focus group for parents of kids with anxiety, I was struck by how much their experiences today resemble those I had years ago with my daughter. Many parents described being “at their wit’s end,” struggling to navigate a complex health care system where they sometimes receive conflicting information. They described often not knowing how to relate to their kids, or how to keep lines of communication open to ensure they’re up to speed on what their child is experiencing.
While all of that seems discouraging, I actually found the focus group incredibly uplifting and encouraging. The parents were supporting each other, sharing ideas, and taking solace in knowing they aren’t alone in their struggles. As a facilitator, I let some parts of the discussion go on longer than I normally would, because I could see how much it was helping these people. We were all in tears at some point in the session – myself included. While that isn’t something I’d typically experience when facilitating on behalf of my clients, my personal connection to this issue made it hard to hold back the tears at times.
It was a privilege to help my friend gather insights that will make her product even more valuable for those who need it so much. Connection ZooTM would have been a huge help to my daughter and me all those years ago, and I’m grateful to have played a small role in making it available to parents now. It should officially launch in the next several months, and I can’t wait to see the difference it makes in people’s lives.
Laurie brings more than 30 years of consumer insights experience to her work at SIVO Insights. Her depth of experience across every conceivable role in the field lends her the confidence and unwavering integrity that clients and partners immediately recognize and trust. Laurie has a unique ability to quickly connect with consumers and unearth deep, meaningful insights. Her natural curiosity and motivation to consistently deliver high quality learnings create great results for SIVO’s clients.