If you've ever felt disappointed, anxious, or afraid, let a 6-year-old lend you some perspective.

What do kids know about anxiety and fearing change? Actually, a lot.

Kids are pretty much at the whim of whoever's in charge of their activities. The world is full of all kinds of rules they haven't figured out yet (even if it's just what time the pool closes), and they depend a lot on their caregivers to guide them through. That can mean a lot of curveballs, dealing with disappointment, and feeling in the dark about things.

One person who thought a kid might have some helpful insight on anxiety, disappointment, and all-around icky feelings is filmmaker Bianca Giaever.


A film student at the time, she wanted to make a film on anxiety from a child's point of view. She began by sitting down with Asa, a local child, to see if there was some child-like wisdom to glean.

"I was curious to see if a six year old could relate to emotions like anxiety at such a young age. I didn't know that this advice would necessarily come from Asa — I interviewed a few different six year olds for this project by offering free babysitting or just asking. I asked some parents and figured that six years old is the perfect age, when kids can coherently tell a story but aren't self conscious or inhibiting themselves at all yet."
— Bianca Giaever

As it turns out, 6-year-olds are incredibly insightful.

She asked Asa if there was a story that a movie could be made out of. At first, Asa wasn't sure.

All images via Bianca Giaever.

But then it hit him! Asa made up a story worth telling right on the spot. Bianca created visuals for it with drawings and real-life actors (who lip-synced the dialogue) to bring the original tale to life. With Asa's narration, a totally delightful movie was made.

This is the story about Toby Mouse, Asa Bear, and how to fight the scared feelings that life can bring.

Asa Bear and Toby Mouse were great friends and had a lot of fun together — like enjoying one of their favorite activities, swimming at the pool.

But they had to figure out how to deal with disappointment when the pool was closing for the winter. They decided they'd just have to be patient and do some other things until it was open again.

One of the biggest gems of the short movie surfaces when Asa shares a tip for dealing with fear when it occurs: Think about the things you like!

For Asa, one of those things is pizza. Also cookies. (Whoa — I like those things, too!) The story is so well-done and whimsical that if you can spend a few minutes to watch it, it's well worth the time:

This story contains delightfully good advice for many of us when we need a little help getting through times that feel unfamiliar and a bit scary.

Researchers at Harvard University have studied the connection between spanking and kids' brain development for the first time, and their findings echo what studies have indicated for years: Spanking isn't good for children.

Comments on this article will no doubt be filled with people who a) say they were spanked and "turned out fine" or b) say that the reason kids are [fill in the blank with some societal ill] these days are because they aren't spanked. However, a growing body of research points to spanking creating more problems than it solves.

"We know that children whose families use corporal punishment are more likely to develop anxiety, depression, behavior problems, and other mental health problems, but many people don't think about spanking as a form of violence," said Katie A. McLaughlin, director of the Stress & Development Lab in the Department of Psychology, and the senior researcher on the study which was published Friday in the journal Child Development. "In this study, we wanted to examine whether there was an impact of spanking at a neurobiological level, in terms of how the brain is developing."

You can read the entire study here, but the gist is that kids' brain activity was measured using an MRI machine as they reacted to photos of actors displaying "fearful" and "neutral" faces. What researchers found was that kids who had been spanked had similar brain neural responses to fearful faces as kids who had been abused.

"There were no regions of the brain where activation to fearful relative to neutral faces differed between children who were abused and children who were spanked," the authors wrote in a statement.

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Images courtesy of John Scully, Walden University, Ingrid Scully
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Since March of 2020, over 29 million Americans have been diagnosed with COVID-19, according to the CDC. Over 540,000 have died in the United States as this unprecedented pandemic has swept the globe. And yet, by the end of 2020, it looked like science was winning: vaccines had been developed.

In celebration of the power of science we spoke to three people: an individual, a medical provider, and a vaccine scientist about how vaccines have impacted them throughout their lives. Here are their answers:

John Scully, 79, resident of Florida

Photo courtesy of John Scully

When John Scully was born, America was in the midst of an epidemic: tens of thousands of children in the United States were falling ill with paralytic poliomyelitis — otherwise known as polio, a disease that attacks the central nervous system and often leaves its victims partially or fully paralyzed.

"As kids, we were all afraid of getting polio," he says, "because if you got polio, you could end up in the dreaded iron lung and we were all terrified of those." Iron lungs were respirators that enclosed most of a person's body; people with severe cases often would end up in these respirators as they fought for their lives.

John remembers going to see matinee showings of cowboy movies on Saturdays and, before the movie, shorts would run. "Usually they showed the news," he says, "but I just remember seeing this one clip warning us about polio and it just showed all these kids in iron lungs." If kids survived the iron lung, they'd often come back to school on crutches, in leg braces, or in wheelchairs.

"We all tried to be really careful in the summer — or, as we called it back then, 'polio season,''" John says. This was because every year around Memorial Day, major outbreaks would begin to emerge and they'd spike sometime around August. People weren't really sure how the disease spread at the time, but many believed it traveled through the water. There was no cure — and every child was susceptible to getting sick with it.

"We couldn't swim in hot weather," he remembers, "and the municipal outdoor pool would close down in August."

Then, in 1954 clinical trials began for Dr. Jonas Salk's vaccine against polio and within a year, his vaccine was announced safe. "I got that vaccine at school," John says. Within two years, U.S. polio cases had dropped 85-95 percent — even before a second vaccine was developed by Dr. Albert Sabin in the 1960s. "I remember how much better things got after the vaccines came out. They changed everything," John says.

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