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Adolescents & Anxiety
Hi parents and teachers,
Since it’s summer and most of my followers do not have to think about school, this is a great topic to address. I received this letter from one of my Aussie followers (for some reason I get a lot of great emails from Australians. Thanks!) In this video, I go into 6 solutions in-depth.
This video is based on this:
I am a speech pathologist working in a child and youth mental health setting in Melbourne Australia. I heard about you from the TILT parenting podcast in interviews with Debbie Reber. I think we see many kids who are 2e and struggle with many of these executive functioning challenges so I was super keen to hear about your strategies and have recommended your website to many of the parents of kids we see.
One of my challenges is trying to figure out how to support kids who also struggle with anxiety along with their many learning challenges. I would love any information about how to support young adults and teens about getting past this block as well. Thanks for your passion, your inspiration, and your work!
Kind Regards — Suzanne
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What is going on World of YouTube? Hopefully YouTube is not melting my face right now. I’ve been playing around with YouTube live lately and it’s been melting my face for the first few seconds away. That’s not happening. We’ll see if that arrow is text anybody has any tips on how to fix that or what’s going on with YouTube? Let me know. My name is Seth Perler. I’m an executive function coaching Boulder Colorado. How you doing with my slice up for.com today. I am going to talk about anxiety with kids and students and give you parents and teachers some tools to work with this. I’m going to read you an email that I received from someone in Australia, by the way Australians out there. Y’all are awesome people. I like Australians. I was just talking to an Australian friend of mine today and I was telling her I now have a lot of followers in Australia for some reason and she said maybe that’s because of her cuz she shows myself a lot. But I love getting letters from your Australians and your passion for Education helping kids. So I have six inside for you. If you are dealing with your own child who struggles with anxiety or if you are an educator a teacher or coach or a tutor or somebody else who works with students who struggle with anxiety and this is something that’s huge that I work with hear the things I’m going to go over this is something that’s really huge that I work with a lot with my students whether or not they even know I’m working with it. It’s something that’s really important because I do not believe That I can serve them without dealing with this a giant aspect of their life. Most of the kids that I work with are struggling with anxieties in some way or another some tremendously and some just a little bit but it is a very common big problem for a lot of my student. So here is the email that I received it it it says this I’m a speech pathologist working in a child and youth mental health setting in Melbourne Australia. I heard about you from the Tilt parenting podcast and interviews with Debbie Reber. I think we see many kids were to eat and start with many of the executive functioning challenge challenges. I was so I was super Keen to hear about your strategies in a recommended your website too many of the parents of kids. We see one of my challenges is trying to figure out how to support kids who also struggle with anxiety along with their many learning challenges. So she’s asking about figuring out how Support kids who also struggle with anxiety, so I’m going to talk about that. I would love any information about how to support young adults and teens about getting past this block as well. Thanks for your passion your inspiration for your were kind regards Suzanne. Well Suzanne, thank you very much for this letter. I have six things that I’m going to go over that should help you. The first thing is backing up and saying what is anxiety. We got understand what anxiety is. And what anxiety is is our nervous system responding to something that is at either a real or a perceived threat. Our nervous system is detecting that we may not be safe and the job of our nervous system is to make sure that we are safe and protected. So when we detect something that threatens our safety we have to figure out how to respond. One of the key word that I said or terms that I said was real or perceived the problem often comes parents and teachers and Educators. The problem often comes when there is a perceived threat to our safety that is not an actual threat. For example, if you are a parent and you bring up that your child has to do a chore and they get really angry that is not an appropriate response for what you’re probably talking about. They are experiencing anxiety, very experiencing something that they perceive is threatening their nervous system thinks that their safety is being threatened. Is there supposed to be being threatened. No, probably not but the story in their head is telling them that that that it is telling the nervous system that is unsafe. So we had there’s a small part of the brain called the amygdala if you were to First Act through the ear in the eye where they would intersect is where the to Amicalola or migdal I are located very small part of the brain in this is thought of as our fight flight or freeze or faint part of our brain. This is the part of our brain that gets the message from the store in the brain. So the brain creates a story I’m not faced my parents asking me to clean my room. This is not what I want to do. I’m going to get that one at whatever the story is or there could be a real threat to the safety. Oh my gosh, there was a bear it’s running at me. Okay, so that’s a good time for fight flight freeze or paint but not when we’re dealing with these perceived ones that aren’t but anyhow, the the story The Brain creates a story the story gets sent to the amygdala the amygdala says cool. Thanks. I don’t really care what the story is. All I care about is that we are being threatened. I’ve got this so then the amygdala sends a message to the adrenals located on top of the kidneys the adrenal glands of the heart the heart sends adrenaline. Muscular system fast so that your child is ready to fight flight run fries. Oh my gosh, what do I do or faint? So first thing we want to do is understand what anxiety is and understand that this is not a shame thing. There’s nothing wrong with anybody who’s experiencing anxiety. It’s not a moral thing. It’s not that they’re not trying hard enough. It’s not that they’re not good enough. It’s not that they’re not evolved enough. It’s not that they’re not anyting enough. It’s that they have a story that is telling their nervous system that there’s that something is unsafe. So that is number one having a decent understanding of what’s going on with anxiety in the first place. Number two in terms of how do you support them? Will you want to understand that there are stories that we practice and we practicing stories often time starting very early in childhood and the stories or these narratives that go on in our brain that can sometimes Loop and they can sometimes have a Snowball Effect and get bigger and bigger and get scarier and scarier and What happens sometimes is that we we have a story and we think that’s something feels threatening or feels unsafe or isn’t how we want it and we start to feel a little twinge of anxiety or a little tinge of fear that adrenaline that’s going through us and then often times that the story so we are brains her senses. So something must be wrong and we almost look for what’s wrong and then we can hyper focus on what’s wrong in the story can grow. So not only as they’re sort of this nervous system aspect you at that I described before but there’s always this there’s also this story aspect this narrative aspect to what’s going on and I want to make it very clear that we practice these stories. We work very hard at the stories you watching this as an adult you have many many many many stories that you’ve been practicing for many years that are not serving you and that are not that are based on perception and that are not Bullion realities was very difficult for us to sit through the stories to get to the truth of what’s going on. We work on the stories in again. A lot of it is so that we can protect ourselves but they often far exceed what they are supposed to do and they’re actually not protecting us. So when we practice these stories when I say practice there are literal Suzanne, there are literal neural Pathways Pathways in the brain that connects so imagine that That’s a neuron a brain cell and you start a little story here and then you practice the story and you use it over and over and over and imagine that you’re strengthening that halfway and what it connects to so we work very hard on these stories. So it’s not likely that you can work with a child and just tell them stop having that story and in the neural Pathways just the way we need to create a new story practice new neural Pathways and learn to work with these stories and learn to question. Is this the truth? Am I really being threatened or is this a perception and depending on the age of the kid you can dive into this and many many many many different ways, but ultimately that’s what we’re trying to do is help them to get clarity regarding how true the story is and if we should listen to it and if are anxious response is appropriate to the truth about the story so I want to mention something else about the stories the fear stories that we have in this is one of the best ways I can ever put it to you this fear stories that we have are always related to one question. In the reason. I’m set telling you this question is because this will help you figure out how to help the child to figure out what their question is. The question always is a what if question the question always is a what if question Anxiety is all about what if what if what if this happened? What if this doesn’t happen? What if I don’t get what I want? What if I do get what I want but it doesn’t work out. What if I experience pain. What if I stop over what if that’s what if that it’s always what if so if you can help that just I think can help you then at all to help them get to the bottom of the story. What’s the fear here? What things I do about what’s the what if there may be many what-ifs. What are these what ifs about so if you can get those what-ifs the beautiful thing about that is that you can start to switch the frame which the neural Pathways switch the story switch the narrative and do the opposite. What is so for example, if a child if they have a what if what if the kids laugh at me and hate me and that’s their what if what if the teacher hates me what if the teacher is going to be unfair to me and they have that what if you can switch it around helping switch the story and say what if it works out really? Well, what if you actually connect with the teacher more what if you actually make that are friends with them what if they ask Do except you what if you actually accept them or what if you actually have a good interaction. So anxiety always has to do the story all of the narrative always has to do with a what-if store in some way or another. It’s always a wet. If so next number 3, if you want to help students who are struggling whether you’re a parent or teacher with with anxiety, one of the best things you can do number three here is to understand co-regulation. So basically the strongest nervous system win if a child is struggling with someone something and you’re trying to help them through it, but your response to them is angry you like just do a what’s going on. Why can’t you just get started? Well that anger is telling their nervous system. Your nervous system is speaking to their nervous system. Your words are not speaking to them. They are not hearing your words when you get in and that type of emotional Doesn’t have to be anger, but when you’re nervous systems dysregulated or when you’re communicating with someone who’s nervous system is dysregulated, whether they’re depressed angry any sort of strong emotion that they’re going through even if it’s subtle but it’s strong. Even if on the outside they don’t look at but you can tell what their body language that is going on whether this is an adult or a child. We are always cold regulating our nervous systems are always bouncing off of each other and noticing each other even if you just go just go to the grocery store and have an interaction with the clerk your nervous systems are Arco regulating you might go to the grocery store and say hey, how’s your day going? Good? Good. How are you doing that you are correct Delaney or should I say what’s going on? Yeah, I’m fine. Whatever. My day is fine your Co regulate and we are always cold regulating you want to understand co-regulation because if you want to help a child learn to regulate their nervous system and they are dysregulated you want to regulate your nervous system first. This is very hard for parents, especially in the moment because you are going through your day-to-day life. So there is no shame in that. That’s not the point of this video. But the more you learn to regulate your own nervous system in the more you realize that you are bouncing and fighting off of each other you’re nervous systems are arriving off of each other the more you can come back to your own prefrontal cortex your own good part of your mind that they would have steaks. Well, let’s get back to regulating my nervous system in the redo this conversation in a moment or take a deep breath to help regulate the nervous system or change my story to regulate the nervous system understand. I’m safe take deep breath come down and then restart the conversation. So you can make it so number through with three was understand co-regulation and work on that number for if you are an addict who wants to help a child or teenager who is struggling with anxiety. One of the best things you can do as an adult is to work on your own crap deal with your stuff. There’s no shame in it. I’ve got it you got it. We’ve all got years and layers and layers of stuff to deal with. Okay, so deal with your stuff the more you deal with your stuff the more your nervous system will be regulated even if you don’t experience anxiety and you don’t consider yourself an anxious person. You’ve got. You got issues you got baggage we all do we are human beings. There is no shame in dealing with that and admitting it and owning it the better you deal with it the better you’ll be able to serve your children or your students are the kids you’re working with you will choose out. Of yourself this strength. This growth is personal growth is better regulation. This better the happier. You are the more you’re going to be able to regulate great Vibes for them. So, how are you going to do that? I have three ideas for you adults watching One get a therapist or counselor psycho therapist or psychiatrist or psychologist, whatever their people after that dedicate their lives to this go see one to meditate learn to really meditate. It helps regulate the nervous system. Like nothing I’ve ever experienced 3 Journal journaling helps with number to what I mentioned earlier, which is the stories The Narrative journaling helps regulate nervous system on many levels, but also helps change the story of the three things for you at all to deal with your stuff one by yourself counselor therapist or whatever work with them to learn to meditate meditate consistently 3 Journal. Number 5 hidden how to help a child who is struggling with anxiety teaching them about it. I would have even work with very young kids kindergarten 1st 2nd 3rd grade on emotional regulation learn about what’s going on in the nervous system learning about what’s going on in the brain the amygdala the prefrontal cortex teaching them about it. This is called metacognition are also to me it’s the same thing as introspection self-reflection self-awareness Consciousness being conscious of things mindfulness. All of these concepts are basically the same teach them about what’s going on with their thoughts with their nervous system with what’s going on with them teach them the tools teach them meditation teach them to journal teach them to process emotion heat them what’s going on in their brain teach them better metacognition better intersection better reflection. I’m basically saying the same thing with a lot of different words so you can grass this but number five is to teach them about it. Have a conversation with him about it. Even if you don’t know the right words that doesn’t matter you can tell them how you deal with anxiety and how you work with it. But get dialogue about it the more they’re able to talk about it the more they’re able to access the tools that they already have in may not even know they have hey what happens a lot of times with anxiety is kids and adults will start looping in it and get stuck in it and then it’s cycles and then they make bad decisions based on the fears rather than good decisions that will help with the long-term well-being. They’re making decisions that are designed in the short-term to alleviate some the anxiety about their often actually not doing that. So that is number five is teaching them about it and finally, Number six the number 6 way that if you want to help a student or a child or teenager who struggles with anxiety along with all these other things number 6 way to help them deal with it is to teach them to feel it. And also going back to you work on yourself to feel it yourself a lot of times. What happens is we are avoiding the sensation of anxiety or fear. We don’t want to feel it. So we are looking for something to escape it. Okay, there is a time and a place to escape there’s a time and a way to avoid can you don’t have to be stuck in anxiety all the time? I’m not saying that but we’re often running from these feelings and in feeling it meaning in going into the somatic bodily sense of what anxiety is exploring it and being able to articulate and say when somebody’s having anxiety say don’t tell you don’t answer that. They tell me why you have anxiety, but you can say to a child. Interesting, you’re having some fear around that you’re having some anxiety. You’re having whatever. Where do you notice it in your body or what’s going on in your body right now? And then it might save their stomach is tight often times when the amygdala goes on in the nervous system is looking for threats to safety the prefrontal cortex starts to shut down the digestive system starts to shut down. A lot of these kids have digestive issues as they’re dealing with anxiety, but that’s great to say. Wow. Cool. So you’re feeling in your stomach tell me more about that. We’re what’s it like explore what’s going on in the body sensation? Not necessarily is of the story at the time. But when you’re talking about the body all your chest feels tight. Oh your jaw is gripping. Oh, I noticed your hands are doing you can also do that with co-regulation mirroring mirroring. You can let their students like this. You can just say what you say. Oh, I noticed your arms are crossed. Oh, I noticed your neck. Your shoulders are up. All you say is I noticed this and see what they say back to you because they don’t Don’t even have to know that they’re doing this but they’re going to be describing the physical Sensations the somatic experience. Is there experiencing about their anxiety and when we can name the physical Sensations that are going on with the anxiety Suzanne or whoever is watching when we can just name and say oh, yeah, I’m feeling this. I’m noticing my chest doing this. My shoulder is doing this my job and we can explore that in this is not easy for kids who never done this before even for a doll. It’s hard to notice. What’s going on everybody cuz we just want to say oh, I feel like crap all I feel bad. I feel uncomfortable. I feel angry only feel mad all I feel depressed while I feel anxious. What does that mean that you feel anxious? So we want to explore that that is has taken me years to be able to articulate myself. So if you don’t even know where to start don’t worry about it just start feeling it. Now what I want to also mention in terms of feeling anxiety and noticing it in naming it and exploring at there’s nowhere to get to your just it’s an exploration. You’re getting metacognitive, you’re getting introspective. You’re getting reply to your getting mind. Out how your body responds to anxiety, which immediately takes the story that’s creating more anxiety and starts to shrink the story and start easy anxiety right there. And then but another way I wanted to put this to you is that it is learning the skills not overnight, but for adults and 4 Kids working with anxiety is learning the skill. I’m going to say this again because I want to really pound this into your head is learning the skill of becoming not overnight but over time becoming comfortable with what is uncomfortable. A lot of working with anxiety is learning to feel it and learning to be comfortable with the discomfort that you’re feeling anxiety feels uncomfortable. We do not want to feel it. We want to turn it off. We want to go watch TV want to go hang out with friends. Video games you want to do any number of things to escape from the physical discomfort that we experience but when that happens we are not learning to process that we are not dealing with it. So back the number to when I talk about stories, we’re really dealing with two things one is the story that our mind telling us that we are perceiving something that is a threat and that’s not the whole truth of the story. So one is working with story in our head to is working with body and feeling it and not just saying, oh I have an anxious feeling. Oh my gosh. What’s the story on my gosh something Bronx, but noticing the feeling anything. Oh, that’s how my body is responding to anxiety not going straight to the storage to becoming comfortable with the discomfort that is inherent in The Human Condition because we all feel anxious and anxiety all of us do at some point or another. I noticed a couple people are watching feel free to throw. Comment in the comment box, right this second. This is live right now. I will answer it right now and give you any clarification you want if you do not write anything in the comment box. I am going to end this livestream in just a moment’s having said that I want to thank you for watching and get my name is step to step forward. Comment second function coaching Boulder Colorado. I work with us struggling students who struggle with executive function to eat kids. And this is my passion. If you haven’t signed up for my blog I send out a great free course and I send you a weekly update and if you are on YouTube right now go ahead and subscribe to my channel. Give me a thumbs-up in the like if you want or a comment in the comment section, I reply to a lot of those I make a lot of videos for them. Anyhow, good luck to you. I’m not seeing any comments. I’m going to get off here, but good luck to you. I hope that helps you unpack this concept and be able to better serve your children. Have a fantastic day. I will see you soon.