Kids and Trauma
Our kids have been through a lot lately. From being completely isolated from friends and classmates, to experiencing discrimination with your family, to watching a policeman kill a man on TV and neighborhoods and familiar places destroyed. It’s a lot to take in, and witnessing and experiencing trauma affects our kids.
I chatted with Emily Stone from Mightier.com.
Emily Stone, LICSW is an independently licensed clinical social worker with a background in working with children, adolescents, and families in a variety of settings including in-home therapy, in-patient hospitalization, private practice, and school-based counseling. Emily works full time for Mightier, a biofeedback video game platform that helps children and adolescents learn emotion regulation skills through play.
As always, I transcribed it for the hearing impaired. So, you can watch the video, just listen, or read the transcript. Here are a few resources as well.
- A Parent’s Guide to Preventing and Responding to Prejudice
- Talking About Race
- How to Talk to Kids about Race and Racism
- Talking Race With Young Children
- What to Say to Kids When the News is Scary
- Helping Children Cope: Tips for Talking About Tragedy
- Talking to Children About Tragedies and Other News Events
LL: Okay. We are live again. I am here with Emily Stone from mightier.com. Hopefully, I’m showing up for you folks. If you could raise your hand or leave us a comment or like this, if you can hear us, because this is our second attempt at this, apparently you all couldn’t hear the first one. So we’ll wait until we get a couple of likes or comments telling us that they can hear us. If you can hear us, please raise your hand. It looks like there are a few people in here at least. Yeah.
ES: Oh, wait. They near you. It’s good now. Great. It’s good now. Okay, great. Then we’ll continue. Great. Thank you for letting us know. okay.
LL: So yeah, we’re back in business and it derailed my train of thought a little bit. So Emily, why don’t you introduce yourself again and tell us what might your does since didn’t hear you the first time.
ES: Okay. So yes, I’m Emily. I, I’m happy to be here. Thanks everybody for hanging in there with some tech issues. I think that’s just the reality of where we’re at nowadays. So, thanks for being flexible. So yes, I am a licensed independent clinical social worker here in Boston. I have, experience working in a variety of settings, mostly in the Boston public schools. I am currently working for mightier, which is a really, really fun and wonderful, company where we focus on building emotional regulation skills through play.
ES: We’re a biofeedback, based platform, video game platform for kids that they can use in their homes. and so I have the great opportunity of helping kids to practice skills and build muscle memory and the great job of talking to lots of parents and professionals who are looking to help kids so happy to be here. sounds great.
LL: And I encourage all of you to check it out, just to review for those of you watching, some of the standard stuff. If I disappear, that means my power went out. It’s happened before. but Emily can stay on and hopefully like last time I will come on after a few minutes. if you have to leave early, yes, this will be on the Facebook page forever. And I also then put the video on YouTube and anything that Emily mentions or talks about today, any resources that get called out, and, and where to find her and contact her and all that.
Kids Seeing Race Trauma and Violence
LL: I send all of that out in an email after this, I posted on Facebook, it’ll be posted in the group on the page, so it will all be there. if you have a question you can feel free to leave us a comment and ask the question as we’re chatting. What we wanted to talk about today is COVID-19 the pandemics, the shutdown, the isolation, social isolation, and our kids. before we get into that, I feel like we have to talk about, I don’t want to call it the elephant in the room, but, you know, cause people are talking about it, but there’s a lot going on in our country today. And since your background is in trauma, a lot of our kids are witnessing trauma right now. And, you know, I certainly monitor what my 11-year-old watches on TV, but at the same time watching that video of George Floyd was all but impossible to avoid.
LL: even if you weren’t watching the news, it was, they would show a brief clip, you know, coming up at six or coming up at 11, you know, watch this and they would show the clip. And, you know, what else can you say that these kids are watching a murder, you know, happening on TV. So, and then they’re watching, they’re watching riots and they’re watching their neighborhoods and that’s not even getting into those kids who actually live in those neighborhoods and those towns and those parts of town that are being destroyed. So what, I mean, what advice do you have for parents right now with all of this?
ES: Absolutely. And I think it’s, I’m happy one that we’re talking about this. Cause I think like you said, it is, it is an elephant in the room, but it’s also like, it needs to be talked about. And it’s part of our job as educators, as you know, facilitators in the mental health field as parents. I think it is such an important thing to talk about. So I think, and this, I would love to kind of talk about trauma in a broad sense and tie, tie this in, if that would feel okay for you just around like how I’m picturing kind of the last three months. And I think these two things really blend well together if that would feel okay,
LL: They do, because, you know, we had the Armaud Barbery thing happened and then a few weeks later, you know, this other one happened. So I think, you know, and again, we have to talk about this, it keeps happening and it has to stop.
ES: Yeah, absolutely. And so, yeah, I think, I mean, so for me personally, my background is in a lot of trauma work. So I worked with kids, in the Boston public schools for many years where I did a lot of training and specific workaround trauma and kind of this persistent and pervasive trauma cycle and this community-based trauma. And so I think a lot of my training when I think about traumatic events and, you know, COVID, and the recent current events in the last couple of weeks, you know, through a trauma lens, which I think in a lot of ways helps to bring me comfort and helps to bring parents comfort. When we talk about it through this kind of educational and biological standpoint, because it helps us to realize, you know, there’s a lot that our brain, our body are reacting to, that we have some control over, right.
ES: So even though there’s a lot out in the world that we don’t have a lot of control, there’s a lot that we can control personally with our own bodies and the language that we use. And so, when I’m thinking about trauma, the first thing I kind of think about, and especially over the past three months is that, you know, what’s really being activated over and over right now, is our sympathetic nervous system, right So our sympathetic nervous system is really are like fight and freeze response, right So it is what gets triggered when there’s danger. So if, you know, my example is always, I was walking down the road on a job the other day and my neighbor’s dog came running out of the house and like barked at me and scared me. And the next thing I knew I was across the street, right.
Signs your child may be affected by trauma
ES: I don’t remember how I got there, but my, my immediate response to my sympathetic nervous system took over and protected me. Right. It had me flee a situation. And what we know for kids who are experiencing trauma, this, this system is constantly firing. And so for the, for the past three months, adults and kids included the sympathetic nervous system has had a really, really hard time turning off because we are constantly having news brought to our attention. You know, the picture, the videos that you’re responding to, school closures, you know, different things, closing events, getting canceled, and just constant news cycle that our sympathetic nervous system actually isn’t turning off. and so what we see in that cases, you know, a lot of this changes in mood, difficulty concentrating, a lot of this depression and anxiety coming out of this because we have a really hard time, you know, turning that off. And there are ways that we can hack our sympathetic nervous system, but that’s something that we’re seeing right over and over. and I think, you know, I don’t know if it’s helpful to kind of, I would love to kind of talk about ways to,
LL: Yeah. That would be you’re right. And, and, and I think, myself and might, you know, and I’ve seen some of my friends, Oh my gosh, it was getting so dark out there. I was in a lit room and now I’m in the dark cause it’s really storming. It’s not nighttime, it’s really lunchtime here in Pennsylvania. But yeah, I mean I, myself and my friends, you know, we say, okay, we’re going to take a screen break. I’m going to take a Facebook break. you know, and we take off and we watch, you know, fun stuff on TV and fun movies instead of being barraged with the news. But it seems like that’s not enough.
Simple Steps to Combat the Physical Effects
ES: Yeah, I mean, and so in terms of just hacking our sympathetic nervous system, there are a few things that we know they’re helpful. I think the number one thing, that what our sympathetic nervous system gets activated, right. The number one thing that happens is all of our blood brushes to our heart, right. So our heart is beating really, really quickly and it’s making our body be able to move quickly, make like snap decisions. and so the advice that I always give that oftentimes, you know, people kind of say like, they’re like, Oh no, like I tried that it doesn’t work. Deep breathing is the number one thing that we can do to reset our sympathetic nervous system, right. To get our parasympathetic nervous system, which is the thing that counters our sympathetic system.
It’s what actually gets it working. Right. So taking slow, long, deep breaths is actually something that we can do to kind of hack our brain and make that actually work. That being said, it’s hard to have kids take deep breaths, right You need to take deep breaths. So thinking of really fun and creative ways to do that, I think, I mean, it’s something that we do at my dear all the time, but I think also like, things like breed like a bear, sitting still like a frog. Those are all really awesome mindfulness books and resources that are helpful. but I also think, and I always say this to kids that helping kids feel empowered over their brain and their body is something that’s really helpful. So helping them to understand those nuances and maybe not using big words like sympathetic and parasympathetic nervous system.
Right. But helping kids to understand that, you know, this is a natural thing for our bodies to be feeling the spike, right. Giving kids education and power over their bodies and having that awareness for them is so important and helps them to really, you know, feel like they have some control over that. I mean, I think there’s a lot of other things that we can do, in terms of, you know, making ourselves feel a lot of gratitude and things like that. but not sure if you want to hop around with topics and happy to.
LL: Yeah, no, no, that’s fine. yeah. And also, from like my son who doesn’t, he, isn’t great at say following directions, and if I say, take deep breaths or read with me, that’s not going to happen. Like that’s not, it’s not in his skill set to be able to mimic that.
ES: Yup, absolutely. Yeah. And I think so where I kind of start with skills too, is I, I think, yes, those are all wonderful things, but we know our kids and we know that’s hard. and I think so my always go to is just for helping kids manage this right. Is starting with ourselves right. As adults. I think I always give the analogy of like when a plane is going down, right. They say, you know, put on your oxygen mask before, you know, you put on your kids. And I think we, we know that that’s important. and it sounds like you’re doing a really good job with that of just, you know, saying, Hey, I’m taking a break from media, I’m taking care of myself and modeling that for kids is really, really important because when we feel healthy and happy, that is when we know that we’re able to do that for our kids.
ES: and so I think starting there and making sure that you have resources and reach out for support and ways that you can connect socially. And, you know, I think that is such an important piece. I really stick behind the education piece, right Like I think to help kids understand both these things, both the current events of COVID, as well as the protests and everything that’s going on. I think education at a developmentally appropriate level is so important. I think we sit around for kids often and think, you know, less is more and that, that they don’t know what’s going on. Right. And it’s okay for them to talk to no. And oftentimes kids know a lot more than we think they do. And if we are assuming that they are, you know, coming up with this information, we want to make sure it’s accurate.
ES: Right. We don’t want them to be guessing. So one example that I heard from a kid recently was, you know, he said that he thought that, you know, he heard on the news and on commercials that COVID was specifically killing, you know, elderly people. And so, I mean, he was not. And he said to me, he goes, I mean, but you know, Ms. Emily, like that means my grandma’s gonna die. Cause she’s elderly. And so it’s, it’s really helping kids to understand, you know, what those risk factors mean, what the, what, the, what the actual facts are having space for them to ask questions. Because ultimately like we’re able to like get rid of that rumor, right It’s like, it’s not all elderly. People are dying. This is what we’re doing to protect our grandmother. Right. What we’re doing, we’re, you know, and yes, there was high risk and it’s helping to understand, but it does not mean that every elderly person is going to die. So a lot of times kids make up things in their heads and, you know, we want to make sure that we’re able to support them with some positive education and kind of dispelling those false rumors as well. Yeah. yeah.
LL: Yeah. I know. I asked my son, we actually were watching the news because it is Tuesday, two days ago. And I said to him, and he’s 11. And I said, do you know Cause it’s funny. Cause the broadcaster actually said, “Oh, and it’s important for us to be talking to our kids about this.”
So I’m like, Hey, you know what better time than right now. So I said to him, “Do you know, do you understand why all this is happening?”
And he said, “Yeah, cause of George Floyd.” And it was, I had to explain to him, well, yes, but it’s a lot, it’s a lot more than George Floyd, you know, that this has been going on for hundreds of years, you know, people are frustrated. So, and they angry and rightfully so.
ES: And I think saying that it’s okay that you don’t know the answer sometimes. Right. Like I think our tendency is to go to, you know, fact mode of like, well, this is, this is why it’s happening. And it’s okay to say “I am confused and concerned too.”
Right. And like, I think there’s a lot of value in letting kids kind of see that. And you know, obviously, you know, I don’t want parents like sobbing to their kids about this and having kids take care of them. But like being honest and saying, this is something that’s upsetting to me too. And we’re going to figure that out together. And you know, this is a space to talk about that. So, people who have really good resources just over the past couple of days that I’ve been looking at, I think the child mind Institute is always, they always have awesome resources. I know they just posted an awesome, awesome couple of articles, both about COVID and you know, talking to your kids about race. I think those, there were some awesome articles on there. I think the CDC is always good for getting just some awesome, like how to dispel these false rumors right. For kids. So those are all awesome ones that I have. I’ve definitely found it helpful at least.
Is there Trauma Training for parents?
LL: Okay. So let’s take our first question. from Jennifer in regards to trauma, if Kim had, if kids have experienced it, is there a class a parent can take to help their children Is there something that?
You know, is there a class that of course parents can ask for, if it’s not currently being offered or a parent training series session, anything you’ve heard of Yeah.
ACEs-Adverse Childhood Experiences
ES: That’s a super, super awesome question, Jennifer. I definitely would have to dig a little bit deeper into this. I mean, there is so much out there in terms of kind of what you said at the beginning, right This is like, you know, this, this, this is a trending word right now, particularly in, in the space of both counseling and therapy and you know, parenting in general. I think some topics that I might look up, just in terms of resources, I think again, the ones that I just listed, but I also think when I’m thinking about trauma in a larger space and thinking about, kind of ways that I conceptualize it, I’d also look into adverse childhood experiences or ACEs.
These are really awesome. it’s a, it’s a way of thinking about, trauma in childhood. I mean, I can get deeper into it. I think it’s something that I would definitely look up though. So adverse childhood experiences are, you know, events that, you know, we would perceive as traumatic for kids. really kids between like zero and 17 are what we’re measuring. so I mean maybe things that you would expect, right. It would be, you know, abuse, physical, emotional, witnessing violence in their home, you know, having a family member die. but also these kinds of bigger rooted problems like community violence, bullying, you know, parental separation, divorced parents with mental health. And it’s really all the research around ACEs has been, you know, looking at how this impacts kids later down the line. and it, it is focusing a lot on racism and community violence as well.
ES: and so what they actually found through all this research it’s really, really, I mean, I think it’s, I think it’s cool cause I’m a trauma nerd, but it’s not, I mean, it’s, it’s not good news, but it’s also good for us to think about is that, you know, kids who later in life as adults, they had four more of these ACEs is what they’re called. they actually saw them having a harder time, and greater risk for a lot of things such as like mental health issues, you know, alcohol and drug abuse, all of these like lack of employment, depression, all of these. And so helping us to kind of identify these early for kids. so I’d look into that as well. Something really, really interesting. Yeah. cause I think I, and I’ve been to some trauma training for lack of a better word.
LL: and one, I mean, one of the most positive things I think I’m out of it is that I’m like some other disabilities, you know, trauma can be healed from trauma, whereas you may not be able to necessarily heal or cure other other things.
ES: And I know there’s a question coming up here, but that’s, I mean, that brings up a really good point around just like post traumatic growth too. I would look, I would look that up as well. I think that’s something that makes, makes me feel a lot better out of all of this. A lot of psychologists in the 1990s were looking at like, Hey, is there anything that comes out of, you know, these traumatic events for kids Is there anything good those kids and what does that mean And you know, they actually saw it like about like half, I think it was like a half like two thirds of, you know, people who went through cancer treatment or, you know, homelessness or all these things. They actually saw them really like thriving following these adverse, you know, experiences. So it’s, that’s definitely great to look at too. So post traumatic growth, I think. Okay. It makes me feel optimistic at least.
Trauma Resources for Older Kids Teenagers
LL: Yeah. okay. Two questions about some resources on healing, trauma or resources for older kids.
ES: Absolutely. Yeah. And I think older kids are hitting this the hardest, right I mean, you have, you have some almost teenagers yourself there is that, it sounds like, I mean, yeah. Older kids are struggling right now. I think there’s a lack of the social piece, which is so hard, right. Because we know teens really, really want to have these conversations with their friends and they’re looking at a screen. Right. I think it’s, you know, they’re lacking that social piece and that’s, that’s so developmentally needed and appropriate for, for this age of friends. I think a couple of things that I’ve been thinking about and working with a few of my few of the older kids that, I’ve been working with is really like the gratitude piece and acts of kindness. I think they are really huge for this age group when especially when they’re more aware of what’s going on.
ES: Right. So I think for our older kids finding a way that they can give back to the community, or, you know, express some gratitude to help with that hopelessness and depression piece. cause what we know about graduate is that you can actually, the more we practice it, the more it switches our brain to feeling happiness. Right. And that we’re able to kind of process this. and so I think for our older kids, I’ve, I’ve said a lot of like, you know, I ran a group the other day around like writing some thank you cards. for some of the people who work in hospitals, leaving some signs out for, you know, food delivery, post office ups, all these people to kind of able to express some gratitude, feel like we have some control. I also think for our teen friends, it’s all about the education piece again. Right. So it’s having conversations, it’s allowing space for, us to talk about these heavy, heavy topics and asks questions and not be afraid to say, I don’t know, I don’t know the answer, but let’s, let’s think about it together. those are all really important things. Yeah. And I think it’s important.
LL: You might think that teens or tweens, whatever that they’re not maybe even talking about this, but, what I realized is, you know, we only let my son have an Instagram account. That’s the only social media that he has. But he follows a lot of NBA and NFL players because that’s his, that’s his, his jam is that he likes sports. and you know, all the NBA and NFL players are talking about this. So while he may not be talking about it with his friends, he is certainly being exposed to it, you know, frequently, from them. So, and I, yeah,
ES: I think, and the thing that’s cool about it and we can draw a lot from it is that, you know, there’s, there are people talking about it. Right. So what questions do you have about those people What, what questions do you have about yourself Like I think being open to that piece and having a conversation and educating yourself a lot beforehand, right. I think is the important piece, so that you feel comfortable. Cause I know, I know for a lot of parents, this isn’t comfortable. Right. And a lot of educators, like we don’t know where we stand on it or we don’t know how to talk about it and feel good. So doing some soul searching before that and you know, you can try it, we feel it.
Kids who do not respond to Adults.
LL: Yeah. Okay. So let’s talk about some kids who we have some specific issues that maybe make them, whoops, not, receptive to adult guidance or adult suggestions. specifically if they have ODD, is something like odd.
ES: Yeah. That’s an awesome, awesome question. Yeah. And so, I mean, I can tell you upfront that is one of the, one of the many reasons that I work at my dear. A lot of her research has been specifically around, odd and helping, helping these kiddos. Cause I think particularly for our friends with odd, a lot of it is around choice and option. Right. So I think,
LL: It’s odd. Can it be like a byproduct of trauma?
ES: I think we see some oppositional behaviors come out of trauma. Right. I think it’s a really, really good question. The symptoms that come out of trauma can be different for everybody. Right So we have our friends that come out of traumatic events with a lot of anxiety and fear. We have a lot of friends that come out with hopelessness and you know, more depression. We have a lot of friends that come out with some angry and frustrated and some oppositional feelings. And I think, which are often tied to executive depression, things like that underneath. and I think for, you know, my experience working with kids who tend to be more oppositional it’s, it’s giving them a lot of choice in a lot of, options. So I think, you know, saying to those kiddos, you know, there’s a few options, here are things that you can do.
ES: you know, we’re going to work on, you know, deep breathing or mindfulness today, here are some choices, right So we can use this book and talks about breathing bear. We can, you know, do our mindfulness. One of my favorite mindfulness games is looking around a room, finding something of every color in the rainbow or a letter, an object that starts with every letter, you know, giving them options and maybe even like helping, helping these kids to create like a menu of choices of skills that they can use, can be really helpful because often what we find is if, if it’s, you know, if we tell them something to do, it’s going to be the exact opposite. So we kind of have to do some, some reverse psychology and create a lot of options and autonomy there. Okay.
Too Much Screentime during Covid Isolation?
LL: okay. So let’s do this one cause I know it’s on everybody’s mind screen time. Yeah. Right. We’ve been berated as parents about too much screen time. And now here we are. We’ve been stuck in the house for 81 days. Speaker 1: Yeah. So we’ve been stuck in the house for 81 days and our kids are on screens. How do we, how do we reconcile the two?
ES: Yeah. And I think the screen him to be is a, it’s a great question. And it is something that as adults, right. I mean, I can pull up right here. I had to buy a blue light glasses. Cause this is the first time in my life that I’ve looked at a computer for this many hours and it is impacting us in a variety of different ways. I think we’re well, I like to think of in terms of screen time, is it kind of as like an old fashioned food pyramid Right. So like we have our, you know, at the bottom we have our like leafy greens right. Of like, you know, these are educational things. This is distant learning. This is our school lessons. This is educational software we have are like in between like maybe our like tasty fruits. Right. So like, these are some, I like, this is where I kind of see the social interactions piece.
ES: Right. It’s providing some, some good, however kids are kind of accessing it, whether it’s through video games, whether it’s through like other platforms or, you know, zoom. And then we have our like junk food at the top, which is our, like, you know, where we’re playing games that are not helping us in any way. Right. They’re not connecting us socially. They’re not, they’re not, providing us any educational value. And so when I talk to parents about screen time, I always say like, we want to balance, right Like, especially nowadays, this is hard. but finding a balance between, you know, this educational piece that we need to do this foundational piece, you know, having them, you know, pick and choose when, when they can kind of get those yummy fruits, those conversations with their friends, and limiting, you know, some of those other things that like first-person shooter games and those things that aren’t necessarily helping us, and finding that balance can be a good way to kind of navigate this.
ES: I think the reality is like, we know we feel better in our brain and our body when we, when we move. and it’s, it’s hard to do right now, especially if we are really locked down like we are in Boston. I mean, it’s sustainable mortar, right We’re not, we’re not going outside. We’re not playing with friends. and so finding ways to find movement, however we can, I mean, a lot of families that I speak with, or, you know, in, in two-bedroom apartments like myself and we’re doing obstacle courses with kids and we’re doing at homework outs, I think my go-to was always go noodle. I think I’m sure you’ve heard of it. It’s fabulous. There’s so much, it’s a good break between the day. you know, for doing a lot of screen time just to get our bodies moving.
ES: and really like, I think having conversations with kids about how they feel after screens and before screens. I think a lot of kids are honest of like, I am so sick, looking at a computer. I had a kid the other day on the phone say like, at least my mom gets to go to work. Right. Cause she’s a nurse she’s like, cause like I know, I know it stinks. Like at least she gets to go cause like I hate looking at this computer. so having kids identify that and identify what they feel in their bodies before and after, what they feel in their bodies before and after exercise, like I think we can create some really awesome conversations and habits from having those conversations. That can be really beneficial. So, okay. I had one person posted that they can’t hear us. So if you could, I just want to make sure if it’s just one person or a whole bunch, can you hear us No, for it. Do another question.
Divorce Trauma and Kids
LL: And I can’t believe, I mean, I really can’t believe how dark it is here. I can hear you. Great. Okay guys. Good. All right, then we’re going to keep going. Let’s cut. Okay. Resources needed for five-year-old dealing with divorce.
ES: Yeah, absolutely. Sorry, I’m just reading the question, but that’s fine. Yeah. I mean I think, Oh, now all of these, I can hear you comments are coming in. Sorry. They had to stop. Yeah. So this is a super good question, Lisa, I think, and what is saying trauma bonding at this moment with the child Yeah. I mean, absolutely. And I think you being aware that this is something that’s really hard for you right now is one an awesome place to be at. Cause I think we need some more in this, around that and that’s, that’s great. I think oftentimes when I’m talking about this and when we think about trauma and building resiliency, one of the major things, and talking about resiliency in general, right.
ES: I think, and there’s a lot of research at a Harvard. This is not my idea, but if we think about building resiliency, it’s on like one of those old fashioned like weights or like seesaws. and so on one side we have like the negative experiences, right So like for example, in this scenario, like the negative experiences of a divorce, like, you know, there’s, you know, lack of routine, there’s the difficulty, you know, with managing who’s who has custody, who does not, you know, change in location school, all that stuff is like kind of this negative piece, the positive experiences like, Hey, this could feel a lot better for your family, your mental health. and so if we have the kid in the middle right on this kind of like fulcrum, I, this is hard to do with my hands.
ES: but if we think of kids as kind of like that middle point, we have kids kind of like on a spectrum and that fulcrum kind of move. So with their own resiliency, and we kind of like want to balance out these negative and positive experiences so that they’re able to move forward and build this resiliency piece. and what we know about kids is when we’re trying to build resiliency is the way to do this is kind of through some really, really positive interactions. And that’s, and that’s something a lot of the research out of Harvard when they’re talking about resiliency is these positive bonding moments. And it’s something that, you know, is really, really helpful in terms of increasing that positive experience load on that, on that Seesaw. it’s really, really helpful for them to be able to, you know, kind of unburden themselves from the negative experiences.
ES: So in terms of, you know, creating, creating those experiences and that positive relationship, I mean, I, I, I don’t know how old this kiddo is, but I think, it’s a really, really good place to start is trying to figure out ways that you can kind of bond with them and figuring out that piece. I think, you know, developmentally, if that’s, if that’s younger kids, it means, you know, spending a lot of time in pretend play, it’s spending a lot of time with them, you know, doing things that they prefer to do through, through play. If it’s older kids, it’s having a lot of bigger conversations, maybe, you know, going out, playing sports, doing things together and trying to build that relationship. Cause we know that it’s such a foundational part of that resiliency piece. and so, you know, definitely if there’s, if you want some more info on that too, feel free to feel free to chat us just in terms of, you know, you’re, if it’s an older kid or younger kiddo, but okay.
Kids Seeing Current Events on TV
LL: Yeah. okay. So what can we do for kids at this moment with, COVID-19 but the riots with all of it to kind of, if there is anything to minimize the impact and minimize the effects of trauma or anxiety or help build resilience, whatever that may be.
ES: Yeah. Yeah. I mean, I think there’s a lot we can do. I think the good news is, well, a couple things, right I think one, nothing like this has happened to kids all over the world, right Like we know that kids are losing a lot right now and they’re losing education, they’re losing relationships. I mean, it’s unprecedented, right So the reality is if we’re looking at this from, you know, a scientific standpoint of like, we know kids are going to come out of this fine, like we don’t right. We don’t know. They’re like we don’t have any research on this, but what we know and what I was talking about earlier, just in terms of posttraumatic growth, I think what we know is that kids can be resilient and kids can come out of this. A lot of growth. My, my hope and what I hear from kids often talking to them is a really an understanding of, you know, different things that maybe they wouldn’t have otherwise.
ES: Right. So we have a lot of understanding and a lot of appreciation for things that maybe we didn’t appreciate earlier. And although it is scary for kids, I think it’s really, really great for kids to be able to experience this and be able to have this experience in a positive way. I think when we’re, when we’re thinking about how to make that the most positive, right. There’s a lot of things that we can do again, taking care of ourselves first as adults. I think the education piece of, you know, dispelling rumors and making sure, that they feel educated and that they know that we’re trying to keep them safe. I know a lot of the work that we’ve been doing with our younger friends is just literally talking about our own body safety, right So like how to wash our hands, how to cover our mouth, like things that we’re actually concretely doing.
At-Home Trauma Support Ideas for Parents
ES: we wear masks when we go outside. Like I think kids are flexible and resilient. Like they, they understand and they are able to conquer that maybe even a little bit better than adults who this, this is a little bit more scary for us. So I think education is a huge piece. I think practicing different skills, kind of like what we talked about, when we were talking about our friend with odd, right Like giving kids an option, an option board or an option list or conversations around different skills that can be helpful. So whether it’s deep breathing, whether or not it’s different grounding, mindfulness things, I mean, it doesn’t even have to be things that are labeled of like, you know, therapeutic, right. It can be, I have a kid that I work with often who just like reps paper, that’s his coping skill.
ES: And he has a corner of like recycled mail where he just sits and rips whenever he’s having a tough time. And that’s what works. Right. So I think it’s having conversations with kids around, you know, it’s okay to not feel great right now, but it’s, you know, use some, here’s some things that we can use and modeling for yourself what’s useful. Right. So, you know, when I’m having a tough time focusing and I need to kind of take a brain break and paint my nails because it’s something we can focus on. That’s great. We can give an example. So I think it’s giving a lot of examples like that too. Right.
Trauma and Anxiety
LL: Okay. So a question from Olga about some anxiety and kids with anxiety, and this has been coming up a lot and I would like to add, to her question that I’m, we’re, we’ve been hearing from a lot of parents, not just, not just kids with anxiety, but kids, maybe who struggled socially, kids who have bullying issues, you know, all this stuff and all the demands that they normally deal with have been removed. So they’re actually thriving right now. A lot of friends, thriving. We have a lot of people thriving right now and it’s going to be an issue when they go back. and then of course, you know, there’s, there’s the, what if like, is the, you know, do we think the anxiety is going to be worse or, you know, what are some things that we want to put in place
LL: And I’d like to add, sorry, one more. That when all this says, what can we ask from their schools and districts you know, of course you can ask for anything if it’s, if it’s based on child’s needs, but an interesting point was brought up. I had a clinical psychologist on, I’m going to say two weeks ago, but who specializes in OCD and anxiety. And he just wanted to reiterate that you don’t want to feed the anxiety. And I think that that’s something that comes up a lot with parents with IEP and five and fours, particularly with anxiety that it’s okay, well, this makes him anxious. So we remove that and we can’t go through life kind of snowplowing and removing triggers from kids because, you know, rather than giving them coping mechanisms. So anyway, I just, I just wanted to keep that, keep that on your radar, parents, as you are thinking about what you’re going to ask for.
ES: Yeah. And I mean, yes, multiple things here. So I think one, we do see so many kids thriving right now. I think what’s fascinating is, you know, I’ve heard from several of my friends or teachers just after working in school districts around, you know, we see a lot of kids like thriving in ways that we haven’t seen them thrive educationally and socially kind of through this digital platform. And I think what’s fascinating to me is like, as an adult, right. We know people who work from home and how they do that and how that works well. And, you know, we have, we have folks who go into an office everyday and really thrive in that way. And I think what I find interesting about this is like, we’ve had an opportunity to learn a lot about our kids. Right. And what, what, what is a huge trigger for them
ES: What is challenging What is something that we can work on kind of moving forward So, I mean, one example that comes to mind is, you know, a mom that talked to me the other day who said, like, she was like, yeah, I mean, he’s doing great. And you know, he struggled with talking to peers in the classroom, but online he’s talking to everybody right. In, in the Google chat, they can’t get him to stop talking, which is, and she’s like, it’s amazing that like we had a really heart to heart conversation around, like, why do you think that is, do you notice this as a change in yourself And he was able to say, like, I get nervous about he has this, he has a speech impairment. And like, he’s like, I get nervous about talking in front of people. Right. And so, and she had such a great perspective around it.
ES: And she said to me, she was like, we would have never had that conversation and been able to really think that through, if this hadn’t been the case. Right. So I see so much optimism for parents around, like, this is what this gave me. but I mean, if we’re thinking bigger for, for kids and families who struggle with this, like I think the psychologist, right Like we, can’t, the worst thing that we can do is kind of feed into, you know, these kids and taking away all these worries. Right. And it’s ultimately, this is not something that we can control right now. Right. We’re not going to be able to control whether, you know, what happens in September, if, and when we go back. But I think what we can do is use this time to really practice skills, like practice, you know, starting at, for a lot of these kids, we don’t have an opportunity to kind of practice skills when they are calm.
ES: Right. What we know is like helping kids to practice when they are not escalated, actually, you know, we get a lot of benefit from them because they’re able to really, you know, practice skills and feel more confident. So using this time to have these really fruitful conversations like that, mom had, with her son, having these opportunities to practice these skills now and prep for what is to come right. And know that like, you know, we practice all these things and we’re going to go into this stronger because we’ve had this kind of natural pause. If that, if that kinda makes sense. cause I think it is helpful to kind of, you know, reflect on that and notice some different triggers that maybe we weren’t able to see in the past. Yeah. and I think with clients, one of the, one of a great coping mechanism that I’ve seen, that I don’t know if it’s used often enough is that, you know, this feeling will pass.
ES: And I think that when we see our kids in distress, it’s natural to want to just stop it and stop feeling that way. And let me remove that trigger and this antecedent or whatever it is, let me remove whatever it is that’s making you feel this way. Cause I just want this to stop because I wanted, I want you to not be in distress rather than, you know, it’s okay to not feel okay. Yup. And this feeling is going to pass. Yeah, absolutely. And I mean, then that’s what we know about, you know, OCD and anxiety in general. Right. We’re I tell kids, we kind of have to lean in in order to make sure that we, that we’re able to make it out. Right. And we’re here with you and this is a really good spot to practice with people that we love.
How to Bond with Students when it’s Online Distance Learning?
LL: Right. We’re we’re with our families and it’s a good place to practice that. So it’s a great, Kelly, I’m assuming that Kelly is some kind of teacher, even though she hasn’t said so, but ideas for online positive bonding, I’m assuming that she’s not doing online bonding with their kids. so I’m gonna assume that she’s a teacher or therapist of some kind that is worried about if, if we have to go back to online in the fall or the winter or whatever we don’t know.
ES: Yeah, absolutely. I think this is a really, really, really good question. Especially our, our bigger friends. I mean, in our older friends, I think it’s a super good question. I’d have to look more into this just because this hasn’t been a space that I have been frequently in. So I think what I can say is my fingers are crossed that we’re providing a space for that.
ES: I have heard several schools and if you are a teacher at whatever level I’m interested, Oh, maybe she just responded confessionals on where to go. There we go. Yeah. That one. Yep. I think, I think she just commented that she’s an intervention specialist. Yeah. So what I have seen some schools do is provide like small group social, social interactions, like through Google classroom or whatever platform you’re kind of using. So, one school I worked with in particular, they have like social, social Fridays where they have, they kind of split up into like five rotating groups and they just have kids, you know, they have kind of like restorative justice circles, like conversation starters. I mean, these kids know each other. Right. A lot of them have grown up together. I think this is a really good opportunity to like have a topic to talk about and like provide a space to do that.
ES: another really awesome thing that I saw recently, and it might not be as relevant to you, but I think you sound like creative person. So this might be cool is there’s a lot of really cool websites now that are helping to build. Like, I seen it for art classes specifically like boards with sharing, kind of like art and you know, things that they’ve been working on, like on a website format. And so I know for like a lot of kids, you know, helping them to kind of express themselves and post things and whether it be like, you know, you create a board of like funny things to share, like things that we’ve been working on. Like I think anything that we can kind of make help to make that more normalized is great. but I’m gonna have to look into that more cause that’s a really, really good.
LL: Perfect. Yeah. And she’s actually, she says, you know, it’s one thing to help a child once you already know them, but what if we end up starting school this way in the fall Like we don’t God, I hope not. But I mean, it’s very rare. I know it’s a very real possibility, particularly for those of us near larger cities.
ES: Yeah. And it’s valid and thinking about, you know, being mindful that like kids are coming into that too. Right. So like we’re anxious about that as adults, but like these kids are coming into a virtual world where we want to make sure we’re really talking to them and setting some individual time away to talk to them because they’re coming in and not knowing anybody. Right. It’s a hard thing to walk into.
LL: Jennifer, I’m going to skip over your question for now and I will give you, some contact information just because your, your question seems very super specific. So, I’m going to pass over that Passover that, they don’t want to go back. Yes, I know.
ES: Yeah. let’s see.
ES: That’s not about trauma. Okay. I’m going to keep it focused on like trauma COVID-19, and what we’re dealing with. Just kind of what our society is dealing with right now, since that’s, Emily’s kind of wheelhouse, is, is social work and trauma. and not that, what does Aaron say this appears more parents helping?
LL: Their kids. Oh yeah. This, this is definitely for parents. my audience tends to be about 95, 96% female. So it’s moms with, kids with a disability of some kind because they have an IEP or 504. is there any virtual discussion group men for kids? Not that I know of. no, I mean, there might be right. There might be more than I’m thinking of.
ES: We’ve been doing a lot of that through my dear, just for our kiddos and just having some more open conversations around that. But it is something that I’ve been thinking a lot about and like that somebody needs to do. I would, I would love to be that person. I’ll be sure to send them your way too. Cause I think, you know, I think our hope is that this isn’t going to last forever and that we don’t need this, but same time, like this might be something as we’re going into the fall to make sure we’re talking with kids about and you know, making sure they have resources too. So.
LL: Right. And I, yesterday I did an interview with a friend who’s a minister and a teacher and we talked about race relations. Of course it had to be very brief. It was very last minute. But I did, he mentioned a couple of movies. people who were following mentioned a couple of movies and I found a couple of book lists, from like embrace race. That is it that org I think, you know, and things like that. But yeah, there seems to be a lot of books, but not necessarily, actual, actual engagement know.
ES: yeah, if I find anything, I will honestly send it your way because it is so important.
LL: okay. Let’s see. special ed teacher at a private school. You write 504s. Where can I find COVID-19 related accommodations? That’s a good question. I, you know, I published some, but I think it’s, it’s still going to be based on needs and it’s still going to be based on what does the child need. And I think, I’m trying to think of which chat it was. I think when I had Jamie Bassman on, who’s an OT. she talked about some and you just have to think about what what’s changed as far as demands what’s changed as far as environment and how the child is affected that way. yeah. Yeah. So, but I will look that up and I’ll include it in, in the recap when I send this out.
ES: Yeah. I mean that, I think I found that the most tricky part too is hearing from these kids. Like I miss my OT, I miss my teacher. I miss, I miss my therapist. Like it is, you know, just being somebody who does a lot of play based therapy. It is so hard to do over the computer and these kids, you know, miss you guys and it’s hard. yeah. So thinking really creatively.
LL: Yeah. okay. And Christie says that she knows, several Facebook support group pages for parents who have children who have been through trauma and I’m sure. Yeah, absolutely. And think he just had to find a good fit there, you know.
ES: Yep. And it’s, it’s all very like yeah. Finding a good fit and finding stuff that feels yeah. It feels right for you. I think there’s a lot of different ways to think about trauma and making sure that it feels good and something, something that feels good for you and your kid.
LL: Right. Cause there’s different. you know, I, I have a lot of parents in our group, in my Facebook group who, they’ve either adopted or they’re fostering kids and that’s a different set of issues as you know, compared to a divorce and, you know, living with one parent. And so, but I think that there’s a lot out there. Absolutely. okay. So we’re at almost one o’clock so you want to wrap up, do you want to tell us a little bit like, you know, anything, any final thoughts, anything you want to say about mightier and what that has to offer as far as this situation and
ES: Yeah, I mean, absolutely. I think, you know, ultimately it’s been super, super great to interact with all you guys, at least virtually, and please reach out if you ever need anything. It’s been awesome to kind of talk about educating our kids on these, you know, really, really intense and big things for even adults to be dealing with. So, I mean also kudos to everybody here for being here, trying our best to figure out, you know, what’s going on and how to make sense of it for ourselves as adults that we can help a lot of our little friends. Cause I think that’s, that’s important. and yeah, I mean, and if you ever want to learn anything else about my dear, so again, we are a bio feedback, video game platform. So a lot of the work that I have been doing in the past couple of months has been around, you know, continuing to help these kids develop coping skills, to really manage these big feelings that we see.
ES: you know, particularly our friends that are talking about, you know, diagnosis of odd ADHD anxiety. what we really focus on with my dear is creating muscle memory so that these skills are easier. So we have a lot of kids who walk around with really robust toolboxes of all these coping skills, but can’t use them in the moment. So what we are trying to do and you know, what has been backed by research out of Boston children’s and Harvard medical school, is that kids are able to use these skills more easily after practice. So that is us and we, you know, let us know what you need and any information
Subtle Signs your Child is Affected by Trauma
LL: Can I ask you Sorry, one last question, you know, as, as IEP parents are 504 parents, I think we do get in tune with, with our kids, and looking for different behaviors, looking for things that might change, where those parents who might be watching, who maybe don’t have a child with it, with an identified disability. right now, what are some maybe subtle things that might, you may not notice that your child has been affected by the shutdown or the stress of the pandemic or the stress of what they’re seeing on TV, the stress of what may be going on in their neighborhood or town What are some, some subtler signs that might be missed, distress?
ES: Or distress Yeah, I think that’s a good point. And I think, I think it’s good to clue into it now, but also clue in, you know, a few months down the line as well, because what we know about a lot of kids is that they’re shutting a lot of this out and, you know, just being really mindful about later on what turns up to, I think, I mean, in terms of anxiety and for kids that maybe haven’t experienced this before, like, you know, trouble leaving the house, you know, more conversations around like illness and death and concerns around that. You know, some more of those like somatic symptoms. So body, body cues of like, my stomach hurts, I’m nauseous. I have a headache. I, you know, I don’t want to eat, you know, things like that really can cue us into some anxiety, you know, difficulty sleeping.
ES: I mean, in terms of like depression and like hopelessness symptoms. So like, you know, there’s a lot going on in terms of missing big events and, you know, some isolation. So like difficulty getting up in the morning, you know, a lot of kids crying really frequently having, you know, a lack of interest in activities and exercise, isolating from friendships, seeing that from a lot of kids, like I don’t, I don’t really want to talk to my friends today. Right. And so if that’s different, you know, queuing into that, you know, and some, some of those oppositional pieces of like refusing to do so some tasks refusing to do work, you know, some frequent like fights nitpicking with siblings, caregivers. I mean, I think those are all things to look out for and, you know, not to panic about, but like, you know, there’s something incredibly wrong, but just noting, noting those and noting changes I think is important.
LL: Okay. and one last question from a viewer. Does insurance cover your program?
ES: Super great question. We’re in the process fingers crossed. we’re doing quite a few different things here, right now. No, but definitely keep an eye out and check on our website and we’re happy to kind of talk with people, so. Okay. Yeah.
LL: All right. Well, thank you so much. again, if you are just tuning in which I think some people said they were, this will be on the Facebook page. You can watch the replay. I send it out an email. It’ll be on YouTube. yes, it’s here. It’s live. It’s live now, but it will be there for all of eternity. For as long as Facebook, I will be here forever.
ES: Honestly, if anybody needs anything, always feel free to reach out. And it was so nice to meet everybody and to have this conversation with you today, it was great. Yeah. Thanks for having me. Bye.