Those of you who have been following my blogs would know that I’m constantly quoting Maggie Dent and her book “Real Kids in an Unreal World”.
Last Saturday I had the absolute pleasure and honour to meet her in person. She was in Melbourne holding a conference “Calming Today’s Anxious Kids”. When the conference concluded I found Maggie just at the auditorium door, so I jumped at the chance to introduce myself. I explained how her book had inspired me to write my blogs about resilience in kids and how I was breaking down each of her “Building Blocks”.
I’m still in a state of awe because Maggie thanked me and hugged me for writing about these things and spreading the knowledge. Even today I feel a little bit like I had a “rockstar fan” moment. :)
The entire day was inspiring, not just because I got to meet Maggie (and get a photo with her!!!!!), but because she had created an amazingly informative and entertaining day, which included a presentation from Dr Kaylene Henderson, a child and adolescent psychiatrist and one of Australia’s leading parenting experts. Kaylene spoke to us about the importance of building secure relationships with our children and about what anxiety is, it’s role in day to day life and when it becomes a problem. Kaylene also gave tips on empowering your child to problem solve and how to approach stressful situations (like sleepovers) for our children in a graded way (small steps towards a bigger goal).
The most important things I took away from Kaylene’s presentation are:
It’s never too late to strengthen your relationship with your child
Sometimes to help them more we need to do less
Help them just enough so they can do it themselves
Delight in them - light up when you look at them and convey “I’m delighted that you exist”
Comfort them when they’re distressed, using connection and empathy, not logic or anger
Kaylene has developed a range of online advice packs, filled with practical tips to help you guide your children through whatever problems they are facing.
Allison Davies, a Neurologic Music Therapist who specialises in anxiety and meltdown management also presented on the day. Allison happens to be Autistic with Sensory Processing Disorder, and shared her stories in a way that put an adult perspective to some of the struggles children may be experiencing.
Allison spoke to us about the importance of music in relation to our brains. here’s a fun fact I didn’t know……”Research shows that when we experience music, either by listening to it, making it or thinking about it, more parts of the brain are activated simultaneously than when we experience any other things. The brains pre-frontal cortex is extremely active when experiencing music. Also, the reptilian brain (brain stem and cerebellum) controls the body’s vital functions such as heart rate, breathing, body temperature and balance. It can also fall in sync quite quickly and easily with rhythm, making music based on rhythm an excellent tool for regulating brain function. Rhythms of about 60 - 80bpm replicate the resting heart rate so can help entrain the brain and body into a relaxed state.” I found all that she said fascinating!
We were also introduced to the creator of a wonderful app called “ParentTV”. A video on-demand platform featuring 2-5 minute solution-focused, TED-Talk like videos that parents can watch and learn from at their leisure. They’ve brought together the world’s favourite (research-based) parenting experts that you can access in your own time and space. There are parenting educators, psychologists, paediatricians, sleep and lactation consultants too. Check it out. They offer trial subscriptions at:
Maggie Dent is dubbed “The Queen of Common Sense” (for very good reason). To hear Maggie talk about her sensationally simple, common sense approach to parenting and working with kids on Saturday was something that will sit with me for years to come. I was surrounded by many parents who were at the conference to learn about how they can help their kids navigate through this fast paced and stressful world. It just brought it home it me that there is an awful lot of concern out there for our kids.
As Maggie covered a lot of the guidance in her books on the day, I’ve decided to share something she calls “The Parental Pause” with you…
Stand still. Ground your feet.
Gently bend your knees.
Place your right hand on your heart.
Take a deep breath.
Slowly stand close by or kneel near your child.
Be present and still. Observe the world through their eyes.
Silently remind yourself:
“My child/ teen is not bad or naughty - they are just struggling to cope. Let me be what they need right now - a safe base.”
This could be your little bit of magic that may help you in times of high tension.
Anxiety is a common concern now for our children. We are attending conferences and workshops dedicated to it. As parents and educators we can help children through their struggles with anxiety in many ways.
Talk about Anxiety; Normalise it and share stories of times that you’ve felt anxious
Teach your children that anxiety isn’t harmful and it doesn’t last
If there’s a situation making them anxious, be curious, be on their side and empower them to problem solve
Teach and practise managements skills
As I mentioned in my last Blog, I am now offering a program called “Peaceful Kids”. A beautiful program created by Georgina Manning of Wellbeing for Kids. I will be teaching children a bunch of life long coping skills such as a range of Mindfulness Meditations, techniques to lessen worry, problem solving strategies and facing fears step by step, just to name a few. These skills will be taught over a period of 8 weeks (approximately one hour per week) in a group of 4 - 6 children in a fun and positive environment.
Every child will benefit from learning these skills and applying them to their daily lives.
Call me on 0412 599 470 or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org to book.
As I wrote earlier this month, my next blog will be about self mastery. Join me!
Until then……. :)
I love helping families feel happier! If you would like to chat about how I can help you, and you live in Melbourne, follow this link to my “Contact Me” page.
This piece is written with the intention of helping parents create happier and more resilient children and is subject to copyright. Please contact the author if you wish to publish elsewhere.