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  • Katherine Finn

Supporting Our Children Through Tricky Times

Even as adults we’re continually trying to regulate our emotions and keep on an even keel. Although the immediate threat of the pandemic has eased up it’s left many of us feeling unsettled and, for some of us, the fall out is still affecting us in our daily lives.


As I catch up with friends and talk to my clients I’m very aware there’s a lot going on for the younger generations right now. Life is busy again and after a couple of years of restrictions it can actually feel pretty daunting.


So firstly let’s acknowledge the strange circumstances we’ve been dealing with because, let’s face it, it hasn’t been ‘normal’! Our children have missed the usual opportunities to practise keeping a cool head in exam conditions, step out of the family unit and expand their comfort zone, be in the spotlight or go on adventures.


Your Primitive Mind is focussed on survival and essentially it’s quick to react but, in its (often misguided) efforts to protect you, you’ll be encouraged to fixate on the worst case scenario and once you’ve hit the panic button - your options are freeze, fight or flight. Not ideal when you’re away from home on a residential trip, performing in front of an audience or taking your driving test.


If everyone who was feeling nervous during exams turned blue, we’d be surrounded by Smurfs! A little anxiety is to be expected but use your Intellectual Mind to stay positive and in control. Keep calm, think rationally, apply perspective and you can use the skills you’ve learnt and access the information you’ve stored. And remember, your teachers and family are willing you to succeed - try to focus on the chance to prove what you know.


How can we, as parents, best guide our young people to utilise all their resources and empower them to seize the day, whatever challenges it may hold? Listen to, acknowledge and validate their feelings. Bring their attention to their qualities, skills and strengths and celebrate any moments of triumph. Positive reinforcement will help to boost their self-belief so be on the look out for the things they achieve without any stress (times to shine) and also when they manage to do something when anxious because bravery is feeling the fear and doing it anyway. Help them to highlight what’s within their control i.e. their thoughts, their feelings, their actions and interactions and look for ways to create their happy hormones. The brain can’t tell the difference between imagination and reality so play ‘Let’s Pretend’ and ask ‘What could you do if you felt a little more confident? What would be the benefits? Who might notice?’ This will generate options as their brain explores the possibilities and visualises success. Plus helping them to take responsibility for their own solutions will have a higher success rate than telling them what to do.


Be a warrior not a worrier,



BA (Hons), DipSFH. Reg AfSFH, CNHC, NCP

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