Anxiety at School – How to Build Brave by Building Their Village.

For our kids and teens, a school year will bring new adults into their orbit. With this, comes new opportunities to be brave and grow their courage – but it will also bring anxiety at school. For some kiddos, this anxiety will feel so big, but we can help them feel bigger.

If anxiety is a felt sense of threat, the antidote to this is a felt sense of safety.

This can be strengthened most powerfully through relationship. A felt sense of relational safety is critical in reducing anxiety at school and building brave behaviour in all children.

‘Relational safety’ in this sense means feeling welcome, seen validated, cared for, valued. The questions to ask are:

  • Do they feel seen, cared for, valued, by the adult in the room?
  • Is that adult familiar, warm, welcoming?
  • And because children are always looking to their primary important adults (parents/carers) for signs of safety: Do they (the young person) believe that we (their parent/carer) likes and trusts that adult?

There is a primal, instinctive reason for the importance of relational safety for all of us. We haven’t survived for as long as we have because we’re the smartest or the strongest or the most powerful. We’ve survived for as long as we have because we’ve worked together. We feel safest when we are ‘with’. This is how it is for all mammals, not just the human ones.

What’s important of course, is that the ones we are with feel safe to be with. For children, felt safety with an adult might take time. This is no reflection on the adult. The adult beside them might be the safest, warmest, most loving adult, but that doesn’t mean a young person will feel safe straight away.

This is also instinctive. It isn’t safe for children to follow every adult that comes to them, so a felt sense of relational safety might take time, and that’s okay.

As long as they are actually safe, we can help grow their felt sense of relational safety by nurturing their relationship with the important adults who will be caring for them, whether that’s a co-parent, a stepparent, a teacher, a coach.

There are a number of ways we can do this:

  • Use the name of their other adult (such as a teacher) regularly, and let it sound loving and playful on your voice. ‘Oh I wonder what Miss Smith is having for breakfast today.’
  • Let them see that you have an open, willing heart in relation to the other adult. ‘I really like Mr Jones. I’m excited for you to get to know him.’
  • Show them you trust the other adult to care for them (‘I know Mrs Smith is going to take such good care of you.’)
  • Facilitate familiarity. As much as you can, hand your child to the same person when you drop them off.
  • You know how lovely it feels to hear someone speaking beautifully about you behind your back? It goes a long way to building trust in the person who said it. To facilitate this between your child and the teacher, ask your child’s teacher to share anything positive your child does. It might be weekly or fortnightly – whatever works. Then, share that information with your child, ‘Mrs Wilder told me that you worked really hard in maths today. I loved that she noticed that about you.’ Then, share anything positive your child says about the teacher, with the teacher.

It’s about helping expand their village of loving adults. The wider this village, the bigger their world in which they can feel brave enough.

For centuries before us, it was the village that raised children. Parenting was never meant to be done by one or two adults on their own, yet our modern world means that this is how it is for so many of us.

We can bring the village back though – and we must – by helping our kiddos feel safe, known, and held by the adults around them. We need this for each other too.



It’s nice to finally see its ok talk about anxiety and depression and to put in perspective what it means, and that reaching out as a parent or just struggling yourself that people are more accepting, and that there is help and tools to help. No more hush hush or negativity toward someone struggling.


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Honestly isn’t this the way it is for all of us though?♥️

#childanxiety #parenting #separationanxiety
Big feelings can be so beautiful. And so tricky. 

We want our kids to know that all feelings are okay, and we also want to support them to handle those feelings in positive ways. This is going to take time. We were all born with feelings, but none of us were born able to regulate those feelings. That will come with time and lots (lots!) of experience. 

In the meantime, the way we respond to their big feelings and the not-so-adorable behaviour it can drive, can be key in nurturing their social and emotional growth. So let’s talk about how.

Proactive Parents is a community event hosted by @mindfullaus . I’ll be providing parents, caregivers and educators with the skills and tools to better understand big feelings and the behaviour it fuels.

Understanding how to respond when young people are overwhelmed can drive calm and connection over conflict. Ultimately, our responses have enormous potential to build important neural pathways that will strengthen them for life.

This presentation will explore the powerful ways parents and carers can, quite literally, influence the strengthening of the brain in ways that will build self-control, emotional regulation, and resilience in their children for life.♥️

When: Sunday 25 Feb 2024, 10am-2pm
Where: West Gippsland Arts Centre, Vic
Buy Tickets here:
(Or Google: karen young young people and their big feelings west gippsland)
We have to change the way we think about school. When we prioritise academics, it's like building the walls - because that's what we see - before fortifying the foundations.

So many teachers know this, but with the increased focus on reporting and academics, they aren't being given the time and opportunity to build the relationships that will ensure those foundations are strong and steady.

This is why too many kids are falling down at school - not because they aren't capable, but because the necessary foundations for them to do well haven't been laid.

Schools are spending the resources anyway, but reactively on behaviour management, disengagement, reduced capacity to learn.

If we can steer those resources towards building relational safety, so kids feel more seen, valued, cared for, rather than less capable or clever, we'll see a decrease increased academic success, greater engagement, less social struggles, and less behaviour issues. It's just how it is.

First though, we need to value relationships and the way kids feel at school, even more than how they do at school. All kids are capable of their own versions of greatness, but unless they feel safe and cared for at school, we just won't see what they are capable of, and neither will they.❤️
We also need to make sure our teachers feel seen, safe, cared for, valued. Our kids can’t be the best they can be without them.♥️
Separation can be tough! Not just for our kiddos but also for the adults who love them. 

As brutal as separation anxiety can feel, it also comes with transformative opportunities to strengthen your child and build their brave in ways that will serve them now and for the rest of their lives. 

Of course we’d rather our young ones (or ourselves) never feel the tailwhip of separation anxiety, but so many young people are going to experience anxiety at separation from a loved one. It’s part of being human, but it doesn’t have to hurt. 

As their important adult, you have a profound capacity to support them through separation anxiety and help them feel braver, stronger, and closer to you, even when you’re not beside them. Let’s talk about how.

This is information I wish every parent could have.

We want our children to feel loved and supported, but we also want to build their brave so anxiety doesn’t stand in the way of the important, growthful things they need to do.

In this 1.5 hour webinar, I’ll be presenting practical, powerful ways to build bravery when separation feels tough - at school, at bedtime, at drop-off - any time being away from you feels tough.

A recording of the webinar will be available to all registered participants for 30 days following the ‘live’ online event.

To register or find out more, google ‘hey sigmund webinar separation anxiety’ or see here ♥️

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