• Karen is an effortless and passionate presenter – a world of knowledge on this topic. Felt this [Anxiety in the Classroom] was a great add on to previously attended workshop ‘Hey Warrior!’

    Psychologist
    – Townsville

  • I found her amazing. I found it relatable and accessible. There were lots of good practical strategies and I acquired a much deeper understanding. It gave me tools, tips and hope.

    Teacher/Counsellor
    -Perth, Australia

  • Great session! So much information and knowledge. I could listen to Karen all day.

    Counsellor
    – Perth, Australia

  • I can’t put into words how helpful this seminar has been for me, personally as well as professionally.

    Counsellor
    – Central Coast, Australia

  • Great! I love the deep and wise understanding of what can be an elusive concept, and then Karen’s ability to make that understanding ‘come alive’ with her storytelling. I appreciate the tangible sense of deep understanding and care for children with practical, loving help – also extended to their parents. Warm, authentic, wise, and practical.

    Guidance Officer
    Brisbane, Australia

  • So well organised and expertly presented. Karen is an engaging, entertaining, and professional speaker who balances heavy information with relevant, memorable anecdotes. Karen is well-informed and imparts her knowledge with ease.

    Teacher
    – Newcastle, Australia

  • One of the best trainings I have attended. Nice to have a seminar whose facilitator is real, down-to-earth, and doesn’t use a lot of jargon. Fabulous to have had Karen as a presenter, lots of knowledge and brilliant to listen to! Thoroughly useful training to continue using with families. Lots of tools and ideas.

    Social Worker
    – New Zealand

  • The seminar was one of the best I have attended. Karen presents in an easy to understand and engaging manner. Her use of anecdotes made the day interesting and practical. She is one of the best presenters I have had the privilege of listening to.

    Art Therapist
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • Awesome presentation! Great break down of anxiety. I liked how there were lots of practical ideas and separation between working with parents and children. I feel much more equipped to work with children and families with anxiety.

    Occupational Therapist
    – Melbourne, Australia

  • Karen was absolutely wonderful – so engaging and informative. This has been one of the most useful and inspiring seminars I have ever been to.

    Counsellor
    – Melbourne, Australia

  • I hung on to Karen’s every word! Fantastic seminar with comprehensive background and fantastic practical strategies.

    Paediatric Occupational Therapist
    – Canberra, Australia

  • I have found the content to be informative, clear and transformational. I have found that the concise and practical way it was presented has truly opened my eyes to new ways of helping students with anxiety. Brilliant job.

    Language Teacher
    – Canberra, Australia


Upcoming Events

Overcoming Anxiety – Helping Children & Adolescents Find Their Brave (NZ) – (Interactive Live-Stream)

Anxiety is the most common child and adolescent mental health concern. Anxiety is a very normal human response, but for as many as 1 in 5 young people in New Zealand the symptoms become so intrusive so as to interfere with day to day living. The effects can ripple from children, to their families, to the classroom, and into friendships. Anxiety can potentially undermine the way children see themselves, the world and their important place in it – but it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right support, children can be empowered with the skills and knowledge to manage anxiety and move forward with courage and resilience. 
This dynamic workshop will help participants to recognise and respond to anxiety in children and adolescents. It will delve into the obvious and not so obvious signs of anxiety, discuss where they come from, why they exist and offer a range of practical, powerful interventions to assist participants to respond effectively within their own professional context. It will also explore how to work with parents and carers in ways that strip shame and guilt, and unlock their capacity to move their children through anxiety and towards brave behaviour.

Friday 28 May 2021, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Rydges Latimer, Christchurch NZ
Wednesday 02 June 2021, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
James Cook Hotel Grand Chancellor, Wellington NZ

Hey Warrior (Aus)

For as many as one in five young lives, anxiety is an intrusive part of everyday life, with the effects often stealing into families, classrooms and friendships. Anxiety can potentially undermine the way children see themselves, the world and their important place in it – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Anxiety is very manageable when it is recognised and responded to. This dynamic workshop will help participants to recognise anxiety in children and adolescents (5 – 18yrs). It will delve into the obvious and not so obvious signs of anxiety, discuss where they come from and why they exist, and offer a range of practical, powerful, research-driven interventions to assist participants to respond effectively within their own professional context.

Friday 23 April 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Commercial Club, Albury, NSW, Australia
SOLD OUT Register Now
Monday 03 May 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Vibe Hotel, Melbourne, Vic, Australia
SOLD OUT Register Now
Tuesday 10 August 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Wollongong City Diggers, 82 Church Street, Wollongong, NSW, Aus
Monday 13 September 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Rydges Geelong, Cnr Gheringhap and Myers Streets, Geelong, Vic, Aus

Neurodevelopmental Theory to Practice (Aus)

Recent developments in neuroscience have expanded our capacity to be more effective in all areas of practice in child development. We now have remarkable insight into what the growing brain needs to thrive from infancy through adolescence and beyond. Drawing on neuroscientific insights, we can ‘neuro-nurture’ the developing child and dramatically influence the growth and development of the young brain to provide the foundations for a happy, successful life. As the need for neuroscientific knowledge amongst practitioners increases, its convergence with key approaches to attachment, trauma, and learning have seen watershed changes in how we understand and support optimal development, behaviour and social-emotional wellbeing. This opens the way for us to take a more compassionate, targeted and effective response when working with children and adolescents in any capacity. This dynamic workshop will translate neuroscience into powerful insights and practical strategies to support the holistic development of children and adolescents. 

Monday 19 April 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Kingscliff, NSW, Aus
SOLD OUT Register Now
Monday 07 June 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
The Function, Glenelg, SA, Australia
Thursday 12 August 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Skye Suites Parramatta, Sydney, NSW, Australia
Friday 13 August 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Rydges Sydney Central, 28 Albion Street, Surry Hills, NSW, Aus
Tuesday 31 August 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
ANZAC House, Perth, WA, Aus
Wednesday 15 September 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Vibe Hotel Hobart, Hobart, Tas, Aus
Thursday 16 September 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Launceston Conference Centre, Launceston, Tas, Aus
Tuesday 26 October 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Vibe Hotel, Melbourne, Vic, Australia

Previous Events

Neurodevelopmental Theory to Practice (Aus)

Recent developments in neuroscience have expanded our capacity to be more effective in all areas of practice in child development. We now have remarkable insight into what the growing brain needs to thrive from infancy through adolescence and beyond. Drawing on neuroscientific insights, we can ‘neuro-nurture’ the developing child and dramatically influence the growth and development of the young brain to provide the foundations for a happy, successful life. As the need for neuroscientific knowledge amongst practitioners increases, its convergence with key approaches to attachment, trauma, and learning have seen watershed changes in how we understand and support optimal development, behaviour and social-emotional wellbeing. This opens the way for us to take a more compassionate, targeted and effective response when working with children and adolescents in any capacity. This dynamic workshop will translate neuroscience into powerful insights and practical strategies to support the holistic development of children and adolescents. 

Monday 22 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Rydges Esplanade Resort, Cairns, Qld, Australia
Register Now
Tuesday 23 February 2021, 12:00 am-4:00 pm
Mecure Townsville, Townsville, Qld, Australia
Register Now
Wednesday 24 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Souths Leagues Club, Mackay, Qld, Australia
Register Now
Thursday 25 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Rockhampton Leagues Club, Qld, Australia
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Friday 26 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Northlakes Hotel, Northlakes, Qld, Australia
Register Now
Wednesday 17 March 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
City Golf Club, Toowoomba, Qld, Australia
Register Now
Friday 19 March 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
The Glen Hotel, Brisbane, Qld, Australia
Register Now

Hey Warrior (Aus)

For as many as one in five young lives, anxiety is an intrusive part of everyday life, with the effects often stealing into families, classrooms and friendships. Anxiety can potentially undermine the way children see themselves, the world and their important place in it – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Anxiety is very manageable when it is recognised and responded to. This dynamic workshop will help participants to recognise anxiety in children and adolescents (5 – 18yrs). It will delve into the obvious and not so obvious signs of anxiety, discuss where they come from and why they exist, and offer a range of practical, powerful, research-driven interventions to assist participants to respond effectively within their own professional context.

Friday 21 August 2020, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
The Glen Hotel, Eight Mile Plains, Brisbane, Qld, Australia
Register Now
Thursday 03 September 2020, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Rydges Esplanade Resort, Cairns, Qld, Australia
Register Now
Monday 14 September 2020, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
The Function, Glenelg, SA, Australia
Register Now
Friday 06 November 2020, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Mantra Twin Towns, Tweed Heads, NSW, Australia
Register Now
Friday 13 November 2020, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Gosford RSL Club, West Gosford, NSW, Australia
Register Now
Monday 15 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Liverpool Catholic Club, Prestons, NSW, Australia
Register Now
Tuesday 16 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Adina Apartment Hotel Sydney, Surry Hills, NSW, Australia
Register Now
Wednesday 17 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Vibe Hotel Melbourne, Melbourne, Vic, Australia
Register Now
Thursday 18 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Best Western Hobart, Hobart, Tas, Australia
Register Now
Friday 19 February 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Launceston Conference Centre, 50 Glen Dhu Street, South Launceston, Tas, Australia
Register Now
Tuesday 09 March 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Mantra Parramatta, Cnr Parkes St and Valentine Ave, Parramatta, NSW, Aus
Register Now
Thursday 11 March 2021, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
ANZAC HOUSE, Perth, WA, Australia
Register Now

Overcoming Anxiety – Helping Children & Adolescents Find Their Brave (NZ) – (Interactive Live-Stream)

Anxiety is the most common child and adolescent mental health concern. Anxiety is a very normal human response, but for as many as 1 in 5 young people in New Zealand the symptoms become so intrusive so as to interfere with day to day living. The effects can ripple from children, to their families, to the classroom, and into friendships. Anxiety can potentially undermine the way children see themselves, the world and their important place in it – but it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right support, children can be empowered with the skills and knowledge to manage anxiety and move forward with courage and resilience. 
This dynamic workshop will help participants to recognise and respond to anxiety in children and adolescents. It will delve into the obvious and not so obvious signs of anxiety, discuss where they come from, why they exist and offer a range of practical, powerful interventions to assist participants to respond effectively within their own professional context. It will also explore how to work with parents and carers in ways that strip shame and guilt, and unlock their capacity to move their children through anxiety and towards brave behaviour.

Tuesday 26 November 2019, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Invercargill
Register Now
Wednesday 27 November 2019, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Dunedin
Register Now
Thursday 28 November 2019, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Christchurch
Register Now
Friday 29 November 2019, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Nelson
Register Now

Overcoming Anxiety – Helping Children and Adolescents Find Their Brave (NZ)

Anxiety is the most common child and adolescent mental health concern. Anxiety is a very normal human response, but for as many as 1 in 5 young people in New Zealand the symptoms become so intrusive so as to interfere with day to day living. The effects can ripple from children, to their families, to the classroom, and into friendships. Anxiety can potentially undermine the way children see themselves, the world and their important place in it – but it doesn’t have to be this way. When recognised and properly managed, anxiety is very treatable. With the right support, children can be empowered with the skills and knowledge to manage anxiety and move forward with courage and resilience. 
This dynamic workshop will help participants to recognise and respond to anxiety in children and adolescents. It will delve into the obvious and not so obvious signs of anxiety, discuss where they come from, why they exist and offer a range of practical, powerful interventions to assist participants to respond effectively within their own professional context.

Monday 23 November 2020, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Trinity Wharf, Tauranga, New Zealand
Register Now
Tuesday 24 November 2020, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Novotel Tainui, Hamilton, New Zealand
Register Now
Friday 27 November 2020, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Napier Conference Centre, Napier, New Zealand
Register Now

Strengthening Children and Teens Against Anxiety at School and Beyond (NZ)

As much as school can nurture, nourish and build children and adolescents, the very nature of school means that it can also be abundant with anxiety triggers that can significantly compromise their growth and development. Anxiety can be fuelled by anything unfamiliar or any situation that comes with the potential for embarrassment, failure, humiliation, shame, or separation – and school is ripe with all of them. School presents many children with some of the greatest challenges to their mental health, but it also presents some of the greatest opportunities to strengthen against anxiety. 

This workshop is for any professional who works with or within the education system, or with children or adolescents struggling with anxiety at school. Participants will learn practical strategies to effectively respond to children and teens with anxiety, as well as ways to capture the powerful buffering role school can play in strengthening all young people against anxiety at school and beyond. 

(At this stage, this event will be live-streamed to the event because of COVID-19 travel restrictions.)

Tuesday 20 October 2020, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Auckland, New Zealand
Register Now
Friday 23 October 2020, 9:00 am-3:00 pm
Distinction Hotel, Palmerston North, New Zealand
Register Now

Strengthening the Relationship With Your Teen (Scotland, online)

Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution International Online Conference.

Cyrenians Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution are holding an all-digital festival of events in place of their annual conference. This exciting programme includes several internationally-renowned special guests. SCCR have made this available for free, and you are welcome to sign up to as many as you wish. I will be speaking on 15 October from 10:00-10:30am (Brisbane time) about ways parents and other important adults can strengthen the relationship, connection, and influence with their tweens and teens. The 30 minute presentation will be followed by a Q&A with the audience.

Thursday 22 October 2020, 7:00 pm-8:00 pm
Scottish Centre for Conflict Resolution, Online (Time is Brisbane, Aus AEST)
Register Now

Superpowered! – Transforming Anxiety into Courage and Resilience, with Renee Jain & Dr Shefali Tsabary

Join me for this Facebook Live event where I’ll be speaking with Renee Jain and Dr Shefali Tsabary about anxiety, courage and resilience.

Tuesday 22 September 2020, 10:00 am-11:00 am
Facebook Live (Time is Brisbane, Aust - AEST)
Register Now

Strengthening Children and Teens Against Anxiety at School and Beyond (Aus)

As much as school can nurture, nourish and build children and adolescents, the very nature of school means that it can also be abundant with anxiety triggers that can significantly compromise their growth and development. Anxiety can be fuelled by anything unfamiliar or any situation that comes with the potential for failure, shame, embarrassment, humiliation, or separation from a loved one – and school is ripe with all of them. School presents many children with some of the greatest challenges to their mental health, but it also presents some of the greatest opportunities to strengthen against anxiety. This workshop is for any professional who works with or within the education system, or with children or adolescents struggling with anxiety at school. Participants will learn practical strategies to effectively respond to children and teens with anxiety, as well as ways to capture the powerful buffering role school can play in strengthening all young people against anxiety at school and beyond.

Friday 04 September 2020, 9:00 am-4:00 pm
Mercure Townsville Resort, Townsville, Qld, Australia
Register Now

Supporting Children in Post-COVID Era (India, online)

Experts from the fields of education, psychology, paediatrics, philosophy and Montessori education will be joining together in a live Q & A to discuss how best to support children in a post-COVID era.
Wednesday 02 September 2020, 6:00 pm-7:30 pm
Vidyanjali Academy, Bangalore - Webinar
Register Now

Nurturing Self-Control

Self-control – what every parent/carer needs to know about this essential skill, including why it matters, how it impacts a child’s behaviour and how we can best support our children now and into their future.

Friday 05 June 2020, 7:00 pm-8:30 pm
Mother Duck Childcare & Preschool, Lawnton, Qld, Australia

Building Brave – For anyone who lives with or works with kids or teens.

What could our children do if they truly believed they were brave? In this transformational, heartfelt event, Karen Young and Michelle Mitchell come together to equip parents, carers and professionals with powerful strategies to help children and teens build resilience, thrive through anxiety and reach their potential. We will explore:

  • the powerful role that caring adults play in building brave;
  • a new way of understanding the role of anxiety and resilience in your child’s life;
  • the often unrecognised and different ways anxiety can manifest in children;
  • the impact of anxiety on friendships and school work;
  • proven, practical ways to respond to anxiety and make way for calm and courage;
  • how to build social resilience and equip them for the challenges of life;
  • how to strengthen your connection and influence.

    You know your child is capable of greatness. With some very specific strategies and solid information, we can make sure they know it too.

    If you would like BUILDING BRAVE to come to your school or community, please let us know. We will be touring nationally with this new project.

    Wednesday 11 September 2019, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm
    Wellington Point, Brisbane
    Register Now
    Thursday 12 September 2019, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm
    Bray Park, Brisbane
    Register Now
    Tuesday 22 October 2019, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm
    Rochedale, Brisbane
    Register Now
    Wednesday 23 October 2019, 6:30 pm-8:30 pm
    Toowong, Brisbane
    Register Now

    Raising Brave Kids

    With anxiety in children (and parents) on the rise, it’s more important than ever to learn what we can do as parents to help children thrive in this chaotic world. Join us for this 4 hour parenting event, with Maggie Dent, Karen Young, and Warren Cann.

    Sunday 13 October 2019, 9:00 am-1:00 pm
    UNSW Roundhouse, Sydney, NSW, Australia
    Register Now

    Strengthening Kids and Teens Against Anxiety

    This transformational session will provide parents and carers with the essential information and strategies to support their children and teens to build courage and resilience, uncovering their strengths, and take anxiety back to small enough.

    Thursday 11 April 2019, 1:00 pm-3:00 pm
    Whitby School, Greenwich, CT, United States

    The Adolescent Brain

    During adolescence, the brain goes through a massive ‘renovation’. This talk is for anyone who lives or works with adolescents, and will explores changes that happen in the adolescent brain and how these influence relationships, friendships, and behaviour. 

    Tuesday 09 April 2019, 8:15 am-10:15 am
    Whitby School, Greenwich, CT, United States
    , -

    Follow Hey Sigmund on Instagram

    Big feelings, and the big behaviour that comes from big feelings, are a sign of a distressed nervous system. Think of this like a burning building. The behaviour is the smoke. The fire is a distressed nervous system. It’s so tempting to respond directly to the behaviour (the smoke), but by doing this, we ignore the fire. Their behaviour and feelings in that moment are a call for support - for us to help that distressed brain and body find the way home. 

The most powerful language for any nervous system is another nervous system. They will catch our distress (as we will catch theirs) but they will also catch our calm. It can be tempting to move them to independence on this too quickly, but it just doesn’t work this way. Children can only learn to self-regulate with lots (and lots and lots) of experience co-regulating. 

This isn’t something that can be taught. It’s something that has to be experienced over and over. It’s like so many things - driving a car, playing the piano - we can talk all we want about ‘how’ but it’s not until we ‘do’ over and over that we get better at it. 

Self-regulation works the same way. It’s not until children have repeated experiences with an adult bringing them back to calm, that they develop the neural pathways to come back to calm on their own. 

An important part of this is making sure we are guiding that nervous system with tender, gentle hands and a steady heart. This is where our own self-regulation becomes important. Our nervous systems speak to each other every moment of every day. When our children or teens are distressed, we will start to feel that distress. It becomes a loop. We feel what they feel, they feel what we feel. Our own capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

This can be so tough, but it can happen in microbreaks. A few strong steady breaths can calm our own nervous system, which we can then use to calm theirs. Breathe, and be with. It’s that simple, but so tough to do some days. When they come back to calm, then have those transformational chats - What happened? What can make it easier next time?

Who you are in the moment will always be more important than what you do.
    How we are with them, when they are their everyday selves and when they aren’t so adorable, will build their view of three things: the world, its people, and themselves. This will then inform how they respond to the world and how they build their very important space in it. 

Will it be a loving, warm, open-hearted space with lots of doors for them to throw open to the people and experiences that are right for them? Or will it be a space with solid, too high walls that close out too many of the people and experiences that would nourish them.

They will learn from what we do with them and to them, for better or worse. We don’t teach them that the world is safe for them to reach into - we show them. We don’t teach them to be kind, respectful, and compassionate. We show them. We don’t teach them that they matter, and that other people matter, and that their voices and their opinions matter. We show them. We don’t teach them that they are little joy mongers who light up the world. We show them. 

But we have to be radically kind with ourselves too. None of this is about perfection. Parenting is hard, and days will be hard, and on too many of those days we’ll be hard too. That’s okay. We’ll say things we shouldn’t say and do things we shouldn’t do. We’re human too. Let’s not put pressure on our kiddos to be perfect by pretending that we are. As long as we repair the ruptures as soon as we can, and bathe them in love and the warmth of us as much as we can, they will be okay.

This also isn’t about not having boundaries. We need to be the guardians of their world and show them where the edges are. But in the guarding of those boundaries we can be strong and loving, strong and gentle. We can love them, and redirect their behaviour.

It’s when we own our stuff(ups) and when we let them see us fall and rise with strength, integrity, and compassion, and when we hold them gently through the mess of it all, that they learn about humility, and vulnerability, and the importance of holding bruised hearts with tender hands. It’s not about perfection, it’s about consistency, and honesty, and the way we respond to them the most.♥️

#parenting #mindfulparenting
    Anxiety and courage always exist together. It can be no other way. Anxiety is a call to courage. It means you're about to do something brave, so when there is one the other will be there too. Their courage might feel so small and be whisper quiet, but it will always be there and always ready to show up when they need it to.
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But courage doesn’t always feel like courage, and it won't always show itself as a readiness. Instead, it might show as a rising - from fear, from uncertainty, from anger. None of these mean an absence of courage. They are the making of space, and the opportunity for courage to rise.
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When the noise from anxiety is loud and obtuse, we’ll have to gently add our voices to usher their courage into the light. We can do this speaking of it and to it, and by shifting the focus from their anxiety to their brave. The one we focus on is ultimately what will become powerful. It will be the one we energise. Anxiety will already have their focus, so we’ll need to make sure their courage has ours.
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But we have to speak to their fear as well, in a way that makes space for it to be held and soothed, with strength. Their fear has an important job to do - to recruit the support of someone who can help them feel safe. Only when their fear has been heard will it rest and make way for their brave.
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What does this look like? Tell them their stories of brave, but acknowledge the fear that made it tough. Stories help them process their emotional experiences in a safe way. It brings word to the feelings and helps those big feelings make sense and find containment. ‘You were really worried about that exam weren’t you. You couldn’t get to sleep the night before. It was tough going to school but you got up, you got dressed, you ... and you did it. Then you ...’
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In the moment, speak to their brave by first acknowledging their need to flee (or fight), then tell them what you know to be true - ‘This feels scary for you doesn’t it. I know you want to run. It makes so much sense that you would want to do that. I also know you can do hard things. My darling, I know it with everything in me.’
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#positiveparenting #parenting #childanxiety #anxietyinchildren #mindfulpare
    Separation anxiety has an important job to do - it’s designed to keep children safe by driving them to stay close to their important adults. Gosh it can feel brutal sometimes though.

Whenever there is separation from an attachment person there will be anxiety unless there are two things: attachment with another trusted, loving adult; and a felt sense of you holding on, even when you aren't beside them. Putting these in place will help soften anxiety.

As long as children are are in the loving care of a trusted adult, there's no need to avoid separation. We'll need to remind ourselves of this so we can hold on to ourselves when our own anxiety is rising in response to theirs. 

If separation is the problem, connection has to be the solution. The connection can be with any loving adult, but it's more than an adult being present. It needs an adult who, through their strong, warm, loving presence, shows the child their abundant intention to care for that child, and their joy in doing so. This can be helped along by showing that you trust the adult to love that child big in our absence. 'I know [important adult] loves you and is going to take such good care of you.'

To help your young one feel held on to by you, even in absence, let them know you'll be thinking of them and can't wait to see them. Bolster this by giving them something of yours to hold while you're gone - a scarf, a note - anything that will be felt as 'you'.

They know you are the one who makes sure their world is safe, so they’ll be looking to you for signs of safety: 'Do you think we'll be okay if we aren't together?' First, validate: 'You really want to stay with me, don't you. I wish I could stay with you too! It's hard being away from your special people isn't it.' Then, be their brave. Let it be big enough to wrap around them so they can rest in the safety and strength of it: 'I know you can do this, love. We can do hard things can't we.'

Part of growing up brave is learning that the presence of anxiety doesn't always mean something is wrong. Sometimes it means they are on the edge of brave - and being away from you for a while counts as brave.
    Even the most loving, emotionally available adult might feel frustration, anger, helplessness or distress in response to a child’s big feelings. This is how it’s meant to work. 

Their distress (fight/flight) will raise distress in us. The purpose is to move us to protect or support or them, but of course it doesn’t always work this way. When their big feelings recruit ours it can drive us more to fight (anger, blame), or to flee (avoid, ignore, separate them from us) which can steal our capacity to support them. It will happen to all of us from time to time. 

Kids and teens can’t learn to manage big feelings on their own until they’ve done it plenty of times with a calm, loving adult. This is where co-regulation comes in. It helps build the vital neural pathways between big feelings and calm. They can’t build those pathways on their own. 

It’s like driving a car. We can tell them how to drive as much as we like, but ‘talking about’ won’t mean they’re ready to hit the road by themselves. Instead we sit with them in the front seat for hours, driving ‘with’ until they can do it on their own. Feelings are the same. We feel ‘with’, over and over, until they can do it on their own. 

What can help is pausing for a moment to see the behaviour for what it is - a call for support. It’s NOT bad behaviour or bad parenting. It’s not that.

Our own feelings can give us a clue to what our children are feeling. It’s a normal, healthy, adaptive way for them to share an emotional load they weren’t meant to carry on their own. Self-regulation makes space for us to hold those feelings with them until those big feelings ease. 

Self-regulation can happen in micro moments. First, see the feelings or behaviour for what it is - a call for support. Then breathe. This will calm your nervous system, so you can calm theirs. In the same way we will catch their distress, they will also catch ours - but they can also catch our calm. Breathe, validate, and be ‘with’. And you don’t need to do more than that.

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