Speaking

Karen is an enthusiastic and knowledgeable speaker and is able to engage with a wide audience on a diverse range of topics. She is available to deliver talks to school, parent and professional groups. These dynamic presentations offer key insights and practical strategies for understanding and strengthening children and adolescents. Presentations can be delivered as professional development seminars, staff in-services, keynotes, or presentations to parents, and/or students. All presentations will be tailored to suit the individual needs of your audience

Here are some popular topics, or if you have another idea you would like to discuss, Karen can discuss this with you to create a presentation that will be engaging and relevant for your audience.

To talk more about your needs and inquire about availability, please email Karen at .

  • Great seminar. Really useful as a teacher to cover parent/ teacher/ student responses and prompt questions. Really helpful to hear explicit strategies to assist in the classroom and hear real examples and how to apply them.

    Teacher
    – Australia

  • Brilliant presentation – loved the energy, passion, empathy and insight in your stories, the research base you rely on for the ‘why’ and the range of practical tools applicable for all ages and backgrounds. Your pearls of wisdom will stay with me and help my family, friends and clients as we walk through life. I am forever grateful.

    Parent
    – Australia

  • Incredible, amazing. Karen spoke clearly and made a lot of information interesting, down to earth, realistic and practical.

    Early Childhood Teacher
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • 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

  • Fantastic, no fluff – it was from start to finish really useful information, theory and practical skills/tools to use. Love Karen’s passion for seeing the best in people.

    Social Worker
    – Brisbane, 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

  • I thought it was so informative, engaging and empowering. Karen is so easy to listen to and her stories along the way to explain concepts really consolidated my understanding.

    Primary Teacher
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • Karen is an excellent presenter with a wealth of knowledge. Her presentation was informative with solid information and applications to further strengthen my role as a school counsellor who is working with kids on a daily basis who struggle with anxiety! I would recommend this seminar for both professionals and parents.

    School Counsellor
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • Amazing workshop. Karen is very passionate and knowledgeable. Her ability to share her knowledge and experience in understandable terms is a gift.

    Occupational Therapist
    – Brisbane, Australia

  • I found this seminar practical and very informative. Karen is able to describe a range of strategies to use with anxious children and teens, but understands and acknowledges that one size does not fit all.

    Speech Pathologist
    – Melbourne, Australia

  • Karen was a very engaging speaker. The information was current and informative. As a mother of two young children, both who have anxiety, this information is invaluable.

    Paediatric Nurse
    – Melbourne, Australia


FOR PARENTS

  • Strengthening Children and Teens Against Anxiety

    Anxiety is a very normal part of being human, but for as many as one in five children, it can reach intrusive levels, interfering with family life, friendships, and school performance. This transformational session will provide parents and carers with the essential information and powerful, practical strategies to help their children and teens thrive through anxiety, whether it’s everyday levels of anxiety or more intrusive.

  • Anxiety During Adolescence – Strengthening Teens Against Anxiety

    Anxiety can be tough for anyone, but add in the whirlwind of changes that come with adolescence, and anxiety can intrude on young lives more than it deserves to. If left unmanaged, anxiety can limit their reach into the world and their discovery of their very important place in it. It can also leave the adults in their lives who care about them feeling helpless – but it doesn’t have to be this way. Anxiety is manageable, and our teens have a profound capacity to shift anxiety out of their way and move forward with strength. In this presentation, we will focus on anxiety during adolescence. We will discuss how the changes in the adolescent brain can make teens more vulnerable to anxiety, and powerful ways to engage and strengthen all young people against anxiety through adolescence and beyond.

  • Building Courage and Resilience in Children

    Courage and resilience are vital qualities that help children adapt in the face of adversity and challenge, and give them the confidence move towards life-giving opportunities. We will discuss why resilience is so important and how to nurture these essential qualities in our children.

  • Building Self-Control and Emotional Regulation in Children

    Self-control is a vital skill that is instrumental in helping our children develop into healthy, happy adults. It will take time to take shape – nobody was born knowing how to manage big feelings and delay immediate wants in favour of a longer-term goal, but parents have enormous power to provide children with the experiences that will build this vital skill in their children. This seminar will explore the powerful ways parents 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. We will look at the importance of relationship in nurturing self-control, and how parents can strengthen their connection and influence with their children during childhood and beyond.

  • The Neuronurtured Child – Bringing Neuroscience (and Loads of Heart) to Parenting

    Childhood is a time of immense development. Most of the time, this will be a source of pure, full-bodied joy. But as magical as it can be, it can also be tough at times, when feelings and behaviour swell big enough to own a room. Thankfully, huge advances in neuroscience have shone a bright light on why children do what they do, and what their growing brains need to thrive. This has helped to make sense of behaviour that often makes no sense at all and given us glowing signposts for how to respond to big behaviour and big feelings in ways that strengthen the foundations for healthy development. This presentation brings neuroscience (and loads of heart) to parenting and caring for children. It will be ideal for anyone who lives or works with young children – parents, carers, educators.

  • Let’s Talk

    Your questions answered – a heartfelt Q & A about common parenting challenges of childhood and adolescence. Parenting can be the toughest and the best all in the same ten minutes. As isolating as it can feel at times, there is not a challenge we will ever face as parents that many others have not also faced. When we tap into our common humanity and talk about our shared experiences, there will be wisdom and comfort waiting there. This presentation will be shaped by collected or commonly asked questions. It can be adapted for parents of very young children, primary school children, and/or adolescents. It can also be tailored to cover different topics that are relevant to all ages of children.


FOR PROFESSIONAL DEVELOPMENT

For teachers, therapists, educators, or any professional who works with children and adolescents.

Each of these topics can be delivered as keynotes or professional development workshops. Topics will be tailored specifically to meet the individual needs of your audience, and presentations can be designed to run from 1.5 hours to a full day.

  • Working With Anxiety in Children and Adolescents

    Anxiety is a very normal human response but for as many as 1 in 5 young people, the symptoms become so intrusive, they significantly 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. Anxiety is very manageable and all children can be strengthened against the intrusive effects of anxiety. This dynamic workshop will offer a range of practical, powerful interventions to assist participants to respond effectively within their own professional context.

  • Anxiety in the Classroom – Helping Children Thrive Through Anxiety at School

    Anxiety loves anything unfamiliar or any situation that comes with any potential for embarrassment, failure, humiliation, shame, or separation from a loved one – and school is ripe for all of them. Anxiety can significantly affect friendships, confidence, and school performance, but it doesn’t have to be this way. All children and teens need the right support to thrive, and even the smallest considerations can go a long way to helping children with anxiety find the very best version of themselves. Participants will learn practical, powerful, proven ways to effectively respond to children 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.  

  • Anxiety in Early Childhood

    As much as the early learning environment can nurture and nourish all children, the very nature of it means that it can also hold many anxiety triggers, including unfamiliar people and situations, and separation from a loved one. As some of the most important adults in the day to day lives of young children, early childhood educators have a profound capacity to strengthen all young children against anxiety. This workshop will support participants in further developing the capacity to effectively respond to anxiety in young children. It will also explore ways to capture the powerful role the early learning environment can play in strengthening all children against anxiety.  

  • Neurodevelopment from Infancy to Adolescence – Understanding the developing brain to support whole-child development.

    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. 

  • Neuro-Nurtured – The Developing Brain During Early Childhood

    Early childhood is a particularly critical time for the developing brain, and the early childhood environment is rich with the necessary experiences and relationships to support children in their development, behaviour, learning, and social and emotional well-being. As some of the most important adults in the day to day lives of young children, early childhood professionals have a profound capacity to provide the experiences and relational conditions that will nurture the holistic development of all children. This workshop will explore the powerful role the early learning environment can play in nurturing the strong neural foundations for long-term development in all children. 

  • The Impact of Trauma on the Developing Brain, and How to Support Children Towards Healing

    The effects of trauma on the developing brain can be profound, impacting neural, physiological, behavioural, relational and emotional development. The greater our capacity to understand the effects and various manifestations of trauma, the greater our capacity to respond to children and adolescents in ways that will support healing and minimise the risk of long-term harm. Any caring, stable, responsive adult in the life of a child has an enormous capacity to provide a buffering from the effects of trauma, and strengthen that child towards healing and growth. This workshop is for anyone who works with children or adolescents.  

  • Brain to Brain – The Neuroscience of Calm, Connection and Regulation

    For anyone who works with children or adolescents, the profound truth is that the brain state and emotional temperature of adults will directly impact the brain state and emotional temperature of the young people in their presence, for better or worse. Ultimately, this will potentially influence a young person’s behaviour, capacity to learn, relationships, and brain architecture. As important as self-regulation is, it can be difficult to achieve at times. We are beautifully human, and along with our great strength and power to heal, calm, and connect, we also have our limits. We can’t help but be impacted by everyday stressors from our own lives, as well as the demands of co-regulating the young people in our care, supporting them through their own pain-based responses, establishing boundaries and responding to challenging behaviour. In this workshop, we will discuss the neuroscience of self-regulation and co-regulation. We will also discuss practical, science-backed ways to gently collect ourselves and the young people in our care to a greater place of calm in challenging, stressful times.  

  • Supporting Children Through Separation and Divorce

    Despite the best happily-ever-after intentions, many relationships are ending in divorce or separation. Children can come through the other side of a separation safely and soundly, but so much of this will depend on how the ending of the relationship is managed. In any divorce or separation, there are things that will make navigating to the other side easier for all children. This workshop is for parents, or anybody who works with parents and families, who are going through the ending of a relationship.  


    FOR CHILDREN (PRIMARY SCHOOL)

    • ‘Who Doesn’t Get Anxiety!’ – Discovering Your ‘Brave’.

      Children are powerful when we empower them. This presentation will focus on providing children with the information and strategies they need to strengthen themselves against anxiety and build their capacity for calm, courage, and resilience. It will provide them with the strategies and information to help them move through anxiety and extend their reach towards brave behaviour.

    • Your Amazing Brain! And how to be the boss of it. Building social and emotional IQ in children.

      If you could teach one set of skills to every child in the world, what would it be? What if it could be something that would bring intelligence and compassion to decision-making, reduce (violence, embed within humanity a drive towards kindness and relationships that heal, nurture and flourish those who are in them? Social-emotional intelligence lies at the heart of this, and neuroscience can provide the scaffold to build these vital qualities. In this fun, child-friendly introduction to neuroscience, children will learn about the workings of the brain, and how to use this information to build strong, healthy behaviours.


    FOR ADOLESCENTS (SECONDARY SCHOOL)

    • Anxiety During Adolescence – How to Strengthen Against Anxiety

      Everyone experiences anxiety at some point, but add in the whirlwind of changes that come with adolescence, and anxiety can feel bigger than it deserves to. This presentation will provide adolescents with powerful information and strategies to navigate through challenges, expand their self-belief, discover their remarkable capacity for courage and resilience, and engage with the world with confidence, courage and strength – because the world can’t be brilliant without them.

    • Thriving Through Adolescence – Making Sense of the Changes and Challenges by Understanding Your Changing (and Amazing) Brain

      During adolescence, the brain goes through the most remarkable changes. This is to provide adolescents with the neural power to learn new skills, experiment with the world and their place in it and stretch beyond the familiar as they make the transition from dependent children to independent, healthy, happy adults. The adolescent brain is wired to drive them through this transition, but there will be challenges along the way. Information is power, and with the right information, adolescents will have an expanded capacity to navigate through the challenges, and see the changes they are going through as positive and dynamic.


      ‘BRAVELY’ – A CLASS-BASED PROGRAM FOR ALL STUDENTS

      ‘Bravely’ has been developed in response to the growing demand from schools to find ways to strengthen children and adolescents against anxiety. Bravely is a science-backed, class-based program to support all children and adolescents with the information, strategies, and inner resources to build courage and resilience, and feel bigger in the presence of anxiety. The program can be adapted for primary or high school students. It includes a series of modules, which draw on neuroscience, and which are delivered in a way that is engaging, interactive, and fun, in order to provide students with life-long skills and strengthening. Each module is based around specific learning objectives, with practical, targeted exercises to consolidate the learning. Bravely can be delivered as an 8 module program or a 6 module program. 

      Please email Karen at for more information.

      Follow Hey Sigmund on Instagram

      Whenever the brain registers threat, it organises the body to fight the danger, flee from it, or hide from it. 

Here’s the rub. ‘Threat’ isn’t about what is actually dangerous, but about what the brain perceives. It also isn’t always obvious. For a strong, powerful, magnificent, protective brain, ‘threat’ might count as anything that comes with even the teeniest potential of making a mistake, failure, humiliation, judgement, shame, separation from important adults, exclusion, unfamiliarity, unpredictability. They’re the things that can make any of us feel vulnerable.

Once the brain registers threat the body will respond. This can drive all sorts of behaviour. Some will be obvious and some won’t be. The responses can be ones that make them bigger (aggression, tantrums) or ones that make them smaller (going quiet or still, shrinking, withdrawing). All are attempts to get the body to safety. None are about misbehaviour, misintent, or disrespect. 

One of the ways bodies stay safe is by hiding, or by getting small. When children are in distress, they might look calm, but unless there is a felt sense of safety, the body will be surging with neurochemicals that make it impossible for that young brain to learn or connect. 

We all have our things that can send us there. These things are different for all of us, and often below our awareness. The responses to these ‘things’ are automatic and instinctive, and we won’t always know what has sent us there. 

We just need to be mindful that sometimes it’s when children seem like no trouble at all that they need our help the most. The signs can include a wilted body, sad or distant eyes, making the body smaller, wriggly bodies, a heavy head. 

It can also look as though they are ignoring you or being quietly defiant. They aren’t - their bodies are trying to keep them safe. A  body in flight or flight can’t hear words as well as it can when it’s calm.

What they need (what all kids need) are big signs of safety from the adult in the room - loving, warm, voices and faces that are communicating clear intent: ‘I’m here, I see you and I’ve got you. You are safe, and you can do this. I’m with you.’♥️
      I’d love to invite you to an online webinar:
‘Thriving in a Stressful World: Practical Ways to Help Ourselves and Our Children Feel Secure And Calm’

As we emerge from the pandemic, stressors are heightened, and anxiety is an ever more common experience. We know from research that the important adults in the life of a child or teen have enormous capacity to help their world feel again, and to bring a felt sense of calm and safety to those young ones. This felt sense of security is essential for learning, regulation, and general well-being. 

I’m thrilled to be joining @marc.brackett and Dr Farah Schroder to explore the role of emotion regulation and the function of anxiety in our lives. Participants will learn ways to help express and regulate their own, and their children’s, emotions, even when our world may feel a little scary and stressful. We will also share practical and holistic strategies that can be most effective in fostering well-being for both ourselves and children. 

In this webinar, hosted by @dalailamacenter you will have the opportunity to learn creative, evidence-informed takeaways to help you and the children in your care build resilience and foster a sense of security and calmness. Join us for this 1 ½ hour session, including a dynamic Q&A period.
 
Webinar Details:
Thursday, October 14, 2021
1:30 - 3:00 PM PST
 
Registrants will receive a Zoom link to attend the webinar live, as well as a private link to a recording of the webinar to watch if they cannot join in at the scheduled time.

Register here:
https://www.eventbrite.ca/e/thriving-in-a-stressful-world-a-heart-mind-live-webinar-tickets-170348045590

The link to register is in my story.♥️
      So much of what our kids and teens are going through isn’t normal - online school, extended separation from their loved people, lockdowns, masks. Even if what they are going through isn’t ‘normal’, their response will be completely understandable. Not all children will respond the same way if course, but whatever they feel will be understandable, relatable, and ‘normal’. 

Whether they feel anxious, confused, frustrated, angry, or nothing at all, it’s important that their response is normalised. Research has found that children are more likely to struggle with traumatic events if they believe their response isn’t normal. This is because they tend to be more likely to interpret their response as a sign of breakage. 

Try, ‘What’s happening is scary. There’s no ‘right’ way to feel and different people will feel different things. It’s okay to feel whatever you feel.’

Any message you can give them that you can handle all their feelings and all their words will help them feel safer, and their world feel steadier.♥️
      We need to change the way we think about discipline. It’s true that traditional ‘discipline’ (separation, shame, consequences/punishment that don’t make sense) might bring compliant children, but what happens when the fear of punishment or separation isn’t there? Or when they learn that the best way to avoid punishment is to keep you out of the loop?

Our greatest parenting ‘tool’ is our use of self - our wisdom, modelling, conversations, but for any of this to have influence we need access to their ‘thinking’ brain - the prefrontal cortex - the part that can learn, think through consequences, plan, make deliberate decisions. During stress this part switches off. It is this way for all of us. None of us are up for lectures or learning (or adorable behaviour) when we’re stressed.

The greatest stress for young brains is a felt sense of separation from their important people. It’s why time-outs, shame, calm down corners/chairs/spaces which insist on separation just don’t work. They create compliance, but a compliant child doesn’t mean a calm child. As long as a child doesn’t feel calm and safe, we have no access to the part of the brain that can learn and be influenced by us.

Behind all behaviour is a need - power,  influence, independence, attention (connection), to belong, sleep - to name a few). The need will be valid. Children are still figuring out the world (aren’t we all) and their way of meeting a need won’t always make sense. Sometimes it will make us furious. (And sometimes because of that we’ll also lose our thinking brains and say or do things that aren’t great.)

So what do we do when they get it wrong? The same thing we hope our people will do when we get things wrong. First, we recognise that the behaviour is not a sign of a bad child or a bad parent, but their best attempt to meet a need with limited available resources. Then we collect them - we calm ourselves so we can bring calm to them. Breathe, be with. Then we connect through validation. Finally, when their bodies are calm and their thinking brain is back, talk about what’s happened, what they can do differently next time, and how they can put things right. Collect, connect, redirect.
      Our nervous systems are talking to each other every minute of every day. We will catch what our children are feeling and they will catch ours. We feel their distress, and this can feed their distress. Our capacity to self-regulate is the circuit breaker. 

Children create their distress in us as a way to recruit support to help them carry the emotional load. It’s how it’s meant to be. Whatever you are feeling is likely to be a reflection what your children are feeling. If you are frustrated, angry, helpless, scared, it’s likely that they are feeling that way too. Every response in you and in them is relevant. 

You don’t need to fix their feelings. Let their feelings come, so they can go. The healing is in the happening. 

In that moment of big feelings it’s more about who you are than what you do. Feel what they feel with a strong, steady heart. They will feel you there with them. They will feel it in you that you get them, that you can handle whatever they are feeling, and that you are there. This will help calm them more than anything. We feel safest when we are ‘with’. Feel the feeling, breathe, and be with - and you don’t need to do more than that. 
There will be a time for teaching, learning, redirecting, but the middle of a storm is not that time.♥️

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