Parenting the Mental Health Generation

Help! My kid is falling apart!

December 02, 2021 Dr. Leigh Weisz, Licensed Clinical Psychologist Season 1 Episode 2
Parenting the Mental Health Generation
Help! My kid is falling apart!
Show Notes Transcript

Is your home chaotic each night as your kids try to tackle homework? Is your teen isolating in their room and NOT doing their homework? Is there a meltdown every minute or screen time battles to end all battles? You are not alone. And, neither is your child.  But, what is 
really going on? 

In this episode,  Dr. Leigh Weisz, a licensed clinical psychologist,  joins Amy O. (aka the mom) and Dr. Lisa (aka the psychologist) to discuss the big "T" (trauma) and little "t" trauma that our 
kids have been experiencing during the last 18 months and how to meet our kids where they are and support their dysregulated actions and emotions. 

This is the conversation you aren’t having with your kid’s doctors and teachers because time doesn’t allow it. Or, with your friends, because they just don’t get it. So put in your earbuds, 
take this 30 minutes for you and join our conversation because mental health matters.

Amy O. is the founder and Dr. Lisa is an active board member of CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health a 501c3 based organization along the north shore of Chicago with a mission to empower families to foster resilience and prioritize mental health and emotional wellness in their children through educational programming, access to  resources, and peer support.

To find all of the resources CATCH provides to caregivers of young people struggling with their mental health, go to https://www.catchiscommunity.org/ or follow us on social media @catchiscommunity.

CATCH, Community Action Together for Children's Health, is a 501(c)3 that provides support and education for families around mental health topics. Original content and materials from CATCH and its collaborators are for informational purposes only. They are provided as a general resource and are not specific to any person or circumstance.

© CATCH 2022

Dr. Lisa (00:00):

As frustrated as we, as the parents are, when our children are dysregulated and subsequently, you know, misbehaving, our child is not thrilled with that either. It doesn't feel good to them.

Amy O. (00:13):

On today's episode of a CATCH Conversation, Parenting the Mental Health Generation. We're talking about our dysregulated children. Why are we seeing such challenging behavior in our kids? Welcome I'm Amy Oberholtzer, the Founder and Executive Director of CATCH Community Action Together for Children's Health based in Chicago's Northern suburbs.

Dr. Lisa (00:34):

And I'm Dr. Lisa Novak, I'm a licensed clinical psychologist. And as a CATCH board member, I'm serving as the liaison between CATCH and the mental health providers in our community.

Amy O. (00:46):

And together we are the hosts of CATCH Conversations, Parenting the Mental Health Generation, a place where we discuss the topics that concern us as loved ones of young people, struggling with their mental health.

Dr. Lisa (01:00):

Today, we are so excited to speak Dr. Leigh Weisz. She's a licensed clinical psychologist and Founder of Coping Partners, which is a group practice in Northbrook that supports the mental health of children, teens, and families,

Amy O. (01:14):

Put in your ear buds. Take 30 minutes for you and join our conversation with Dr. Leigh Weisz. So why don't we just jump right in and start out with the basics here. Dr. Weisz what, what does emotional dysregulation actually look like in kids and maybe you and Lisa both can jump in so that we could address both younger kids and teens?

Leigh Weisz (01:42):

Sure. So when we talk about someone who's emotionally dysregulated, we're essentially describing someone who has difficulty coping with intense emotions, you know, big, big emotions. Um, and so you're seeing someone have a bigger reaction than we think they ought to for what seems like a smaller size problem. So I always think about toddlers as a perfect example of someone who is emotionally dysregulated. They don't get the right plate at the dinner table. They get the blue plate instead of the pink plate and they throw a gigantic fit. And it's the end of the world that is sort of what I picture as emotional dysregulation. And so in younger kids, this can manifest in different ways. It can manifest in sleep disorders, tantrums, as I said, you know, behavioral kind of issues, but it also can be more serious. Um, in, in bigger kids, they always say little kids, little problems, big kids, big problems, so more intense, uh, tantrums, disordered eating, even self injurious behaviors, for example.

Dr. Lisa (02:45):

I sort of like to think of it sometimes as the ready fire aim of emotions, there is no pausing to think about a reaction, um, you know, really being, uh, very impulsive in having that reaction and struggling to, to regulate, struggling, to manage struggling, as you said, Leigh to cope with whatever it is that we're facing in that moment.

Amy O. (03:13):

We're hearing a lot from parents in our community that, you know, the after school hours, the evening hours are difficult and they're difficult for a wide variety of reasons. Kids are fighting or refusing to do their homework. Kids are isolating in their room. They're a lot more tantrums, a lot more easily, you know, kids that are more easily crying. I think part of the reason why we wanted to have this conversation today is to help parents, reframe why they might be seeing those behaviors in their kids. Can you sort of explain better to our audience, why our children might be acting that way or how they can think about kids behavior differently than just misbehavior?

Leigh Weisz (04:10):

Yeah. I think anytime that people or kids experience stressors in life, right? Whatever the stressor looks like, we expect some regression kind of going backward a little bit developmentally from what we expect. And so if you think about the fact that we've all experienced this collective trauma, you know, the pandemic and everything else that comes with it, I think people are feeling and the kids are certainly feeling like the world feels less safe than it used to. Um, unfortunately some of these kids have had, um, what we call big "T" traumas. So, you know, parents getting sick, you know, some even dying, um, loss of jobs and then littler things like isolation having to go through that whole e-learning experience that was pretty stressful for most. Um, and there's just overall a, a serious sense of lack of control. And then now, you know, we're all kind of reentering, um, this next phase due to thank God science and vaccines.

Leigh Weisz (05:11):

And so we're all reentering at different stages and paces. And I think for a lot of people, that's stressful. A lot of my kiddos that I see who have anxiety, for example, um, or separation anxiety were thrilled to be home with their parents. And they never had to kind of deal with, um, the drop offs and things like that. And so this comes with stress too, even though we want to move in this direction, I think they're experiencing a tremendous amount of stress. In addition, I think that parents are still again experiencing stress and that trickles down. So the regression that we're seeing in the form of tantrums and, um, power struggles and, and just all of this makes sense to us as professionals, it's not easy to deal with as parents <laugh>, I can attest, but it makes sense. And I think that, you know, we're not, we're not done with these big feelings and kinda coping with them, but to your point, we do want to acknowledge the feelings underlying the behaviors and not just look at the tantrums and say, oh, how could they be doing that right. To have some empathy for what they're struggling with. And for each kid, it's going to be different.

Dr. Lisa (06:22):

To add that, you know, one thing that we know helps with, you know, with regulation, with helping our kids feel more stable is having that structure and consistency and predictability. And we really lost so much of that through the pandemic. And there was so much unknown and so much need to shift and pivot, and it really did all become so unpredictable. And so the things that I think whether or not parents even realized they were relying on previously as strategies that were effective for them, all sort of, sort of fell by the wayside all at the same time. And I think we're working hard to rebuild some of that and to put some of that predictability and structure back in place, but it's a process and it's taken us some time to get there.

Amy O. (07:10):

There are a couple things that I wanna reflect on here. Are you guys suggesting that we need to kind of change or reframe our expectations of our kids because of the way they're feeling and what their emotions might be? That would be one question I have. And then the second one I want to follow up on that, that sort of goes along with it is if in fact the behavior is being caused by an increase in emotional trauma or emotional struggle, how do we help our kids acknowledge those feelings and how do we bring those feelings out mm-hmm <affirmative> and I'm sure the answer will be different across the ages. Will it not?

Leigh Weisz (07:55):

If I can kinda answer your second question first, just cause that kinda triggered me. I think there is absolutely the expectation that we have to work on the behavior. We can't just sort of like let it slide forever. Right? Um, it is a learned skill. How do they cope with these emotions? And we have to practice how to regulate like any other skill. But I think that if we help the children name that underlying emotion, first, that's going to be one effective strategy to help them kind of feel more in control over their behavior. So there's a phrase, name it to tame it coined by Daniel Siegel. And the idea is that when kids are really flooded emotionally, I mean, you've seen a kid having a temper tantrum on the floor, you know, like legs, limbs, flailing, their logical brain is not working right. The emotional brain has hijacked the whole system.

Leigh Weisz (08:49):

And so when we help children name it to tame it by saying something like, I wonder if you're feeling scared, right. Um, or I wonder if you're feeling right, fill in the blank. Once they name that emotion, it helps them, um, access the left more logical brain, which actually helps sort of integrate the whole brain in a way and, and helps them calm down. And once they're calmer, they're able to be more rational because the primitive brain again is sort of not the only brain in control. So helping them label feelings I think is a really easy and important step and they feel understood. Right. So if you say, I wonder if you're feeling scared and hopefully you've actually gotten the right emotion, they'll feel like my mom gets it. My teacher gets it and they can calm down and then you'll see the behavior kind of decrease the, the unwanted behavior. So I think that's one helpful, easy strategy.

Dr. Lisa (09:45):

And I think in line with that, you know, really being able to empathize with our kids, that they are struggling so much right now, we see that we feel that we are internalizing that and understanding that, um, it's going to go a long way too. You know, um, as, as one of our favorites, Dr. Ross Greene always says, "kids do well when they can." And I think it's important to note also that as frustrated as we, as the parents are, when our children are dysregulated and subsequently, you know, quote misbehaving, our child is not thrilled with that either. It doesn't feel good to them. They don't want to be tantruming. They don't want to be screaming. They don't want to be getting into these power struggles either. It feels truly out of their control in those moments. And so our response to that really making sure that it comes from an empathic place and not a shaming place that will inadvertently sort of further their negative emotionality and actually probably make the dysregulation even worse, really sort of grounds them and us for handling the situation more effectively.

Leigh Weisz (10:52):

And that's easier said than done <laugh> meaning, meaning as parents we're we see them flooded, right. It triggers us. We're already spread thin. Right. I feel for all the parents out there who are working from home suddenly <laugh> right. And navigating a heck of a lot more, um, it's a lot. And so I wanna be clear that while one tip would be, keep your emotions in check for the parents, because we know that modeling self-regulation and even having a soothing voice and talking slower helps our kids in the heat of the moment when the kid is flailing, it is hard to do that well. Um, so again, in a perfect world, we'd help parents by really, you know, taking their own timeouts, you know, modeling, calming down and coming back after their, again, regulated, but we know we aren't perfect. And unfortunately, this is part of, I think, what, what is also happening in families that we're seeing is the kids are dysregulated the parents then instead of really modeling better regulation are matching the intensity and it becomes, it escalates. And it becomes really out of control and everyone feels more dysregulated by the end. So, you know, parents need to take care of themselves in whatever way they can.

Amy O. (12:09):

So, this might be skipping around just a little bit, but I'm thinking about some of the inquiries that we've gotten at CATCH since the beginning of the pandemic and this conversation that the three of us are having right now feels to me as though we're talking about the younger set of kids, the dysregulation is in, in that group of kids is more sort of behaviorally outside of themselves. Whereas the teens we're hearing are isolating, they're closing the door to their room. They don't want to come out. They don't want to go to school. They don't want to see their friends that's dysregulation too. Right?

Dr. Lisa (12:47):

Absolutely. I think the, the terms there, or whether or not they're engaging in either externalizing or internalizing behaviors, both of which are, you know, completely symptomatic of the same things, whether we're talking about either, you know, sadness more broadly or depression, more specifically, whether we're talking about anxiety, stresses, traumas, whatever it may be. There are lots of different ways that that can manifest. Um, and certainly I think, you know, trend wise, there is a tendency to be more externalization for the youngsters. And, um, you know, many of the teens that I see in my practice are engaging more in those internalizing behaviors, which also frankly just looks like, um, a lack of motivation to do anything altogether. And so that's spilling over into schoolwork and, and other arenas as well.

Amy O. (13:39):

And so is the strategy similar for parents to try to help them identify the feelings behind this isolation or self harm as you mentioned, or so the, the strategy is the same though, for parents to try to get them to say what it is that's causing them to disregulate in this way. Is that what you're saying?

Leigh Weisz (14:05):

I think that it can be, um, I think that parents can help teens understand their triggers. So God forbid, there's a teenager who is, you know, engaging in self harm or, you know, any other, any other thing that's, that's really counterproductive because they're feeling this intense wave of emotion. Um, the parents can sort of help them to name the emotion and help them ride it. So ride that wave, knowing this, this wave is not gonna last forever, right. We just kind of have to wait it out. It's uncomfortable to feel intense anxiety or intense anger or intense disappointment. I mean, nobody enjoys that, but they're not necessarily dangerous. And so if a therapist or a parent can help a teen to learn, um, how to stay calm, it's really called distress tolerance skills. How to just kind of sit with that and do something else, whether to distract themselves from that or to self soothe, it will pass eventually emotions don't last forever and they don't have to be dangerous. So I, I always try to help people realize if they can kind of get more comfortable being uncomfortable, that in and of itself is a huge life skill.

Dr. Lisa (15:19):

I think parents also very understandably have this incredible urge to fix the problem for their kids or their teens. And that's not necessarily what their teenager needs in that moment. Um, and so while we might want to, you know, come in and say, okay, you're feeling isolated. How do we come up with more social opportunities for you? And what can we do to make this better? Sometimes that can actually feel even more overwhelming for them. And they may not feel quite as, as heard as just simply being there to validate the feeling, to let them know again, that you're recognizing that they're struggling. And then as Leigh said to really just help them ride that even if there isn't necessarily a, a solution to that problem in the imediacy.

Leigh Weisz (16:08):

And sometimes it's a hug, right? Sometimes it's repeating verbatim pretty much what you hear the teen saying. So I always teach parents this, this trick where you say, it sounds like it's a, it's a, an old therapist trick, right? It sounds like, and you repeat pretty much exactly what your teen just said to you. Right. And all of a sudden they'll look at you like, oh my gosh, you get it. And that experience of being heard and being understood is incredibly therapeutic because someone is with you in that intense emotion and gets it like, like Dr. Novak said, it doesn't have to be that they swoop in and problem solve and make it all better. And unfortunately, we usually can't as they get to be teenagers, because the problems are a little bit more bigger. We can't pick up the phone and call mom and problem solve. Right. It's, it's usually at that point, a bigger, a bigger thing that they have to deal with.

Amy O. (16:58):

So the validation of what they're feeling is a gigantic piece of this. And what I think I hear you guys saying is that we should not be afraid of saying the words of saying the emotions of validating what's happening, even though they could be frightening emotions.

Dr. Lisa (17:16):

Yes. And, and I actually am. I'm thinking about the part, one of your question too, and I think it ties in really nicely here. You had asked Amy about this idea of do we have to change our expectations as parents right now? Um, and I, and I think my answer to that is an overwhelming yes. Just as much as we are feeling flooded. I think part of that is that there are so many different areas of our lives where things may not be going as well as we want them to, and to feel like we have to solve it all, or be right back to, you know, pre COVID times in terms of our socialization and in terms of our, um, academic achievement and in terms of our emotion regulation and all of these other things just feels like an, a completely unfair and unrealistic expectation.

Dr. Lisa (18:09):

And so I've been doing a lot of encouraging for the families that I work with to really pick the battles here and change our expectations in a few arenas, really focusing primarily on the, the emotional health of our kids. And so if this is all playing out in terms of work, not getting turned in or grades slipping a little bit, I understand that that can be a concern I really very much do. And we also know that if kids are struggling emotionally, they're simply not available for learning. And so when we are helping them become more regulated emotionally, we are in turn going to help them later manage those other arenas of their life more successfully too.

Leigh Weisz (18:59):

We should absolutely be a little bit more empathic and understanding when they're falling apart a little bit. And again, I think adults are too. If, if we're honest with ourselves, I think you're gonna see adults sort of losing it a little bit more than they wish they, they would. So it is, we haven't certainly we haven't gone back to normal right yet.

Amy O. (19:18):

Since I I'm the, um, representative parent in this conversation, I do think I need to ask or have us converse about all of us parents, you two included I'm sure are at the ends of our rope sometimes. This is an exhausting time of life and stressful. So how do we access our own place of calm our own place of rational, our own place of, yep. I'm the parent, I'll be the adult here. I'm not gonna lose my mind. Like what are some strategies that you can give to us to help us be able to engage with our kids in this positive manner to help them become more regulated?

Leigh Weisz (20:06):

I think what you're describing is the, age old the put on your own oxygen mask first idea. Which sounds cheesy I know, but it really is true and everyone's self care looks a little bit different. Um, but the idea that we as parents need to tend to ourselves in order to stay calm and regulated and model that and deal with all of this is really true. And so it could be as simple as, you know, eating right, getting exercise, getting enough, sleep, getting a massage, having adult time, you know, leaving the house, getting fresh air, you know, being in nature, having some informal support groups, whether it's, you know, like a group of mom, friends, um, or an actual therapy, whatever you need. I have one client who loves nature and she will go on and, you know, and, and take, you know, trips outside, you know, just two nights by herself. So you need to have all of those things working for you, whatever that looks like in your own life, in order to be able to do this hard work, which it is at all stages, whether they're little toddlers or teenagers, it's hard work.

Dr. Lisa (21:19):

One of the best forms of self care is, is just more compassion with ourselves that we're actually not going to get it right all the time. And that that's okay. I think, you know, we often expect, you know, some form of perfection as parents, and then we, you know, get so upset with ourselves and the guilt and the shame just spirals. When we do have that parenting moment where we didn't keep our cool, the way that we had really hoped to, and we didn't walk away when we wished that we had, and being able to go back and say that doesn't make me a terrible parent and this, I haven't done any irreparable damage here and actually using it as an opportunity to repair and to move through and to model for our kids that we too are not perfect, that we will make mistakes, but that we can come together and work through that as well. I know that's something I'm always working on for myself.

Leigh Weisz (22:16):

And there's an old phrase that be a good enough mother, you know, Winnicott, or Freud? Way old school. Winnicott. So that idea that you're not supposed to be perfect. And there's definitely no way you're gonna be perfect during this pandemic that we've been experiencing. So, or any major stressor in life. So being empathic. Absolutely. Um, I agree with Dr. Novak being empathic is hugely important with yourself. And again, being a parent of younger children, like sometimes I feel guilty if I need to put them in front of a screen, because I know screen time is not great for the kids, but it's like sometimes it's okay. And just to know, I need this for me right now. I need, I need the hour right. So just understanding we, we all all possible be perfect.

Amy O. (23:04):

Giving our parents some specific strategies. Let's imagine that we've all taken a nice walk in nature and counted to 10 and we are now ready to sort of help our kids access the way they're feeling so that we can, you know, get to the bottom really of what the behaviors are that we're seeing. Other than I wonder if you're feeling scared, the way you suggest to Dr. Weisz, are there any other specific strategies that you can give to parents, maybe both of younger kids and of teens to really help them access those emotions?

Leigh Weisz (23:39):

Yes. And, and I think, um, one of them is by coaching them. So parents can coach kids and teenagers through distressing situations, how to stay calm, right. Basically how to practice staying calm in their bodies. So, uh, an example, most kids tend to be a little bit, uh, I would call addicted to screens. So it is simply taking away an electronic device, an iPad, a video game can cause an outburst, a behavioral outburst, right. And we see this with teams all the time, um, and younger ones as well. So parents can coach kids through this by saying, I know it's really hard when you have to say, say goodbye or end your electronic time. I know you really look forward to this each day or each week or whatever. Um, but we can't scream and throw things or whatever they're seeing when it's time to be done with, you know, screen time.

Leigh Weisz (24:36):

So we're gonna practice this and you scaffold it. So you make it a simpler thing at first, like maybe we're gonna just practice. I'm gonna give you the iPad for two minutes and we're gonna practice you, giving it back to me really nicely, and then we're gonna do it again. You know, you don't make them be in their like most, um, intense moment of they're gonna beat their best level ever and then try this right. And you can reward them for good behavior because again, it feels good in your body and the kids' bodies, if they can stay calm. So you're kind of giving them little practices and staying calm and rewarding them. And as they are older and even little ones, you can give them tools for how to stay calm, whether it's, you know, breathing a lot of the sensory work, like think of, you know, again, squishing something, if that's helpful or sucking a lemon drop and really thinking about the intense lemony flavor can be anything with the senses, engaging them, but helping parents, coach kids in teens through just sitting with the discomfort and tolerating it rather than having this huge reaction externally or internally.

Dr. Lisa (25:40):

I think any opportunities to start sort of reimposing some of that additional structure and, and predictability is really helpful as well. So previewing with our kids or teens, what is actually coming next or what the weekend is gonna look like or helping them to create additional structure around when it's time to do our homework and you know, what are the expectations and the plans around that. So that there's a little bit more mutual understanding and they can kind of prepare themselves for what's to come, instead of feeling constantly surprised or disappointed in the moment, which is gonna inherently increase. I think the emotionality,

Leigh Weisz (26:24):

You're about control too Um, Dr. Novak. So like helping them have some control over decisions in their life. So you give them a menu of two acceptable choices about their schedule, let's say, so they at least feel like they're being heard and you know, because again, we're living in a world that feels a lot out of our, out of our control.

Amy O. (26:42):

It sort of seems like the, the goal is help our kids understand and help ourselves understand what's driving our kids' behavior, identifying that, validating that feeling, but then eventually moving towards sort of the dialectic. Yep. You feel stinky today. You feel scared today. You feel, however you still need to come down to dinner or go to school or whatever it might be. Is that sort of how you see this conversation about dysregulation moving forward? Like,

Leigh Weisz (27:18):

Yes, it's a balance. You can't, you can't just say, okay, they're feeling intensely anxious. So I'm gonna keep them home from school forever. Right. It's like understanding, I really know the situation at school is stressful and scary and we gotta figure out a way to get you through it because if you don't get through that, it's going to actually get worse. Right. We wanna give you the practice being successful, sitting with some of that anxiety, lowering it a little bit, sitting with it and getting through it.

Amy O. (27:45):

Does dysregulation ever look like a kid who comes home from junior high or high school and does homework for seven straight hours? Is that also considered dysregulation of some sort like we were talking about a kid who might struggle over his homework or say, forget it. I don't wanna do this. This is boring. I hate this, whatever, but they're also the kids who are burying themselves and never looking up.

Dr. Lisa (28:09):

It's a really great question. I'm not sure that I would define that behavior as dysregulation, but I do think that it absolutely can be associated with negative emotions. So, or with things like anxiety and stress and can be an, a coping mechanism that is not a healthy coping mechanism. And so it's a way that they're seeking control. You know, the one thing that I have control over in my life right now is getting those straight A's. And so I am going to work myself to the bone to get those straight A's at the cost of my mental health and my sleep and my, you know, good, healthy eating habits and all these other things. Um, and so I, I think that that can pose a world of challenges on its own. I don't know that I would lump it necessarily in the group of dysregulation.

Amy O. (29:01):

Okay. That makes sense.

Leigh Weisz (29:02):

I, I will say I have a colleague who's in eating disorder therapist. Um, and what you're asking kinda reminds me of, she was just saying, people are at such extremes. So like you're describing this boy who's extreme, you know, focusing six hours, seven hours on his homework as, as a way to control. I'm sure some of the anxiety and feelings and the eating disorder specialists would say, they've never seen a greater incidence of eating disorders, unfortunately as during the pandemic. Because again, people would just be like, how can I control things that are so out of control? Well, I, no one can make me eat, but me, I can control my eating or, or exercise for five hours a day or, or whatever. So I think we are seeing some extreme behaviors and I think it is about control in, in the end.

Amy O. (29:44):

Do you think it's surprising to parents that this pandemic has taken such a, an effect on their kids? Like I think sometimes parents think, look, I'll take care of all of this. We're fine. Everything will just be fine. I've got this. You just huddle in and do your thing. And I wonder if parents have even really given enough credence to the effects that all of this uncertainty and change has had on their children.

Dr. Lisa (30:09):

And I think what I would say to that is it feels to me like many parents, you know, particularly those around here in our community did, or at least at this point do seem to understand the, the adverse impact of some of this. And so when our children were at home and trying remote learning and everything just felt extremely chaotic, I think there was more of like a one to one connection between emotions in that. What I'm finding now is that, um, a lot of people seem to think, well, they're back at school. Now life looks mostly normal again for them. And now there's a disconnect with why are they still feeling so dysregulated? Why is there still so much negative emotionality mm-hmm <affirmative>? And so it's that piece about it takes time and the regression that's happened. And the long term impacts of this level of stress and anxiety and uncertainty. And again, as, as Leigh was talking about the trickle down effect of that, it has had, and still has on the parents and the teachers and those that we have surrounded ourselves with. Um, I think that's the part that we're having a little bit of a harder time making sense of,

Leigh Weisz (31:25):

And even just the school. I mean, I know they're, they're back and it's wonderful believe me, but you know, you see them, if you've ever volunteered at lunch, you see how they sit at their lunch table and it's, it's weird. I mean, they're six feet apart, you know, like at these long, you know, tables with, so they can't really chit chat. So life is back in a way to normal, but it's still not. And I think the kids are still feeling that, um, I think they don't really get a lot of practice just being unstructured with, with their friends, you know, at least at these younger stages because of kind of the shifts we've had to make. So I think they're still feeling a lot. Um, and we just, we do have to acknowledge, um, Amy, to your point that this is still really hard.

Leigh Weisz (32:08):

Um, I do wanna say on a more positive note, um, cause this seems very heavy. I do wanna say that I also see kids being very resilient. Um, and so part of my brain always goes to like, wow, they've been through so much. And yet they're totally able to do a lot more, you know, than I would expect in certain ways. So I think we see both, we see the resilience, which is really wonderful. Again, the kids don't seem, for example, to mind, a lot of the kids don't seem to mind wearing the masks and they're happy to just be with their friends. They appreciate the littler things. So that's always really heartwarming to see. Um, they're really grateful for things they might not have thought about before just taken for granted.

Amy O. (32:45):

That's a good place for us to kinda end since it's a little bit of a up note. I feel as though the three of us could continue to talk for a long time, but we are gonna keep this to a reasonable time limit here. So Leigh, we do have a couple questions that we like to ask of all of our podcasters personal questions. Would you mind answering them for us?

Leigh Weisz (33:06):

Sure.

Amy O. (33:06):

Following in the footsteps of some of the podcasters, we listen to Brene Brown, we like to follow up with our guests by asking, what do you do to calm yourself when you're feeling escalated?

Leigh Weisz (33:19):

That's a great question. I mean, in, in the short term, like if I'm in my house, <laugh> I think, um, I absolutely will, um, on a good day, at least excuse myself, and make a cup of hot tea, you know, um, really, truly just need to have the physical space. And I try to, I hope, I hope the kids realize that too. Like if they're feeling intensely emotional, it's kind of good. It's a good strategy to sometimes just have space right to yourself in that moment. Um, but longer term, I get a lot out of being in nature and walking. So I don't love, you know, necessarily like, like bootcamp exercise, but being outside on a walk with a friend, having a cup of coffee in my hand, that feels really good in nature to me. So even on a winter day, I'll bundle up and do that. I listen to music also. I can always listen to a musical and it will put, put a smile on my face. Can do a little tap dance for five minutes.

Amy O. (34:14):

Have you listened? Have you listened to SIX?

Leigh Weisz (34:17):

No, I have to. I have not. But yeah, music changes your mood really pretty quickly.

Dr. Lisa (34:22):

Thank you, Leigh. And our last question was what is the one message that you want everyone to know about mental health?

Leigh Weisz (34:29):

I'm really grateful that we live in an area where it seems like many people, not all, but many people feel comfortable asking for help. We've noticed even in our waiting room because we're a group practice that, um, well, at least pre COVID in our waiting room, people were chitchatting with each other and did not seem to feel a sense of shame at needing help, you know, wanting help. And so I think that that's just so important to continue to be open with friends, with family, to be vulnerable because it always feels better to know we're not alone. And I think that if you, if people are really honest, everyone needs support, especially during this time, but there's nothing shameful about asking for help.

Amy O. (35:11):

Yeah. To echo what you said as, as we conclude here, parenting is difficult parenting during this time is particularly difficult. We are really grateful that you gave us the time you did today and all of your wisdom so that we can continue to do the best we can.

Leigh Weisz (35:28):

My absolute pleasure. And thank you for having me.

Dr. Lisa (35:30):

Thanks for joining us Leigh.

Amy O. (35:32):

Thanks for joining us for another episode of CATCH Conversations. Parenting the Mental Health Generation.

Dr. Lisa (35:38):

Stay current on all CATCH programming by liking us on Facebook @CATCHiscommunity or by visiting our website CATCHiscommunity.org.

Amy O. (35:48):

If you don't have your mental health, you don't have anything. There is a community of people out there that understands, find it.