In this episode of VulnerABILITY, Marisa welcomes Janine Halloran, founder of Coping Skills for Kids, to talk about moving through challenging times, navigating quarantine, and supporting children through finding (and celebrating) the good. Janine is a Licensed Mental Health Counselor with over 15 years of experience helping children and adolescents build coping skills in a variety of settings; including schools, mental health clinics, and in her private practice.

Highlights From The Episode:

[1:45] “The thing that got me started, actually, [on the path to] being a therapist, was being in therapy myself as a teenager.”

[2:50] “When kids were having a hard time, they’d say, ‘Oh, well you have them try deep breaths or you have them take a walk, or you have them take a break’…but when the rubber met the road and I was in placement with kids who were really having big emotions, I said, ‘I’m going to need more than this…I need more tools in my toolbelt.”

[3:40] “[It was] a lot of gathering information, gathering what worked well, [and] listening to what my colleagues were telling me.”

[4:15] “There’s power in that, for kids, when they can take some ownership and they can realize and recognize that they have good ideas, and they have things that they can do, and they can recognize what works for them and what doesn’t work for them.”

[4:45] “What we go through as kids impacts us later in life, for years. And sometimes what we go through as kids, we don’t even recognize as traumatic or difficult…or we don’t have those skills in place to know how to get through it.”

[5:15] “[It’s powerful to teach kids], ‘Hey, it’s okay to ask for help and it’s even more empowering to figure out your own ways to help yourself.'”

[5:50] “Why should we not encourage our kids to find what works for them, and what is a healthy strategy for them, and what are their triggers? We all need to figure this stuff out; it makes us better humans!”

[6:00] “[There is power in] identifying, not only what makes me upset or what makes me feel a certain way, but what can I do about it?”

[6:30] “It’s powerful to name your feeling. And then it’s even more powerful when you realize you can do something about it that is healthy and safe.”

[7:30] “Kids are in different places throughout the day…and having different emotions throughout the day. You can take a break really easily at home. You can’t necessarily do that in school… So whenever I talk with kids, I say, ‘You have to have a bunch of different coping skills to help you deal with the emotions that you’re experiencing in that moment, where you are, and what’s helpful to you as a person.”

[7:50] “Are you the type of kid who really likes to move? Then maybe it makes sense for you to do jumping jacks. Are you the type of kid who loves artistic stuff? Do you love to draw, do you love to create poetry – that’s how you can get some of your emotions out.”

[9:40] “One of the silver linings [of COVID-19] is the opportunity for parents to connect, for kids to connect, for families to get together, and also for that downtime, that playing time.”

[10:00] “That playing time is huge, and I find that when I play with my kids now—who are almost ten and twelve—that time is so powerful.”

[12:30] “You don’t want to do it [technology time] too much, but you also want to utilize it in a way that is helpful. In a way that connects, not disconnects.”

[14:00] “I think we need to talk about it. You know, inviting, the questions of the kids. And instead of us coming to them like, ‘I’m so worried about school.’ Instead, hearing what their concerns are.”

[14:40] “I think we need to make sure that we’re not putting our negative or our worries on our kids, but actually hearing what their concerns are. Because I think they have different concerns than we think they’re going to have.”

[16:50] “No one’s going to be happy [with school reopening changes] but we need to find a way to move through it. And the way through it is through communication.”

[18:40] “We have to catch ourselves: ‘That’s my feeling, not their [my child’s] feeling.”

[20:00] “Give yourself grace. I always find that when I’m trying to do too much, or when my plate is really full, ior when I’m trying to get a lot accomplished, that’s when my nerves are fried and when it’s hard for me to really relax and see a situation in a more accurate way, or ao positive way.”

[21:15] “I need to chill out. I need to step back and find ways to be really present for my kids because it works better when I do that.”

[21:50] “It’s okay to be mad about this. Talk about it…It’s weird that you can’t go and hug your cousins. It’s weird that you can’t go to the soccer field…It’s weird, and it stinks, and it’s not fun.”

[22:20] “Try to find fun where you can and try to make things more playful and fun where you can. Maybe you picnic in your house. Maybe you camp in your backyard.”

[23:20] “Getting creative about stuff and being okay with it not being perfect. It’s not going to be perfect, but to be also grateful [along the way]… Look for the good.”

[23:50] “What are the things that are going well? When you pay attention to those things, you start seeing more of those things.”

[24:10] “Every day may not be good. But there is good in every day.”

[24:35] “Looking for those good moments, looking for those moments of connection, those moments of spark and of joy that you can find, wherever they are. Even if they’re tiny.”

[25:20] “Sometimes I need to teach myself to rest so that I can unconsciously teach my kiddo to rest.”

[29:00] “I just want to encourage families, especially adults — don’t’ forget about yourself. Make sure that you have a little fun doing something that you enjoy, too. It can’t just be about only focusing on the kids. You matter, too. You should be on your list. And you should be doing something fun.”

Recommended Resources:

For more episodes of the VulnerABILITY Podcast, click here.