Podcast Episode 201: Helping Kids Manage Even The Biggest Feelings – A Your Child Explained Conversation With Mental Health Counselor Janine Halloran

Today’s guest is a true play specialist.

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll all the way down to the bottom of this post and hit the triangular “play” button. Enjoy the show!

In today’s episode with 3-time returning champion Janine Halloran, the conversation goes in all kinds of useful directions, many of which I did not see coming!

Listen to learn more about:
– Big Feelings, the ones Janine says “feel like you can’t contain them in your body”
– How to stop engaging in the all-too-common and dangerous parenting ploy, “positively invalidating” our kids’ feelings
– Whether your young child is lucky, or unlucky, in the expression of feelings (and the HUGE difference this can make in a child’s life)

The Handle the Holidays FREE 5-Day Challenge, designed to help you cut through the BS and really enjoy this time of year, starts in just over a week!
With daily emails that will give you a series of quick wins beamed into your inbox each day of the challenge, and a Facebook live in our private We Turned Out Okay Facebook group on the last day (Friday, December 22, 2017), you’ll have a whole new outlook on how to really enjoy these last days of 2017!
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Key links at weturnedoutokay.com/201 – happy listening! Continue reading “Podcast Episode 201: Helping Kids Manage Even The Biggest Feelings – A Your Child Explained Conversation With Mental Health Counselor Janine Halloran”

Bonus: How to feel less helpless about racism, or Building a World Without Racism

Back in the early 90s, when I was a preschool teacher, I worked with two 4-year-old best friends, “Stacy,” who had lovely chocolate brown skin and eyes, and “Kim,” who had blonde hair and blue eyes.

One day, as these two best buddies waited together in line for the bathroom, Kim innocently looked up at me and said: “I don’t like black people.”

I was speechless – she’s holding the hand of her best friend, who IS a black person, telling me how she doesn’t like black people… It just did not compute.

Until I realized that she did not think of Stacy as a black person; Stacy was her best friend.

She did not know who “black people” were. When she said those words she was parroting the adults in her life.

Metaphorically, I threw up my hands. I felt terrible, but I just did not know what to do. Should I talk to Kim’s parents? Should I talk to Stacy’s parents? Should I try to persuade Kim that she shouldn’t feel that way about black people?

In the end I did nothing, I said nothing. While I spoke of this with my fellow preschool teachers, I never took it any further than that.

But it stayed with me all these years (Kim and Stacy are now in their 20s.)

Maybe you watched just a few days ago with horror as a white supremacists plowed his car into a peaceful protest, killing one and injuring many – and terrifying all.

Maybe you wondered what kind of a world you’re raising a child in.

Maybe you threw up your hands and said “what can I possibly do about this?”

If so, then this bonus episode is for you.

I just finished recording. I couldn’t stop thinking about Kim and Stacy, and also a song from an old musical, South Pacific:

You’ve got to be taught before it’s too late/
Before you are six or seven or eight/
To hate all the people your relatives hate/
You’ve got to be carefully taught!

I was thinking about you, and about how you maybe feel like throwing up your hands and shouting “what can I possibly do about this?”

And I was thinking about Stacy, wondering how many times in her twenty-something years she’s gotten the message from our society that somehow, just because of the way she looks, she is wrong, or bad, or “other.”

And, I was thinking about a We Turned Out Okay listener, named Kerri, who wrote back in May (when We Turned out Okay turned two) with a question:
“I would like to know as a white person what I need to do to be sure my children are not contributing to the racism that is hurting so many.”

I recorded this episode to give us – myself, as much as anyone – a roadmap, some steps to take to build a world in which racism has no part.

Four steps, to be exact; four steps we can take to build a world without racism.

Four steps to help you counter the fear and negativity, four steps to help you help your child understand what racism is, and why it needs to die.

Along the way I talk about a whole bunch of stuff, like a favorite Dr. Seuss book, wise words from several friends of the podcast, and child development theory to help you understand your child better.

Click here to read about the four steps to a world without racism and to get links to the people and podcasts and books I reference during the episode – and thank you very much for listening, for not throwing up your hands and concluding there’s nothing you can do.

Because as the parent of a young child, the key to ending racism is in your hands. Continue reading “Bonus: How to feel less helpless about racism, or Building a World Without Racism”

137: How to Help Your Child Curb Stress and Anxiety: A Conversation with Mom and Mental Health Counselor Janine Halloran

Welcome! To listen to today’s episode, scroll all the way down to the bottom and hit the triangular “play” button. Enjoy the show!

Lots of things can happen over the course of a day to make us all feel anxious…How does your child handle anxiety?

Today’s guest is a true play specialist.

Today licensed mental health counselor, play expert, and mom-to-2 Janine Halloran gives us some wonderful – and very specific – tools to help our kids handle stress.

True to the nature of We Turned Out Okay, my hour-long conversation with Janine covers lots more than this! Janine and her family are spending the year in California, clear across the country from their home in Massachusetts; we talk about how and why the Hallorans took on this move. We also dig into the concept of fidgets, devices to help people concentrate better – and this podcaster realizes that fidgets are more of a thing – in her own life – then she realized.

To read about Janine’s stress-busting advice, get links to some great books about play and her websites on encouraging play and teaching children coping skills, and to listen to the show click weturnedoutokay.com/137!

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“Trust your gut… Go with it… Help your kid.”
– Janine Halloran, in today’s conversation

As parents we often don’t realize the kind of power we have to help our children surmount the anxieties and stresses they may be feeling.

Janine suggests:
– spend time with kids and observe their behavior; kids don’t say to us “I am worried… I am stressed out…” The only way to truly understand the cause of their anxieties is observation.
– kids might be anxious for any number of reasons; even if it’s tough to determine the cause, we can still help… We can teach coping mechanisms, we can listen if our kids are able to talk about their fears, we can support them by spending time with them, talking to them, reading with them, showing them in our behavior how to best handle stress and anxiety
– we can encourage the use of fidgets! The idea of a piece of Velcro under a desk, putty or play dough to squeeze, or a small ribbon or piece of felt to hold – specifically to help people concentrate – is new to me.

Fidgets were a true revelation: it turns out I use them for myself all the time!

Maybe you do, too.
(If you’re a hair twirler, you most certainly are using a fidget : )

Key Links

Click here for Janine’s Coping Skills for Kids website; click here for her Encourage Play website. In both places you’ll find more resources and suggestions for alleviating stress and encouraging curiosity and creativity.

To listen to my first conversation with Janine, click here.

Click here to check out Positive Discipline Ninja Tactics: Key Tools to Handle Every Temper Tantrum, Keep Your Cool, and Enjoy Life With Your Young Child in Amazon; you can even read the introduction for free to determine if my book will be helpful to you.

Here is the link to Not A Box; click here for Not A Stick; click here for the Loose Parts book; and here for the book about Owen and his blanky.

Podcast Episode 034: Why Do Kids Need to Play? A Your Child Explained episode

Podcast Episode 034: Why Do Kids Need to Play? A Your Child Explained Episode

This past Tuesday, I had a great conversation with mom and licensed mental health counselor Janine Halloran of encourageplay.com. Janine specializes in facilitating play, and our conversation ranged from the benefits of play and how little is really required to encourage it, to how endangered open-ended play is in our society.

Today, I want to extend on that conversation, and look at what’s really going on inside a child’s head during play, why it’s so important, and how we can bring more of it into our crazy-busy lives.

First off, kids process things completely differently from adults – and play is what helps them process the events going on around them. Play helps kids understand and make sense of their world, and it’s up to us to remember that both to foster learning and to make our lives run more smoothly.

Secondly, if you want to grab a kid’s attention, start a game! Games help kids clean up, remember routines, and just add some fun into an otherwise humdrum task.

Thirdly, kids learn with their whole bodies, and need all different kinds of play – alone and with others, indoors and out, self-directed and open-ended.

Finally, play helps kids learn to navigate their world and negotiate and resolve conflicts (nonviolently). Studies are showing that kids aren’t learning the kind of negotiation skills that we need to get along in this world, and I share about a study done a few years ago showing just how little playtime kindergarten children get in school. Called The Crisis In The Kindergarten, I hope you’ll read this paper, learn about the study, and work extra hard to get your child more playtime. It’s truly our hope for the future.

I’d like to leave you with a question: how are you getting your child the kind of open-ended play time that every kid needs? Drop me a line and let me know, whether over at the contact page on weturnedoutokay.com or on instagram @weturnedoutokay.

Podcast Episode 033: Play Is The Key With Licensed Mental Health Counselor and Mom Janine Halloran

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From the moment I first read her article on The Many Perks Of Play in the October 2015 issue of baystateparent, I knew I was going to have to talk to Janine Halloran. She explains everything there is to know about play and how it can benefit kids, in a really well-written and entertaining way.

Janine graciously agreed to come on to the show, and our interview is really one of my favorites so far!

Today, Janine shares that play is:

1) critical to the well-being of every human, and even many animals – the skills learned through play are uncountable, our reasoning and thinking skills are honed through play, we even learn how to get along with other people through play

2) endangered in our culture; the average kid’s time is way too structured, which crowds out the potential for open-ended play; since open-ended play is where so much of the magic happens, it’s downright dangerous to have so little of it in a child’s life

3) cheap, and/or free – think about how entertained your kids are just by the boxes that the stuff we buy comes in… we do not have to spend all kinds of crazy money to provide great playthings to our kids

If you take just one thing from today’s episode, I hope it is this: a thriving family needs play, and lots of it. How are you playing with your kids today?

Connect with Janine at her website, encourageplay.com, where she has great advice about helping get more play into your child’s life.