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The Smiling Mind Podcast
The Smiling Mind Podcast

Season 1, Episode 4 · 1 year ago

Kids and corona with Maggie Dent and Andrew Jones

ABOUT THIS EPISODE

Coronavirus presented a real threat to our community in Australia. Parents and teachers had to deal with the upending of routine, kids learning from home and a lot more time together in social isolation. Parenting expert Maggie Dent joins Dr Addie Wootten for a conversation about resilience and collective trauma and educator Andrew Jones discusses how schools can adapt and grow in the aftermath of a crisis. You can find hundreds of guided meditations and resources dedicated to families and children on the Smiling Mind website. Get in touch with us at podcast@smilingmind.com.au or call the podcast phone on 1800 955 700. This episode was produced by Elsa Silberstein.

Hi, I'm Dr Addie wooten. I'm a clinical psychologist and CEO of smiling mind. In this podcast series called thrive inside, I interview experts and real people about how to keep mentally healthy during uncertainty and disruption. Today we're talking about parenting during coronavirus. The covid nineteen pandemic, has placed a huge amount of pressure and stress on families across Australia. First we were asked to be teachers as kids learned from home, and now we're having to deal with getting back on track and figuring out what a new normal looks like, with financial and work pressures in the mix as well. On this episode I have two experts taking us through how families can best deal with the experience of disruption. You'll hear from Andrew Jones, an expert in teacher development who advises schools on best practice. But First Maggie Dent is here. Maggie is one of Australia's favorite experts on parenting and educating kids. You might know her as the queen of Common Sense. She's been a teacher, a counselor and worked in suicide prevention. Maggie is the host of the podcast parental as anything and has authored eleven books about improving the lives of parents and kids. Welcome Maggie to our thrive inside add podcast. It's at my absolute pleasure. Thank you for asking me. I've been such a champion of smiling mind for such a long time, so thank you for putting me on this wonderful list of good people. How you're a you're a wonderful champion of our work and also and a massive advocate and support resource for parents across Australia and the world. And I'm curious that today we're talking about, you know, parenting and family experiences during this pandemic and beyond as we come out the other side. I'm interested making you talk about the sense of this collective trauma that we're going through during this pandemic. Can you talk a little bit about how you think this pandemic will have impacted on families and the Family Unit? So what a traumatic event is? That's an adverse event that is significantly impacts a person or a group of people over a period of time that has the possibility of kind of playing out in their life well after the event is finished. And took us a while to really tweak on this because because our number one job is humans is to survive. where? Why? First to survive and second to be smart or kind or happy. And so this pandemic because at a massive threat that it could get away here in Australia, as it has in other parts of the world. So yes, we can die, but it's also the sense of not only my family, my neighborhood, my community, my town, my city, my state, my country, the globe. And that's really interesting, isn't it? There's so that that collective trauma has the you know, it connects us all, doesn't it end there? And the intensity of that experience, given it it is on such a global scale. I love that idea that you're talking about that actually, through that trauma we've actually built collective maybe it's collective resilience or collective support for each other, that idea that we're all going through this and we need to reach out and support each other and connect to get through it. Can I just jump in their emotional buoyancy isn't learnt by living a wonderful, sweet life. We get it roses everywhere. It's actually not not that we want to force our children to experience adversity, but I'm going to say this generation of kids is one day going to look back ...

...and talk to their grandchildren saying, wow, the streets were closed, the shops were closed, there was no toilet paper, but we got through that. So again we need to give our kids that message over and over again that bad things can happen to good people, bad things can happen unexpectedly and that we absolutely are wired as humans to recover from it and one day you will be stronger for this, even though it's pretty young and we wish it hadn't happened. I agree. Unfortunately, our world seems to have more and more uncertainty and, you know, things coming up that we don't expectly this year is a good example of that. That also connects in with as a parent. You want to try and do everything right and you want to be the best possible parent, but actually modeling you know that you don't get everything right all the time and that there's no perfect way to be a parent is actually really important as well, and to show that to two kids so that they're learning from the people that they love. Would you agree with that totally? Any I encourage in my resilience work, which was based on my second book, real kids, and number of a world building resilients and children. And I kept saying to them that we've kind of and I think it's a flow on from this self esteem movement where we didn't want our children to be disappointed or sad. Well, you don't learn to manage disappointment and say it. So one of the things you would have noticed is what change was past the parcel. All of a sudden everyone got prizes. So we all thought we were making our lives better for our children. But I absolutely argue for you, under five is a great space to your learn how it feels when you don't get what you want, how it feels when you lose and you fail, and the strategies to deal with that. So you know again, the first thing we do for a child who doesn't get what they want to feel sad, and this is a really big message to everyone out there, is this. You know the pandem. It's going to go for a while. So they're going to be days your kids are going to struggle, that they're not weak, you're responding authentically to an uncertain world. Is that we've all I don't see. You can feel a bit like that kind of and it can. It can make it a bit hard, can it? So we validate that it sucks. We want to take them from the flooding of the Cortisol, which is too much dressed, to creating the more positive neurochemicals, because we are the main source of we redirection in our homes, and I think that's the reason there's been so much lovely cooking, you know, because what happened is we got shut down. Let's bake some pikelets, like, let's cook something together, because it cooking together triggers the endorphins of connection and Love, plus high fat, high sugar. Yep, and if we've all got a little bit more of us, that's okay because it's a survival. So again, I think parents were really beating themselves up. They couldn't fix kind of the world and then they couldn't fix and keep the children happy who wanted to get outside and run, particularly parents boys. But natural fact you are already doing things in your home environment that was bringing that like I caught it. The sympathetic in the parasympathetic nervous system. The sympathetic nervous is supposed to be fired up that's our job. It's to protect us. But the power of sympathetic, which is what you and I love, is the one where we come and rest, digest, relax and if we can keep those pockets happening. And someone said to me, Oh so if I can fit. I said, can you breathe deeply? Have you tried yawning in front of your children and stretching? But have you tried sighing? And there are going off. I thought I was signed too much. said all of these things are things that you're already automatically wired to do in front of your children. Of course, it would be lovely if you could all lay down and do a group you know, can closed eye exercise or one of your beautiful audios on smiling mind at and however, there are little things that the tickle on the head, the tickle spot on the back, you know, the hug as we walk past, increasing the warmth in your house. You know, there were just little time and that's why I did a whole series...

...of Maggie soothes, because I just wanted to remind parents that you don't have to go and do an online course. You just have to be reminded of things that you've done in the past, but because you're also wired up at the moment, you forgetting about the things that actually build neurochemicals that are actually comforting and soothing. Yeah, well, that's exactly right. That the simplicity of mindfulness. Know, if you think about it, mindfulness is about paying attention to what you're doing right now in a really open and curious way, and we can do that with everything that we do. We don't have to wait to be sitting comfortably in a chair and guided by a meditation. We can bring that into everything we do and we can teach that to kids really simple or maybe the our kids can teach it to us, because they pay attention to those things. That is exactly the natural state of young children. If you've ever been for a walk with a toddler and they've just got fascinated with a dead leaf and they just pause to honestly, and we're in that hurry up mode. And I think I have noticed now that I I'm I've got men, obviously I've got some grandkids. I'm really mindful when I'm with them. I walk very slowly. I didn't as a mother because it's a bit different, but I have noticed just that when I'm with them a little now. I have slowed down even even more in their presence because, you know, and that's one of the things I think I hope we can take forward, is that we've had an enormous reminder of what really matters. Yeah, well, and and isn't that a great opportunity for all of us to take stock and think about how are we going to live our lives into the future? What do we want to take with us? I think that's a very good thought starter for all of us to have a think about. Maybe we're coming to the end of our time and I would love to ask you three really quick questions. What are you reading, what are you watching and what are you cooking at the moment? Okay, I'm reading Richard Loose latest book about and being in nature and nature experiences. My goodness, it's beautiful. What I'm watching our am able to get back to my favorite kind of program so I'm a bit of a silent witness and a shit and kind of person. I like the slow moving English stuff, so I dive back into that. And cooking on my Gosh, my good man and I got a bit competitive. He's a very good cook and he cooked the most spectacular knocky one night. Not that. I've just got to go a lot higher up. So I really actually dived into some recipe books, to haven't done for years. I've done some amazing stir fries with seafood and my new squid recipe is exquisite. So, yeah, cooking that's actually got a bit more of you know, I'm putting a little bit more effort into it because taken competitions that. Yeah, I think like I hate to say that, but there's definitely competition going on now and I am able to see my grandis. So this weekend we've got some come of guy. So we've got some serious baking to do with our grandis and I have done some skype cooking with them over this time, which was not something I would have ever thought out. So I'm sitting on the bench with them chatting away while they're doing bits and pieces. That's actually been like quite fun. Yeah, I think that's there's something to take away from that, isn't there? Particularly I mean if we've got friends or family that are not in the same city as us, we can you know, I've got a whole new appreciation for how we can use zoom and connect with people that. Thank maybe your wisdom is enormous and we could talk for hours. I think I would strongly encourage everyone to jump onto your podcast, parental as anything, and to check out your Maggie soothers, because I think there's a lot in there to help families in lots of different ways,...

...particularly now as we come back out of this pandemic and there will still be anxiety and there will be some fear, as we talked about at the start of our conversation. So thank you so much for joining us, maggy. Thank you, and I just want to remind people that there is truck loads of this free on my website. I'm very committed to getting information out for free. So Youtube has the soothes and parental as anything is completely free, and my last blog was actually writing about recovering from this because I wanted everyone to be aware of something. It's going to take a little bit of time. We actually stay in a little bit of stress mode well after an event. It's finish and we don't even know when it's going to finish. And can I just thank you are going for everything you do in that amazing organization and let's hope we meet back in real time. We will. You've all got this him letting Nicole, and I'm currently working the school psychologist, as I've been supporting their mental health, of student, family, staff members and sort of the wider community. I all have also need to check in with myself, and usually I didn't realize the impact that it was having on me personally. I wasn't getting my typical stress symptoms, but little things I was not sting, such as wanting silence when I was driving in the car and sleep in a little bit more unusual. So since then, for the past eight week, have been really consciously trying to maintain a routine for myself. That helps, and I've been loving my morning walks or yoga. So, as an actually busy person who likes the challenge, I also noticed, I think, lastly, cans the first time since I can remember, that actually have no plans and it was just what I do next, or whatever I fear like doing next. Hi, my name is sophy. Would I hope you're all doing well during the covid crisis at the moment, but what I'm really worried about is moving to England in June. Because England's got covid nineteen way worse in Australia, and also I'm quite worried about making new friends in a new school. When schools do reopen England. You can get in touch with us to tell us about how your new normal is going on on eight hundred, nine, five, five, seven hundred. Andrew Jones is a learning and education consultant. He's been a principal at a government school in Victoria and an education researcher at the University of Melbourne. Andrew is passionate about supporting the educational outcomes of young people and he's got four of them at home. Welcome Andrew to our thrive inside podcast. It's great to have you. How are you going during this social isolation? How is your family been going? Thanks, Eddie. Thanks for having here. It's terrific opportunity to talk with you about things that so important. Being a really interesting time, I think big ticket eye and the theme that sort of dropped out of this most importantly is this idea of self awareness and having a renewed understanding of what I'm finding is most important my priorities in my life as a father and as a husband and as a as an educator, as a professional, but self awareness has been something that's been prompted by these rather unusual set of circumstances which were dealing with. Absolutely, I mean we've seen huge changes to home life, haven't we, with homeschooling and working from home and all of the chaos that comes in between all of those things. I don't we know, I've you've talked about, what do you call it? Parents as partners in terms of kids schooling. Can you tell us a little bit about what you mean as parents as partners, and what role do you think parents play in in their...

...children's learning? And you know, I mate, what have we learned out of this period of time where many parents have been teaching their kids at home or at least supporting their learning at home? Yeah, absolutely, like I mean, I have a strong philosophical belief that the parent is the primary and the first and most important teacher. You know child's life, you know, and I think previous ideas around parents being engaged in their child learning and the school facilitating that in some ways are a little disrespectful and they don't value the role of that parent in that child's growth and development. You know from from from conception and and I think what this period of time is has made clear to most in very, very palpable ways, is how important that role is going to continue to be. In some ways the formal school system acts as a as a as a pseudo parent. You know, there are there are proxy for parenting in many ways and that's part of the school system and the school system shouldn't student apologize for that and we should accept that that's the truth. I think what we've seen now is a sort of a more balanced perspective and a more balanced relationship between the the professional workforce that work in schools and support students growth and development and the parent, and whether that's just been through insight that the families now have about their child as a learner in a full learning context. I think this is been very important part of it and you think about some of the models of practice for mindfulness, aything about awareness. Families are now more aware of their child as a owner. You know, I mean, I just I can say this because he's my child, so I'd have to say anything. But you know, I've seen some really strong parallels between my youngest and me as a learner. You know, I had a view of what he was and how he acted. He's learning behaviors, but those being challenged somewhat. You know, in he can't sit still for very long. Now I can't all that and that's okay. And so I think there's there's been a real important resettling and balance between the formal learning environment in school and the Home Learning and growth of development program at home. You're probably not alone in get gaining new awareness and insights into what your kids are like in terms of learners. I'm sure there are millions of parents around the globe that are suddenly aware of all of the complexities of learning and teaching and you know the challenges, I suppose that our amazing educator's face. I'm curious understand your experience and thoughts about the role of mindfulness in in learning at school and at home. When we talk about mindfulness and education, it's often there's a misconception that these two things exists separately. The really important thing about principles of mindfulness and the mindsets that we are trying to encourage through mindful practice, whether it be formal practice or informal practice, a pre preconditions for learning. Their their priming agents for learning. They enable people to make connections between content, people to make connections between ideas, support and sustained relationships between individuals and groups. They make meaning. The idea of mindfulness for me and its role in learning is that it it validates and supports deep meaning and enables people to be able to find their own path and to be able to define what success looks like for them, which is a very different idea than, you know,...

...previous paradigms of learning, which was around, you know, the memorization and rote memorization of facts and figures which, as we know now, are more, significantly more important for our students, in our young people to be able to build these these learning dispositions, in these mindsets that we can talk about, you know, often, unfortunately, as being soft skills. But with there are a whole lot more than that, aren't they? Added you know, these are these key competencies, these are the things that that employers are looking for and in fact, you know what we know about things such as self regulation and emotional regulations, these ideas are far more predictive of long term health and educational and economic outcomes for individuals then Iq. You know, their foundational principles. They are the building box, they are the blue stone of our learning programs in schools. Yeah, I you've touched on a passion area for me. I think I couldn't agree with you more that when we labeled skills like that soft skills, it diminishes their importance and I think this spirit of time in particular has really shown to us the importance of of those person like human skills, hasn't it? Like we need to be able to navigate uncertainty, we need to be able to reach out and talk to people and ask for help when we need it. We need to know how to connect and, you know, maybe, going back to your earlier point, that sense of you know that that that tribe or that community being able to really like maybe mindfulness is the way that we can actually build those really powerful communities of learning and support for parents and for teachers and that connection between schools. I love that idea. Do you think we're asking schools to take on too much? Are they juggling too many things at earlier you talked about the role that schools are playing in terms of parenting. Even you know, do you think we're asking too much of schools really, really good question, one that we've been considering for some time, I think. I think we've been asking schools to do in an awesome amount, not unfairly and not without reason, but those requests and requirements are significant. I think what we're big knowledging now is how enormous those requests I mean, for example, I, like you know, churches don't, didn't, don't do now what they want did. So schools are responsible for delivering a whole range of programs around values, education, helping build the society. So there's a societal building aspect to it. You know, we're seeing firsthand the result of the economic result of parents in the workforce or not being in the workforce with having kids at home. So there's a significant economic, federal economic challenges as a result. It's and the schools are passed with the responsibility of doing that, not not, you know, without reason, and not unfairly, you know, but there's the swimming and then there's the art program then there's The sports program and then there's the after school care and then there's the camping experience because, you know, kids don't spend enough time in the outdoors as they once did. So schools have been asked to do an enormous amount and if we spoke about, you know, what is the role of schooling, we would get a laundry list of ideas that extend from, you know, helping kids be better human beings to being able to, you know, read and write. Teachers do feel overwhelmed. You know, the research around principle and teacher health and WELLBE is. It's damning. And again, the role and support of families in there. You know, we can't do it alone. Yeah, what do we all doing to make sure that we're taking time out to look after ourselves? Because you can't be a good teacher or a good parent or a good counselor if you're not looking after yourself. So maybe now is a good time to...

...try meditation or mindfulness or something else that helps you a day. We are coming to the end of our time at I'm asking everyone that I talk to you three questions. What are you reading at the moment? What are you watching and what are you cooking? Well, I'm making an awful lot of cocktails. That's what I'm cooking. I actually my daughter does a lot of the lot of the cooking, which is terrific. Why I hope we're out, but I'm doing a lot of cocktails. I'm reading Peterson Gay's schools that learn pourting me in understanding the ways in which social and communal learning systems play out. Terrific Book and the the the watching. Not a lot of sport, which I normally would. I'm watching a lot of Netflix with my wife. Were currently what we're going through and watching breaking down good one a thank you so much for being part of our podcast. I'm sure there are many parents out there that are and educators and nonparents who are listening and have learned a lot about your philosophy and how, how, in how intricate and it and integrated learning between school and home can be and the Ben if it's that we can see when that when we do that successfully. So thank you very much for your openness and your knowledge. Always pleasure with beautifully, beautifully encapsulated then adding it's really really important, the connectedness, the balance. It's really essential. So terrific to be on the PODCAST. It was great to speak to with you once again. Any as always, thanks for listening to thrive inside this series of the smiling mind podcast to accompany you through covid nineteen keep rating and reviewing our podcast and calling the pod phone with your experiences. We love to keep hearing from you. If you want to get in touch and leave us a message, our number is one eight hundred, nine, five, five, seven hundred. You can find hundreds of guided meditations in the smiling mind APP. One of our newest programs is our family program which features meditations for parents and kids to do together. Try the anytime meditations. These are designed to help you and your family reset and refocus, and you can use them at any time. See you next week for a conversation about relationships.

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