Dr. Abigail Gewirtz on Helping Kids Find Hope & Optimism in the Most Challenging Times
Since my guest for today’s episode, Dr. Abigail Gewirtz, was on the show just over two years ago near the start of the COVID pandemic, the world has continued to go through increasingly complicated and challenging times. I know many of us have struggled to find ways to help our children feel hope and optimism about the state of the world — the war in Ukraine, a spate of school shootings, a very polarized political landscape, and catastrophic weather events.
So I invited Abigail, the author of the wonderful book When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids, back on the show to explore the questions: is it possible to find hope and optimism even when things around us feel so unpredictable and chaotic, and if so, how can we cultivate this for our kids in an authentic way? In our conversation, Abigail shares her ideas for doing that, ways we adults can manage our own fear and worries to be able to show up for our kids, and the importance of guiding kids toward something that makes them feel purpose and meaning.
About Dr. Abigail Gewirtz
Dr. Abigail Gewirtz is a child psychologist and professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development (ranked the world’s third-leading institution of its kind). Her career has been devoted to developing and testing award-winning, skills-based parenting programs to promote children’s resilience.
Dr. Gewirtz has consulted for and presented to national and international organizations, including the US Congress and UNICEF, on parenting. She has conducted research in the US, Asia, the Middle East, and Africa, and has been invited to speak throughout the world on parenting in times of stress. Dr. Gewirtz’s most recent book is When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- What Abigail is seeing in her work over the past two years regarding of the state of the world and the impact on kids and families
- How adults can manage their own pain, fear, and worries so they can show up for their kids
- Whether it’s possible for our kids to feel optimism in the midst of growing up in heavy and difficult times
- How to guide a child toward identifying something that could help them feel a sense of purpose and meaning
- What happens in our kids’ developing brains when they consume content that reinforces pessimism and division
- How to help kids with negative mindsets pivot to a more hopeful perspective
Resources mentioned for helping kids find hope
- When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids by Dr. Abigail Gewirtz
- Dr. Devorah Heitner on Online Safety and Internet “Rabbit Holes” and Differently Wired Kids (Tilt Parenting podcast episode)
- Dr. Tamar Chansky on How to Free Our Children from Negative Thinking (Tilt Parenting podcast episode)
- Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety: A Complete Guide to Your Child’s Stressed, Depressed, Expanded, Amazing Adolescence by Dr. John Duffy
This Season’s Sponsor: Fusion Academy
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Debbie Reber 00:00
Tilt Parenting is proud to partner with Fusion Academy this season. Fusion Academy is a private, middle and high school with one on one classrooms to meet students exactly where they’re at academically, socially and emotionally. Learn more about the most personalized school in the world and how they’ve changed the lives of 1000s of families, including mine at fusionacademy.com/tilt.
Abigail Gewirtz 00:23
We need to listen, we need to help our children identify what they’re feeling. And when we’ve processed all those feelings with them, we have to help them feel empowered to be able to do what they can do, because the feeling of powerlessness and there’s a huge literature on this sort of learned helplessness or powerlessness is, it is an awful terrible, horrible, no good, very bad feeling.
Debbie Reber 00:52
Welcome to Tilt Parenting, a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m your host Debbie Reber. Since my guest for today’s episode, Dr. Abigail Gewirtz was on the show. Just over two years ago, near the start of the COVID pandemic, the world has continued to go through increasingly complicated and challenging times. And like I’m sure all of you out there listening, I have struggled to find ways to help my child to feel hope and optimism about the state of the world, the war in Ukraine, a spate of school shootings, a very polarized political landscape, catastrophic weather events. So I wanted to ask Abigail, the author of the wonderful book, When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids, if hope and optimism is possible to find, even when things around us feel so unpredictable and chaotic, and if so, how can we cultivate this optimism for our kids in an authentic way? In our conversation, Abigail shares her ideas for doing that as well as ways we adults can manage our own fears and worries to be able to show up for our kids, and the importance of guiding kids towards something that makes them feel purpose and meaning. And a little background about Abigail. Dr. Abigail Gewirtz is a child psychologist and professor at the University of Minnesota’s College of Education and Human Development. Her career has been devoted to developing and testing award winning skills based parenting programs to promote children’s resilience. Abigail has consulted for and presented to national and international organizations, including the US Congress and UNICEF on parenting. Before I get to our episode, I’d love for you to check out a new free resource I created for parents, a 10 day video series called 10 Things You Have to Know When Raising a Differently Wired Child. In this new series, I’m sharing the 10 most important things to know, also known as things I wish I’d known when I first realized I was on this path of parenting a neuro divergent child. To get this free series just sign up at tiltparenting.com/ten things and you’ll get the first video right away. I hope you find it useful. And again, that’s tiltparenting.com/ten things. Lastly, if you love this podcast, I would be grateful if you took a moment to head over to Apple podcasts and give tilde parenting a five star rating and leave a review. And of course, be sure to subscribe so you don’t miss a single episode. You can find tilde parenting on Apple podcast, Spotify, Amazon or wherever you listen to podcasts. Thanks so much. And now here is my conversation with Abigail.
Debbie Reber 03:50
Hey, Abby, welcome back to the podcast. Thank you, Deborah. It’s a treat to be here again. Wow. So much has changed even as a way to dive in. I was going back because this is your second appearance. You came on the show, I think just at the beginning of COVID to talk about your book When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids. Of course, you wrote that pre COVID It was so appropriate for our conversation at the time. And I feel like a lot has changed. So I wanted to bring you back on to explore some things that have been really hard in the world lately and how to help our kids. But before we get into that, for people who haven’t listened to that initial episode and want to know more about your work, could you just introduce yourself and tell us what you do in the world?
Abigail Gewirtz 04:35
For sure. I’m a child psychologist and I’m a professor of psychology at Arizona State University. For the last more than 20 years I have been interested in understanding and helping parents and families that have been through difficult things. And in particular, my research area of focus is how to help parents be their kids’ best teachers and how to talk about difficult things. I’ve worked with families fleeing war, I’ve worked with families in which parents have been deployed to war, I’ve worked with families exposed to other kinds of violence. And I’ve never met a parent who hasn’t wanted the best for their child. But sometimes we don’t have the tools that we need. My team and I, with the help of 1000s of families, have learned to apply and provide parents with tools to help them help their child navigate difficult things. In the book, When the World Feels Like a Scary Place: Essential Conversations for Anxious Parents and Worried Kids really takes different topics that are scary. There are scary things that are beyond what happens at home. So they could be scary weather events, or social media and bullying and other problems with technology, including physical bullying and prejudice, or all different kinds of things. As you know, each chapter has its own topic. And what we’re seeing, unfortunately, and I think this is why you said things have changed, is that the world feels like it has become a scarier and scarier place to children and to their parents. And the nature of the worries is what changes. But what we know is that over the last 10 or 15 years, kids have felt more and more worried about different things.
Debbie Reber 06:36
Yeah, it feels like we’re in different times now. And of course, I rationally and logically know that, as a society, we’ve cycled through things, and different generations have had their unique struggles. But these past couple of years, in particular, have felt so heavy, and in so many different ways. And I’m curious to know what you are seeing in your work over the past couple of years, and just know more about your thoughts regarding the state of the world today, like what’s happening right now, and what that impact has been on kids and families.
Abigail Gewirtz 07:11
I think the problem with today, and when I say today, I mean, at least the last couple of years, but probably more we could see it coming is that the world is predictably unpredictable. And parents often don’t have the tools because technology is moving at such a fast pace, for example, because weather events are so unpredictable, for example, because kids can see horrible things on their phones. And by the time they show them to their parents, if they show them to their parents, those things are gone, they’ve disappeared. And so because of that, it’s very hard for parents to keep a hold on what’s going on. And even if they could keep a hold on what’s going on. There’s no rules or the rules are always changing. And so one example, well, let’s just say in the last two years, to say that children’s lives have been disrupted would be the biggest underestimation, I think so COVID hit us, we had no idea. You know, on a global scale, we had this pandemic, kids were off school for a long time. Parents were juggling multiple things. I think parents are probably among the most stressed categories of adults, if not the most, having to juggle being a parent, a teacher and work, then we got vaccinations, thank goodness, and kids are back to school. But of course, the disruption continues, depending on what the laws and the rules are around you. And so we are in this situation where your child could be in school or couldn’t be in school, but also going back to school this past September or August or whenever your kids went back to school. This was probably the first stable year in maybe three years. And so for children, who are now seven or eight, they’ve never had a stable year of school for children who are now 16 or 17. They’ve never had a stable year of high school, et cetera. We were on a webinar a couple of weeks ago with a mom who is an amazing woman. We were talking about bullying. And her story I think is so proto typical if there is a typical situation of this sort of awful phenomenon of bullying where her son was bullied, both in social media and in school, and the school simply couldn’t get a handle on it. She and her partner were incredible advocates, but just to find out what was going on, just to try and understand what the school’s role was in the school didn’t even have an idea what they should be doing. What made it such a slippery problem. And I think that’s one of the things that makes it so hard for parents to deal with what’s happening today?
Debbie Reber 10:01
Yeah, I think even parents who have a lot of resources and are really engaged and really involved and are connected with their kids and tuned in and plugged in, I’m still hearing from so many families that they’re feeling very lost because of what you said about this predictable unpredictability. It feels like there are no rules right now. And that can be really destabilizing.
Abigail Gewirtz 10:23
Exactly, exactly. So what we teach parents is always, you know, sort of core rules of effective parenting, have routines, have limits, help your children understand the way the world works as much as possible. And now we’re in this situation where, and this has happened throughout COVID. And I remember talking to lots of parents at the beginning of COVID. One mother said to me, my child says to me, when am I going to go back to school and I shrug my shoulders and say, I don’t know. And of course, that’s scary for children, that the people who they rely on the most don’t know. And so part of that is helping children sort of telling them what we do know, and what we can do. And I really feel and most of my book centers around this, that we need to listen, we need to help our children identify what they’re feeling. And when we’ve processed all those feelings with them, we have to help them feel empowered to be able to do what they can do. Because of the feeling of powerlessness. And there’s a huge literature on this sort of learned helplessness or powerlessness . It is an awful, terrible, horrible, no good, very bad feeling.
Debbie Reber 11:42
Yes. So first of all, I just want to remind listeners, I will have a link in the show notes to my last conversation with Abby as well. And definitely go back and listen to that, because we go really in depth into her book, which is such a wonderful resource. And again, so appropriate for everything that we’re experiencing right now. I want to know how we, as adults in the room, can manage our own pain, our own fear, our own heartbreak, there’s just such a feeling of despair, not necessarily constant, but a hurricane happens, a school shooting happens. And as we’re recording this, there’s just been a huge escalation in the war in Ukraine. And it’s really difficult, I think, to not slip into despair. I think it takes some extra work. And so I’m just wondering how we can manage that so we’re best able to show up for our kids and not bring that into the conversation?
Abigail Gewirtz 12:38
Well, thank you so much for raising that because we have to start with ourselves. You know, in the book, I talk about putting your own mask on before assisting others, I think it’s, by now, become a well known metaphor. If we can’t pay attention to what stresses us, and therefore cannot help ourselves. We cannot help our children. And we have to be able to help our children. I give this as an example for parents in the book. If you are discussing a difficult situation with your children, like school shootings, and you know, that you have a particular sensitivity, listen, who’s not terrified of school shootings, let’s just face it. It’s a terrible thing. What makes it so terrifying is it’s random, unpredictable, awful, devastating, you know, it’s going to happen again, because of the plethora of weapons. I mean, it’s just on all levels. But we know that based on who you are, what you are, what your experiences are, who you know, you will be more or less sensitive to any terrible stressor. And if you are more sensitive, it’s really important to know that and to be able to prepare yourself for the conversation you’re going to have with your children, so that what they don’t pick up on is your own fear and worry. Because what we know is that anxious parents have worried children. And when you are sort of expressing your anxiety that your children are not free to ask the things that they want to ask because often they will be worried about upsetting you. We want our children to be able to tell us stuff. We don’t want our children to try and protect us. It’s the other way around. And so the first thing to do is to think about what kind of a person you are and what your sensitivities are, what things particularly get you going and then what are the tools that you have at your disposal to reduce your own stress. For some people, it’s chatting with a friend, others it’s taking a walk, yet others it’s praying or meditating. Other people find exercise to be a great stress reducer. So in general, we want to know what gets us going and what helps us calm down. And in particular, before we have a conversation with our kids. And I’ll just say one more thing about this, which is, when your child’s birth to and from school crying, you don’t really have a minute to go. And, you know, take a few deep breaths or go for a walk. Because I mean, you couldn’t say, Oh, hold on, let me just go for a walk. But even with a few seconds, you can turn around, take a deep breath, say, Oh, honey, take your coat off, hang up your backpack, come in, I’m going to put the kettle on or I’m going to fill up a glass of water for you. And just the few seconds in which you grab that glass of water and your child’s hanging up their coats, gives you the time to take some breaths. Identify what you’re feeling. Make a note to set that aside, so that you can be with your child.
Debbie Reber 15:48
I love that. And I love this idea of just having a reentry plan. Because we never know when our kids walk in the door, what the mood is going to be, what happened at school, I’m a big fan of making some tea and serving a cookie or two, even with an 18 year old, it can still work. But having the plan matters a lot so that we don’t find ourselves in that deer in headlights moment where we’re just not prepared and we get triggered. And then things can go off the rails pretty quickly.
Abigail Gewirtz 16:14
Right? It’s, you know, it’s what I call reacting versus responding. The reaction is where There’s no break between what hits me and what I say or do in reaction. A response is, I take even a split second to recognize what’s hit me and make a choice about what to do. And that’s the response.
Debbie Reber 16:40
And now a quick break for a word from our sponsor. Is your family school, you’re not going as you’d hoped, does your student go unseen or get underserved in a big classroom? Well, I’ve got great news for you. Fusion Academy is a private, middle and high school with one on one classrooms customized to your students pace academically, socially and emotionally. Fusion has more than 80 campuses across the US along with their virtual campus Fusion Global Academy, which serves students online worldwide. My teen attends Fusion and it has truly been a game changer for our whole family in the best possible way. Learn more and experience the world’s most personalized school with the free trial session at fusionacademy.com/tilt. And now back to the show.
Debbie Reber 17:32
One of the reasons that I reached out to you to do this conversation is because raising a teenager with some pretty existential stuff going on and a sense of overwhelm about the world and obviously observing that in this community. I hate this idea of a generation of kids kind of growing up feeling hopeless about the future. So I really wanted to know, is it possible to be optimistic and hopeful in the times that we’re living in? Is that something that we can truly work towards? And is it possible for our kids to feel optimism, despite what can feel so heavy and difficult right now?
Abigail Gewirtz 18:12
Well, I would say unequivocally yes. Because the alternative is difficult to think about. And because I am an optimist. So what’s really interesting is, I think it’s optimism, but it’s something else, right feeling that there’s something that you can do, and ultimately, feeling that there’s meaning, right? So that meaning right, if you have a meaning in your life, you have things to work towards, and your meaning could be multiple meanings, right? I love my family. I love history, and I want to pursue history, or I feel a sense of social justice. And I’m going to go and become a lawyer and work for social justice, or I want to help people so I’m going to become a nurse. We’ve talked about teenagers, so I’m thinking more in teenage sort of thoughts, but at every stage of children’s development, it is really crucially important to help children feel that there is something they can do about whatever it is that is worrying them. And I can’t remember whether I gave this example in the last podcast I probably did. It’s the one that’s closest to my heart. And it’s about my neighbor’s kid, who after the George Floyd’s terrible murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis, where we were living at the time, wanted to do something to help but had just broken her leg was stuck helicopter circling and with her parents going through this amazing sort of problem solving discussion that began with how she was feeling and ended with what they could do about it. Decided to raise money by cutting flowers from the garden and selling them and then people matching their donation and then ultimately going to the store buying food and bringing it to the food shelf. And that child is six years old or was six years old. And so the idea is that what parents can do at every stage of children’s development is help children identify what they can do. Because there is always something that you can do. And when you can do something, you feel more empowered, you feel more optimistic, you feel better self esteem. I think that’s really a crucial lesson today. Because it’s really easy both for children and parents to get overwhelmed, as you pointed out, I think one of the most existential things that people worry about is global climate change, you know, people say, we know that there are people who are deciding not to have children, because they’re because of the global climate crisis, or kids feeling when a school shooting happens, that’s inevitable, it’s going to happen. What’s the point of anything if I’m going to die in a school shooting, or in another mass shooting or, and of course, unfortunately, social media can sometimes exacerbate it because it puts kids into a, you know, an echo chamber, where all they hear and by the way, it’s not just kids, it’s us grown ups to where all we hear is what we’re feeling, because those are the people we seek out. I really think it’s not just can we have optimism, but how do we get it at all costs?
Debbie Reber 21:18
Yeah, you talked about meaning. And one of my questions is what does optimism look like? And that idea of helping our kids care about something or feel that there is meaning and purpose, I think makes so much sense. There may be parents listening whose kids haven’t really tapped into a passion or something that they feel strongly about, or may reject the idea that there can be meaning found in anything? Do you have thoughts around how to guide a child towards identifying something that could help them feel that sense of purpose and meaning?
Abigail Gewirtz 21:54
Yeah, I’ll start with a do not, which is not normally what I do. But I do say this in the book, I think that sometimes parents who have a passion, want to convey it to their children. And it’s really important not to impose your passion on your child. The fun example is someone I knew who would take her children to all these demonstrations. And finally, her son said to her, could we just have a normal Sunday? Mom, do we have to go? Can we be like everyone else, please? You know, so I think it’s really important not to impose your own passions on your child, but to help them identify what theirs might be. And I think the hard thing for a lot of parents or some parents is, if your child has values that are different from your own, or maybe not even so much values as interests that you don’t identify with, can you encourage your child to have their independent interests, even if it’s something that you can’t help with, because you have no idea what it is, but help them identify what they like to do and pursue it not all children will have that? You know, I think some again, I think it comes down sometimes to temperament. Sometimes kids have a temperament or a tendency towards going after something. They’re tenacious, they like something, they had a great teacher, they got good grades, they worked hard. And they found that they did well. And that’s their thing. And other kids just don’t have anything to be looking for it later in their life, even in their 20s and 30s. We know that. And I think partly because we’re generationally, things are so different, maybe our generation less so or the generation of parents in their 30s and 40s, less so but certainly their parents, you graduated from college, or didn’t graduate from high school, you got a job when you stayed in the job. And even if you left the job, you stay doing more or less what you did. Now, of course, we’re in the gig economy. So there’s very little job security, there are a lot of financial worries. And it’s not expected. I mean, people do change, not just their job, but their career, sometimes many times. There are also different societal messages and expectations. So it again, and this relates to what I said earlier about, parents want to help guide their children. But these concepts are slippery, they slip through your fingers, and you’re not really sure. Because the world that your child is entering into isn’t the same world that you entered.
Debbie Reber 24:16
It is. It is such a different time when I talked with Dr. John Duffy, who wrote a book called Parenting the New Teen in the Age of Anxiety, which I brought up multiple times on this show, but that really has stuck with me is when we say well, when I was your age, or we think we’re relating to our kids, it’s like they are growing up in a completely different world. We can not relate on that same level.
Abigail Gewirtz 24:37
Yeah, our teenage lives are prehistory to them. They watch them on TV shows physically.
Debbie Reber 24:44
Yes. And they’re like, oh, gosh, what a simple time you lived in. Yeah. I wanted to just go back to the echo chamber that you mentioned before, because this is something I think a lot about too, that I think a lot of kids and teenagers find comfort in connecting with communities that are helping them feel that they’re talking with people who get it or that kind of match their internal experience. I did actually another episode this season in the podcast about, there are some rabbit holes our kids can go down that can be really harmful. I’d love to know if you have any insight into what happens in our kids’ developing brains if they are consuming things that rather than are fueling optimism and hope are pushing more towards a pessimistic outlook?
Abigail Gewirtz 25:33
So I’m a parenting person, and I believe in the power of parenting. But we do know that when children become teens and adolescents, peers often take over from parents as what we call the primary socializing agents like basically the people who have the most influence over them. And that can be very tricky. If the peer group that your child is hanging out with, whether online or in person, and often it’s harder when it’s online, is not a peer group that you feel is influencing them in a positive way. That can be really hard, I think online can be even harder than in person, because it’s very hard to find out who people are. And it’s hard to stop kids. We had this whole discussion, the young man who I mentioned earlier who was being bullied, the parents don’t see posts. And the parents would say to him, You know what, why don’t you just give up your phone for a couple of weeks. Now, that’s really a hard thing for parents to make kids do or to encourage kids to do. Your child gets to a certain age, and they’ve had a phone as a right, not a privilege, it’s really hard. I’m all for having phones be privileges, and taking them away when needed. And we have to face the reality, the uncomfortable reality that this is the primary mode of communication for most kids, which is really not a great thing in and of itself. So I completely agree with you that electronic media, social media are very tricky and powerful things. And you know, as you were asking the question, I was reflecting on the fact that there’s such a push, a lot of emphasis on diversity, equity and inclusion. And yet, most of us end up hanging out in our own echo chambers. So the how to do how to expose your children to diverse perspectives, is easy to talk about and hard to do.
Debbie Reber 27:39
Yeah, and I was thinking, another episode I did this season, there’s a whole theme this season is about how to support kids who are negative thinkers. So we talked about glass half empty kinds of kids, which again, a lot of neurodivergent kids are because of being perhaps more rigid thinkers, and just the way that their brains are wired. And so I’m just wondering, as we’re talking about this, if there are ideas for how we can lead them towards experiencing hope, or consuming more positive content, or just opening up to that in a way that could feel really authentic and genuine. Any thoughts on what leading them towards hope could look like in practice for those kids who are pretty grounded in with a negative mindset?
Abigail Gewirtz 28:22
Yeah, it’s funny, I had a conversation with my daughter last night. I don’t think she’d mind me saying this. She’s a college student. And she experienced a setback. And she said, I hate the fact that all the people around me are trying to put a positive spin on it. Let me just be upset about it. So I think this and the reason I say that is because I think there’s a part of it, where I think it’s important to empathize with kids and say, yeah, that really stinks. Like that really does stink, whatever people say, you know, oh, but here’s the silver lining. Let me just wallow for a little bit. Like, let me just say, this is bad, I’m really upset. But then over the longer term, it is really crucial to help our children develop this sort of, okay, that was bad. So what can I do now? What are the options available to me, and I think the problem that a lot of parents have is we don’t like our kids to feel bad. And so what we do is we try and paper over it, instead of stopping and saying, Wow, the look on your face tells me that you’re really upset and disappointed and listen to them. And I think a lot of parents are scared to do that, because they worry that it will encourage their child to wallow in their misery. But if you don’t do that, and you paper over it, the paper is going to be thin and what your child is going to learn is simply Well, I’m not going to talk about that with my parent. So I might go talk about it with those friends online. So that I think is a tricky thing. So the balance is listen, empathize, help them identify how they’re feeling. Never forget that the last stage and I would argue one of the most important stages is problem solving. So now what can I do about it? And that in itself, so rather than saying, here’s the silver lining, what you might say instead is, so you know, I know you wanted to do X, or what else could you do? Is there anything else that you could do instead? To which your child might reply, Nothing. And that’s your sign? Okay, let’s do this. Let’s have this conversation tomorrow, when you’re a little bit further away from it. But instead of telling your child what the solutions are, use questions. So there’s a psychological treatment called motivational interviewing, I don’t know if you’ve ever come across this. It’s a very interesting treatment, because it didn’t start off as a treatment. And the idea was, it started with people who had an alcohol problem. And the idea behind motivational interviewing was to identify which people were ready to come off the drink, right, which people were ready to have their alcohol abuse treated. But what they found was that by asking what they call motivational questions, they were able to actually change people. So the actual asking of the questions like, How do you feel when you’re intoxicated? And what are the kinds of things that would make you want to stop abusing alcohol that actually moved people towards wanting change? And so those are the kinds of questions I’m talking about asking our children. So how did you feel when your teacher said, that’s your assignment? I can see you worked really hard on that. You really enjoyed that assignment. I wonder, what are the things that you could do that would make you feel like that, like that you put in some hard work and you get good results? Your job is sort of the coach, you’re helping your child move in a direction where they can see new things. Oh, I really like history, huh? And you know, it’s funny, because my teacher said, there’s this History Day opportunity. And my friend said, you want to do it. And I was thinking, you know, just more, but I kind of liked this project. So maybe I will do it. That’s the kind of place that you’re looking to get to. Yeah, and I like that, because it’s coming from them. And so I could see being a lot more powerful helps them have a sense of agency and self direction, and is creating, it’s forming those more positive associations and that ability to problem solve.
Debbie Reber 32:34
Exactly. Yeah, that’s great. First of all, thank you so much. This has been so insightful and so helpful, to be able to just consider ways to navigate this in a way that can again feel better for us and for our kids. And to know there is a way to move through these hard times. Before we say goodbye, is there anything for a parent listening that you would encourage them to try doing today? Something they can think about, maybe a conversation, they start with their child?
Abigail Gewirtz 33:00
Yeah. One thing I want to say in these difficult times is never give up. It’s easy to say it’s harder to do. But I think the one thing that every parent listening can do today is listen, right? Take a few minutes today, this afternoon, this evening to listen to your child, whatever it is, they’re telling you sometimes we switch off because we have so many things to do. And we try to do everything at the same time. And we’re on our phones and this and that, but have to have a meal together. And listen to what your child is telling you. Don’t interrupt, hear what they’re saying. Help them identify what they’re feeling. And then if they bring you a problem, what an opportunity for you to help them not by telling them what to do. But by framing the questions that allow them to come up with a solution with your help, of course.
Debbie Reber 33:49
Yeah, that’s great. Thank you so much. Thank you and listeners again, Abby’s book is When the World Feels Like a Scary Place. Definitely check that out because it does have a lot of very practical advice for how to navigate conversations about a variety of challenging topics and listen to that original podcast interview we did together. Is there anywhere else you would want listeners to go to check out your work and what you’re doing?
Abigail Gewirtz 34:14
I’ve got a website, abigailgewirtz.com and I’m also on Instagram. Just I highlight stuff that’s been happening. I’ll highlight the podcast. So yeah, Debbie, it was a treat. It was really a treat to chat with you today.
Debbie Reber 34:28
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