Tonight’s THT includes announcements about the upcoming Janney Night at Potomac Pizza (W, 3/20), and our upcoming mulch sale.
Tonight’s newsletter contains the annual asbestos notification letter, and the weekly student support services column from our social worker, Ms. Sara Solomon.
Have a great week and I look forward to seeing many of your at our auction on Saturday!
Annual Asbestos Notification Letter
The Environmental Protection Agency mandates that all local education agencies distribute communications regarding the governance of asbestos-containing materials in school buildings throughout the United States. The Department of General Services (DGS) manages these regulations on behalf of DC Public Schools and has drafted this Annual Asbestos Notification Letter to be shared with the DCPS community
Student Support Services Column
Hello Janney Jaguars!
Last week in this space, inspired by an Instagram meme, I discussed how Toxic Positivity – feeling good by suppressing any bad feelings – doesn’t actually help people feel better, but just helps them not talk about feeling bad. I offered some examples of more supportive ways to help someone experiencing bad feelings by allowing them space to talk about their worries, feel more supported and less alone, and maybe help figure out how to alleviate the source of the bad feelings (if possible).
I stand by that advice for folks who are worried or feeling a little bit down. Parents who are supporting children with chronic anxiety however, may need something more than the pithy advice that can be found in an internet meme.
When your child experiences anxiety, of course your instinct might be to protect your child from the object of that anxiety or solve the problem for them to make them feel more comfortable. Unfortunately, this can have the opposite effect. It can exacerbate the anxiety and prevent them from learning coping skills, while sending the message that they need to be shielded from it because they can’t handle it on their own. That might help kids feel better in the moment, but ultimately sends them out into the world feeling unprepared to care for themselves.
There’s a concept in working with kids, that the parent/supportive adult is “bigger, stronger, wiser, kind”: The gentle giant with whom to face fears together and provide cover when the battle gets too big. The strong armor protecting the vulnerabilities and allowing them to fight longer and break through barriers. The wise guru to help illuminate the path forward. The secure base to retreat to, recharge, and get ready to fight another day.
One way to be Bigger, Stronger, Wiser, Kind is to prepare your child to face the thing that scares or worries them. Empower them with the tools they’ll need to cope and problem-solve, and ensure them that they’ll be loved and supported no matter what happens.
Before an event that may trigger the anxiety, talk it through to manage their expectations (be realistic!), arm them with a plan, and visualize a positive outcome:
Discuss or practice what to expect when facing the object of their anxiety. What will they see/hear/feel/smell/etc., what will they do, what will others be doing, what will happen first, second, third, etc.
Be realistic. They’ll probably know if you’re lying or withholding something. Besides, sometimes bad things do happen, and if we lie and say they won’t, how can kids trust us to be Bigger, Stronger, Wiser, and Kind if we are just ignoring what they’re afraid of?
Talk through your child’s fears – what is s/he afraid might happen? Make a list in order of worst to least bad. There’s a good chance that once said out loud, s/he may find the worst fears sound silly or at least not so scary. Then, talk through the likelihood of each – hearing from you that the thing feared the most will probably not happen can be comforting and help compartmentalize their fears so their anxiety doesn’t feel so chaotic.
Make a plan – give your child action items for what to do when they feel anxious or face the object of those fears. You can start with self-calming strategies like counting and breathing, but also include things they can say or do, who to talk to or call, where to go, etc. Practice Practice Practice will build their confidence that they’ll be able to do their plan when the time comes.
Finally, visualize a positive outcome. Just as you went through step by step, sense by sense, what to expect going in, imagine it again using the coping strategies and following the plan, and coming out the other side, feeling successful, safe, and strong.