5 Reasons Why We’re All Hyper-Sensitive Now (And How You Can Take Your Sanity Back)

Why We are Sensitive During COVID-19

sensitivityFor some – maybe for you – this pandemic has been dreadful. The isolation and loneliness. A job loss. Death or illness. New worries about finances, health or the future. The pandemic has left an indelible toll on the country.

Experts also warn of a “second pandemic” – an increase in mental and behavioral illness that follows the first pandemic in its wake. A report by the United Nations and World Health Organization indicates that 45 percent of Americans reported experiencing distress due to the COVID-19 crisis.

What is Sensitivity?

Being sensitive about something doesn’t mean it has to be warranted. It means that YOU are feeling something deeply. It can be real or perceived. Feeling rejection, worry or irritation may be setting off your emotional alarms, which may then push you fight flight or freeze mode. Dr Stuart Shanker compares this phenomenon to a car alarm. Once the alarm has been activated, just tapping the car can cause the alarm to be triggered again.

How to be sensitive to your own mental health during the COVID-19 crisis.

  1. Do a body scan – Take a read on how you are feeling in your body and mind by doing an emotional temperature scan. Ask yourself, “Am I being too sensitive?” “Are my feelings warranted?” If the answer is yes, engage in mindfulness practices to de-escalate the effects of hyper-sensitivity.
  2. Figure out your tolerances – There are things in all of our daily lives that drain our energy and irritate us. What feels heavy to you? What irritates you? This may be the pile of clothes on a chair in your bedroom or the broken latch on the gate that keeps swinging open.
  3. Create hope and joy—Take back your happiness – Joy is hard to come by lately. Wouldn’t it be great to order a big box of it on Prime? With so much out of our control, don’t get discouraged. Recall how you have ushered in joy in the past and try to mimic the activities. Music, dance, creating things, talking to friends are just a few examples of ways to bring back happiness.
  4. Pick daily activities to cope with frustrations and emotions– Each day that is unproductive or in solitary can potentially be a day that brings disappointment. What activities can you do each day of the month? Perhaps more sports, or add new interests. A trip to the craft store can foster some much-deserved creativity. The point here is to build on strengths, develop new interests, and strengthen relationships.
  5. Respond Rather than React –An overly reactive response might be to yell at someone. To pause and craft a response is a more thoughtful, centered response. Rarely do good things happen when instigated from a reaction.Individually, we are all coping with this global pandemic.

    We are all dealing with this pandemic in our own ways, but we all need to embrace self care. The best self-care steps start with the basics: your hygiene, your health, your sleeping and your nutrition.

    DO This At Home!

    For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

    Deeper Dive:

    5 Ways to Use Social Emotional Learning to Bring Back Joy

Self-Awareness in Social Emotional Learning


10 Things To Calm YOU Down When Raising Kids With Executive Functioning Challenges

Raising Kids With Executive Functioning Challenges

Building strategies to help you calm down, thinking and wise in the moment – even when your child is reacting, melting down or seems oblivious to something urgent and necessary – is paramount.

Weak executive function means your child may be immature and might struggle with social and academic realms. Your child’s frontal cortex development may be 3 years behind neurotypical children.

Raising these kids can be rewarding, yet it also means you as a parent often have to be less reactive and more responsive when guiding your child.

Does any of this sound familiar? Your child:

  • Does her homework but she does not turn it in.
  • Polks someone so much on the bus that you have to apologize to the child’s parent.
  • Spaces out during class and misses the key information so you have to teach her the material rather than writing your critical report.
  • Melts down like a toddler, yells at you in rage or hides in the basement.

Raising children with executive function challenges can be draining. It is important to build your own internal resources so you can respond to your child or teenager in a way that makes you an effective parent.

10 Things To Calm YOU Down When Raising Kids With Executive Functioning Challenges

  1. Have a mantra  – Reminding yourself that you are in control and that your child truly is doing the best they can – most of the time. A manta such as “they would if they could” or “this is a long term journey” Or “I’m in the middle of something tough, but I can do this!”
  2. Breath – Breathe in and out eight times, or set the timer on your phone and breathe until you feel calmer. Say something to yourself that helps you regulate your anger. When parents are angry it is like throwing kindling onto a fire. Read more on the benefits of the pause.
  3. Take a break- Don’t be afraid to say you need to take a break and that you cannot give any answers right now or discuss the issue further. Some children or teens will follow you around campaigning for an answer but you do not have to give them an answer on.
  4. Create daily calming rituals – Your cup needs to be filled in order to support your child.  Actively create daily practices that you can draw on to relieve stress. Simple rituals that will allow you to work with your five main senses will calm you down when you are beset with a racing mind, insomnia or general worry. Rituals can include: mindful listening, self-massage, vision boards, and tea ceremonies.
  5. Identify your own body signals – Our bodies tell us when we are becoming heated. When you are experiencing an emotional reaction, signals in your body and mind will let you know a reaction is brewing. If you pay attention to these physical signs, you are better able to enact coping strategies and remain calm. Learn your signals so you know when you are losing control. Is your face turning red, do you breathe heavily, clench your fists? Recognize the signs and practice self control.  (See chart above for common body signals).
  6. Reframe negative self talk – Recall that your child would do better if they could. Walk around the block and remind yourself that their struggles are real.
  7. Think of all your child’s strengths and positive qualities – It can be easy to concentrate on their tough traits at times, but reminding yourself that they are funny, sweet, kind, thoughtful and creative will help put things back into perspective.
  8. Visualize a Peaceful, Calm and Favorite Place – Do you love the beach, a quiet reading nook, or a walk in nature? Get yourself mentally in this peaceful place when your running low on empathy.
  9. Drink a hot and comforting beverage – Tea ceremonies are a great way to relax. Schedule a tea or hot beverage break into your day or run for the tea kettle when things get hot. Better to have hot tea than a hot head!
  10. Sing a song – I personally think that singing in your head can be more effective, and more considerate, than out loud. When songs are in our head, we don’t worry if we have all the words, if our tone is off or if we are annoying others. It is a great way to be present and to calm yourself down.

DO This At Home!

There are Lots of Ways to Build Social Skills at Home.

It’s a journey, and consistency is the key. Parents should find comfort in knowing that all children benefit from patience and nurturing .

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deep Dive

Watch how to create a mental video with your child to help them get tasks done.


What to Do When Your Teen Can’t Seem to Make Friends You Approve Of

He can’t seem to make friends, or the friends he does make, you don’t like. More than likely, you already know that banning anything rarely works. When you push, they pull. This goes for your teen’s friendships too. What is the answer? Collaboration.

What To Do When Your Teen Can’t Make Friends or the Friends are Questionable

can't seem to make friendsPeers are the biggest factor influencing teens. Your daughter can’t seem to make friends and / or may be trying to fit into a friend group that is causing her to change her behavior or make poor choices. There are all types of friends, but no one can doubt that the friend that has your back is by far a greater asset than the one who is, well let’s just say, “questionable”.

She Can’t Seem to Make Friends You Like 

What can be more troubling than watching from the sidelines as your teen engages with others who don’t treat him well? Yes, this is a rhetorical question because this is on the top of the list of parental heartbreaks.

Should you Ban the Friendship?

We would jump in front of a train to protect our kids, so why is the subtle stuff more difficult? Because it takes reasoning, patience, and a look toward the horizon. Banning will not help your teen consider what a good friendship is, nor will it bring about joy.

Plus, it will more than likely lead to a big divide in the parent-child relationship.

Increase the Chances of Being Heard

Creating a non-judgment dialog should be at the top of the list. Remember what Maya Angelou said, “’I’ve learned that people will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel.’

By talking to your daughter about friendship, without judging or imposing restrictions, you increase the chances that she will go to you when she has problems.

5 Ways to Build Trust and Conversations Around Friendships

  1. Listen. Listen. Repeat. – this is harder than this sounds, but do your best to hold back judgement, your thoughts and the urge to jump in. Your daughter will open up more if she feels heard. By holding back judgment, you create an atmosphere in which your daughter feels safe enough to talk.
  2. Ask Open Questions – Truly understanding her, and enabling her to understand her own reasoning, is one of the best gifts you can give – to you both. As you enter the discussion, here are some questions you could ask:
  • What is it about these new friends that appeals to you?
  • What do you have in common with them?
  • How do you see your friends treating you?
  • What does an enjoyable friendship look like?
  • What kind of person do you want to be?
  • Can you be that person with these friends?
  1. Understand Your Teen’s Perspective – Your teen thinks no one understands him: not you; not your spouse; not his sister; not his teachers or coach. The only one who “understands” him is his friends. The more you step into his shoes and listen, the more you can work together to meet his needs.
  2. Reflect, clarify, be curious– Paraphrase what your teen says and repeat it back to her. When you do this, you show empathy and you help both of you clarify your child’s concerns. Be curious and ask non-confrontational, non-judgmental questions.
  3. Don’t Impose Your Values – Don’t assume you understand the reasons why your daughter chose these friends. Keep your agenda in mind as you talk through the importance of friendship, but the goal is to keep your child talking, and to show her that you have confidence in her.

Keep Communication Open

Without “creeping around,” research her friends by asking coaches, teachers, friends etc. You may be misinterpreting based on your own personal biases. If there were friends from the past that both you and your teen consider as a good friend, consider creating venues for them to interact again. Give her a place to feel good about herself — an activity where she is interested, can pursue her passion, and develop a stronger sense of self.

You daughter may be choosing the wrong friends for many reasons. The most important thing is to keep the communication flowing.

For scripts, tools, advice and actionable exercises on helping children develop social skills, check out Why Will No One Play with Me?

Deep Dive:

Keep the Social in Social Distancing

15 Phrases to Spark a Conversation About Social Dilemmas

When should I intervene with my child’s friendships?


Children With ADHD: Does It Ever Get Better?

Your Child with ADHD isn’t Trying to Upset You.

children with ADHDSymptoms of inattention, hyperactivity, and impulsivity can cause many problems if left untreated. If your child can’t focus and control himself, he may struggle in school, get into trouble, and find it hard to get along with others or make friends. These difficulties can lead to low self-esteem and possibly create a stressful home situation.

ADHD Treatment

Effective treatment can have a huge, positive impact on your child. Finding the right support, your child can get on track for success in all areas of life.

The first thing to do if you think you child may have ADHD is to seek professional help. Second, even without an official diagnosis, you can implement healthy changes to help manage her hyperactivity, inattention, and impulsivity. These interventions include therapy, ADHD coaching, parent education, mindfulness,  exercise, a simplified schedule and supports to both teach your child the life skills she needs and specific ADHD friendly structures and tricks.

The ADHD Diagnosis

If you do receive a diagnosis of ADHD, begin creating a personalized treatment plan with your child’s doctor. Include her therapist and school guidance department to make sure all bases are covered. Effective treatment for childhood ADHD includes the whole child and can involve behavioral or CBT therapy, ADHD coaching, possible medication, parent education and training, social skills support, school accommodation and possibly medication.

Parenting tips for children with ADHD

You may find yourself exhausted or cranky at times if your child’s energy makes it difficult for them to listen to you, finish homework or eat dinner.

Regain Control while Helping Your Child with ADHD

Create Structure –  Children with ADHD need consistency and clear communication. Praise is important to reward good behavior and logical consequences for poor behavior. They also need lots of love, support, and encouragement.

Help your child make friends – Help him become a better listener, learn to read people’s expressions and body language, and interact more smoothly with others. (See advice at the bottom of this page).

Take Care of Yourself too

As a parent of a child with ADHD, you need your mental, emotional and physical strength. The better you care for yourself, the better you can take care of your child. Diet, exercise, sleep, stress reduction and support from family and friends as well as your child’s doctor and teachers will help you.


Encourage Social Skills Development

The Silver Lining: Empathy and Kindness

Keep the Social in Social Distancing

Connection is a Verb

How to Nurture Social Emotional Development in Isolation

The Silver Lining: Empathy and Kindness

Are you finding yourself unsettled and anxious? 

Routines? What routines?

What really matters now?

When circumstances jolt us from our routines, it is hard to reset. Business is not the same as usual. For many, the answer is to help others…

If there is a silver lining in all of this… it is that we are experiencing unexpected kindness.

I stopped in my tracks after reading this post in a local chat group. THIS is why the human spirit will not be denied.

How to Help Someone Struggling:

First, to set the scene, you have to create an opportunity to actually talk and meet him where he is. Pick a time and place most comfortable for both of you to have this initial discussion. People tend to be more receptive to conversation when they’re physically comfortable, unhurried and undistracted.

Ask questions. Don’t judge. Don’t demand she change.

Use Open-ended Questions:

By asking open-ended questions, you encourage honest, candid and thoughtful discussions. Open-ended questions use the words who, what, when, where, and how. Below are some conversation starters:

  • How are you doing?
  • What do you like (not like) about your situation?
  • What interests you?
  • What is your virtual world like?
  • What makes ______ appealing?
  • I have noticed that sometimes you have a hard time with (identify a behavior). What makes (name the behavior) hard for you?

If your child or friend resists, ask him, “What feels hard about this?”

If he denies there is a problem, you can say, “Well I have noticed…” and then name a specific series of situations. Ask him what feels uncomfortable or makes him afraid of making that change. Share with him the things that could happen if he were willing to work on this concern and ask him what he would like to be different. You will share with him a picture of possibilities—what it could be like. Some key phrases that are helpful:

  • “I am curious”
  • “Tell me more about that.”
  • “What is that like for you?
  • “What does that feel like?

When you are curious and really listen, you can never go wrong.

Clarify Concerns and Express Empathy:

As she is responding to your questions, be sure to clarify her concerns by being a reflective listener: Listen closely, repeat back what you heard and ask if you understand correctly. You can say: “Here’s what I hear you saying…is that right?” If she feels that her concerns are heard and validated, she will be more open to hearing what you have to say. Accept and validate her sentiments by using you and I statements, such as “You are overwhelmed” and “I am sad you are lonely.”View Post

Finally, and this is very important, be sure to express empathy: “I hear you,” “I get it,” “That must be hard.”

Learn more:

3 Tips to Building Empathy During a Social Crisis

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When Your Tween Acts Up During Lockdown

My stuck-at-home 11-year-old spends her off-school hours on the online game platform Roblox. As screen time goes, it’s a pretty safe, kid-friendly and creative option, since with parental controls I’m able to lock down her privacy (that means no chats, ever).

But she resists screen time limits, argues about getting off Roblox to do chores and tries to push her bedtime later every night. She is worried about not being able to go back to sleep-away camp this summer. And annoyed that she can only FaceTime her friends, instead of seeing them in real life.

I get it. Her reaction is understandable, considering the fraught times we are living in.

But when she gets disrespectful, I can’t go to my usual set of consequences like threatening that she won’t be allowed to attend a friend’s birthday party, or being sent to her room (which is now her sanctuary). All the usual punishments are off the table when everyone is already essentially grounded.

Following are some experts’ suggestions on how to handle conflicts with tweens during lockdown.

Read more from Caroline in The New York Times

5 Ways To Maintain Your Child’s Social Skills During COVID19

Due to COVID-19, government and medical professionals are urging us to stay physically distant and avoid social gatherings of more than 10 people. Although parents are being asked to promote physical distance outside of the family, helping children develop social skills is still possible. As busy people, we don’t always make the time to connect with others in our immediate households—social distancing is the perfect time to do this, no?

Social skills are life skills, and connection to others is essential to mental and physical health. Helping children feel connection is possible, even without playdates and when school is out of session.

Follow these 5 tried-and-true methods of engaging with your family and helping children learn essential social skills, without an electronic device:

Read more in Mind Body Green


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