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Diverse Thinking Different Learning

Nov 2, 2021

As a response to the feedback of last week’s episode, it is clear to me that revisiting the topic of stress and anxiety in children and adolescents is greatly needed. The Covid-19 pandemic has impacted us all in more ways than one and although many students are attending school in person again, things are still stressful and uncertain. Our stress and anxiety levels are constantly fluctuating and we are asking our children to be extremely flexible as they are trying to navigate their current year in school. 

Today we are revisiting episode 6 with Dr. Stephanie Mihalas. This conversation is so meaningful and relevant to the challenges we are continuing to face. By listening, you’ll learn the difference between individual and collective grief, how to address grief associated with the pandemic, the difference between anxiety and trauma, and strategies for managing stress and anxiety.


Show Notes:

[2:28] - Dr. Wilson and Dr. Mihalas discuss the grief people are experiencing after losing our normal way of living.

[4:29] - We are in a state of individual grief and a state of collective grief. Our feelings of anxiety and grief are a completely normal response.

[5:30] - This grief and anxiety isn’t a clinical issue unless it gets to the point where you can’t function anymore. That would be when you need to reach out for support.

[7:10] - Dr. Mihalas says the most important thing we need to do during this time is to acknowledge that our feelings of grief are normal and that we utilize our support systems.

[8:13] - Over 70% of parents are stating that they feel stress and anxiety in regards to distance learning. It is tough to parent when you are feeling this way.

[8:49] - This is the first time many parents are seeing their own children learn and when they see their inattentiveness or struggle, they wonder if there is a learning disability.

[10:54] - Dr. Mihalas also says that parents need to make sure they have dedicated self-care time every single day to avoid burnout and to decompress.

[14:03] - There is debate right now about whether we are experiencing a traumatic event or not. Dr. Mihalas says that it depends on the makeup of the family.

[15:44] - Some people can also experience anxiety and a PTSD response to the challenges we are facing.

[18:00] - The critical factor that compounds this situation is collective family anxiety. Parents want to reassure their children but they are anxious and scared themselves.

[19:47] - Stephanie discusses how children can experience a PTSD response during these times.

[20:26] - Dr. Mihalas is encouraging parents to be vigilant with monitoring their child’s mental health.

[22:28] - Anxiety, stress, and PTSD interfere with the learning process. When you seek help for mental health, you are also helping with learning.

[23:47] - Children may show their anxiety in different ways. Dr. Mihalas lists several examples of this and emphasizes the importance of taking note of issues that impede learning.

[25:15] - There has been focus and concern around learning losses, but Dr. Wilson points out that learning takes place in a social context and losing the opportunity to interact with their peers is something that some children are grieving.

[27:08] - Dr. Mihalas lists a lot of ways to think outside the box on how we can have connections with others. 

[29:36] - Home used to be the place to connect and unwind, but now it is also used for school and work. Stephanie suggests having some symbolism to separate spaces or times to switch gears.


About Our Guest:

Dr. Stephanie Mihalas has a private practice in Los Angeles – The Center for Well Being – where she works on enhancing self-esteem, self-advocacy, and general well-being and happiness in children and families. In her practice, she utilizes a number of techniques including CBT, play therapy, psychodynamic psychotherapy, art interventions, trauma-informed care, and mindfulness techniques.


Connect with Dr. Stephanie Mihalas:


Links and Resources:


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The Diverse Thinking Different Learning podcast is intended for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for medical or legal advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Additionally, the views and opinions expressed by the host and guests are not considered treatment and do not necessarily reflect those of ChildNEXUS, Inc or the host, Dr. Karen Wilson.