• Anita Ness, EMBRACE Your Spark

What our children need to help them Thrive, and a FREE online Anxiety program for Children and Teens

Updated: Aug 31

By Anita Ness, Founder of EMBRACE Calmer Kids


I hope you and your family are well and adjusting to this challenging and surreal time as best you can.


It has been very up and down in our household over the past month. We go through stages of feeling so very grateful for everything we have; a home, technology to connect with our friends, good health, sunshine. But then there are moments, and sometimes several days in a row, where it’s hard to get out of feeling stuck, at a loss for what to do, how to feel, and what the future holds. I hope you are being gentle on yourselves at the moment, because it is so very normal to be feeling a whole range of intense emotions right now.



If your child’s anxiety is heightened and you would like some additional help, there is a free interactive online program called BRAVE created by the University of Queensland. BRAVE was developed by a team of academic researchers over 12 years and it is designed to help children and their parents learn new ways to manage anxiety and stress https://www.brave-online.com/.


I have been searching for ways to bring some light and hope into our family, and also that of our beautiful EMBRACE Calmer Kids Community.


I recently re-discovered Dr Justine Coulson from Happy Families. He has been giving free webinars and sharing great stories and insights that have inspired me to share with you.


Over the past few weeks, I have attended several of his webinars and listened to a few podcasts and videos. I love researching and learning, but it does take lots of time and space which isn’t always easy to find. So, I thought I would share some my favourite key points and also some links with you. If you would like additional information, you can visit the Happy Families Facebook or Website pages.


I found Dr Justin Coulson’s webinar on ‘Adapting to this new reality COVID-19’ really valuable. His advice on how best to help our children get through this challenging time, was to define what they need.


Our children will thrive if they:

  • are Heard – not just their words, but what’s in their hearts

  • experience Humour – laughter and fun creates lightness and releases tension

  • build Healthy Habits – including doing acts of kindness and helping others

Dr Justin Coulson says it’s important for us to share with our children that we understand that it is hard right now, but it won’t always be this way.


When our children feel heard and understood they feel hope, and Hope builds Resilience.


He also helps us out as parents by giving us what he calls the 3 E’s of effective discipline to help us all have smoother days. If you can discipline using soft eyes (ie. with care and compassion in your heart) and the 3 E’s, you will help your child by teaching and guiding them.

  1. Explore – what is going on in their world, so they feel heard. Don’t just say it’s all going to be ok, but truly empathise and sit in their pain and sadness with them for a little while, and then

  2. Explain – what your expectations are and why you have these expectations

  3. Empower – your child by asking them what they think might be a good solution or compromise (if they are too young, you could make suggestions, and then come up with a solution together).

The key is to Connect before you Correct. As parents we may have the tendency to skip straight to Explaining our expectations and why we aren’t necessarily happy, but if we spend time Exploring first, the whole experience will be much more rewarding.


Here are some examples of what you might say as part of Exploring:

  • ‘You seem to be really struggling right now’ – this can help get the conversation started about what’s going on for them

  • ‘Wouldn’t it be great if...’ or ‘I bet you wish so much right now that...' or 'I bet you wish that things were different right now’ – these can expand on your empathising with them, their situation and feelings

The last little gem I took away from Dr Justin’s talk was: Get curious, not furious! Definitely not always easy to do, but quite a good mantra, don't you think?

I hope you find these tips and ideas helpful.


In our family, we have also put into place a routine that includes an hour of exercise (Jazzercise – I know, I never thought I would, but we are, and we love it!!) mid-morning that we do together. It helps us feel more energized, more positive and that we have achieved something before midday (and we get to have a big giggle at how uncoordinated mum is some days).


Stay safe and well, with warmest wishes and virtual hugs.




Founder of EMBRACE Calmer Kids



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