E5 Advice From a Therapist on Overcoming the Struggles of the Pandemic with Claudia Schwarz

Episode Description

This past year has been a tough one… The COVID-19 pandemic brought about its share of challenges that has left us feeling lost on how to overcome them. Thankfully, family & marriage therapist, Claudia Schwarz, joins us on this week’s episode of the Learning Reimagined Podcast to share with us some advice for both parents and their students on how to break through these challenges that the past year has brought. Tune in to hear more!

Key Topics Covered in This Episode:

  • Constructional steps we can take to guide students and families in the midst of the pandemic
  • Managing the fear of another lockdown in the U.S. especially for upcoming seniors
  • Discussing the long-term effects of COVID on students
  • The areas where parents should be stepping in and how to help get kids out of isolation
  • How to break kids from social media addiction
  • Managing behavior difficulties at home
  • Words of advice to seniors, upcoming seniors, and parents of seniors
  • How to help students get their drive back
  • The importance of checking-in on your kids
  • Anxiety and depression in today’s kids


Time Article: The Lost Year

Connect With Claudia:

Claudia’s Instagram 

J. Flowers Instagram

Connect with the hosts:

Learning Reimagined Podcast Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/learningreimaginedthepod/)

Allison’s Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/allidampier/)

Sandy’s Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/sgamba29/)

AdvantagesDLS Instagram (https://www.instagram.com/advantagesdls/)


lr transcripts

Allison: [00:00:00] Hello and welcome to Learning Reimagined. I am Allison. And with me is Sandy. Good afternoon, Sandy. 

Sandy: Hello. I’m so excited. This is fantastic. Allison, how are you? 

Allison: I am doing great. I, I don’t know if I’ve ever been this excited for a conversation with a psychologist in my life. With us today, we are going to have Claudia Schwartz.

She is a marriage and family therapist, and she’s currently working as the regional director of professional relat. With Jay Flower’s Health Institute and we, over the past year, Sandy and I have been inundated with conversations with family, friends and parents regarding the mental health of their students in the lasting effects of the isolation of the pandemic and.

Reintegrating into the world of, of civilization, basically, and the long term effects that, you know, what can we do as parents, as professionals to help our kids? And so Claudia is here to answer all of those questions. I’m, I’m super excited for this. Oh, the 

Sandy: timing is [00:01:00] so perfect and so overdue because like you said, so many parents have been writing to us and I feel like Claudia is just gonna be a wonderful resource and I’m just really looking forward to, to talking.

Allison: I, I really am as well. I was just reading a, a study recently how generalized anxiety disorder in the age group of 13 to 18 year olds has increased 93% over the past year, 90, things like that. It just, it’s staggering and it’s terrifying. And I know a lot of our parents are heavy with that fear and with, with almost a hopelessness.

And how to deal with it with our kids. I know that I have waves of that myself with my kids and I, I, I don’t remember having a cup of coffee with a friend over the past year where this issue has not come up. 

Sandy: No, I agree. I agree. And having kids our own of, of our own, it’s just we see it, we see it firsthand [00:02:00] and how.

This pandemic and, and growing up is hard enough, and these are such formative years. So how do we as parents and how do we help our kids get through this? Right? And so this body will be so instrumental and shedding light. 

Allison: I’m, I, I can’t wait to talk to her. I hope you all enjoy it. 

Hello and welcome to Learning Reimagined. I am Allison Dampier. And with me as always is Sandy Gamba. And in this week’s episode we have with us a very special guest. We have Claudia Schwartz. Claudia is a marriage and family therapist. She’s currently working as the regional director of professional relations with Jay Flowers Health Institute out of Houston, Texas.

Welcome, Claudia. 

Claudia: Thank you so much for happy me. I’m excited to be here. 

Sandy: Very 

excited, Claudia. We’re so happy that you can join us today. We’ve had so many of our families reach out and just super concerned with what do we do? How do we guide our young students, our young [00:03:00] adults or or these families, and the massive fear that has happened through this pandemic and how, what are some constructional steps that we can do to.

Claudia: Well, it’s been a really tough time for everybody. That’s true. Our young people, our children particularly teenagers and adolescents, but also the younger kiddos too. You know, it’s the whole gamut. But I think that there’s a lot of hope and help going forward. Things are starting to open up and I know I still have parents who.

Years that things will shut down again, and then we’ll, what that will mean. And, and yes, there’s that, but I think there’s a lot of things we can do now to sort of help us, bring us out of this, but also understand that going forward is sort of a new normal, because things will never be exactly the same as they’ve been in the past.

But that doesn’t mean they can’t still be great. That’s fantastic. Speaking 

Allison: of, you mentioned the fear of things getting shut down again. I have, I personally have a rising senior, and that is one of her fears. Okay, so it looks like [00:04:00] school should be going back to normal, but there’s always that hesitancy cuz they’re so afraid, right?

That there’s been over the past years, so many things just we’re excited for that. Get canceled. We’re excited to get canceled. Yes. And how do we. Reassure them that, you know, things are going to be okay going into these, to the next school year, into their 

Claudia: senior year. Well, and because, you know, no one can predict that it will be the same and that it might not shut down.

I always want to be truthful with kids. I, I’m not really a believer in sugar coating it so much that you’re really lying to them or promising them something. Will not come true or may not come true because then you’re making it worse when that does happen because then your kids are looking to you for support and guidance and, and to be the people who know it all.

And if you say something that may not be true later, then you may regret that. So but being honest about it doesn’t mean it has to be doom and gloom or that has to be a negative thing. It can just be, you know what it looks like [00:05:00] things are gonna open up, so we’re gonna plan for it to. That way. But you also, I think, wanna have in the back of your head, what happens if something does shut down?

Again, how will be we be prepared just in case? Because I think people feel much better when there’s a backup plan, when they know that there’s something else that they can fall back on or rely on in the event, things change. We had no idea what this pandemic would look like, so no one was prepared for it.

We, Right. How could you, So, of course, mistakes were made or, Or maybe as parents, you know, we didn’t navigate well. But now that we know, I think a much better plan can be made going forward. And that can even be as simple as things like you know, if, if we do end up shutting down again for another month, somewhere in between how are we going to arrange the way you do school or the way I do work while you’re doing school, and all of that.

Just having a plan and every family’s so different. So I can’t talk about every scenario. Sure. Wish I could cuz I have these conversations all day. With families. Mm-hmm. . [00:06:00] But having a plan, there’s so much just hope in that, and also comfort knowing that, okay, at least if something does happen, here’s what’s going on, but we’re going to forge ahead as if things are gonna be back to normal again.

That, that’s really, 

Allison: that, that really hits home with me. My, my daughter this past year, she’s been almost obsessive with plan. If I’m leaving to go to the grocery store, well, when are you gonna be back? Like, how long are you going to be gone? It’s, there’s still a bit of fear in that they need that reassurance.

Yes, absolutely it does worry me. Are these effects long term? You know, every time the TV is on, there’s so much negativity, social media, so much negativity, so much canceling with this ingestion of, of mass fear for such a prolonged period of time. What does the future look like for these kids? 

Claudia: Well, and there’s no doubt that there are going to be some lasting effects.

How can there not be? This has been too significant of a year, but part of [00:07:00] the good news is that they’ve all been going through it. So it’s not just your daughter who’s had to go through this. It’s her entire. Senior class or junior class right now, you know, all the kids are going through. So they do have that commonality, which means that when they eventually do go back to school and they’re able to talk about things and they will, they will be talking about it in classes and with their peers because the peer, peer groups haven’t been the same social groups.

A lot of parts of the country. I live in California, so there’s a lot of places in California that the kids are still not back in school and they, they haven’t seen their. They just haven’t because of the social distancing rules. So once kids come back together again, there will be a lot to talk about.

And I think the processing is so important, being able to talk about it. Now, that doesn’t mean we go and talk about covid all the time because I think we’re all pretty covid weary and which we didn’t have to talk about it anymore, but talking about your feelings about cert, how certain things, milestones that you missed or things that happened in your family, [00:08:00] things that were funny, things that were hard.

All of those, all that processing is healthy. It’s healthy for kids, it’s healthy for adults. 

Sandy: I think it makes them more resilient too. I think not just for students, but as families and, and as we go through 

Claudia: this process. So it really, it can, it absolutely can. I think our kids are actually pretty strong and we as parents are stronger than they thought.

We thought we were. I know I had to suddenly be working at home all the time with kids running around and things happening and it wasn’t always easy, but we did it somehow. Somehow we made it work and our kids made it work, and I. I think part of that learning constantly being online all the time without any social interaction, was probably the hardest on all of us.

Mm-hmm. . And that’s the piece we’re most excited about getting back to. And I just wanna encourage families to, you know, to focus on rebuilding relationships that maybe you’ve lost, not lost, as in they’re not your friend anymore, but just you weren’t able to physically see each other and therefore [00:09:00] you’ve lost touch.

Right. Because kids in particular can’t be that good at. They’ll text and they’ll do all that kind of stuff, but the face to face stuff, because they’ve been isolated for so long. Mm-hmm. , they have to learn to talk in person again. That, 

Allison: that’s actually one of our listeners put that question in because teenagers nowadays are more prone to text.

Yes. And now for the past year, their whole schoolwork, literally they have not had to talk face to face. They can sit there. Right. In many cases with their camera off. Mm-hmm. , they can type in the chat box their responses. They haven’t had any face to face or verbal communication. How, how do we get them back to have that come from?

Cuz we’ve lost a full year. I mean, they’re, they’re kind of socially inept anyway at this age. But now add this into it. How do we get them back to reengage? 

Claudia: Well, and that’s, that’s gonna be harder for some kids. Some kids are eager to get back to face. Face to face. I will say that girls tend to be more eager.[00:10:00] 

Some girls outgoing girls, outgoing boys tend to want to get out there and you know, they will go. But some of the more introverted boys and girls, Even introverted adults who have loved the isolation . Right. I felt like this is fantastic. I don’t have to talk to anybody. Mm-hmm. . It’s so important to not just encourage them, but if you’re seeing your kiddo especially Isolating or continuing to isolate when they don’t need to anymore.

They need to have a push. Think about it like this. When your kids were younger and they didn’t know maybe how to make friends and you had to set up play dates for them, you had to take a little bit more control. Even if you haven’t had to do that in a long time, you have to step in and remind them, Hey, why don’t you call Kevin and see if he wants to get together, or, Why don’t you call your friend Susie?

And if they’re not, maybe talking to Susie’s mom and saying, Hey, can we get them together? Have Susie call my daughter. I just think that some kids are going to need a lot more handholding through that just because they’ve probably gotten too comfortable [00:11:00] with the isolation. 

Allison: So it’s okay for parents to step in and parents to be of, It is proactive in this.

Even if your daughter or son is 15 years old, it’s okay. Maybe invite the family over for dinner or something 

Claudia: and just, Yes. Yes. And with teenagers, the older they get, the trickier it gets because they don’t want mom and dad intervening. But you know, You have to try, because if they do resist or they become angry or they really shut down, that might be a signal to you that something deeper is wrong and that they may need more help than what you can give.

And that’s when you can start talking about, okay, well maybe we need to take it a further step. Maybe they need to talk to someone. You know, that’s how you kind of gauge it. Because most kids are going to be able to get back to real life pretty well, but there’s going to be quite a few, I think more so than ever in the past that are gonna struggle with depression, anxiety.

If, if kids were anxious before, they might be way more [00:12:00] anxious now even to set foot back in the classroom if that’s what’s going to happen in the fall. You know, Claudia, many of our 

Sandy: parents have, have written about this, and I too, with our generation, we did, we didn’t grow 

Claudia: up with social media. Mm-hmm. . 

Sandy: And so now as we see our, our students, our kids, they’re, I don’t wanna use the word addicted, but they’re really spending a lot of time, especially through this past year mm-hmm.

just with their phone on their, on their computers. So how do we. How do we do that? How do we help them get off of 


Allison: Or just break that addiction almost. 

Claudia: Yes. How does that Yeah, and that’s a great question because I, I get that question a lot too, and. The EAs or not the easy answer cuz I think you can schedule things with younger kids.

You, when once school starts and activities happen again, I’m always encouraging parents, your kids should always be enrolled in an activity that’s outside the home. It doesn’t matter what it is, It doesn’t have to be a sport cuz some kids aren’t [00:13:00] sporty. It can be a chess club or an art. Art club or it can be whatever, but kids have to be out of the house and sometimes they need parents help to actually get out of the house if they don’t like that.

As kids are older teenagers, if you’ve got the mopy, grum, crumbly teenager that a lot of us have , I say that from experience as I am. Boys that like to be grumpy sometimes and they don’t wanna hear about it, and they just wanna stay hold up in their room. It’s when you have to take a firm hand and say, Look, this is what needs to happen.

You can have your time, but I also wanna see you outside going to a friend’s house doing something. You have to enforce that. And then again, if you can’t get your kid out of their room, that’s a huge red flag because. As they get older, that will become worse. That’s not something that they grow out of automatically.

They need help with that because most, most of the severe cases of teenagers that I’ve seen who have gone into deep depression are ones that have just continued to isolate. But where there’s a lot of hope and help is when [00:14:00] you jump in get them some help if they need it, but also help get them out even if you have to, you know?

Just give more activities or things like that for them to do, even as a family, because that’s important too. You’ve gotta model that. Because if you’ve got a dad, for example, who is always on the computer or always on his phone or, or playing video games himself, which happens a lot nowadays cuz some of the younger dads are of that generation with the video games and things like that.

So they, if you’re modeling that, Child sees that they’re going to think, Oh, well this is, this is what happens when you’re adult too. So I don’t understand why I need to get out and go do something. So it’s really important to see what you are doing so that you can model that better behavior. I love that term, hope and help.

Yes, too. There’s so much hope and help. There really is. It’s scary, it’s daunting everything that’s been going on, but really I think I, I see kids pulling through. I see a lot of smiles on kids. I, I really do. Even in Zoom calls or past therapy sessions, I, I see smiles on kids [00:15:00] too. So it’s there. It’s just they need to be engaged and 

Allison: it’s, and parents need to step in.

A lot of times I think parents kind of go hands off, especially with the teenage years and, Oh, it’s just normal. They’re a teenager, they’re gonna be hold up in their room. They spend more time in there than anywhere else, and, and that’s not okay, is what I’m hearing. You know, it, there’s a, to a degree it’s normal, but it’s okay for us as parents to kind of push the issue and get them out and, and it’s a red flag.

If we can’t succeed in that, that is a red flag that where we might need to get extra. I don’t wanna alarm parents because it is more normal than not for them to actually respond and, you know, come out of their room and do some engagement with outside, if you know that, that if you can’t get ’em to do that, that would be a red flag.

So I think that’s important for parents to see. You know the difference? Like what, what’s a typical and atypical behavior? 

Claudia: Yeah. And if you’re feeling like you don’t know, then reach out and ask someone. You know, it’s really okay to call a therapist or to call [00:16:00] many therapists, give free consultations, you know, to just, or even to talk on the phone, ask some questions.

Sometimes the school psychologist is a good person to talk to about, Hey, does this seem normal? It’s usually where I tell parents to start. Okay. Because sometimes behavior at home is not the same as at school. Many times I’ll have parents say, Oh my child, they, they must have a disorder because they’re just raging all the time and they don’t listen and they’re disrespectful and, and then when I talk to the teachers, they’ll say, Oh, they’re the most pleasant student we have in class, and all of that.

And you know, 

Allison: they do their best 

Claudia: behavior. They are, they are. But you know, part of that is students you know, kids are going to feel they’re, they’re going act like that where they’re most comfortable. When they’re at home and they’re with you. They know that you love them. They know that you love them unconditionally.

So of course they’ll show their ugly side because they don’t typically have the fear that you’re going to reject them. So I tell a lot of parents, if your child is ugly to you right now, it, that will probably change later on. But the teenage years are tough. You know, they’re tough for [00:17:00] everybody. That that piece is normal, but , you know, it just, it’s just usually can tell when it starts to feel not normal.


Allison: in that situation, I know you’re very big on honesty and being straightforward with, with use. When your child is either A, lashing out like that, or b holding up in their room and not coming out as a parent, is it productive to confront it face on with him and say, Are you doing this? You’re bored.

Are you doing this because you’re scared you don’t have those open conversations, or is that going to draw more attention to the issues? 

Claudia: I believe in confronting the issue. Most definitely. I’m not a believer in placating kids or saying, you know, I wanna say this kindly to parents that they’re, they’re afraid sometimes to confront their kids, especially their older ones.

And so they don’t want to say something that might set them off more. , but you need to do that. You need to see what is going to set them off to see. Because if they’re doing this at [00:18:00] home, eventually, if it’s more and more and more and more, that could extrapolate to outside the home and we would never wanna have that.

So it’s important to have those conversations and asking about it, but also to recognize when you need to disengage and just walk away because you’re not really getting anywhere. You know, having shouting matche. That’s not solving the problem, but asking the questions and letting the kids know that you’re here to listen.

Sometimes I just step away. Then after I’ve said what I had to say, just to wait for them to come back to be able to talk about it, it’s a fine, a fine dance. I, It’s not easy. It’s not easy at all. But I always encourage also parents to talk to each other, to have some support because I guarantee you, whatever you’re going through, you are not going through it alone.

There is another parent. And parents don’t always talk about it, cuz sometimes it’s embarrassing. You’re embarrassed. Right? 

Allison: You don’t wanna admit any faults with your parent routine or with your, your child. 

Claudia: Absolutely. Exactly. So of course there are always professionals around, but you, hopefully [00:19:00] there are some friends or teachers are great, are great supports as our anybody in the school because sometimes the school principals are very involved and they know what’s going on.

If they see that your child is always the one that’s smiling and happy, but at home they’re grumpy, then you at least you can engage a better. Okay. Good at. I’m, you know, things are going okay, but if you hear them at school, raging and grumpy and all of that too. Okay, we need to take it a step further. But then, you know, talk to your, talk to the professionals there at school and ask what they would recommend.

That’s so 

Sandy: helpful to hear. Now, Claudia, we, we talked about students feeling anxious and 



Sandy: you have a current senior. I have a current senior, Allison has a rising senior. So what are some words of advice that you have for. This next class as they launch into the college search what they’re gonna do.

There’s a lot of conversation about, do I do a gap year? There’s just so much that is causing more anxiety. Yeah. And so, I mean our, the Time magazine [00:20:00] that just got released, all of that is being talked about. So as parents that are listening, what, what are some words of advice 

Claudia: that he would. Sure. Yeah, that’s a huge that CO is causing a lot of anxiety for students and, and parents.

You know, with the gap year, that can be a great option for a student, but it parents need to keep in mind, it has to be a structured gap year. It can’t just be, I’m taking a year off because that’s a real recipe for disaster. There has to be a predetermined goal. I’m going to be doing this with my year off of school.

Whether that’s to you know, strengthen, let’s say strengthen their GPA because they want to get into a better school or strengthen their abilities in a sport because they’d like to play a sport in school, or they’d like to maybe spend a semester abroad because they’d like to do that with their, their time or go volunteer somewhere during the year.

There’s any number of things that You can do it with a structured gap year, but that is very, very key. And it [00:21:00] has to be decided beforehand. And it has to be a commitment just like a school would be. So that I wanna really strongly say, because I’ve, I’ve worked with families who said, Oh, my kids just gonna take a gap year.

In fact, there were families that, that did that this year Sure. Just because of, of Covid. But the kids didn’t have a plan and there was not much they could do. So they sat around in the rooms and then did nothing. Really dove into a deep depression because they just felt like they were a loser, right?

Cause I did nothing with my year now, and I had some friends that went to college and did it online. And so it can be very successful, but you just need to have a plan. And it doesn’t have to have to be anything fancy, but it just needs to be a plan now for college. It is a scary time because most kids were not in school this whole senior year.

So not only were they not in school and having classroom time now, they haven’t even been prepared by their school for what college will look like, and they’re going in super blind. So the best I can say is to use, if they’re going to a college, even a community [00:22:00] college, to use whatever resources they have there to help them with introductions.

Almost every single. All the way down to the community college level, have introductory meetups, things like that. And especially if you have a shy child, go with them , if that’s what needs to happen to get them there, get them involved. Get them talking to someone who’s either a professor at the college or something to get them so that they can get connected, because it is, I think it’s more scary now than it was for kids in the past, just because they.

There’s been no preparation whatsoever. 

Allison: Yeah. There’s been no prep work and they haven’t been in person for a year. And now hopefully everything opens back up by fall. But now they’ve gone for a full entire year of not being on a school campus to go into a big college campus or even a smaller camp college campus, it’s going to be bigger than their high school.

And so it’s a very. Daunting. It could be very daunting for students. 

Claudia: It can, and I think also a good idea is to have a backup [00:23:00] plan for that as well, because some parents, if you are sending your, particularly sending your kids to a college that you’ve saved up for them and it, it’s quite expensive if it were to go virtual in the fall.

Are you able to pay for that or prepared to pay for that? Even if they’re sitting at home because they can’t be physically on campus. So many parents are not and have said, No, I’m not gonna pay unless it’s, you know, I’m, I’m gonna do online school for a semester or something like that. So, but that all needs to be mapped out ahead of time.

And that was what I was talking about, being prepared with the students because if they know that ahead of time, that way, if it does happen, it’s not a shock to where they’re so upset because, Well, wait a minute, you didn’t tell me now I’d be at home. There has. A backup plan. So if that happens, you’ll be at home doing virtual, but you’ll also be doing this and that to, you know, help further your, your goals and things like that.

But that plan is so important, that really helps alleviate anxiety. 

Allison: The article that Sandy was alluding to, she mentioned on Time Magazine. [00:24:00] This, I believe it comes out April 12th. The, the cover is a young woman sitting in front of school lockers and it’s titled The Lost. And it’s talks about how the pandemic changed an entire generation of kids.

Yes. And it, it’s a very interesting article for all of us who have kids in, in schools at this age. Not just college kids, but it does talk about the struggles of these students as they’re trying to apply for college. And the, the young lady that they highlighted in the first article, she’s taking, signed up to take the S s A T where she had, you know, practiced and was ready and it got canceled.

Mm-hmm. and the next two sit sit downs were canceled and it str she struggled then to get into college and it just, it’s some, it’s a real life story that we all are living and dealing with and it’s there are some practical things to deal with in here that have been helpful. But it is, it’s, it’s, they are an asterisks generation and it.

Helpful to hear some practical things that we can do to help them as [00:25:00] they pursue college or just life after the pandemic. Right, Right. It’s a good article. We’ll put the link to it on our our page because it’s, it’s a really good article and they have online version of it, so you can take a look. The other thing that I’m really concerned with and that they do mention it in this time article is the, the lack of drive.

I remember when the pandemic first started. My daughter’s school did no harm grading, meaning their grades can’t go down. And so if a student is sitting with an A, there’s nothing they need to do to increase their grades. So my daughter basically took a six month nap. Yep. And I joke, but, but it’s true. For six months she didn’t really have to do schoolwork, and now we’re back at school 50%.

And so the teachers, I truly believe they do the best they can, but going to school, 50% in person, 50% online, there is no way they’re getting a hundred percent of the content. Yeah. And they know that the kids know it. Mm-hmm. . And so [00:26:00] my own daughter, who’s been a very high achieving student, very motivated.

Her drive has decreased. Mm-hmm. and I, What do we do about that with, with parents? How do we help them find that motivation to engage again, not just engage socially, but just a whole year has gone by with. Almost lackadaisical approach to education. How do we encourage that motivation again, how do we get it?

Claudia: Right. And so for the older students the older teenagers I think it’s again, a little tougher because SATs, my son had the same thing. We Sure. He never took the s a t or s a t cuz it was never offered anywhere. So he just went in. Well, most of the colleges. This year and next year aren’t looking at the SATs anyway.

But that also contributes to that lack of motivation because if you’re not even studying for that, you know, that’s just one more thing you’re taking off the table. Oh, I guess I don’t need to do that. Right? So that motivation and drive, it’s [00:27:00] tough because even. 50%. I think that it’s probably going to be tougher for a lot of kids in the fall because that this whole last year the schoolwork has been easier just because they haven’t been in person and they haven’t had to have that daily accountability like they’ve had.

Mm-hmm. . So it will be hard. I will say parents need to have patience with their kids, but I think there has to be a lot more supervision going into it from day one, even with the older kids, just to stay on top of them and their grades. Even if you didn’t have to in the past, if you’ve got somebody who is a straight A student since birth and you know, they’re okay, that’s one thing, but most kids don’t fall into that bucket.

Most kids are going to, you know, Some kids struggle with one class, maybe not the rest of them, but wherever, you know, they have some struggles. You have to be monitoring it. And if they are having trouble within the first month, that’s when you get a tutor. That’s when you get help. You don’t wait. You absolutely don’t wait because it will snowball.

So I just. A big [00:28:00] proponent of being proactive and really starting from the get go, even if you haven’t had to in the past. Because it, we don’t really know what to expect. But if we’re prepared for it all, if it doesn’t happen, great. If they still are able to work on it, great. But if it does happen, then at least you know, okay, here’s what we’re gonna do.

But the communication with the kids has to be just that. You have to be honest with them, Hey, we don’t know what to expect. And I don’t know what the schoolwork will look like. Maybe cuz kids really all have to catch up. Mm-hmm. , it’s not. If you had Algebra one this year and you have Algebra two next year, I don’t know what kind of Algebra one you had online this entire time with your regular school.

So are you really ready for algebra two? I don’t know. I don’t know the answer to that, but you have to prepare, be prepared in case you’re not. So 

Allison: how quickly do you think our kids can bounce back? I mean, I, I know. kids are resilient. I, I see the younger children, the elementary kids who are going back, they’re more in full force in person, middle school and high school seems to be lagging at least in our part of the country.

Right. But [00:29:00] how quickly, if, if next year comes along and they are in full per, you know, full time person, in person, excuse me, how quickly can we expect them to bounce back for the expectations to be, you know, the higher rigor and whatnot? Do you think there’ll be a lag period? Do we, do you think we’ll see?

More dropouts and more kids just saying, You know what, This is not what I signed up for anymore. You know, that, that challenge of getting them back up to the level where they were. A year ago or a year and a half ago, by the time they go back, 

Claudia: Well, you know, I don’t wanna pretend to know that know exactly what’s going to happen and predict that, but I do think there will be a lag.

I do. I, I think, how can there not be, because it’s going to be a learning curve for them just to sort of get back to things. Think about this when kids go home for the summer, And they come back to school. There’s the excitement. They’re very excited. You know, the first couple weeks it’s all excitement and suddenly it’s like, Oh, I’m back in school again.

And you have to get them back into that, you know, routine and all of that. Well, now it’s been more than a year of that, [00:30:00] right? So just exponentially that has grown that. Period of time. So you have to predict that it’s gonna take a little bit longer for them to get back into sync. And it may take kids that, it may take kids this year to get back to a real, you know, feeling like this is real because there’s so much unpredictability anyway in, in what’s happening around us.

But the more predictable you can be at home with, the more support that they can have, the better chance they have. So I just think they, they can be a rockstar. All the supports there and you’re on top of it with them and you know, just trying to be on the lookout for those red flags so that if they need more support, then you can get it for them, but they’ll bounce back.

I, Yes, that’s what I, I’m sorry. Ok, sorry. . 

Sandy: I love that analogy because we all experience that summer lag, but this is just much a longer, and so I think having grace with our teachers and just make also with our [00:31:00] students and our families, but the providing the structure component is so key and I, that’s just something you keep reiterating and I think that’s really helpful for parents that are listening.


Claudia: I think that. Definitely I do. I can’t say it enough. Structure, structure, structure. Even the older kids parents will say to me, Oh, well my son, you know, he’s in ninth grade now and he can pretty much do so much for himself. And I, I keep telling parents, they don’t realize that kids don’t need less supervision as they get older.

Some in some areas they need more because as they’re getting older, Once they can drive or they have a car, or you trust them enough to be out, you know, till 11 o’clock at night or riding in cars with other people, there’s so much more opportunity for trouble to happen or for poor decisions to be made than when they’re right there at your house and they’re younger and you have to take them places.

So I remind parents about that. They may be mature. It doesn’t mean that they can’t still make mistakes. So you still have to check in. You have to know who they’re with. You have to know their friends and, and all of that [00:32:00] because it, it’s just so important. But it also shows them that you care. Even if they tell you, Oh mom, you know, I can, Some kids get really angry.

I know my own son. Really, You know, you have to keep asking me where I do. Cause I love, you know? But yes, I do. I’m your mom. Well, you know, Johnny. Parent don’t, Johnny’s parents don’t ever check in on him. Like, Well, that I’m sorry that, you know, you don’t have Johnny’s parents, You hug me though, and, and I care and this is what I’m doing.

So it’s so, so important. And just that structure too. I, I just can’t say it enough. 

Allison: I wanna change gears a little bit and not focus necessarily on the covid and the pandemic and the isolation that our kids have dealt with. But something else that has bothered me pre pandemic even. There’s such a rise in teen anxiety and depression.

Mm-hmm. that you, you hear it in back, you know, five years ago all we heard about was the bullying that was happening in school. Yes. And now I hear only about the anxiety that’s happening in school. Is it just [00:33:00] like the, the phrase of the year? Or is it, is there truly a rise in anxiety and depression? Is it just.

We are more open to talk about it. So it’s being diagnosed more openly or is it kind of a fallback? Oh, it just must be anxiety and depression, you know, that what, what is your experience? And I, I know Covid has exacerbated it with a lot of people, but just generally speaking is, is our whole entire teen population anxious and.

Claudia: I don’t think our whole entire population is okay, but I do think that there is a significant rise in anxiety and depression. The pressures are, Significant. I think starting with middle school, sometimes even younger, but the pressures, social media has created a lot of pressure for kids. And I know we’ve talked about it before most, most parents have have talked about it, but it’s not just the platforms like Instagram or Snapchat where they see things.

It’s, it’s gaming now because all the [00:34:00] kids are playing their games together. Chatting with each other on the game. Interesting. So if they’re chatting and then someone’s left out, they weren’t invited to play in this game, and then they find out they weren’t invited to play with their buddies. I mean, it’s a whole nother realm that’s added in because the games used to be personal and you could, and you’d invite a friend over or you would play with one person once they became an online platform.

Oh, it’s not like that anymore. So, And the bullying, I haven’t thought about that. So it can happen anywhere. So yes, the anxiety, but also the pressures, especially as these kids are getting older. One thing that I will say about, you know, when we were talking about just kind of monitoring your kids to see where they’re at, you wanna look at them academically.

The years between seventh and ninth grade, or seventh and 10th grade are really key because kids who are very, very smart can fake their way through. Middle school usually to ninth grade, and right around there is when, when the work gets exponentially harder. Mm-hmm. and they’re smart. But if they have [00:35:00] some kind of processing issue, which a lot of people have, a lot of people have difficulty with some numbers or perhaps their brain doesn’t think the same way for language that others do.

So, If they start not being able to do it, that creates an anxiety in them. And then they start to think, Oh my gosh, I, what’s happening? I used to be smart. I’m not anymore. I don’t think I’m gonna take those classes anymore. Or I’m just not gonna raise my hand anymore. And pretty soon their grades are going down in that class and maybe that extrapolates to other classes.

I see that a lot. It can shift. It doesn’t, it’s not always during between a certain grade. But somewhere between that seventh and 10th grade, that can happen and that can create a huge anxiety, which might lead kids to a different friend group because their previous friends who were, who are all smart and are doing just fine, suddenly they can’t keep up.

So now their rest, maybe to a friend group who’s less desirable, might be using substances to help, you know, dumb down their anxiety and help make them feel calm. You know, there’s so many [00:36:00] things coping. Poor coping skills that kids will reach out to cuz they just don’t know what else is out there. So it’s really key for parents to keep track of, you know, what might be causing that.

But anxiety can be from social, it can be from ed educational, it can be from family stuff happening in the family. If parents some parents have the best of intentions wanna stay together for their kids, even though, you know, they’re. Knowing the second the kids are out, I’m gonna get a divorce. Kids sense, that kind of thing when there’s tension.

So there’s a lot of factors that con contribute, but I think what’s key is coping skills. Helping those kids figure out, how do I cope with whatever the anxiety is so that they don’t go down a path that’s negative or that might follow them and lead them down a road that’s really unhealthy. What would be 

Allison: some red flags that parents should look for to seek?

Claudia: Well, definitely academically grades that are dropping where previously grades hadn’t dropped. If you have somebody that’s struggled all through school, I recommend testing . Something’s [00:37:00] wrong if you’re struggling all through school, but if you have a kid who is suddenly struggling and hadn’t struggled before, not just, it’s, I don’t wanna blame Covid on everything, because if you’ve got kids in those middle school, high school years, it, it possibly is completely unrelated to the isolation piece of it.

So, if they’re struggling in a subject or struggling, You know, just with school in general, that’s a red flag. If suddenly they’re not hanging out with the same friends or younger kids aren’t playing with the same friends, but they’re not talking about it, that’s a red flag too. Like, why suddenly you just spent, you know, Joey was your best friend and now we haven’t seen Joey in months.

What’s happening? Or you haven’t even been talking to him and they don’t wanna talk about it. You wanna pry, you need to figure out what’s going on. Something’s a red flag there. So, and then if they’re not sleeping, because kids that don’t sleep, kids should be able to sleep. Kids actually need a lot more sleep than parents realize.

And if your kid isn’t getting very much sleep or wanting to stay up till all hours, you’ve gotta enforce the bedtime. And if they [00:38:00] can’t do it because their wheels are just spinning, spinning, that’s an anxiety. That’s triggering something’s going on that they can’t sleep, and it could be a simple fix, like they’re on their devices too late in the evening, but it also could be that they’re going through something and they can’t shut it off.

It goes back to your structure. 

Sandy: Yes. Back to just 

Claudia: defining that for your students. Yes. A lot goes back to the structure that is very. Yeah. And then also, of course, other physical symptoms are important too. If they are not eating, like they were either overeating or not eating as much. Some parents don’t pay as close attention to that cause they feel like, well, they’re growing, you know, maybe they’re not eating as much now as they used to.

Growing kids most of the time are eating more. So if they’re eating less, that’s, that’s really key. Something’s probably going on. But then if somebody’s really overeating and they’re not an athlete and burning all of that off, that could be a coping skill for something going on inside of them. 

Allison: That, those, that’s great things to look out for.

Absolutely. Ah, [00:39:00] Claudia, this has been such a wonderful hour. I appreciate your time so much. I know our listeners do as well. I feel 

Claudia: better . I do, I do. I’m 

Sandy: just walking away with this, with this hope and help. I 

Claudia: love it. I, I just, you feel 

Sandy: lifted you bring such light to so much of this conversation that just.

Is, is, is a lot that we’re all dealing with. So thank 

Claudia: you, Claudia, for your time. You’re so very welcome. I enjoy talking with families, talking with you all, of course. But it’s my passion. I, because I, as a parent always wanted to be supported too, so I have counted on friends and professionals to help me and I have always wanted to give back.

So I really, I appreciate you having me on today. 

Allison: We appreciate you being here. And for our listeners, we will put Claudia’s contact information on our Instagram page. So if you have further questions for Claudia or for Sandy or me, you can always reach out to us at learning reimagined the pod at gmail.com or our learning [00:40:00] reimagined, the pod Instagram page.

Claudia, this has been wonderful. Thank you so much. 

Claudia: Thank you. Take care, . Take care.