Reducing School-related Stress & Anxiety Workshop Summary - ELPC Meeting: October 17, 2018

Summary of Event and Tips for Reducing Stress & Anxiety:
A group of local parents, community members, school counselors, principals and district leaders gathered over a breakfast workshop to learn, share and discuss how families can recognize & reduce childhood Stress & Anxiety. Wendy Drew, MS in Psychology and ELPC Co-President and DHCA Wellness Committee Chair volunteered to design and facilitate the educational session for families and stakeholders of DeKalb County School District. Wendy began the session with a guided breathing and mindfulness welcome demonstrating many simple techniques to immediately calm the mind and body (see Tips to Quickly Calm Anxiety). Next, a panel of DCSD counseling leaders and local Psychologist in Private Practice and Academia discussed what the most common childhood stressors were and how to recognize them, as well as what the DCSD is doing at the district and local level to address the growing level of stress and anxiety. For the remainder of the workshop, the panelists led five small group discussions and captured solutions for families to implement at home or in schools. The session ended with a reminder of upcoming DCSD events and encouragement to implement at least one new tip and reach out to your local school counselor with any questions or concerns.

Common Themes from Group Discussions:
• Anxiety is occurring at much younger ages, but many have seen improvements with accurately diagnosing and treating many common anxiety factors.
• There are many innovative stress buster initiatives and amazing resources available in our schools and community, but it starts with parents asking for help when challenges arise.
Small Group Discussion Topics & Results
Common Childhood Stressors
• Panel discussion among Ms. Makeba West – DCSD Region 2 Coordinator for School Psychologists as well as panelist/facilitators listed below
• Social Relational
• Bullying
• Learning Disabilities/Challenges (Testing is recommended to properly determine disability level)
• Home & Family Stress and Conflict
• Academic Anxiety, Testing, College/career expectations
• Living up to parent expectations (kids internalize a lot)
• Built up generalized stress
• Actual anxiety disorders/Medical impairments
Questions Parents can use to Gauge Anxiety
• Facilitated by Dr. LaRonta Upson-Rush - Private Licensed Psychologist at Healthy Minds Psychology Assoc. in Lakeside Cluster
• What was the Peak and Pit of your Day: “What was the highlight of your day? What are you looking forward to this week? Not looking forward to...?”
• Questions to Ask instead of "How was your day?"
• Notice the Behavior First, then ask specific questions: “I noticed that you slammed the book on the table. What’s bothering you?”

Tips to Quickly Calm Stress & Anxiety
• Facilitated by Ms. Crista Mader – Briar Vista parent volunteer and DHCA Wellness Committee and webmaster.
• Breathe! Count to 10 with deep breaths. Try These Breathing exercises. Holding your hand out palm facing away from you, trace your finger across the edge and top of each finger while counting to 10 on each breath (or count to 100 if needed)
• 15-second Toe scrunches
• Take a walk, get some fresh air - Movement
• Dancing, Moving, Stomping Mat
• Tight Hugs
• Humor/Positive Reinforcement
• Tapping (Signal, Sensory, Self-Talk)
• Validation/Witnessing/Resolution
• Change your Attitude: Life is 10% what happens to you & 90% how you react to it (Charles. Swindell); If you don’t like something, change it. If you can’t change it, change your attitude (Maya Andelou)
• Flower: Candle Breath
• Meditation
• Remind Children of Past Successes and similar situations they’ve overcome/Self-Efficacy
• Restating/Mirroring what someone says to show they are understood
• Letting someone download and say all that is bothering them at once
• Yelling/Scream Therapy
• Conscious Discipline website tips

Classroom Stress Busters to try at Home
• Facilitated by Ms. Takiedra White – Druid Hills High School Counselor and former Counselor at Pathways Transitions Inc.
• Exercise/Rapid Energy Release/3 min energy release/Dancy Party
• PBIS: Positive Behavior……: Reward and recognition
• Empowering statements
• Mindfulness/Encourage Being in the Moment/Modeling Mindfulness
• Stress Buster Meetings (set time each week to tackle stress)
• Foster Acceptance and Understanding
• Dedicated Family Time

Teen Tips – What You’ll Wish You’d Known
• Facilitated by Dr. Amanda Rumsey – Private Licensed Psychologist, former DCSD school counselor and Druid Hills parent
• Major Development Growth (physical, morale, social, cognitive)
• As a parent, its ok to say NO & hold your values.
• It’s not fatal to be their parent and hold children accountable.
• Its ok to take devices away, at night and as consequences.
• Peer influence is strong but parental power and love is stronger!
• Parents are only for carpool, Friends are their true peer source.
• Let them learn thru peers but verify and support.
• The most important thing of today won’t matter so much tomorrow.
• The impulse control function of the teen brain has not fully developed.

Resource Ideas
• Facilitated by Ms. Alva Archibald – DCSD Lead School Psychologist across K-12 schools in Lakeside cluster
• Our amazing School Counseling and Administration Staff
• DCSD School Psychology Dept. Monthly Newsletter
• Stress in Children: Strategies for Parents and Educators (Handout)
• DCSD Infinite Campus APP (for school schedule, assignments, and grades)
• Druid Hills Middle School Newsletter on Mindfulness
• DCSD Bullying Resources
• CDC Body and Mind (BAM!) Stress Reduction Tips: & CDC BAM! Bully Beware resources & Comebacks for Bullies
• Second Steps Program – classroom lesson (small groups, homework)
• Psychologists, Pediatricians, Medical professionals (and websites)
• School Psychology Monthly Newsletter
• APPS & Facebook Groups: DailyOM, Power of Positivity, Headspace

This session was organized and facilitated by Wendy Wheeler Drew, who currently is the ELPC Co-President and active member of District-wide and Druid Hills Middle parent councils, as well as a Learning & Organizational Development Leader at Georgia-Pacific and Independent Yoga & Wellness Consultant. This workshop was co-hosted by Emory Lavista Parent Council (ELPC) and Druid Hills Cluster Alliance's (DHCA) Health & Wellness Committee. ELPC spans the Lakeside and Druid Hills schools cluster to promote educational opportunities for families in our community. DHCA is the Cluster Parent Council for Druid Hills High, Middle and all our feeder elementary schools.