HobbyScool Summit: Back to School Edition

The HobbyScool Summit: Back to School Edition

Are you concerned that your child isn’t quite ready for the new school year? Don’t worry – the Back to School Summit has you covered! This online summit will help you and your child be prepared for the upcoming school year. 

This free event kicks off on Tuesday, September 13th and features 19 speaker presentations that will cover topics such as how to set goals, how to study smarter, and how to get organized to set your child up for success in the school year.

Who doesn’t want that?

Our very own Dr. Liz Matheis will be speaking on the topic of: Managing Back to School Anxiety.

So why wait? Sign up today and guarantee your child’s success in the new school year! Get your free ticket by clicking the box below! Excited to see you there!

Don’t Be Afraid to Ride the Wave of Anxiety

Don’t Be Afraid to Ride the Wave of Anxiety

written by Dr. Liz Matheis, posted on Psychology Today

As a divorcing mom of three and a psychologist who specializes in anxiety, I feel anxious every day. Ironic, right? I don’t feel a high level of anxiety every day all day, but I do feel some level of anxiety about something, and by the end of the day, I am physically and emotionally exhausted. I also sit with and absorb other people’s anxiety, whether they are my patients, my children, my family, or my friends.

When we feel anxious, we often do things to avoid and distract rather than facing what it is that is triggering us or is creating fear, stress, and worry. Many people, adults and children alike, will eat, drink, or engage in self-harm behaviors in order to run away or quiet down their thoughts.

It’s part of our natural instinct to seek pleasure and avoid pain, but with anxiety, engaging in these actions doesn’t make it better or less. In fact, it creates more anxiety that sits, and finds a home, within our bodies. It impacts our mood, decisions, motivation, and our energy, whether we are aware of its impact or not.

How to Help Kids Who Are Too Hard on Themselves

How to Help Kids Who Are Too Hard on Themselves

written by Katherine Martinelli, posted on childmind.org

All kids say bad stuff about themselves sometimes. But when their inner voice keeps saying bad things, it can have a negative effect on them.

Children who expect a lot of themselves may be prone to negative self-talk. For older kids, saying things like, “I’m so stupid” or, “I’m so fat” can be a way of protecting themselves from social pressure. They may say bad things about themselves before someone else does it. And kids who are being bullied may start to believe the bad things other kids say about them and start saying them too.

While some kids may do this as a way of getting attention, others do it because they’re not good at bouncing back when something bad happens. They also might not want to try new or hard things.

What to Do (and Not Do) When Children Are Anxious

What to Do (and Not Do) When Children Are Anxious

written by Clark Goldstein, PhD – posted on childmind.org

When kids are anxious, it’s natural to want to help them feel better. But by trying to protect kids from the things that upset them, you can accidentally make anxiety worse. The best way to help kids overcome anxiety is to teach them to deal with anxiety as it comes up. With practice, they will be less anxious. 

When a child gets upset in an uncomfortable situation and their parents take them out of the situation, they learn that getting upset is a good way to cope. Instead, it’s helpful for parents to let kids know that they’re going to be okay, even if they’re scared. You can’t promise your child that nothing bad will happen. But you can express confidence that they can face their fears and feel less afraid over time. 

You can show your child empathy without agreeing with their fears. For example, you might say: “I know you’re scared to get this shot. It’s okay to be scared. You can get through this, and I’m going to help you.” It’s usually helpful to avoid leading questions (“Are you worried about the test tomorrow?”).  Instead, ask open questions (“How do you feel about the test tomorrow?”). You can use your tone of voice and body language to show your child that you’re calm, which can help them stay calm too. 

How to Calm Anxiety (When You’re Freaking Out)

How to calm anxiety (when you’re freaking out)

posted on fingerprint for success

Anxiety is a common struggle for many people. The good news is that mental health is finally becoming part of the broader well-being conversation among medical professionals and the public–which helps eliminate the stigma of mental health struggles and allows us to find ways to treat it and cope with it.

If you struggle with anxiety, know that you are not alone.

How to calm anxiety (when you’re freaking out)

How to calm anxiety (when you’re freaking out)

posted on fingerprint for success

Anxiety is a common struggle for many people. The good news is that mental health is finally becoming part of the broader well-being conversation among medical professionals and the public–which helps eliminate the stigma of mental health struggles and allows us to find ways to treat it and cope with it.

Accommodating Your Anxious Child in School and Home

Accommodating Your Anxious Child in School and Home

written by Dr. Liz Matheis, published on Psychology Today

Anxiety can be a debilitating emotional experience. It has the ability to take a pleasant moment and turn it into a disaster with all of the “what ifs” that could happen. Anxiety lies, and it creates a sense of danger or incredible discomfort in daily life that is exhausting and can be debilitating and limiting.

Since March 2020, anxiety for our children, teens, and young adults has reached disturbingly high levels. Masks, social distancing, vaccinations, etc. have been a part of our daily language, thoughts, and conversation. We fear for the academic skills that our children have lost as well as the social and emotional experiences that our children have missed due to isolation, quarantine, and shutdowns.

Since September 2020, many of our children, teens, and young adults have needed extra support in school due to the high levels of anxiety that have resulted in school phobia, avoidance, and emotional shutdown. Children who were once high achievers stopped logging into classes, turning in assignments, completing homework, participating in class lessons, and studying for exams. Our children and teens did not wish to turn their cameras on or participate in class discussions because of the perceived direct focus on each child and the attention that was created. Our kids struggled to keep up with the list of assignments listed on different online portals such as Google Classroom. How many children, including my own, have had difficulty in uploading a document and hitting “submit”? Many. Too many.

I’m Not Raising a Wilting Flower

I’m Not Raising a Wilting Flower: How to Build Children’s Resilience in the Midst of a Pandemic

written by Dr. Liz Matheis, published on psychology today

This pandemic has challenged every single one of us. Children, teens, adults: we all have had to balance an extra set of life demands that have been outside the scope of any other life experience we have had thus far. I often pose a question to help us realize that we don’t have a former life experience to reference right now: “How many pandemics have we lived through? Just one and, hopefully, only one!”

As a mom and a psychologist, I have watched my own children and others collectively struggle with isolation, loneliness, anxiety, academics, and reintegrating into a world that is slowly opening back up. We know that adolescents are very self-focused and believe they are on display on their imaginary stage where everyone is watching (aka the imaginary audience). Add the computer camera, masks, and social distancing, and we have a lot of confusion, stagnation in the development of skills, anxiety, and depression.

Adolescence is already a period of intense growth, identity building, and emotional chaos as it is. Add a pandemic into the mix, and that is a lot of intense emotion to process on top of the usual “stuff.” It’s a lot more to unravel and work through alongside the “regular” milestones to develop.

So how do we, as parents, build children who can use this experience to develop a sense of self and strength? How do we raise children who are not going to fall apart when presented with a challenge? How are we going to grow children who can face stress and use it to find their inner strength? Resilience isn’t born; it’s bred. As parents, we can play a role in building resilient children who aren’t going to break down each time they are faced with a life stressor, big or small.

The Great Unmasking

The Great Unmasking

by Dr. Liz Matheis

As a mother and psychologist, I have actively been a part of the incredibly damaging impact of masks and virtual learning. The number of our children, teens and young adults who have been and continue to suffer is immense and heartbreaking. Our children have been living in an upside-down world with significant change for a prolonged period of time and the negative effects are  loud and clear right now.

In speaking with and working with many teens during this pandemic, I have heard the following about their experience with school:

  • Everyday feels the same
  • It’s horrible
  • It’s boring
  • I have headaches from staring at my computer all day
  • I didn’t even change my clothes. I was in pajamas all day
  • I am distracted
  • I’m not listening to any lesson or discussion
  • It’s really easy to tune out and nobody will know
  • In the classroom, if I lose focus, my teacher will notice
  • There is no accountability when I’m home
  • I’m not seeing friends
  • I’m not talking to friends
  • I’m sad because I can’t see my friends
  • There’s no spontaneity
  • I miss spontaneous gatherings and plans
  • I missed my graduation
  • I missed my prom
  • I missed my field trips
  • I missed having my birthday party

These are some big thoughts from our children who are begging for the return of our pre-pandemic life. Our children are feeling anxious, depressed, socially anxious and awkward more so than ever. Their attention and focus are poor, and their study skills are almost non-existent. We have had to start from the beginning as of September 2021. One and a half years of lost instruction, lost skills, lost interactions and lost spontaneity of life.

Keep Schools Open

Please, keep the doors open to our schools. As much as is humanly possible, avoid virtual learning. It’s creating flashbacks, sadness and anxiety that started in 2020 and continues to haunt us now.  Keep kids in school so they can sit in the classroom, receive instruction face to face, walk through the school halls, and scurry when the bell rings. 

Keep the Masks Off!

I’m speaking from a focus on mental health. Masks don’t allow us to see each other’s gentle eye expressions and squints that match a scrunchy nose and smiling mouth. We can’t see each other’s pout, anger, contentment, sadness, or whatever may come. Our kids can’t see their teacher’s facial expressions either which is a huge part of academic instruction. When a teacher is excited about a topic, the body language and matching facial expressions are remembered strongly and make an impact on learning.  

Within the classroom, teachers can’t always tell who is speaking or what is being said because they can’t see each other’s mouths while we speak. There is a disconnect between our eyes and ears in that a great deal of conversation is matching the words that are coming out of another person’s mouth with the sound of them. We are missing big chunks of information that is a natural part of our give and take interactions between humans.

Our children also need to sit next to each other, whisper secrets, sit in huddles, walk side by side. Our kids need that closeness and sensory feedback to maintain their emotional well-being. So much of that has been taken away and it’s starting to show.

Put Away the Computers 

Please, no more learning through computers. Turn them off as much as possible. Revert back to pencil and paper. Write on the board or the smartboard. Work on projects in groups. Create posterboard or PowerPoint presentations.  But, please, shut it down and allow the interactions to be more human based. More conversation, discussion, sharing ideas and experiences. Close the laptop and look at each other.  

Virtual learning doesn’t work. I know this firsthand. My 9-year-old (now in 3rd grade) could, in theory, return to first grade because this hasn’t worked. Google forms and uploading documents isn’t education. It’s unnatural. My 13-year-old doesn’t know how to study for a test. My 15-year-old is finally learning how to manage the multiple moving parts of being in high school.  

The other thing that has happened is our children have forgotten how to take notes, study for tests, and keep track of their assignments. Their executive functioning skills haven’t been developed.

To no fault of anyone anywhere, pandemic learning hasn’t been effective. Our children will benefit academically, emotionally, socially and behaviorally if they can be in school, without masks and without computers.

"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Julie C.
"Dr. Matheis has a remarkable ability to understand the unique needs of her patients and address them constructively. She builds strong, meaningful relationships with patients and their families, encouraging trust and collaboration. When working with my son who struggles with autism-related anxiety, she created an environment in which he was able to calm down and open up to her in ways I had not seen before. She was able to reach him and helped him work through his crisis/problem. Most importantly, she empowered him to move forward."
- N.L.
"Dr. Matheis is amazing. She has tremendous resources and loads of energy. She is not willing to accept anything less than the most effective results for her clients. She made me feel as if my son was her top priority throughout the entire process. I would, without reservation, give her my highest recommendations.  Thank you, Dr. Matheis!"
- Anonymous
"Dr. Matheis has an amazing ability to read kids and connect with them. She has been an invaluable resource for our family over the past several years and has helped us with everything from educational consulting, to uncovering diagnoses as well as family therapy. Working with Dr. Matheis never feels clinical and most importantly, our children love and trust her. We can not thank you enough Dr. Liz!"
- Anonymous
"My teenage son had been seeing Dr. Matheis through his senior year of high school, as he was only diagnosed with ADHD at 16 years old.  Dr. Matheis came highly recommended from our pediatrician and she has done wonders for our son as well as our family, navigating new ways for him to deal with his diagnosis without the use of medication.  She taught him ways to organize himself and even when something did not work for him, she patiently continued teaching him new ways to keep himself on track.  She has also helped us as parents to understand how his mind works so that we did not continue to blame his lack of focus on him, rather on his unique way of thinking.  Thank you Dr. Matheis!!!!"
- LG
"Dr. Liz is the best! Our family was directed to her by our Pediatrician to assist with figuring out severe mood changes, severe anxiety, strange new fears and food aversion that had come onto one of our children literally overnight. After just a couple of visits, she suggested that the issues may actually be rooted in a physical issue and suggested we immediately take our child to be swabbed for strep, because Dr. Liz suspected PANDAS (a pediatric autoimmune disorder brought on by strep). The same Pediatrician that suggested Dr. Liz would not do the swab (they do not believe in PANDAS and we no longer go there) but I took my child to my doctor who did the swab and it was positive for strep. When our child went on antibiotics, within 24 hours all symptoms went away and our child was back :-) Dr. Liz then recommended a PANDAS specialist who helped us and our child is in complete remission and is happy and healthy. We are incredibly grateful to Dr. Liz for her knowledge of all things, even the most remote and unusual and for helping us so much! Thank you!"
- Anonymous
"The various psycho-educational testing Dr. Liz conducted on our son gave us critical clues about where his learning strengths and weaknesses lie so that his needs could be better addressed at home and school. Moreover, because of their warm, kindhearted personalities, both Dr. Liz and her associate, Stephanie, formed an immediate bond with my son. He eagerly looks forward to his weekly therapy sessions. We are so lucky Dr. Liz came into our family's lives when she did! For stressed-out families trying to help their children as best they can, she is a calming voice of reason!"
- Anonymous
"Thank you, Dr. Liz. Although we have told you countless times, it will never feel enough. You have listened when J could barely speak and continued to listen when he was sad, angry and confused. You've challenged him and directed us in our roles as parents. You've helped J face his fears while the list evolved and changed, and yet you've stayed committed to 'the course.' We pray that your children realize that time away from them is spent helping children learn and that vulnerability is a sign of strength and bravery."
- June I
"My son was admitted to an Ivy League school when only 2 years ago, you assessed him and saw his struggles, his Dyslexia. We are grateful that he no longer has to carry that deep feeling of inadequacy or shame that must have kept him so self conscious and from reaching his potential. He has the PERFECT program for him. He has A's in high math and economics. He became a Merit Scholar, a Boys State legislature, the HEAD captain of the football team and help a job ALL while studying and managing his classes and disability. I am PROUD of you, a young doctor, who knows and sees the vulnerability of children and helps them recognize "it's NO big deal" God bless."
- Anonymous

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