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Expert Support for Parenting Your Teen or Young Adult
For Parents and Providers
March 2024 Newsletter
“What's the difference between a lion and a treadmill?"

 And, no. This is not some terrible “they walk into a bar…” joke. 
Recently, I took a Polyvagal Theory training taught by the brilliant Katie Yant, LCSW (shout out!) that explored the importance of understanding how our nervous system works. 
I asked her, “If our nervous system is so important in getting us information, how does it know the difference between running away from a lion and running sprints for exercise? Both include elevated heart rate, sweating, running really fast…so, why does one feel horrifying and one feel good?” 
Without a pause, she answered in one word: “Safety”. 
Our brain likes vigorous exercise and hates running from lions because one is safe and the other is terrifying.
What does this have to do with parenting?
When your child is experiencing a big feeling:- fear, shame, anger, disappointment- the response from the people around them can help them know if they are safe or unsafe-whether this is an experience they can handle or one they should be terrified of. 
In other words, is this feeling a lion or a treadmill? 
(You don't have to like the treadmill, just like you don't have to like the hard feelings, but you know neither of them are dangerous.)
OUR response- “you are feeling this hard feeling AND you are safe”- can help our loved ones feel more confident in their ability to navigate that tough feeling, not just now but into the future, when disappointment, sadness, loneliness, are all guaranteed to show up again.
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“Is this feeling a lion or a treadmill?”
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So how do we convey to our children a sense of safety, even in the context of hard feelings?
We go towards the feelings. 
We lean into the discomfort of their pain.
We show them that we are not scared of their big feelings. 
We communicate with our calm, steady presence that having big feelings is a normal part of being human
And we fight the very natural (and rarely helpful) urge to “fix it”. 
Then, after that, we gently help them move through those feelings, as best they can. We provide comfort or reassurance or distraction or help with problem solving. 
Or maybe just something as small and as big as a hug.
If you'd like more concrete tools, there are still a few spots in my 2-Day EFFT Caregiver Workshop in person in Denver, CO on April 5th and 6th. 
Click above for more info (or to register) or hit REPLY with any questions. 
I am happy to chat to ensure this would be a good fit for you.
All the best,