In today’s show we speak with Stella O’Malley, psychotherapist and best-selling author of three parenting books about ways kids can learn how to deal with change in their lives.
Kids have experienced massive changes in every aspect of their lives during Coronavirus and while this amount and extreme amount of change is not normal, Stella discusses how change at a more regular pace is a completely normal part of everyone’s life.
Buster and Buddy learn from Stella that instead of worrying about change, by accepting that change is normal and realising that many changes, while uncomfortable or difficult to go through, most lead to great and exciting life experiences!
She gives Buster and Buddy loads of advices and tools they can use to help them the next time change comes knocking on their door!
Listen to the show to hear what Stella teaches us, as well as lots of other fun stuff, like …and kids telling us their favourite jokes in Tickle Your Funny Bone!
And remember to Stay Healthy, Stay Happy and Stay Well!
Michelle and her team have a collective 50years experience working with kids as teachers, entertainers and parents!
Thanks to Zapsplat, Audio Jingle and Alexander Korotkoff for the sound effects and music.
GUEST OF THE DAY
Stella O’Malley is a psychotherapist, best-selling author, public speaker and a parent with many years’ experience working in counselling and psychotherapy.
Born in Dublin, Stella now calls Birr, Co. Offaly home where she lives with her husband and two children and runs her private practice.
Stella holds a B.A. in Counselling and Psychotherapy, an M.A. in Cognitive Behavioural Therapy and diplomas in Youth Studies, Psychometric Testing and Gender Identity counselling.
Much of Stella’s counselling and teaching work is with parents and young people which culminated in the publication of her two bestselling books ‘Cotton Wool Kids’ in 2015 and ‘Bully-Proof Kids’ in 2017. Stella’s latest book Fragile, was released in 2019 and focuses on overcoming anxiety and stress.
Forging a career in the Irish media, Stella is a regular contributor to the Irish Independent and the Sunday Independent and also writes extensively about mental health issues for newspapers such as the Irish Times, Sunday Times, Irish Examiner, Evening Herald, Daily Mail, Irish Tatler, Pregnancy and Parenting magazine and many other media outlets.
Stella frequently appears on national and local media such as RTE Radio 1, RTE television, TV3, Newstalk, Today FM and BBC Northern Ireland to discuss a broad range of topics such as mental well-being, mindfulness, conflict resolution in the workplace, communication skills, parenting and childhood issues in Ireland today.
Fast becoming one of the leading voices on what’s influencing people’s behaviour in Ireland today, Stella gives public talks and lectures on a range of topics for different organisations, nationwide such as ETB, VTOS, the Dept. of Education, Merrill Lynch, the Dept. of Finance and Grow. She lectures in CBT (Cognitive Behavioural Therapy) and Mindfulness for Laois Offaly ETB as well as presenting different talks in libraries and schools around the country on a variety of issues.
Hello and welcome to The Kids Are All Right. A weekly podcast specially for kids, that’s all about health, happiness and wellness.
I’m Michelle and here with me are my co-pilots on this podcast, Buster and Buddy!
Hey, guys. Buster here.
Oh, yeah, fan favourite Buddy coming at you!
And we’re on a mission to help you all feel great and live happy. Here we go again. All right.
So I don’t know about you guys, but when coronavirus happened and everything had to stop during lockdown, all the normal things I was used to doing day to day changed completely and I found it hard to deal with so many massive changes.
Yeah, everything has changed! When school had to close at first I was like, Yeah, holidays! But as the weeks went on and on, I realized how much I missed school and seeing my friends. Huh. Life has changed so much!
Yeah. I miss my hockey training and not being able to go to the cinema. I miss my friends and my family and I even had to stay away from people I didn’t know. I felt my whole world had changed and been turned upside down.
Yeah, all of us went through huge changes in every aspect of our lives during coronavirus.
Yeah, you can say that again.
But let’s be honest about it.
Most of us are unlikely to ever have to go through so many huge changes and all at the same time again.
Well, let’s hope not!
The changes coronavirus brought were huge and unexpected. However, throughout our lives, things will always keep changing. And that’s the one thing you can be sure of.
Really? Yeah. Sometimes it’s changes we know are coming like as we grow up and we’ll have to move from junior school to senior school And then there are other changes that are more unexpected, like maybe moving house or if a pet dies or when a good friendship changes and you’re no longer best friends.
Oh, I just don’t like when things change.
Yeah, I don’t like when things change either Buddy! It makes me feel nervous and worried.
Yeah. When things change it really can be hard. And you know, it’s not just kids that don’t always like change. Lots of adults feel the same way too. But we can learn to be OK with change, to expect it and to accept that it will continue all throughout our lives. That change is the real normal.
Yeah. If we know to expect it, then we won’t feel like it’s such a surprise and it won’t seem so scary. So in a way we can kind of make ourselves the blush over change. Yeah. And you know, after all the changes we’ve been through with Coronavirus, I think we have proven to ourselves how really we are change, you know, going with the flow.
Yeah, I think kids need to realize how strong they really are.
So we asked you kids out there, what is the best change that’s happened in your life so far?
(The Kids Say…Whaat?!) Vox Pops
So that was really interesting hearing what the kids had to say about change there. S we thought it would be good to get some advice from an expert who could teach us some helpful tools to help us deal with the normal changes in life.
We’re delighted to have psychotherapist and best- selling author Stella O’Malley joining us.
Stella, can I ask you the first question, if you don’t mind? Yeah. OK, so I really like knowing what’s going to happen every week, but when change happens, it messes everything up. What can I do about that?
Well, there’s a few things you can do. You know, people say that they are afraid of change and they hate change. And yet, you know, the truth is, the more you become aware of every day, change happens and that’s OK, the sooner that you’ll feel better about.
Having said that, there’s some things that you can make very regular in your day. So you might always have your favourite bowl for breakfast or have your favourite breakfast, or you might always have your teddy at bed time.
So basically when changes are happening, it’s important to make sure we keep doing those Regular things that we like to do each day or week… those things make us feel comfortable and safe. So is it kind of like how in Lockdowns we’ve learned how important it is to make and keep a routine to help us stay feeling well and happy?
Yeah, as I say, control the controllables, that you have a few things that you say, Right, Well, I can control when I have my dinner, when I do my homework, when I go to bed and how I go to bed, what I do when I go to bed and do I read a book and do I wear these pyjamas and things like that? So you have your regulars and your safeties so that there’s room for other things to happen.
But if you had everything controlled and if you knew exactly what you were doing every minute of the day, believe it or not, you’d get very bored. And sometimes if you look at some animals maybe who are living very boring lives in cages and stuff, they get very bored. They know exactly what’s happening. They’re getting fed, they’re getting watered and they’re bored.
So you do have to leave a bit of room for a bit of flexibility so that you can have your routines but also have a little bit of change.
But when something big is happening, like a moving school or a moving house or something like that, you bring a bit more focus into your regulars and you make sure to have your favourite dinner, let’s say, every Tuesday, or you make sure to meet your old friend every Saturday. You do a few things to kind of bring your safety blanket around you a little bit more so that you can say, Yeah, yeah, this is all part of the feeling, nerves around change is all part of it, but yes, I have my regulars and I can manage this.
And I suppose in a way the way that kids could maybe sit down with the parents and think about all the changes they’ve been through already in their lives. So, you know, maybe that’s starting preschool and then they move to primary and maybe they did an after school club or a dance class. And they’re all different changes and things that you have already accomplished. So maybe it’s kind of acknowledging the fact that, look, I’ve already gone through changes here and some fabulous changes too!
Yes and some of the best things that ever happen to us, are changes. You know, I learned to ride a bike and learned to read, all those things are huge. When we start to change, we can feel very uncomfortable, and then as time goes on, it can be the best thing in your life to have happened.
So you’re saying change is actually a good thing sometimes and that I can control the things I control. Like my favourite dinner on Thursdays is burgers and chips, and I love them!.. so I can make sure that maybe Mum has burgers and chips on Thursdays if I am going through Change?
Absolutely. Absolutely. You make sure you think about what you need, what are the things you need to happen during the week. You know, that might be bath time or it might be story time. There might be burger and chips on Thursday. You figure out one of the things that keep you settled and that will keep you straight as you go through big changes and then you’re open to the big changes and you realize, well, some of these changes will be brilliant!
One of my favourite things is my journal. It literally comes everywhere with me. I find by see my week written out in front of me on a page, I find visually it comforts me that I know what I’m kind of doing when it’s going to happen in that week. Does that sound a bit strange or is I kind of part of that idea of structure and routine?
Yeah, it’s very common, a lot of people love to see that and you know what some children might like if their Mommy gets one of those kind of charts and puts it on the fridge so they know they’ve got dance on Monday or sport on Tuesday or whatever it is. It can be the same as a journal that some children love having a journal and I really recommend this, it’s really, really good for you.
Yeah, it’s good because I really enjoy writing and I’ve got this little journal that I just love doodling in, or I read a couple of notes about how I’m feeling every day.
Yeah, some people use pictures and people just literally draw pictures about how the day went. And some people are writers and they write. It’s really, really good too, for anybody who’s feeling a bit uncomfortable about life, a little bit uneasy about what’s going on, reading or art or any sort of kind of creativity it’s so good for you.. it’s so good to make sense of life.
Yeah I agree Stella. Because when we go through Change, it can be hard… But if we find things we can do and ways to help look after ourselves, then each time we go through a change we get stronger
Yeah the more you learn you can handle things, the more you feel able to handle things. And when you’ve had a problem and you’ve got through it and you realize I’m OK, I got through the problem, yeah and I’m OK, you will feel that little bit stronger and that little bit more confident about the next problem. And each time you kind of you feel stronger and stronger.
So every time you do go through a problem, whether it’s getting through the lockdown happily or handling home school, every time you do something, you feel stronger and more confident, so long as you’re telling yourself and I did well and that I did a good job.
What helps you to get stronger is you tell yourself you did well and you got through the problem – You handled it and you’ll be able for the next one, But when you’re handling a problem, it’s not just enough to get through it you have to be nice to yourself and to congratulate yourself for getting through it. This is a very important part of it.
I think the kids this last year or so really have a lot of congratulations to give themselves because they have been through so much change!
They’ve just been amazing they really have they really have, like, the kids have been so cheerful and so strong and so resilient through it all. And they’ve been really admirable, really, really, really, really amazing! And I think they should all get themselves a clap on the back because they really handled this. And what’s so important is they handled it very cheerfully, very well with a lot of kind of strength. So I really think the kids have been amazing!
Exactly. They’re stronger than they realize. And I suppose I remember hearing the saying when I was younger, “What doesn’t kill you makes you stronger.” But, you know, in this year they have learned so much, it hasn’t been nice, but they are going into their lives now, feeling stronger. They will be able to handle any change that comes.
Yeah, they’ll be also able to tell their grandchildren we’ve got six months off school and it was terrible, it was really difficult! It’ll be a story they can tell for the rest of their lives!
So, I mean, other ways that kids can be ready to deal with change, I think you mentioned it earlier, was, I suppose, taking charge of the small things. So I suppose that includes contributing to the family unit. It’s kind of the sense of ‘I Can Do’ so. Maybe Moms and Dads need to kind of let their kids do a little bit more.
Yeah, I think it’s very important for everybody to feel like that they’re doing their to make their family happy in whatever way that might be. It might just be every morning you make your bed, you put the duvet back and open the curtains. You do the little bits and pieces that make the house a nicer place to be. It might be emptying the dishwasher or putting out the plates and stuff for dinner. It doesn’t matter what it is but doing your part of making the family household work better.
It makes you happy to feel part of things and to feel that you’re just as important as everybody else because you’re contributing with everybody else.
Yeah, that sounds brilliant, and one of the big changes I learned from the coronavirus was you know, making sure I appreciate my family and my friends and all the brilliant outdoor activities that are right at my doorstep, like the playgrounds going on my nature walks. Oh, and baking homemade banana bread with my mom.
Oh, no, no more banana bread Buddy!!
Ah, Buster she only made it wrong the one time! Ha ha!
One of the big things, though, is that Michelle always talks to us here is we need to be able to practice our gratitude more. What are your thoughts on practicing gratitude?
I think gratitude is really important, actually, if you’re feeling worried about something rather than worrying about the things that you’re thinking about, you try to name five things that you’re happy about and five things that you’re thankful for.
And you actually have to get to number five with your family and maybe five things that you’re thankful for, five people in your life that are good to you, and that can actually bring you out of a worry.
People don’t realize that you can actually move you out of a worry, because you have to go to the trouble of finding five things that they’re happy about. And this can move you out of the worry and into a different space.
There’s a nice gratitude routine where when you wake up, the first thing you do is you kind of you keep your eyes shut and you try to list five things that you’re happy about with your fingers.
And every time you think of something that you’re happy about, you think about it for a few minutes or just even for a few seconds, and then you might stretch your body, take your feet out of bed, feel the contact on the floor, remember to breathe, breathe in through your nose, slow down, then out through your mouth and start the day. It can be a lovely way to start the day.
Oh wow, Stella. Do you mind if I try it really quickly? I like I think about the naming five things to be grateful for so things I can be grateful for. Like you said first thing the morning.
One my nice warm bed and
I’m thankful for my family, that’s number two.
And number three. Oh my nice warm dinner that my mom makes because I love food. Stella.
Oh, I’m really thankful for my rugby and my favourite player, Johnny Sexton.
And number five I guess, making lots and lots of banana bread with my Mom!! Ha ha!
I’m definitely going to try that tomorrow. It’s going to be so good. Breathe in and out and think of five things. And can they be different things every day, Stella?
They can, or they can be the same, whichever you like. It’s nice to get to the number five because often people can’t get the last one, and that makes your brain work a little bit harder. And when your brain works out a little bit harder, you’re definitely moving out of the worry. Definitely get to Number 5, yeah, that’s crucial. Try and think of the last one that’s really important.
We have a really important last question that we ask all our guests. It’s called Big Me To Little Me!. So basically, if you could go back in time, what advice would Big Stella give to Little Stella?
I know exactly what I say to her. I would say stop worrying. There’s no need to worry. Just get as much fun out of today and it’ll all be OK.
That’s brilliant. Just get some fun out of today. That’s great!
That’s some great advice there. And, you know, I think the kids listening will really find this helpful the next time change comes knocking on their door. So, thanks so much, Stella, for all of this.
Thanks very much. Thank you for you for coming on today. Bye, Tip. Bye.
Thank you. Bye bye!
‘Recap, Rewind, Re-Think Time!’
We learned so much from Stella about how to deal with change and that by understanding change is very normal and will continue all through our lives. And then we’re Ready. Steady Go!
Yeah, so when change happens, we need to make sure that we keep our normal activities and routine going and draw or write down in a journal how we’re feeling and what our plans for each day is or even each week.
Yeah, and have a chat with Mom and Dad about all the changes we’ve already been through in our lives and realise just how strong we really are!
Cool. And I’m really going to try that morning gratitude routine. So before I fully wake up, I’m going to keep my eyes closed. And for each of my five fingers, I’m going to count something that I’m really, really grateful for and happy to have in my life and make sure that I get all five, even if it takes me a little bit longer so that I feel great at the start of my day.
We’ve laughed lots and now it’s time to give our brains a massage. Are you guys ready for this week’s Mini Mindfulness Moment?
. Hi, everyone. Hope you’re all well. My name’s Louise, and welcome to this episode of Mini Mindfulness Moments. And in this episode, we’re going to do some balloon breathing.
And I want you to put your hands in your tummy and imagine there is a balloon in your tummy.
What colour is the balloon? My balloon is red, so we’re going to breathe in and fill up the balloon.
And breathe out and let all the air go.
Breathe in and fill up the balloon.
And breathe out and let all the air go.
Well done, you did so well and remember, you can do your many mindless moments any time you like. Bye for now and see you next time.
Oh, I feel so relaxed after that, guys. You know, it’s been great today, thanks to all the kids who sent in their audio clips.
And, you know, if you have something you want to tell us, we want to hear a story, a question or your favourite joke, we’d love to hear from you.
All you have to do is recorded in the voice recorder app on a parent’s smartphone and then email it into us.
The email is in our show notes. Yeah.
Make sure to check out our website www.TheKidsAreAllRight.ie for more details about sending in your clips and you’ll find loads of more info about the show and everything and everyone we talk to.
We really hope you enjoyed this week’s show and learned loads. If so, then tell all your friends.
Yes indeed. And remember guys, try to be healthy.
And be happy !
See you next time on The Kids Are All Right!