Free February Parenting Series Offered by Celebrated Old Saybrook Psychologist
Old Saybrook Cognitive Psychologist Alicia Farrell is offering a free series of webinars to local parents seeking guidance for navigating these tumultuous times this February. (Photo courtesy of Sarah Wadle )
Noting how many of the issues faced by parents are now exacerbated by new stressors related to the pandemic, Cognitive Psychologist Alicia Farrell is aiming to help parents and their children with a series of free webinars on Wednesdays in February from 7 to 8:30 p.m.
Each webinar in the How to Raise a Well-Adjusted, Confident, Self-Reliant and Civil Adult in a Crazy, Mixed-Up World series covers distinct concepts such as stress and anxiety, technology and the effects of screen-time, drug and alcohol use, and how to foster a child’s resiliency.
“It’s really, it’s been breathtaking, the increase in the suffering out there,” said Farrell, who has been a practitioner for more than 25 years.
Parents have been asked to “take on additional roles, as educational consultants, tutors, technology experts…and then are also trying to support and coach their children’s mental health,” said Farrell.
For kids, “this situation is so unprecedented, and the uncertainty has been so overwhelming for them,” said Farrell.
Her goal with the webinar series, she said, “is to offer this information that I have to as many people as I can possibly get to, so they get the support, guidance…and skills from the webinar that they can apply immediately.”
Farrell said that the concepts touched on by each webinar “are not new issues, they’ve just simply gotten more challenging because of COVID.”
Numerous research studies point to how the stressors of the pandemic are impacting the mental health and behavior of children, with a rise in mental health-related hospital emergency department visits for children being studied by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).
“Compared with 2019, the proportion of mental health-related visits for children aged 5 to 11 and 12 to 17 years increased approximately 24 percent and 31 percent, respectively,” according to a November Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Report from the CDC.
Farrell discussed how elementary-aged children are experiencing anxiety disorders while other children may be “gravitating toward self-harm, disengagement” and that “there has been an exponential increase in suicide.”
In 2017, suicide was the second leading cause of death for children aged 10 to 14, 15 to 19 and 20 to 24, according to the National Vital Statistics System’s October 2019 data brief. If you or if someone you know is considering suicide or other forms of self-harm, call The National Suicide Prevention Lifeline at 1-800-273-8255.
“These kids are crying out for some guidance and adult structure and support and help,” said Farrell. “We’ve got to learn how to do things differently.”
As an example, Farrell suggests focusing on nurturing a child’s character instead of academic performance.
“Their worthiness is being directly tied to their performance and kids are picking up on this at very young ages,” said Farrell, who added that these children “don’t feel like they are worthy of love and affection and that perspective is permeating their sense of self.”
Farrell said that it’s important to listen to children and recognize the emotions that they are experiencing.
“Let them know… ‘I’m here to listen to you and understand how you feel,’” said Farrell. “That is really all your kids want…they want to be heard and they want to be understood.”
The materials presented in the webinars are applicable for parents of children aged 3 and up, and individuals that work with children, such as teachers, school counselors or administrators, as a few examples. To register for the webinars, visit aliciafarrellphd.com.