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School Counselor Laura Dickinson

Laura Dickinson


Laura Dickinson joins the FORTitude podcast. She is a licensed school and professional counselor and shares how the hecticness of life and technology have affected kids. Laura talks about the challenges that children are facing today with technology, online learning, problem-solving, and so much more. This episode takes a deep dive into mental health and will make you stop and really think about how we are living life. Be sure to head to the website and give it a listen. 

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Episode Transcription: 



Hold on, get the damn headset on. Okay. Oh, yeah. It put this as close to your mouth as you’re comfortable. Okay. Rolling means rolling. I got some for the bit over rolling doesn’t mean action.



I guess I’m for that bit



what you want to share with me?



No, just ask me.



I don’t like to be in the dark. Just



open it up. I’m going to have a little quiz, since we all graduated around the same time. So I’m going to read the lyrics of a popular song and see if you can guess it. We don’t have the rights to play this song. So since we’re not that big, are you good?



Yeah, she won’t do that with this with this topic.



It’s okay. It’s pretty light. It’ll bring us around it. I’ll circle it all around. Don’t worry.



Are we talking pain train?



No, no, it’s not that dark. Okay. All right. Oh, wait, let me let me try something to make sure. Can you hear us? Okay, Laura? Yes.



Can you hear me? Yeah, a little bit closer if you can put it down or whatever you like. Okay, ready? Yes.



Today’s version of burn the fort down on fortitude. We’re going to talk about talk to a lady named Laura Dickinson. She’s a high school, middle school counselor. But before we do that Britain, something on your mind today?



Well, I just I wanted to start out a little light. Before we get into all the problems of teenage teenage angst by bringing us back to a time when we all graduated around the same time. I’m going to read some lyrics because I’ve been kind of dissecting them in my head and wondering what what you know, recording artists go into the studio and say, look, we got some we have a really great idea for a song. Let me read out the lyrics to you and see if you can guess it. And then see kind of just try to picture what that was like. I’ll read the beginning. And when you know, just go ahead and chime in. Now look at them yo Yos that’s the way you do it. You play the guitar on the MTV



Oh, that’s Yeah. Kick nothing.



Yes, yeah. And so, but I start when you think about those lyrics, like, we got to move those refrigerators, we got to move those color TVs. You know, they’re going into all this stuff that was pretty I kind of relevant in our life, you know, MTV and stuff around that time. I just wanted to say that because how much of Fast Forward is like if you played that song for our children now, they probably go like what is this? And I kind of asked myself that a little bit too. So deep thoughts



with Brenton pain. Britain that’s Britain pain. I’m GW Wilson. This is fortitude and you can find us on fortitude FW social media wise, rocks, Media House, calm on the internet. The woman you’re hearing her voice Laura Dickinson, she’s an All Saints Episcopal School, middle school over school counselor. Laura is a graduate of All Saints. 1993. And she has a master’s of education, and a Bachelor of Arts from TCU. It’s a school here in town. I think that’s a pretty good one. Really? Have you heard of it? No. Yes,



sir kickers award there, though. I heard about that a recipient of a kicker.



We don’t know what you’re doing with that. Okay. She spent 18 years of service and public school working for the fourth ISD. Keller, ISD and white sub ISD. Correct? Yes. So in before she came to all saints to do this job. So she’s got some experience. You’ve seen some stuff fair to say, fair to say so you deal with children, kids on the upper school and middle school level? And what problems are hurt are in their faces every day? So let’s make it real Frank and keep it simple. What are kids? What’s what’s going on with kids these days? That’s kind of a broad question. But



the number one referral for counseling intervention services at this point is anxiety. So that was definitely true before the pandemic, um, second to that would be depression. And untreated anxiety certainly leads to depressive thoughts. But it’s it’s definitely anxiety and that’s only increased with a pandemic, right.



I forgot to mention lor, just so people, what



about these? What are these do for that anxiety? Organa



that don’t? Yeah, Laurel phones. Yeah. Laura is a licensed school counselor and a licensed professional counselor. So you come by it. Honestly. You have to see you’re married to a guy named Michael. I think you call Mike.



Yes. Well, I call him Michael, as some people call him Mike. There’s every male in my family is Michael. So we have to everyone has a designated title.



Does anybody call him Mikey? No, no, actually,



his family up north in Minnesota all his first cousins call him Mikey. Oh.



And you have two girls, two girls. How old are the gals now?



There are 13/8 grade. That’s Trinity. And then Lila is? She’s 10. And she’s in the fifth grade.



Where did you get that name? Trinity.



Trinity. Interesting. We do like matrix or the river river and then also the spiritual significance. So my husband actually named Trinity before she was a glimmer and I he said if we ever have a daughter, I really want to use Trinity. And I said I love it. Oh, that’s



cool. That was cool. So and let Lila let’s not leave that out just in



case. I love we had a terrible time. And we were at a memorial day kick off with a friend from high school. And she said, I only have male children, but shout out to Friday Night Lights. If I had a daughter, it would be Lila Oh, there you go. And my husband looked at me and he goes that surname,



your career in counseling kids? Do your kids suffer? Because of that? Are your kids better than the average kid? If you can just be honest, I mean, your kids know kind of what mom’s all about? Do they see? Are they different because of you being who you are,



I think that where they’re different because of my work. And also my husband’s work, because he’s a school principal, is we’re very, very conversational. So we encourage them to talk about how they’re feeling, we are constantly talking about how we’re feeling and checking in with them. And we want to really have an open relationship with them. One of my own kids is more prone to anxiety than the other. And so that’s been interesting to manage as, as a licensed counselor, whenever you see those those issues manifest in your own household, you know, you’re like, oh, man, now it’s in my living room. But, um, but I do have some some insight and ability to manage it in a different way than I than I would if I didn’t have this. Sure.



Well, lucky for you that train the two of us, one of us has more anxiety than the others. I’ll let you decide. I won’t guess Yeah. JW suffers daily from it. I can’t



imagine what what causes that?



I have no idea.



Well, let’s get into the crux of this. What’s been on everybody’s mind these days is the pandemic Yes, what that’s done to our kids. Obviously, we know why mask are in place. But that’s caused a sudden effect on children. And then the social, the social isolation, and all the things that didn’t paint it done to people, how are the kids are affected by what’s been going on with pandemic,



I think the biggest effect for adolescents that I see that I work with daily is the disconnect. And we are meant as humans to be in community and connection with one another. And so when you are trying to do online learning, or your only social socializing through social media and your cell phone and FaceTime, and virtually, you’re not truly with people in the same way, we’re supposed to hold space with each other, like the three of us are doing now, right? We’re having a conversation in a room where we’re making eye contact, and we’re looking at one another, and we’re sensing one another’s emotions and feelings and, and thoughts and bouncing off of one another in a way that you you don’t do, virtually. And that being said, I’m so thankful for the fact that they were able to have virtual because I think about the pandemic 100 years ago. And what happened during the Spanish flu is schools closed, they only remained open in Chicago in New York City. And that was due to pelvic health reasons. They thought that the mortality rates would actually be worse if kids didn’t go to school, and they had doctors and nurses embedded in the school to help kids. So yes, our kids still didn’t get to learn and they got to interact some, but they got really disconnected. And if you were prone to social anxiety, or prone to feeling anxious in social situations you could hide and that caused a lot of aggression. For students.



You can hide nowadays online, though, almost to Sure. Yeah. completely fake



life, right? Yeah. Yeah. Isn’t everyone’s life perfect. And they go to Cabo every weekend, right? Yeah, sure. Yeah.



How much? What percentage of your students you’re seeing, have you noticed a negative impact from the pandemic? Is it a great number?



I think that you could, you could probably say that every single student was negatively affected in some way. I think it’s not at the same rate, right. So if there’s four students in more at risk environments, which is not most of the students I serve, it’s it is the students that my husband serves. If there’s Chaurasia, principal, and he’s a principal in white settlement ISD. At Liberty Elementary, shout out to liberty, awesome, awesome. Dual Language Pro, what’s a mascot, cubs Go Cubs. But they they’re an A rated campus. And they one of the top rated Title One schools in the state of Texas, which is not just to my husband, it’s due to their amazing faculty and their awesome PTA. But when you’re in an at risk school, you have students that when they’re first forced to be in their home system, that could include trauma or abuse or violence or other things they’re exposed to. Obviously, that is not most of the students that I serve. However, whatever systemic issues exist in the home for any of the students that I serve, it’s magnified when you’re there all the time. Yeah, so togetherness brings out the good and the bad, right? So and they were also just socially a little bit stunted. So I went into advisory classroom with seventh grade boys this fall. And I was like, Oh my gosh, this is like, looking at my 10 year old daughter’s friends, right? Like, not just because they’re seventh grade boys. I mean, I spend all kinds of time around around young people, but they weren’t like where they would normally be, you know, I mean, they just socially the way they interact the way they’re handling their academics and so We’re having to unpack and reframe and get back on our feet. So



can you get them back on their feet? Is that a monumental task?



Kids are very resilient. So yes, you can I think that the referral rates are up for treatment and an intervention for sure. So we have more kids that are needing outside counselling services, sending more kids for referrals for intensive outpatient programs, partial hospitalization, and sadly, some even hospitalization. But for the most part, it’s just really, really counseling offices are full. Yeah, like in the city right now. If you want to get in for an individual appointment, it’s pretty backlogged. Yeah, yeah.



I’m asking on behalf of my partner on this. Can you explain the anxiety? Um, you know, dilemma, if you will? I mean, think about it when we were growing up. There wasn’t really that diagnosis, right? I mean, it didn’t like, I don’t think that the anxiety was as big. I mean, I think depression and things like that. But what is it about? What is happening with anxieties? It’s like external? Or is it? Are we changing as humans to, you know, to, like, become more anxious as well, in regards to our situation? I



think it’s multifaceted. And that’s a really great question. We actually talked about this. He wrote it for me, we actually talked about this at the lunch table at work a lot. So I, this is my own personal feelings. I think that first of all, adolescents today struggle to have healthy coping mechanisms. And the reason for that is they’re put in less problem solving situations. So this beautiful thing happened in the summer, when I was about 10, or 11 years old, my mother would kick me out in the front yard and say, Go, explore, walk down to my best friend’s house and swim, don’t do it by yourself. But don’t come back to the street light comes on. My mom actually had a kettlebell, she would stand on the front porch and bring the kettlebell and then we knew we had to come in. Kids don’t do that anymore. We’re so afraid for their safety that we don’t ever let them have unstructured play, problem solving skills or low their ability to manage without coming to a parent or adult. All we ever tell them is come to us come to us come to a school, sometimes they need to figure it out. Sometimes, if no one’s going to die. And it’s not life and death. They need to learn how to problem solve, and we don’t give them the space to do that. In schools and in home situations, the way that we parent raise our kids, we are also having like a breakdown in community like within your most people used to raise their children in neighborhoods, and their school was in that neighborhood and their church was in that neighborhood. And lots of times their whole entire nucular family lived within 50 miles of them. Yeah. And that isn’t the way we live our lives anymore. Right. So very few students have the grainy down the street and go to church every Sunday or, or, or synagogue every Sunday and and in their communities really, really, really close knit like that. So we’ve have a breakdown and community breakdown and problem solving skills. And then we have an increase in the pace and scheduling of life. So our kids are very, very, very high demand and over scheduled. So we have these very unrealistic expectations of them. And we pack their day so full that they can’t ever breathe. And I I mean, I’m guilty of it as a mom, right? You feel like you got to keep up. Right? They have to be in this they have to be in that they Yeah, you know, sometimes I look at my 10 year old and I get really frustrated a behavior or choice. And then my husband looks at me and says she’s 10 Yeah, you’re right. She’s 10. Like, what am I doing? You know, what



are we as parents doing that, like you do things came out of that? Like, it’s like, we’re more anxious. So we’re, we’re coddling them more, right? But then we’re more demanding, right? You know, like living vicariously through them? You know? So it’s like, is it more of a reflection on us, like our generation as like, what was the difference between our parents and just like, is it communications going around so much faster that Oh, Fear Factor, Fear Factor? I mean, a pandemic helps to if you want to raise that fear factor, but sure. It’s so you know, what I mean, is it’s like a more of a reflection on us, like our generation as parents to



parsley, you know, you throw technology in the mix and expectation of everything being solved very quickly. So people are not people have very low frustration tolerance, including adults, right? I’ve noticed that people. Yeah, especially, you know, like, if you’ve ever been in traffic lately, like you’re like What is wrong with humanity? People do not accept that sometimes life is difficult. And you have to power through, and that’s uncomfortable. We don’t like discomfort. We want to remove obstacles in our own lives and from our children’s lives, instead of allowing them to work through that discomfort in order to gain resilience and strength, right because you don’t get resilience and strength without a little bit of discomfort and suffering. You know, versus easily Yeah, thing. Yeah, you like read presidents read presidents lives. And you think, Oh, well, you know, they all would have been checked in for personal treatment now, right? No, no, no, and made them a president because they were resilient.



What would you say? Laura? What advice would you give is if there’s a general guidelines for a parent? Because I can almost guarantee or to no doubt, I’m sure everybody listening this show and back of their minds thinking about their parenting style? And is their kid like going hyperspeed, when they should maybe be calmed down? Or go outside and play in the backyard? But what would you tell a parent today and how to maybe rectify some of these problems.



And the first thing I would say is listen to your child and validate their experience. So if your child is telling you that they’re tired, or frustrated, or stressed out, listen, I think we have a tendency as adults to minimize the emotions of children and to then try to liken them to our own experience, which quite frankly, we cannot compare at all, to what it feels like for them, that I didn’t go through any of these things they’re going through, right? I mean, it is a completely different world that they’re growing up in. So first of all, listen to your child, second of all, model, downtime, like if they don’t see us distressing, and they don’t see us just taking a minute. And all they ever see is us in a whirlwind and running with our hair on fire, which I am like the worst about doing. That’s what they think is normal. So we’re not normalizing reflection, we’re not normalizing space, we’re not normalizing. taking a minute to regroup. What we’re normalizing is panic phrenic cram more stuff in. Right, right.



Is it normal? For one? I’m asking for a friend again, ones adolescent boys to bully their father is that normal thing and then film the reaction to show their mother how anger enters the home? Or? Or is that? Is that normal behavior?



Everything and if it involve tick tock, then yeah, it’s no Yeah, yeah.



Oh, we’re gonna get tick tock. Yeah. So walk us through a typical day for you, Laura.



Oh, there is no typical day for school counselor. Um, so on your average day, I I scan, I have scheduled regular appointments with students that need weekly check ins,



why do you start with coffee or herbal tea? Like, are you trying to calm down? Oh,



no. Okay. I’m a pretty amped up person for preaching so much downtime, okay, um, no, start with a coffee. And I intermittent fast. So that’s about it till noon. So lots of coffee. I have weekly scheduled check ins with students, but then I also have all my drop ins, you know, someone’s crying, they broke up with a boyfriend or girlfriend, someone’s upset a lot on Monday mornings. And Friday mornings, because it’s stressful, they get in a fight with their mom in the car, or they got caught with their cell phone at midnight when they were, you know, not supposed to have it. And then they got, you know, a screaming match ensues. And we’ve been crying when they get to school. It’s so funny almost always get caught after announcements. Can I talk to you after? No? Yes, yes, we can talk after announcements. So it’s good



that they’re coming to you? That you don’t have any



problem with that? Yeah. But that’s because you have to build rapport and relationship. Right. And that takes some time. But, and then, and I’m lucky enough, I know, my students longitudinally for six years. So that’s pretty awesome. So I know them and their family and, and that’s great. And siblings and, and feel like I am really during the pandemic, I met all their pets, so that was really cool. Yeah. Yeah, but all of the Yeah, snakes and reptiles and hedgehogs, it’s very interesting. But, um, so that, so that is scheduled, and I conference with teachers and parents and, and administrators as needed all day long. I’m also involved with our social emotional learning curriculum, which I believe is a big preventative mechanism for helping build empathy, and helping teach communication skills and teach how to how to name and identify emotion, because part of what’s happened with technology is brevity creates a communication style that doesn’t foster authentic communication. And so as students, they actually have to be taught how to talk about how they feel. And these are kids that grew up in homes with like, really intelligent, capable parents, right. But they’re, it’s not normalized for them peer to peer anymore. Like it would have been for us



how much like I have 100 incidents with these kids. How much is like, yeah, it’s pretty normal high school or adolescent stuff versus this is probably something a little more serious.



depends upon the time of year so like December of a year, December’s highest referral rate, like my last year and white settlement. I refer to student the five days before Christmas or refer to student for inpatient hospitalization every day, the last week before Christmas, before Christmas, or very stressful time of the year



because of finals are more reflective time that everybody goes through like looking at the year behind it’s



academic stressor. But if you have any grief loss, or trauma and a family holidays are no bueno. Yeah. So it brings up all of it. Right. So I grew up in this like great Pollyanna household, Mike enorm are wonderful people still alive. Praise God for mica Norma, holidays, were this magical experience for me. That is not holidays for every human. Yeah. Right. So at the buildups the holiday season for you hit on it for up for mapper school students. A lot of it is academic. So I’ve had a lot of crying and panic attacks over the last two weeks. Yeah. Right. And a lot of stress, you know. But if there’s trauma or loss, or really, really systemic breakdown in the phone at home, then holidays become a really negative time of the year. Yeah, yeah, yeah. And also for kids with those types of issues. The thought of having to be trapped in their home life for two to three weeks isn’t appealing. Where like, if you have a really positive home life, yeah, no school for two weeks, if you have a really negative home life. Yeah, I want to go there for two weeks. Yeah.



So I’m looking at the some of the charts JW pulled up, and I was I was actually listening to kind of like, top 40 music, and I noticed this theme, which was during the show, or Yeah, I typically I can, I can patch it in while the guests are here. So you would never know I was distracted, but I’ve actually listened to top 40 Now you



are like you are like a teenager. Yeah. But no,



so So how true that is. So the thing is, is that a lot of the lyrics in those songs are like super aggressive by the male, super, like I’m at the edge, you know, by the female artists. It’s just like, it’s really telling, and then listening to Rihanna. Yeah, you know, I mean, just all in so and then it shows in a lot of these charts with JD, it seems worse for the female like, and now you hear about all this, but is there a time in life where there’s like, this time worse for the female and then later in life is worse for the male? Or did those even out ever, or is that a true statement, even that it’s harder,



it’s not a true statement for adolescents, in fact, adolescent males are more likely to attempt to complete suicide than females, females are more likely to attempt. But I would say that you have just as many male students suffering from anxiety and depression as you do female, they’re less vocal, which is more dangerous. Because the more you internalize the problem instead of externalizing, the problem which is what we do in counseling, the we are in gooier, and nastier it gets which leads to either implosion, which could be a self harm scenario or explosion, which could lead to what we’ve just dealt with, again, sadly, very, very sadly, in Oxford, Michigan. So students that act, the line between suicide and homicide is very, very narrow, right. So whenever a student is in crisis, whether that crisis is an implosion, or an explosion, if they were able to emote and externalize the problem throughout the process, they wouldn’t have gotten to that point.



So that’s what you’re there, mainly to get them to do is to vocalize these problems and talk through them versus in their mind make something much, much worse, which typically is in those situations, right.



And also be preventative. So we want to we want to put in as many in the business we call them protective factors. So the students at my school are so blessed. I mean, they have a lot of protective factors. So family income is a built in protective factor we have where faith based school faith and religious worship is a protective factor. Another protective factor is having a safe place to attend school every day. All of my students have that they have a lot of adults in their life that care about them, coaches, teachers. I did a survey with the kids recently, and 386 kids responded. And they named like 65 Different adults on our campus. So it was just so cool to see you know, there. I’m not everybody’s person. I can’t be right. But they all have a person and that’s so important like being in relationships and connections so huge. So



let’s talk about cell phones real quick because we all know the troubles of social media but how bad are cell because my kids have a mouse and your kids have now Britain but how bad a problem is the cell phone is it? Is it something we can’t stop at this point?



Well, they have to they have to be trained how to use them appropriately. I, you know, it’s hard because I had a lot of heart hot sports opinions, and then your own kids at this age, right. And so it’s really easy to say,



to hot sports opinions, I’m not like it, and I’m gonna use it.



So I used to be really like, oh, just wait till they’re older to give him a cell phone, I think it’s really important to not give them an introduce that technology too young. But I also think it’s important to show them how to use it, and to give them boundaries because students great boundaries, even though they push against them. And they’re not great at creating them for themselves. And that’s generationally back to what we’re talking about before. A huge difference like,



well, in especially with the pandemic, like we’re sitting there going like, there was a time when perhaps one of my speaking for a friend, one of my friends child was on the virtual and then that I or the friend went in and the teacher said, Did You Know Were you even out of bed for that class? Like you were laying in bed? You know, for that? So I’m told, and so it is one of these things where you, you question that as well. Like we were sitting there going, why can’t you guys act like college kids? Like that’s essentially what you’re asking for a shirt of a middle school or a high school child? Isn’t? They’re not ready? Why can’t you get to class, because all the curriculum are just kind of changing towards that like self responsibility. And they’re not. I mean, we couldn’t even get to class in college, what makes us think that at a high school or middle school level, they could or be responsible for getting online for the classes and stuff like that. And



part of the cellphone thing that JW was talking about earlier that I’ve seen with the kids that spirals into the mental health dilemma is sleep deprivation, because they’re never off technology and like screens stimulate your brain so much. And so we have to teach them how to use it appropriately. Right. Like, here’s when it’s okay to be on it. Here’s when it’s not okay to be on it. You know, and when I’m having to kick my husband in church, when he’s texting in church, I’m thinking you got all these lies watching you, dude, like, we can’t be doing that. Because yeah, you know, not saying I’m perfect, but it’s just it’s just you are your counselor. Yeah, right. I know everything right? My kids are always so well



behaved. Yeah. What’s too young? In what? How much cell phone time, in your opinion? Well,



our school, our school partners with challenge success through Stanford, and they recommend not implementing cell phone with internet access until 13. That’s hard. It’s really hard. Yeah, really hard. Um, I definitely think that you can, there’s so many cool ways to scale it in, you know, I’ve had I get the best ideas from other parents, right. So I have parents that start with a old cell phone that they don’t use anymore, that they don’t have internet access on. And it’s the landline, right and you want to take the landline and go ride your bike with your brother, because you need to learn some of that independence and problem solving skills there. There’s landline. Might do that when you’re 10. Okay. Unfortunately, what we’re seeing is were some



of those old ones have really addictive games on them that they go for for like 1500 bucks on ebay. Seriously. Alright, push through this.



In the business, we call this ADHD.



Well, I have a friend that has that, but I have not heard of that myself.



Yes, this whole shows about him.



I’ve never been formally. Thank you JW for my Christmas gift of bringing her on.



No, I don’t think I think for each family, it’s different. We chose in our house.



Flip phone at 12. iPhone at 13 We’re still not doing tick tock or Instagram or Snapchat.



That’s good because we don’t understand the like fixing the hair like doing the snaps like I don’t get



snap streaks are really important to them. What is that? Well, it’s just that people checked they that they sent a it’s basically a group text is all it is, but they’re just snapping their friends.



What is the psychological implication that I’m part of the group? Is that what you’re saying? Like I’m here, guys.



Well, no, I’m with you. I’m not missing out. And it’s also once again, instantaneous gratification, which is a really negative report. I mean, that’s why people like gambling. That’s why people like anything that instantaneous instantaneously makes them feel good. Yeah, a cell phone is more addictive than a slot machine. Mm hmm. Because it’s intermittently rewarding. I



heard same designers in some cases



for sure. Yeah. Some of the apps. Yeah. Gaming designers. I didn’t



hear your answer. But what’s a recommended daily allotment for a child, a teenager or a high schooler?



Well, Academy of Pediatrics sticks hard with the two hours but the problem is that, like in our school, we we take up the cell phones and through eighth grade, so they’re not using a cell phone Phone, but they’re on a computer. Yeah, right. Yeah. And so because there’s a big push to integrate technology and learning so that they’re prepared for the for the way that the workforce is going to be. But there’s some really solid research is coming out, just in the past couple years about you interact, the larger the screen, remember when our parents were all afraid that we were going to be like much brain from watching too much TV? Well, what they found is, the larger the screen, you can, you can use this to argue your wives for your next 72 inch, but the larger the screen, the less it negatively affects your brain. Really. And and and they aren’t even really sure why that is. So they’re coming out with a lot of things that Jerry Jones. So they’re coming out with a lot of research that says the computer is much, much more okay, than them being on their cell phone. And it also has to do with the lighting and why they’re using it. If you’re using it for an educational purpose, it doesn’t trigger the same parts of your brain as if you’re using it for social connection. Well,



right. Like think about just even the binge watching of shows like, like that’s there’s no call and response. No, right. Like, you think about the cell phone, it’s all about I’m going to put it out there, you’re going to come back into like, you know,



they call that. And the research they call it passive versus interactive. Right? So anytime you’re using technology passively, it’s a little less stimulating. Yeah. And overstimulating, and I think that back to JW, to your question, it also depends on if your child has any learning differences or learning struggles. So if you give an ADHD kid an iPad for six hours, oh, my gracious, it’s not it’s gonna be off. Well, what



about just given ADH? Adult, the internet? I mean, come on, like, you know, it’s, yeah, here’s an endless, you know, you got some ideas? Well, let’s put them on roids here, you know, I mean, it’s just crazy.



Yeah, it’s hard to turn it. It’s hard to know how to turn it on and off. And I think we sometimes that’s a lot of passive parenting too, because it’s easier, right? Like, they’re like leaving you alone, if they’re gaming, or they’re on their iPad, or they’re doing what they want. And for some people that starts at a really young age, so you know, you walk into a restaurant, and you see any babies with iPads,



drives me crazy. And yes, it’s everywhere. It is everywhere. And



I you know, when my oldest was that age that that wasn’t an option. So



yeah, you can definitely tell a difference generationally between these kids on quick because of when the adaption or adoption or adaption, like of that is I mean, we see it with our two years between our two boys, you know, and just the use of it.



And you know, when suicide rates spiked. They have consistently gone up your every year since 2007. What happened in 2008? The iPad came out or the first iPhone, no, yeah, and that data is like right in line, you can look at the you can look at the chart, they’re right next



to the current stats on suicide



hole, gosh, I don’t know them off the top of my head, but post pandemic their way up. So it’s high.



What’s the solution? Like? What are we going to do just, like medicate ourselves out of this? Or how do we know or quit? Like, just get rid of all the phone? Like go to the beach? I don’t know.



And I wonder about that. You know how and you know, historically you have these pendulum swings. I wonder if we’re gonna hit this generation of kids are they like all apt out and they’re like hippies, and they’re like, you’re not using that terrible? Fire? Yeah, exactly. Right. But no, that’s not that nuts, not the the right way to handle it. The right way to handle it. It’s like everything else in our lives that we don’t want to do is, is discipline, and managing it appropriately. Yeah, but no one likes to do that with anything that’s not



or not for our kids either. Like you don’t want to see them hurt, you know.



And it’s also requires the parent to have to engage in more conversation and in more parenting, which isn’t always fun. Yeah. Right. And so some parents would just say, Oh, don’t want that. You know, he’s out. I’m good. Yeah, let them have their stuff.



Real quick before we move on to the next topic. Tick tock. You just talked about it a sec. My daughter and your daughters I would venture a guess that they’re become professional dancers in the home right. Daughter? I think she’s I don’t know why that every every parent gets to see this but the kids have turned into dancers all of a sudden. It’s kind of cool. But it also it’s it’s never stops. I mean, they can’t stand still. They can’t go to the you know, to dinner with the parents without dancing in that line or at the table. Yep. It’s like it’s consumed these these guys what’s going on their



weight and dancing or filming the dancing all the time?



I suspect both dancing with with our daughters. So yeah, it’s Yeah, so



and this is why prohibition doesn’t work. Because my kid doesn’t have tick tock but she knows every tick tock dance right because our friends do so it’s like castlemania Just let her have it because what’s the point right prohibition does not always work. We know that from history. Yeah. But tick tock, and it can be very fun. I mean, it can be very social in a positive way I worry a lot about they’ve come out with some crazy stats now on what Instagram has done for body image for girls. I worry a little bit about that with tick tock. Tick tock can get sexual real quick, not as bad as Snapchat. But



real quick. Why can Snapchat



because it used to be that it disappeared. That’s the that’s the whole point of the snap. That’s why the icons a ghost is because as soon as you did it, it was only live for so many seconds. Well, now you can screenshot it used to not even be able to Oh, really? That’s why it was nude Central? Because it was like, Oh, if I’m gonna take naked pictures of myself, I’m going to do it on Snapchat because then it won’t be there. Right? There’s no trace. Yeah, well, yeah, that’s not the case now. But with Tik Tok, I think it can be fun. And it can be light hearted. It can get mean it can be used for bullying. But that’s where we have to talk to kids about how technology can be used for good or how it can be used for bad, right? Like we have to teach them how to use it. Yeah, there’s a really great social emotional learning curriculum that is out there called the Social Institute. And they do a thing called hashtag when social. And it teaches kids like this is examples of people in the world that are using social media for good things. This is an example of how you want to use these things. Because yes, that can be a fun way to interact. It’s not all bad. It’s that it can be used in a negative way. Right?



That’s an interesting. Let’s go back to depression and anxiety. Some things you’re seeing a lot of what are warning signs people see from kids.



So they’re very different. The warning signs between anxiety and depression, anxiety. Sometimes it can be things as simple as fidgeting. And we used to tell kids in school not to fidget. I was just shaking my leg when you say yeah, but fidgeting is helpful because it integrates anxiety, right. So when you when you’re anxious, your brain releases cortisol. And when we have bilateral movement, where we use both sides of our body, it integrates cortisol, which is why anxious people fit it, right, which is why we need to tell kids not, don’t fidget like here’s how you can fidget. Right? Let me show you a way that you can be in class, you can be very anxious, and no one knows. You can take your water bottle and move it from hand to hand. You can tap both feet on the floor silently. You can take your pencil and you can look at it and then unfocus and then look at it and then unfocus no one knows what you’re doing. But you’re integrating that cortisol right? So a lot of fidgeting, trouble sleeping, interrupted sleep pattern, cycle cyclical thoughts. We call it ruminating. So if you’re if your child brings up a lot of the same things over and over and over and over again, and you’re like you are driving me cuckoo, like why are you so fixated on this thing that seems so minuscule to me, that can be a sign that their anxiety is really ramped up. In severe cases, we can see kids hair pulling and skin pulling and, and things like that, but that’s really getting very severe. So it’s typically going to manifest itself. And if it’s social anxiety, it’s not wanting to leave the house not wanting to go to school not wanting to go to parties not wanting to interact with people other than social media. Because if you’re on social media, and you have social anxiety, it’s spectacular. Because you can be super confident online, right? Yeah, yeah, anything, but just I have kids, they’re very extroverted, very popular, but are still anxious. So social anxiety and anxiety are very different. Depression is going to be like, lack of motivation. And grades typically drop. Not finding interest in things that they used to really like. So if you have a kid that just loves soccer, and then they’re just they don’t even want to go to practice anymore. distancing themselves from friends that they’ve been friends with for a long time wanting to sleep all the time, or, or staying up all night. So I’ve had students that were had insomnia, but I’ve also had students that like wouldn’t get out of bed, right? It can be either end of the spectrum. Um, so major change, it can be weight change, with adults and depression, we say weight gain, teens is actually typically weight loss. They sometimes lose the motivation to even eat, which I’m like, Gosh, what’s that? Why not wanting to eat? I mean, yeah, but I mean, I have kids don’t tell me like, nothing motivates me not even go into the refrigerator, right? Nothing, you know, so



just hit at like the teenage years like harder than this. Right? Like the pre adolescents are, what happens



like well, some of its puberty and hormonal changes, some of it situations that they end up that are different, right so they haven’t been having navigate relationships. Sex relationships in reduction of drugs and alcohol having to make life choices of like, where am I going to college? Yeah, all the stress that they’re under with their, their grades and performance and athletics, and they feel a lot more pressure, you know, they feel when you’re about like, the happiest time of childhood is really like eight to 11. Right? You aren’t thinking about the opposite sex. Really? You’re friends with everybody, and you just want to go play? And it’s great. Yeah, you know, it’s simple. It’s very simple. Yeah.



You mentioned a little bit of someone topic that I wanted to delve into bullying. Do you see a lot of bullying and like we were kids, we will, you know, hopefully weren’t too big of bullies on some of the people. But I remember being mean to people that I wasn’t close to. I can I’ve know of cases where there was much worse from other people. Is that still a thing? And how do you address a bully



emerges? A bully testimony?



A bully in our midst? Bully in our middle reformed bullies are formally



somedays not on the podcast every day,



so you’re most at risk population for bullying and actually versus side as well as the LBGTQ q plus community. I like to think that the school that I work at is a safe school for those students. But that is the most bullied population. It is also the population that attempts and complete suicide at the highest rates. So that’s if that’s a huge protective factor. If you’re raising a child that is identifying in that way, you need to definitely be aware of that as a parent. So yes, bullying is still out there, unfortunately, what decreases bullying is empathy and learning how to understand how someone else feels. And because you’re not going to be unkind to someone else, if you’re actually putting yourself in their shoes, right? Yeah. Um, so we have a couple things that we do at our school that a lot of schools do and are mandated in public schools. So a lot of schools have bullying prevention programs. But we also have anonymous bullying reporting system. So we use a program called Safe Schools that’s put out by vector solutions. And it’s a way for kids to text call email, without anyone knowing who they are, I really only get a couple reports a year from that, which is still important for it to be active. But our students come to us because another protective factor to decrease bullying in your school is adults that students trust, right? So if a student feels like that they have a teacher, a coach, a priest, a counselor, someone they can go to, that they trust and tell them what happened, then it’s going to end much more quickly, right? So you know, you used to have this thing when we were growing up where it was more of like the schoolyard bully, and the kid was bigger than the other kid. And he threatened him for, you know, stealing his homework or his lunch money. It’s now very much online, right? So yeah, so in September, September 1 of 2017, a law was passed, called David’s law in honor of a young man in Texas that took his own life after being bullied. And it’s a law that pertains specifically to public schools. And the way in which you report bullying, if it’s done through online. So that could be sending a picture of someone else without their consent. It could be mean things posted online, it could be mean text messages. Kids are much more subtle, and they’re tricky. It’s a lot harder to catch. I mean, you know, it’s not like removing Mean Girls where there’s a burden back, but they do all of those same types of behaviors. Online.



You think a lot of that comes from the home what they see going on with mom and dad or, you know, certain insecurities or whatnot, you know? Or do you think that when kids get together because kids can just be mean, take it from the front? I know who gets bullied by his sons? I mean, kids can be mean is what he tells me. Well, boy,



boys, boys, bully physically girls bully relationally. Yeah, I mean, have you ever sat at Coffee with a group of an adult adult women? Yeah. And learn it sometimes.



Yeah. Right, every day.



So So yeah, I think some of that’s modeled in the home in a positive in a negative way. So if you are teaching your children values like, well, let’s not talk about somebody when they’re not here, or Yeah, well, gosh, that’s that sounds like gossip, or you don’t want to talk about somebody else at the waist meals looks like that. You know, that’s, that’s not very kind. Yeah. There’s a lot of ways to frame that. But I see cool things all the time with kids where they come in offices, oh, we’re on the group chat, and so and so said this, and then I said, I call them out. Yeah. And then two or three other kids said, Oh, my gosh, I’m so sorry. Thank you for calling us out. We should have said that. So we call that being an upstander at our school. You know, you can be a bystander to bullying or you can be an upstander Sure. And I see kids do it every day, you know, and are the kids self manage a lot of times I had a situation one year where a group of boys tried to set up a social media accounts make fun of girl and my senior girls, I, I do it a senior girls club called sis, and it’s a mentoring program for freshmen and senior girls. And my senior sis girls thought they were gonna get a hold of those boys and take them out in the parking lot was like, Call off the dog. Yeah. But they do self manage, right? So not all kids are making the wrong decisions. Not all kids are being mean, not all kids are bullying. But we have to create cultures that say, that’s not how we treat each other here. And at our school, we say protect the family. Yeah, right. And so you have to create a culture that says, we’re not treating each other like that.



So, you know, all this can be tied. And I think about it often when I’m raising our own children, even with my wife, like, it’s respect, like, I mean, this one word this whole world could probably revisit in its definition and, and kind of the attributes of it. And it’s just like, how do we how do we get there? How do we get to a more respectful place, because we’re utilizing a lot of really great tools we have all around us to disrespect, almost, it seems more than we are risk to respect, you know,



part of that comes from perspective taking. And that means you have to have empathy and put yourself in someone else’s shoes and know that not everybody’s life looks like yours. And I think that if you looked around and what’s going on in society, and in our country, if everybody would stop yelling, and start listening, and take each other’s perspective a little bit, we wouldn’t be where we are. Yeah, you know, I mean, it’s like, tap the brakes. You know, just tap the brakes and understand that. I counsel kids everyday that are dealing with things that I never dealt with. But I’m still able to take their perspective, right? That was not my experience. And it’s not my experience, but I can still listen, and I can be a non judgmental space. And I can understand without having experienced it. Yeah. Yeah.



Can we talk about drugs for sick? Yeah. We both were in high school, middle school. Yeah, we know it’s there. I know. It’s there. Even now. Every every high school probably has it as a as an issue. Do you see it? Are you seeing it? And what’s what’s going on with that?



So like everything else, drugs is very different. You know what people experiment with how they get it, they get it from Snapchat, by the way,



they please explain the real quick



dealer’s deal on Snapchat. So if I want a vape pen that has a THC pod, which is how kids use weed now, which is actually a felony, not a misdemeanor. So it’s really scary, but it’s also really scary because it goes into your bloodstream in a way higher content than what the vape stuff does. Guys, it’s like straight in your bloodstream. So it’s, you know, kids like to say, oh, THC is not addictive. I’m like, well, first of all, it is Second of all, the way the way you’re using it in a vape pot it is so yeah,



you don’t even know what it is. That could be like cyanide in there. And now there could



be fentanyl, which is another scary mess. And that’s gone up 1/3 during the pandemic and Tarrant County and our own community, but vaping, nicotine and vaping THC pods and there’s an new it’s illegal drink or whatever. Well, that but Delta eight, Delta eight is a synthetic and it’s legal at convenience stores. And so these things can these hardware,



you can buy that



Ace Hardware hardware by Ace Hardware, who



knows it’s terrible. And it should be the hardware shame on you Ace Hardware,



Ace Hardware like Ace Hardware Get your act together.



You gotta go down and 199 there to go to the Ace Hardware yeah, oh yeah, that’s probably why cuz as TCU kids are all getting that delta eight there.



Oh, it’s it’s unbelievable. I



shove it Lowe’s



good for you.



I like Azar Lowe’s Ace Hardware Lord Dickens does not



predict better printer protect



the family. No. Um, so wait pods there’s still some not like when I first got into counseling, I got into counseling and oh three was a fully licensed counselor and oh four in public school. You always get hired on emergency certificate before you’re completely done with your whatever it is because they need you right so back then it was a lot of Xanax and it was right before they took oxycontin off the off the you know out of off the market if you haven’t watched up sick Wow, it’s good. Oh, it is so sad and hard to watch data but you gotta watch it so good. Love all seasons on that. You know, I have not heard if they are but like I’m into all of it like it goes Narcos, Mexico level, the level



one high town, it was pretty good too. It’s Cape Cod.



I’ve heard I need to watch that one. So, um, so that so back then it was a lot of Xanax and OxyContin and painkillers and things like that. And it’s not that we never see pills anymore. But it’s abusing each other’s focus medication. Right. So a focus medication is a stimulant. And it’s really an infinity amphetamine. And so, there’s a lot of abuse of that on college campuses, because kids that aren’t prescribed it. Like, oh, my gosh, I can study. And if I’m a college or high school aged girl, I don’t eat and I’m skinny.



Oh, yeah. So I just party like stay awake, really? Hard to double reward.



Right? So my grades are good. And I quote unquote, look the way people want me to and I’ve



heard this, oh, yeah, if you snort it, it breaks the time release, right? Like, I mean, that’s kind of what the hell you



see that and upset with oxy cotton in it. And it also hits your bloodstream faster and makes it more addictive, and it’s very dangerous. And so. So it’s super scary with fentanyl coming in. Any type of thought of any interaction with pills is just very frightening. I occasionally you will hear about cocaine, and I actually heard about acid not too long ago, I was like, oh my god, I hadn’t heard about acid since that, you know, late 80s, early 90s. But, but for the most part, hands down. If teenagers are addicted to something right now, it’s nicotine through vaping. They do not smoke cigarettes. So we had completely eradicated the tobacco issue. In Texas, with a little bit of smokeless tobacco, there was still some dipping going on. And young people until vapes came on the market. And that blew the lid off of it. And that was really actually simultaneously about the time I started at all things like that in it, it just boomed. And then so it’s really important we do vaping education every year at my school. Sixth through 12th. It’s very important that students know that a THC pot is a felony. It’s very important that kids know how addictive nicotine is through a vape as well as how addictive THC is through vape.



It’s true statement. If I said, if you’re at a teenage level of brain still forming the addiction, the wit rate that you’ll get addicted is faster than if I do it now. Like I just I recently kind of thought of that is is that a true statement?



It’s not. It’s not just that it’s that it’s also more damaging to your brain development. Because your brain your prefrontal cortex isn’t fully developed, which causes you to choose that right? Because you’re not your decision making isn’t fully there yet. But it also damages your brain at a much faster rate. So and we don’t know, longitudinally, what’s going to happen with it. Because I mean, this stuff’s only been on the market for five, six years. What she was telling



you is your brain I saw you smiling.



She said, I saw you like I saw that smirk and you’re like, should I just try? I should I try to just cut right this wood out? Or should I smile at the damage that this gentleman has done to his brain?



What about abuse? In the home front? Are you you ever come across that in your career? Do you see it? And do you see signs? And how do you deal with something like that, like physical you talked about? Yes, yeah, I’ve



sadly dealt throughout my career with every form of child abuse. And of course at risk populations are more at risk. Child abuse happens on all demographics, it does not just happen in poverty, it happens in every every setting, it happens, the more stress and at risk situation is in so less of those protective factors, the more likely there is to be abused. That does not mean that abuse does not exist in a fluent populations. Right.



Well, and we heard from the DA that like it’s kind of weird, Sharon. Yeah, like a fluent situation like that. It’s more premeditated because it can be held like all day, right? Like it’s not so reactive that it’s it like it can be controlled, controlled and then loses it.



Right and like a lot of things with a fluence. There’s a higher level of secrecy.



He’s right, like you’re having a bad day, but you don’t you can’t act that way at work. So you take it to home and then they do whatever they do to whoever it’s to his point premeditation in that regard, is you can control that if the right steps are taken. Forgive me for you. The all the bad stuff we talked about today. There’s considerable amount. There are good things. Could you share some of your successes with us?



Yeah. So I mean, I just I just see kids that overcome so many things to go on to do amazing and great things. And so I have students that will go through, for example, a partial hospitalization program that’s 30 school days, six weeks and they get counseling all day every day. they get caught back up on their academics. And then they’re attaining their goals, right? Like they’re getting into the college that they wanted to, they’re being successful. They’re maintaining their grades and participating in athletics again, and having positive relationships. I’ve seen kids overcome some such difficult things to go on and be so successful. When I worked in public school, I had so many students that were first generation college attenders. And to see these students who grew up in just really difficult and impoverished situations, and their parents had made so many sacrifices for them to come to this country and to get an education and, and they’re, they’re doctors and lawyers. And I mean, like they were, they had such an at risk difficult childhood and are so successful, you know, so. So yeah, I definitely think that all hope is not lost and, and anxiety and depression, when treated are very manageable, right. And so these are things that can be part of what builds character and resilience in a kid’s life not having to be this huge, horrible culminating factor to that leads to lack of success. So that’s well put,



I can see I can see it in your face talking about successes. That’s I suspect, you feel rewarded in your in your career with these things.



I feel so blessed to get to do what I do every day. It is such a privilege and an honor to serve the kids that I serve and the families that I serve, and I get so much more from them than they than they ever get from me.



That’s great. Great. I forgot to ask you remiss if I didn’t the mask that kids were wearing. Yeah, the effect of that on the kids and some of their kids. demeanors is a key speed that really briefly,



the older kids, you know, not as much probably I’ve really, I’m really curious to see where research goes with that with the younger ones, right? I was. We went to Disney over fall break. And we were on the monorail and there’s this little kiddo and you know, Disney, it’s like,



did you stay at a hotel attached via Monterey did excellent.



It was wonderful. It was magical from start to finish Grand Floridian yay rah. Um, but you know how strollers It’s like she promotes



Ace Hardware as well as the Grand the Grand Floridian



as well as all Disney property resort. Yes.



And no Ace Hardware stores in the continental US. Yeah.



Shout out days hardware again. But you know, Disney, it’s like strollers are rampant. It’s like, like, everywhere you look, there’s a stroller, there’s a stroller, and then you know, they’re everywhere. Well, so this little kid, I was in a stroller, and they had their little tiny mask on. And I had my mask on. And we were interacting with this little toddler, and she was totally interacting back with us. And I said to her mama said, I wonder if it’s strange her because she can’t see my face. And she said she never sees anybody’s face. Yeah. And I said, You’re absolutely right. Since she’s been born, if she was out in public, everyone had on a mask. And that got me thinking about the research that will come out. I did not see it. It actually made schools like super cool, which was kind of nice. The kids were much more subdued. Which was an interesting side effect of a mask. We didn’t get other bugs. So that was nice. You know,



I got bugs in my mask one time, like chiggers in the mask. That’s where I got all bitten up. Yeah, I know. It’s bad. It’s awful. I don’t, I don’t like.



But I didn’t see like these terrible negative effects with the masking with older kids. And I think I think it was the, I think was being disconnected with the virtual learning that was worse, in terms of like, Thank God, they were able to learn but not begin community the same way. Right?



Well, and on that I was just gonna because we’re running out of time, the athletics because a lot of schools athletics kind of got, you know, shut down during that time. How much does that like? Did you see like a rise in cases because these kids aren’t exert like physical



and physical activity, urban counter actions to depression, anxiety. So the first thing I would ask in a virtual session when I had to see skids by Google meet was when was last time you left your bedroom? How much sunlight Have you gotten this week? And are you sleeping normally? Yeah, right. And then we would get into physical activity. Yeah.



Can you bench like is



JW not gonna answer her question? It’s a test so



my bench is not as high as I’d like it right now. I’m working back. Not that.



Sunlight. Are you getting snapped? I



don’t need my bedroom. When I’m not here. I just, it’s one of those things. I have a lot of post it notes that I draw ideas, things I’d like to talk to JW about on a more serious nature, you know, oh, my God.



We’re wrapping this up. But what scares you the most about kids these days?



That they’re suffering and no one knows. Mm hmm.



So this communication thing you spoke of initially? Talk to your kids. Yeah. Talk to somebody. Yeah. Communicate.



Yes. And make them leave their room. Yeah,



there you go. I love it. Yeah. Yeah. Well, we’d like to end every show. We’ve appreciate your time. This is fascinating. Thank you for sharing. Besides familial affairs, your your marriage your kids, your family. What’s the best day of your whole life?



Oh, gosh. Well, it’s with my family. Nope, can’t



accept it. Well, if it was like a Disney



I’m not even though thank you to our generous sponsors, the Grand Floridian and Ace Hardware.



I was actually gonna I was actually going to give a shout out to the national park system. Oh, that’s cool. So during lockdown, we took the girls to Glacier and and Yellowstone and definitely best day ever.



That’s awesome. Yeah. Whereas it was a crowded. No buses,



no international travelers. The least crowded. Yellowstone has been since probably the 1940s. Yes, you in the bears. It was there were a lot of people there but nothing like normal and glacier. Glaciers part Blackfoot Indian Reservation so they didn’t open the Indian Reservation side. So it’s a little more crowded bed Yellowstone. That’s super



well. I’m going to go call my kids and tell them I love them and I will leave you to to chat privately for a little while. I’ll be back.



No, my friend isn’t here. Lord Dickinson. Thank



you very much. Thank you