Natasha Daniels Helps Kids with Heightened OCD due to the Coronavirus

Natasha Daniels Helps Kids with Heightened OCD due to the Coronavirus


I am Renee Jain, Chief
Storyteller at GoZen! And, I am here with my friend and colleague, Natasha Daniels. She is a child therapist. She is the founder of anxioustoddlers.com. She is an author of many,
many books we will talk about and she’s here because she’s amazing and we’re gonna talk about what’s going on with the coronavirus, how
it is heightening anxiety and OCD and what’s in our
power to do about that, so Natasha, thank you for joining us. – Yeah, thanks for bringing
this to everybody’s awareness. – So, I know that you
work with a lot of kids that are experiencing OCD
or that experience OCD and it’s funny because,
it’s not funny, clearly, but I was watching some
kind of show the other day where they were teaching
you to wash your hands and it literally looked
like a ritual that you and I both work with kids to try to halt, so I’m wondering what
you’re seeing in your work in terms of how this is
affecting kids with OCD and what we can do about it. – Yeah, it’s definitely very
triggering to kids with OCD and kind of making them feel vindicated that their compulsions
were keeping them safe the entire time, so that’s rough and I think I’m seeing it with kids who have contamination OCD, but kids who also have harm
OCD, really worrying about getting their families infected and being responsible for that
and a lot more hand washing than even what’s being recommended and so, just constant hand
washing has been rough for a lot of kids. I’m starting to see it now in
waves, I think, for a while, I wasn’t seeing it with my
kids because I think parents are doing a good job
keeping it kind of low key, but now it’s really impossible
and we have to be proactive and talk to our kids about these things. – So, how do we approach
kids who don’t have OCD versus kids that do have OCD,
who maybe already engaging in hand washing rituals, what are the kind of different
things that we can do? – I think, in general, you’re
gonna approach them similar, except for the ritualistic aspect of OCD and somebody had replied to
me, I’d post something online and I had said something
about reassurance, I didn’t use the word
reassurance, but I had said that we need to shift our perspective and talk about facts and how
many people are surviving this versus how many people are dying from this and somebody had said, isn’t
that providing reassurance for a child with OCD? And, I think that education’s important, regardless of whether
a child has OCD or not. I think psychoeducation and saying, hey, this is what’s going
on and this is what we know and keeping it very specific to the child, I think we can get very
global and start talking about the world’s being taken over
by this and very alarmist and I think staying in
the facts, in the now, and what’s related to that
child is really helpful. And then, for kids with OCD,
I think what could be helpful and this is what I’ve
been doing for the kids that I work with is talking
about the CDC’s protocol of what they recommend
as far as hand washing and, maybe, pinning that up if you have a really obsessive hand washer and letting them stay to those rules. Did you just come out, did
you just go to the bathroom? Were you just eating? And, have it very black and
white can help kind of reduce those compulsions from ballooning. – So, we know that a lot of
the kids that we work with that experience anxiety will
often ‘what if’ like crazy. So, sticking to that
example, if you have a child that’s coming out and clearly
they’ve washed their hands and they say, but mom, what if
I might’ve touched something, I don’t know, or maybe a droplet
got on me, how can I know. Where do we go from
there and, I understand, I’m asking you in a sound
bite for this huge piece of therapeutic advice, but
if you can get us started that would be awesome. – I think and it’s going
to be a fluid situation as far as what we advise
our kids depending on what comes out on the
news and what’s happening because they just don’t know a lot, but I think trying to have
our home be a safe place no matter what will be really key. So, our home is clean. Mom’s taking care of it or
dad’s taking care of it. We wipe down things, it’s clean. We wash our hands when we come in. Whatever they’re gonna be requiring that might change over time,
but then when we’re home, we are all okay. We are all safe in this house
because, no matter what, we’re gonna exchange
germs inside our house, I think it’d be really
impossible to contain that. And so, having kids feel
like when they’re home they can relax and
they’re in a safe space, I think would be really important. – We’re seeing kids that
are feeling very fearful about safety, in general, their own safety and the
safety of their parents. Mom, dad, uncle, aunt,
grandparents, caretaker, what if something happens to you? How do we help with our kids
that are worried about death? – Yeah, it’s a good question. Because, I was telling
my kids about it and– – Natasha has three kids, by the way, so–
– (laughs) I do and they all have anxiety and
OCD, so it’s been really fun and I was explaining to them what this is and trying to be
proactive, this was, maybe, like a week ago, so just
trying to be really proactive. And, I was telling my eight year old people are surviving this,
it’s similar to the flu. It just spreads faster and it’s scarier because we don’t know as much about it and I was normalizing it and I said, unless you’re very, very
old or you have diseases and you’re already very fragile, you’re gonna be okay, most likely and I try to use softening
words, like most likely, ’cause I don’t wanna be very
black and white in my language with my kids or with the kids I work with and then, she said, oh my
gosh, you’re gonna die? I’m like, why would you say that? She’s like, ’cause you’re old. (both laughing) I was like, thank you for that. – These are moments of
humor, please laugh with us. – I know, right?
– Yeah, thank you for that. Yeah–
– You got it, you have to have a sense of humor in scary situations. So, I think letting them know that overall people are recovering from
this and be general about it so that we don’t give them falsitudes or platitudes that, down
the road, aren’t true and that’s a tight rope because we don’t know
much and it’s evolving, but I think letting people know that there are measures
to keep us all safe and even if we get
sick, there are measures to keep it contained and to
keep us from getting sicker and that’s all we really
need to tell a child when something hasn’t happened yet. We don’t have to tell them
the whole big scary picture of what our anxious
mind might be telling us because the child can’t handle that. They just need to know
what’s happening right now. Grandma’s healthy right now. Our uncle is healthy right now. – I feel like the kids will probably begin to see the ripple effects
of our internal fears, especially, if and when
there are school closures and there are people
that are watching this that are all around the world that are already
experiencing school closures and so, there are a lot of
parents that are saying, how am I going to do this? Not just, how am I gonna
be at home with the kids? You know, just, how am I gonna do my work? How am I gonna executes these? How long is this going to last? So, do you have any advice
for parents in terms of processing our own anxiety and fears so that’s not spilling over
everywhere like the blob? – (giggles) Like the blob,
yeah, I mean it’s a scary time and for those of us that
have anxiety already, it’s even scarier, but I think even if you don’t
have anxiety it’s overwhelming because there’s so many
things that are unknown. This isn’t what you asked,
but I do wanna mention this. I feel like, I keep telling
people to live in the now, focus on what’s happening
today, focus on what’s happening to your kids, your family, school, but I do feel like leaving a bread crumb for what may be as far as school closures and things closing down is helpful. And so, when I talked
to my kids about this and the kids in my
practice, I will say, maybe, the worst thing that can happen is that they shut down
schools for a while because they don’t wanna spread
germs, maybe I’ll stay home just to make sure everyone’s
getting well taken care of. So, I plant that seed even
though it’s not happening where I live, so that when it does happen, it’s not like, oh my gosh, mom,
everything’s shutting down. This must be catastrophic, so they already have that knowledge. So, that wasn’t answering your question, but I do wanna mention that.
– That’s okay, that’s great, thank you, very valuable. – And, I think for our own anxiety, I kind of try to take my
own advice that I’m giving my kids and the kids I work with, is what’s happening right now and right now, I’m still going to work and right now, my kids
are still going to school. Right now, I’m feeling healthy
and then I will go down a little bit of that
rabbit hole and just say, okay, we might have to stay home. We might have to and we all hang out and spend some quality time together that we haven’t had time
to do in a long time and I try to see the silver lining in it and I try not to reach news
and I think that that’s something that you wanna
protect your mind from as an adult because if you
are bombarding yourself with lots of information
24/7, how are you going to be an anchor for your child
when you’re feeling very disoriented and discombobulated? So, find your one news source,
CDC and you update yourself on a daily basis and then you move on. – That’s a discipline, literally.
– I know, right? – How do you deal with
a child that is asking the same question over and over again? What’s the strategy for that? – I would probably reflect them–
– Yeah, like a repeated, they’re looking for reassurance
repeatedly, essentially. – And, I think you’d approach this the way you would approach anything
else related to anxiety. If it’s a question that I’ve
already educated them on and if you have an anxious child, you’re gonna see more of
this because they ruminate, ask you over and over,
and so, I would say, what do you need to tell yourself? What’s a thought for that? And, I would throw it back at them and then if they can’t and
they really don’t know, then I’ll process that,
but a lot of times, kids just wanna hear that
repetitive reassurance and we really want them to learn
how to reassure themselves. So, what’s a thought that
you could tell yourself and walk them through it so
that when you’re not available or they’re up in the middle of
the night and they’re worried or they’re at school
and they hear something, they have those thoughts in their head, they’re not dependent on you
to provide them for them. – Beautiful, thank you. If you can give us any last
words and especially for parents who are looking for some
compassion and kids looking for compassion around this
experience that they’re having with the pandemic, what would those be? – I think that it’s
scary when we don’t know what something is and we don’t
know what it will look like. I look at China and I look at
how they’re recovering already and that brings me peace and
I also look at connecting with my kids is not gonna be a bad thing. But, if I have to stay at
home, we cook or we laugh and we play games together
or even we get sick together and then we recover today,
we’ll all get through this and I believe that and
because I believe that, I can be an anchor for my
kids and I think that that’s the message I wanna convey
to everybody else too. – That’s amazing, Natasha, where do we go, I know you have YouTube shows,
I know you have a podcast, I know you have your
website, you have books, where can people find you your work? – They can just go to my website
at atparentingsurvival.com. It’s where I live.
– Atparentingsurvival.com, her stuff’s amazing. Also, Natasha, I know her and I have both been pretty serious on this, but she’s hilarious,
she’ll make you laugh. – Aw, thank you.
– And, also give you advice at the same
time which is what I love. So, thank you so much for being with us. I know this was a last minute,
I’ve been saying to everyone, I said, I woke up in the
morning, then I’m like, okay, we’re doin’ this. I have to reach out to some friends and see what we can do to
help, so thank you so much. – Yeah, thank you for doing
it, it’s so important.

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