Rates of anxiety among adolescents have been steadily growing in recent years. In the United States, 1 in 3 kids will be diagnosed with an anxiety disorder by the age of 18, and the global statistics are similar. My special guest, Renee Jain, brings together technology and child psychology as she works with children and parents to build the emotional intelligence of children, helping build their resilience, empathy, kindness, and critical thinking, so important in the face of the struggles that our children today are experiencing.
There are plenty of contributing factors, from social media to our obsession with perfection to overscheduling our children to putting intense pressure on them to succeed and get into the top schools, and more. But according to Renee, all of this is leading to the suppression of and the disconnection from the inner voice of our children, which is the real root of the issue here.
Only about 20% of kids who struggle with anxiety will get access to a mental health professional, but there are effective tools that these kids could learn to help them handle their anxiety. Realizing this, Renee left her tech/finance background and switched careers to support children and their mental health. She started a company that creates animated cartoons and programs, tools that are used by therapists, parents, and schools, to teach kids important life skills to improve their wellbeing.
One of the principles that GoZen teaches is that we shouldn’t be trying to be stress-free. Instead, we should learn to understand our stress and use it to our advantage. In fact, all emotions are OK, and they can also be advantageous and positive catalysts for change. Through GoZen, Renee teaches children how to understand and manage their emotions, and how to use them to their benefit.
Renee walks us through a number of steps that are part of the GoZen process, including learning to stress better and reacquainting oneself with one’s emotions and identifying where one feels emotions in one’s body.
The GoZen program can be used reactively with children who are already struggling and who are working with a therapist, but many schools also use it universally, with all students, in a proactive way, arming them with life skills that everyone really needs.
Renee has led a number of summits, including the Happy Child Summit, in which I participated. You can learn more about the Happy Child Summit at https://happychildsummit.com/?ref=13.
Renee also mentions https://www.characterlab.org, where you can get resources called playbooks that provide evidence-based tools for working with children. And Renee recommends the book, The Self-Driven Child, which you can get at Amazon (https://amzn.to/2F9z9gU).
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