Emily Lichty

On Oct. 8, the ESDPA speaker series showcased New York Times best-selling author Dr. Lisa Damour, who discussed managing stress, anxiety and parenting during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

As a well-known child psychologist, Damour has written two NYT best-selling books, co-hosts a podcast, writes a monthly column for the NYT and regularly contributes to CBS News.   

“Lisa Damour is one of the most seen and prominent psychologists right now that’s talking about teen stress,” upper school guidance counselor Merredith Stueple said, who moderated the event. “It was so exciting to have her here and be able to talk to her… she’s just so personable and energetic and down to earth.” 

Over Zoom, Damour presented on anxiety and stress in adolescents during the COVID-19 pandemic to aid parents in helping children of all ages manage stressful situations. At the end, Damour opened discussion up for specific questions, asked anonymously by the audience. 

“[During the COVID-19 pandemic,] I have drawn heavily on the established areas of clinical and research psychology that are relevant to our current situation, the scholarship on stress, anxiety and how people endure under persistently difficult circumstances,” Damour said. “We don’t have a body of work on the psychological impact of pandemics, but we do know a lot that can be applied to the current moment.”

Some of the strategies Damour suggested to parents was helping their children breathe when they get stressed, being open to listen when they need help and helping children develop positive coping strategies. 

“Some common positive coping strategies [are] positive social support, happy distractions, self-care, caring for others.” 

child psychologist and author

“Under chronic stress conditions, humans innately start to cope,” Damour said. “But it’s critically important that people adopt positive, as opposed to negative, coping strategies. Both forms offer psychological relief, but negative coping strategies work poorly over time, while positive coping strategies are sustainable….Some common negative coping strategies [are] emotional retreat, substance misuse, junk habits…mistreating others….

Many of the recent ESDPA events, such as the ESD Auction and Spooktacular, have been cancelled due to COVID-19. ESDPA speaker series chair and parent Mandy Click hopes that this virtual event will lead to more in the future. 

“Community events are a very important part of ESD, and this is something I love about our school,” Click said. “This was the first ever virtual speaker series event, and it was a huge success. We received a lot of positive feedback. I’m hoping when we do get back to an in-person event, we will also have the virtual option available to those who can’t attend in person.”

To view a recording of Damour’s event, parents can visit a link on their Veracross account or watch the embedded video below. Damour’s books include: “Untangled: Guiding Teenage Girls Through the Seven Transitions into Adulthood” and “Under Pressure:Confronting the Epidemic of Stress and Anxiety in Girls”. Additionally, Damour’s podcast, which focuses on answering parenting questions from followers, is called “Ask Lisa

For more information on Damour, visit her website drlisadamour.com

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