On March 8 Woodend School was proud to host Mark LeMessurier – a popular speaker, educator, parenting coach, and counseller – as he presented to us his session on Dealing With BIG Feelings: Coaching Kids to Manage Anger to Anxiety and everything in between.

There was definitely a buzz in the gym with over 175 parents and educators in attendance, and Mark’s fantastic presenting style meant that we went from laughing to madly writing notes to participating and practicing the strategies ourselves! Read on for some of the big AHA’s and ideas from the presentation, and to see some of the slides that Mark shared with us.

I like that he said all feelings are normal, it’s ok to feel sad, angry, frustrated, scared it’s just what you do with it and how you come through, and that it’s ok to let your kids see you have these emotions, it’s normal don’t hide it and let them see that you can work through it. I also liked the less words is more while they are in a heightened state, let them cool down and visit the behaviour when everyone is calm. ~ Amanda

He gave some great tips on how to speak to your child and equip them with the skills and vocab to recognise and talk about their feelings. This helps then recognise their triggers and when big feelings are rising. I found his practical suggestion regarding breathing techniques and ways to engage your child in everyday conversation helpful. ~ Lauren

What I liked about Mark and the presentation was that he doesn’t pretend to know all the answers and you don’t walk away feeling like a bad parent. He does however give you some tools and ideas to look at things differently, to fine tune our parenting. I liked the “less is more” strategy and that it’s good for children to see adults not agreeing on everything. I can’t wait to use the “angry bull” on my kids when they argue next. I’m sure I’ll be using it soon. ~ Kellie

I found Mark to be very easy to listen to and could easily relate what he was saying about the day to day scenarios. Was great how there was no judgement and offered practical tips. I really liked the breathing techniques, not to over ‘talk’ during a moment of stress or big feeling and to always have a consequence if they’re behaviour is extreme which didn’t have to be taking something away but could just be discussing disappointment. ~ Nicole

I loved the part about teaching your children through role modelling and that arguing with a partner or with friends is normal and that it is only because of a difference in opinion not a personal attack. Letting your children watch how you work through it by find your own space to think and that the relationship instead isn’t affected is a great tool for them to learn from.

I like how he spoke about there being 3 reasons for behaviour … trying to get TO something … trying to get AWAY from something … or trying to get AT someone. It’s amazing to look at situations where your own children have had challenging behaviour and if you look deeply you can really fit them into one of those 3 categories.

And then also that the most important thing to teach your children is the words for feelings so that they can verbalize what is happening and get to know the early warning signs. The emoji activity to recognize feelings was really interesting; it would be great to ask my kids how many emoji they can name because they really do represent all the different emotions. ~ Kerry

I loved realising that there are two ways children can react & it makes it much easier to understand them when you know if your child is a “reactor” or a “thinker” when something goes wrong. I also liked to hear that setting a consequence doesn’t necessarily need to be something that the child has to miss out on. It can be as simple as a heartfelt apology, doing something nice for the person you hurt, or even just the parent expressing their disappointment. ~ Allison

I think one of the best things that I took away from the presentation was to not speak too much or try to correct behaviour in those heated moments… better to keep words to a minimum and keep your composure, and then talk to kids later when everyone is calm and relaxed. It was also great to hear that it’s actually a good thing for kids to see adults not always necessarily agreeing with each other, and how we resolve those issues. Can’t wait for the next presentation! ~ Emma

Mark was a really engaging presenter. The parts I enjoyed the most were about recognizing the physical symptoms of feelings, or “the early warning signs” as he called them, and provided many strategies to deal with those symptoms. I also found the mindfulness exercises useful, both to teach kids relaxation techniques and for adults to take pause.

I really respected that he didn’t take a punitive approach to dealing with big feelings, but acknowledged that there were often needs that weren’t being met when kids act up.

And lastly, that children need safe spaces and time to deal with their “big feelings” and that experiencing those feelings and dealing with them, can empower kids. ~ Carolyn

I loved his tips on teenagers: angry teenagers appreciate it when you can stay calm, when you don’t strip their dignity by berating them or shaming them for their emotions and emotional reactions. They appreciate it when you can give them some space somehow – maybe leave the house and go grab a coffee – they know that you are coming home, they know that they are safe on their own, and they have some space to calm down alone. ~ Karen

So much great information. Some new ideas. Some just that much needed confirmation that you are on the right track. Mark is such an engaging, authentic and down to earth presenter. His passion for building strong relationships and the foundations for a growth mindset was very honest and inspiring. Can’t wait for the next presentation. We are so lucky as a community to get these opportunities to all grow. ~ Kelli

Mark will be back to do another presentation – Everyday Ideas to Build RESILIENT Young People – on Wednesday 17 May 6:30 pm in the Woodend Gym. Click here to book in for this presentation.

Mark will have his popular books available on the night once again, payment by cash or credit card. Visit Mark’s website to find out more about his presentations, workshops, and books.