Show Notes


Meet your host, Chantelle Quesnelle, Mental Health Lead at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, and hear where we're headed with the OnPoint Parenting Podcast.

Brought to you by the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board and our Catholic Parent Involvement Committee (CPIC).

Navigating Stress During COVID-19

We all experience stress and kids have stress too! Not all stress is bad stress and it is important that we all have the tools and support to manage when things feel difficult or overwhelming. In this episode of OnPoint Parenting, host Chantelle Quesnelle and guest Beth McCague, Psychology Associate at the SMCDSB, explore the topic of stress during the pandemic.

Here’s a little bit about our guest this week…

With a background in educational and clinical psychology, Beth McCague is passionate about sharing the application of emotion neuroscience and wellness principles with educators, families, and students to enhance well-being. Beth has worked with hundreds of groups of professionals as well as with families navigating mental health challenges. Beth has co-authored several articles and book chapters pertaining to Emotion Focused work and Learning Disabilities and is co-founder of Emotion Focused Skills Training in Schools. Beth is a member of the College of Psychologists of Ontario and thoroughly enjoys her role at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board supporting students, educators, and families. Beth is a mother to three creative and energetic kids who she and her husband enjoy many adventures with.

Our children are facing a dramatically different landscape because of this pandemic. Beth and Chantelle touch on the daily stresses our children are dealing with during these ever changing times. They discuss the importance of just letting your child experience their feelings and emotions first before jumping into helping them problem solve. They examine different ways to help your child cope with the stress they are feeling and acknowledge that parents have their own stress too!

Check out some of the resources that will help you manage stress with your child on the Resources Page of this website.

Understanding Anxiety

Together Host Chantelle Quesnelle and Dr. Marian Boer explore anxiety across the ages and stages of development - they talk about what is normal worry and when parents should be concerned that anxiety is becoming a problem. You won't want to miss the practical tips and strategies they provide on how to cope with anxiety, which is the most common mental health concern for both adults and children.

Here's a little bit about our guest this week:

Dr. Marian Boer is a school and clinical psychologist with a Ph.D. who has worked in both hospital and educational settings with children and youth. Dr. Boer started her career in a children’s mental health centre in Thunder Bay before completing her Ph.D. She has worked in several school boards and Child and Youth Mental Health Services at the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre before joining the SMCDSB three years ago. Dr. Boer specializes in working with children and families with developmental and mental health needs and is passionate about bringing families and school staff together to support students. She can often be seen in the halls or in the yard in our schools when working with students as she finds that many students respond best to active support . Dr. Boer is the mother of three children and is often out and about in Simcoe County on a bike or cross country skis with her family.

Check out some of the resources that will help you understand anxiety on the Resources Page of this website.

Exploring Mood Challenges

Together host Chantelle Quesnelle and Lisa Hickling-Miller explore the topic of mood challenges in the context of the pandemic. We discuss what's expected and when more support might be needed, the impact of screen time on mood, and the importance of creating a safe space for our children to talk about their feelings. Simcoe Muskoka parents will hear some important information and tips and likely will relate to the experiences that Chantelle and Lisa share as parents themselves.

Here's a little bit about our guest this week:

Lisa Hickling Miller, BAH, M.A., RP is a Registered Psychotherapist. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology and a Master of Arts in

Counselling Psychology and has worked in the area of Child and Adolescent mental health for over 25 years in Simcoe County. First at

the Royal Victoria Regional Health Centre where she developed and implemented the Child and Adolescent Eating Disorders Program and

then as a Supervisor and Clinical Manager at New Path Youth and Family Services before joining the SMCDSB 3 years ago. Lisa has also

maintained a private practice for over 20 years. As a busy mom of 4, Lisa enjoys skiing, hiking, swimming and spending time with her family and dogs. Lisa can also be found performing with Bravado Show Choir in her spare time.

NOTE: Please be aware that we briefly discuss suicide in this episode and it may not be appropriate for some listeners.

Check out some of the resources that will help you understand mood challenges on the Resources Page of this website.

Finding Your Inner Compass: Spirituality and Mental Health

Connection has looked very different this past year. While we have been forced to find new ways to connect with friends and families over the course of the pandemic this episode reminds us of how accessible and important our connection to spirituality is. Together, Dr. Pat Carney and Chantelle Quesnelle discuss how parents can lean into conversations about spirituality by using mindfulness, gratitude, and curiosity. They explore the concept of an internal compass and ways that parents can help their children tap into that natural guidance. Dr. Carney touches on the research that links spirituality to mental health outcomes and reminds us of how our Catholic Education system naturally encourages this spiritual development. Fostering hope and connection has never been more important. This episode provides parents with practical tips on how to bring spirituality into everyday life in order to strengthen this important protective factor for mental wellbeing in our children.

Here's a little bit about our guest this week:

Dr. Pat Carney is a Clinical Psychologist who presently operates a private practice in Barrie Ontario. Pat obtained his elementary education through the SMCDSB, at St. James Catholic, in Colgan. Pat obtained his Bachelor’s in Psychology at Queen’s in Kingston. He served for one year as Lay Assistant at 2 parishes for the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Kingston Ontario involving work with youth and families, and also with inmates at Joyceville Penitentiary. He completed his Ph.D. and Masters at the University of Alberta in Edmonton. He hails from a family of 10 children and has 3 adult children of his own who were educated through SMCDSB. He returned to Ontario to work as Chief Psychologist and then Mental Health Lead for over 25 years at SMCDSB. Pat most recently co-published an e-book chapter in “Living Schools” through University of Manitoba Press (2020) entitled “Health and Well-Being: Developing the Emotional, Physical, and Spiritual Well-Being of Students, Staff, and Teachers” (Chapter 15). In 2015 he authored a book for teachers entitled “Well Aware – Developing Resilient, Active and Flourishing Students” through Pearson Canada, which became a best seller for books in education. Pat has published extensively on Well-Being, and provided workshops across Canada, in the Northwest Territories and internationally, including Switzerland, Japan, England and The Netherlands during the past decade.

Check out some of the resources that will help you explore spirituality and mental health on the Resources Page of this website.

Summer Strategies and Finding Balance

This episode is all about summer! Together School Counsellor Doug Lowther and Chantelle Quesnelle explore some common summer parenting challenges such as scheduling, problem solving, and responding to the dreaded “I’m bored” proclamations from kids. Doug describes this summer as the “bridge to the new normal” and identifies ways to support our kids as we navigate through another pandemic summer, filled with disappointments but also hope and opportunity.

Here's a little bit about our guest this week:

Doug Lowther is a School Counsellor and a longstanding member of the SMCDSB Psychology Department team. He has been with the school board for 28 years (and counting)! Prior to his time at SMCDSB, Doug worked in children’s Mental Health agencies in Simcoe county. He grew up in a small town in Nova Scotia (they are all small towns) and he takes trips out east whenever possible. Doug enjoys coaching basketball and makes a concerted effort to be a good neighbour. He always has a story to tell and sees the best in every student and family he supports.

Check out some of the resources that will help you strategies and finding balance during the summer months on the Resources Page of this website.

Special Summer Series: I don't want to go back to school and you can't make me

This episode focuses on ideas and strategies to support your child or teen who is expressing back to school refusal with anger and irritability. This is a challenging experience for parents and children or teens alike. We explore strategies and provide examples to help your child or teen move through this challenging experience to get back to school. Some of the ideas we discuss involve validation, offering choice, collaborative problem solving, and harnessing the memory of skills your child or teen have gained from previous tough situations.

Check out some of the resources for this episode on the Resources Page of this website.

Special Summer Series: I’m excited to go back to back to school!! I am so nervous to go back to school!!!

This episode focuses on ways to support your child or teen who is expressing excitement and worry about going back to school. Excitement and worry can feel the same in the body and how we label and make sense of those physical and emotional experiences matter! Our children and teens often take cues from us; which, we can use as an advantage in helping them navigate these big experiences! In this episode we discuss what it can be like to observe our children moving through such big experiences, as well as a number of strategies such as naming emotions, understanding the physical and emotional experience, and using mindfulness.

Check out some of the resources for this episode on the Resources Page of this website.

Special Summer Series: I don't want to talk about it

This episode focuses on the child or teenager who does not want to talk about returning to school and tends to “shut down” when the topic comes up. Silence from our children can be tricky, as it can bring up many different reactions and responses for us, as the parent. In this episode we explore what to do and say when faced with silence or a child or teen who has ‘shut down’. We identify a few helpful ways to support your child or teen in these situations so that you can feel aligned with your child or teen rather than ‘opposed’. Validating the silence, exploring what is underneath or motivating the silence, and creating a ‘brave space’ for your child (or the conditions to share) are some of the ideas explored in facing this challenging situation as parents.

Check out some of the resources for this episode on the Resources Page of this website.

Special Summer Series: Parent episode: “I know she’ll be fine, but I just can’t stop worrying about her… it has been so long!”

Parents, if you are feeling quite worried or stressed about your child or teen’s returning to school, this episode is for you! As parents, we have been through a rollercoaster of emotions around supporting our children over the pandemic and many of us will be facing our own worries or concerns watching our children or teens re-engage in school. In this episode, we explore the origins of some of these worries, and a number of ways to tackle our own stressors related to our children or teens returning to school, such as identifying what is in our control, positive self-talk, mindfulness, self-care, and awareness of the information we consume and surround ourselves with. And, in attending to our own self-care, we model healthy self-care and coping strategies for our children or teens! It is a win win!

Check out some of the resources for this episode on the Resources Page of this website.

Communication matters! How to set up home-school communication for success

Communication between home and school is very important! In this episode Chantelle Quesnelle and Dr. Susan Graham-Clay discuss what the research tells us about home-school communication and why it is so important. You will hear some helpful ways to include your child or teen in the communication along with strategies to set up the communication for success. While these conversations can be challenging at times, it's important to remember that parents and teachers want the same thing - the best educational experience for their child!

Here's a little bit about our guest this week:

Dr. Susan Graham Clay is a school psychologist currently in private practice in Barrie. She just retired in June as the Senior Psychologist with SMCDSB after 25 years with the Board. Dr. Graham-Clay has a special interest in home school communication and partnerships and she has published in this area. She has taught at 3 universities and also presented at provincial and international conferences on many aspects of school psychology practice. Susan has 2 children and 2 grandchildren.

Check out some of the resources for this episode on the Resources Page of this website.

Having conversations with our kids about race, racism, equity, and activism

Talking about race, racism, equity and activism looks very different across households. In this episode Tracey and Chantelle explore ways to have conversations about these important issues with our children and teens. Together they explore the importance of being curious and tolerating discomfort when the conversation gets challenging. While conversations are important, actions speak volumes. This episode identifies ways that families can encourage activism in both small and big steps.

Here's a little bit about our guest this week:

Tracey Grose is the Culturally Responsive Lead for School Mental Health Ontario leading the infusion and implementation of culturally responsive mental health support for Ontario students. She is also the chair of the Ontario Association of Social Workers (OASW) School Social work Advisory Group. Tracey’s areas of interest include social justice education, optimizing the educational experience of black students in Ontario, addressing systemic barriers to student success, community partnerships and organizing social workers to advocate for youth mental health. Tracey is a graduate from the University of Toronto and the University of Georgia and holds a Master of Social Work degree. She has worked in both hospital and education settings with children and youth and was the first black social worker with the Durham District Board of Education. With over 20 years’ experience in the field of child and youth mental health, Tracey believes schools are the first and ideal location to enhance a better understanding of youth mental health and well-being.

Check out some of the resources for this episode on the Resources Page of this website.

Academic pressure and the importance of growth mindset

On this Episode Dr. Gyles and Chantelle Quesnelle explore the world of academic pressures. They discuss the impact these pressures have on students as well as parents and how to know when the pressures may be turning into anxiety. This episode also provides some tips and strategies for how parents and caregivers can support their children and teens to have a growth mindset when faced with challenges. Finally, the episode ends with a discussion about the November progress reports and some ideas to help guide the conversation at home.

Here's a little bit about our guest this week:

Dr. Petra Gyles is a Clinical & School Psychologist specializing in child and adolescent populations. In addition to her work at the Simcoe Muskoka Catholic District School Board, she has a private practice serving the region of Simcoe Muskoka. She completed her Ph.D. at McGill University and has worked in a variety of school-based, outpatient, and private practice settings in Toronto, Montreal, and remote rural and First Nations communities. Her research and publications have examined inquiry-based learning, giftedness, resilience, intrinsic motivation, and ‘Growth Mindsets’. She has shared her research contributions at conferences across Canada and North America. Dr. Gyles has taught graduate and undergraduate courses at various post-secondary institutions including Seneca College, McGill University, and the University of Toronto.

Check out some of the resources for this episode on the Resources Page of this website.