Expert Interview: Dr. Ilana Rosenberg

In today’s expert interview we’re joined by Dr. Ilana Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist based in Scarsdale, NY. Dr. Rosenberg supports children, adolescents, and adults through a strengths-based approach that centers empathy and mindfulness to help understand and empower those with anxiety, depression, and more..

We’ll discuss the importance of managing stress, key indicators parents can look for in their children, and the additional benefits of combining therapeutic support with executive functioning skill-building. Hi, I’m Dr. Tony Di Giacomo from Novella Prep and this is A Novel Take.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (00:10):

In today’s expert interview, we are joined by Dr. Ilana Rosenberg, a clinical psychologist based in Scarsdale, New York, Dr. Rosenberg supports children, adolescents, and adults through a strength based approach that centers, empathy, and mindfulness to help understand and empower those with anxiety, depression, and more. We’ll discuss the importance of managing stress. Key indicators parents can look for in their children and the additional benefits of combining therapeutic support with executive functioning skill building. Hi, I’m Dr. Tony Di Giacomo from Novella Prep, and this is A Novel Take.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (00:43):

Dr. Rosenberg. Thank you so much for taking the time to speak with us today. Thanks for having me. I’d like to start off with a brief overview of your background and ask you what drew you to working in the field of clinical psychology?

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (00:56):

I have a bachelor’s degree from NYU in psychology and then a PhD in clinical psychology from a Delhi university, from the Donner Institute. And to me, the idea of being able to work with one person at a time in a really deep way is very meaningful to me. I actually feel like it’s sick, the best job in the world to help people feel better, be happier, live a life. It’s really the ideal job that I could ask for is very meaningful.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (01:27):

So it’d be interesting to note a little bit more about your approach to working with children and adolescents and how you view the importance of centering a strength based empathetic approach with this aid group.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (01:39):

Part of my goal is to help people feel safe with the, their emotions and to be with them in a different way, and to have an experience of their emotions in their body. And that when you do that, emotions can run through you quickly. They just kind of rise up in 90 seconds and they can leave your body. And then they leave you with a sense of knowing what you need to do to take care of yourself, knowing what action you need to take, and you feel better because you’re not fighting with your emotion. They’re not knocking at the door, trying to get in. You let them in, they run through and they can run out the back door. And then they’re not there bothering you the same way. And you can feel lighter, better, clearer, and more extensive. This is me. This is me. When I feel how I wanna feel.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (02:19):

One of the things that we’ve noticed, if I could pick back up on what you’re talking with, creating a safe space is the way in which parents can engage their children and talk about school with children. A lot of it has to do with when they meet with the student. And when they’re asking for information, how they respond to that information. And I would say a majority of students, we come to know, often parents can’t resist the urge to provide guidance and feedback after receiving every data point from children. And then the child ends up. I wouldn’t say feeling unsafe. That would be an overcharacterizing of it, but always feeling guarded and feeling like if every time I’m vulnerable and share information, I’m gonna get a lecture. I’m going to get guidance. It’s nine o’clock at night. I know my mom or dad wants to hear information so they can go to sleep and feel better, but it’s not making me feel better. So I’m gonna shut down and not say a whole lot. And I find that the more we can encourage dialogue without always correcting in that moment or providing guidance in that, that moment, it can open the door for a healthier dialogue. Curious to know your thoughts on that.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (03:24):

I think it’s very individual based on that parents and child dynamic and that particular diad. And I think all parents and kids are different and they have different needs to talk and to share. And parents may have different needs to be evolved more or less. So I think it’s something that each pair can figure out on their own. If I were the parent, I would wanna be thinking about like, what’s the right time to push my kid. Is it right when they come home from school, when they’re hungry, when they need a snack, and maybe I can sit with them during that time, or maybe they just wanna focus on eating? Is it better during family dinner time, but then more people around, is it better when they’re doing their homework, but maybe they wanna focus on their homework. It’s so individual. And I think that for parents to have a sense that they can trust their kid, that kids wanna do the best they can with what they have available, right. They’re trying to do their best. And if they’re not, there might be some reason there’s something getting their way and to let their kids know that I wanna talk to you about your school and your work and how I can support you on it. And let me know how we can do this together. Do you want me to ask questions cuz that’s helpful to you? Do you want me to kind of just listen and hear it to figure out together how that pair can work as a team for the child’s success?

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (04:40):

I like that notion I had another follow up question, this idea of how many thoughts a day we have. And one of the things that we work on with our students is that it is okay to feel stress at times when it is appropriate. Is, is it appropriate response to what is happening to them? So feeling stress about an upcoming test or feeling stress us about SATs or acts, but there’s a way to, I don’t know the right word and you can correct me on this manage or observe those feelings and understand what’s happening and feel what’s okay and what’s not okay. Or how to find balance with all of these feelings that are happening and related to that, not every thought we hear in our mind needs to be honored. And I find a lot of students think I’m feeling this way. So I have to do this to get rid of those feelings, whatever this may be or I’m having these thoughts. I don’t wanna have those thoughts. I’m gonna take the following action. For example, submitting applications before they’re done to get rid of the stress of applying versus taking a walk calming down than taking a more measured approach. So this idea of, is it filtering thoughts or how do you look at that?

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (05:49):

Actually, there are studies that show that stress is only really damaging if you think it is right. oh, wow. And I think also some amount, like you said, you don’t wanna get rid of all of the stress or anxiety. Some amount of it is intelligent. Anxiety prevents us from running into the street. Stress helps us study hard for tests. You wanna be in control of it rather than it be in control of you. And that’s when you wanna think about things like ways to Sue it or manage it, let yourself, if no, like I studied hard for that test. I can do it. Or like my whole life doesn’t depend on one test or one grade to use like strategies to calm yourself down. But I wouldn’t try and get rid of it because first of all, you can’t and second of all, you need some of it.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (06:31):

Sometimes it’s also helpful to relabel as excitement. Like I’m excited. It’s easier to go from a high level of active. They should have stress to a high level of excitement rather than to go from a high level of stress to calming down. So you be like, I’m really excited to get that test over or to show my teacher what I know or to present that report. So I think there’s different ways of managing it. I think going for a walk is a really good one because the physical movement helps your body move through it. And I think also, so just bring yourself back to the present moment. I only have to deal with what’s in front of me right now. I don’t have to deal with what’s five days or five minutes from now. I just have to deal with right now and bring yourself back to the present. Can help a lot. Just focus on the task you have at hand

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (07:11):

When parents are hearing or feeling their child being stressed. And in particular, there are moments that we know are more stressful than others, right? Transitional moments during applying for colleges or high stakes testing or when starting a new school or a new grade. And we observe a lot of parents out of love and compassion. We almost wanna take that stress away. They wanna do whatever it takes to get rid of that stress for the child. But sometimes we feel in programming anyway, that getting ready for life means knowing how to manage these feelings or knowing how to deal with these feelings and deal with stress because that’s so much of adult life. There’s quite a bit of stress. So how can a parent think about building on this notion of stress being intelligence of how to view or help their child view stress? I’ll give you an example of ways in an educational space that we contend with it.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (08:02):

We will focus on making sure the child’s getting enough sleep, that they’re getting outside for some exercise of some kind that they’re spreading out, their studying over time that we investigate how they’re approaching their subject. So there’s a lot to routine and habit and protocol that can reduce those feelings. But I’m curious from a more or psychologist perspective, how you might guide a parent who is observing stress in their child and maybe resist the urge to always take all of that stress away because it’s setting up some kind of dependency on other people to always help you manage your stress. I don’t know if that’s the right way of phrasing it, but I’m curious about your take.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (08:36):

First of all, I think that all those ideas you gave are great ones make sleep, exercise, spreading your, studying it over time. I think that’s fantastic. And I think that the message the parent wants to give the kid is like, you can do this. You can do things that are hard. I’m gonna help you. I’m gonna be there to help you figure out how to not overwhelm yourself. But like you said, stress is a part of life and it’s certainly part of adult life and to figure out, think you wanna think of it kind of like a horse. You wanna be leading it and not have it leading you in a certain way. You don’t want a wild horse kind of running away with your cart. You wanna be them on controlling where it goes. So to think about using stress in a manageable way, sometimes you might need to exercise to help it move through your body.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (09:14):

Sometimes you might need to calm yourself down by mindful breathing or noticing your environment. So I think that understanding that is really important that, and then knowing really, I think what I said before, like knowing I can do hard things, that’s actually like a huge confidence builder is to do something hard and know that you can do it. I think that’s a skill that can, it’s built that, you know, at a young age, they take a photo with them in their lives. And then they’re not afraid to try that harder class in college or go for the promotion later on or whatever it looks like in your adult life so that you can handle things.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (09:48):

I love that message. We find in course rigor because that’s really one of the things parents and students have somewhat within control is how hard are the classes I’m going to take. And we find that the difficulty is not usually the subject content itself or even the number of rigorous things available to the student. It’s how they’re studying and how they’re managing their time and their relationship to school. So there seems to be a lot of overlapping themes here. I’d like to shift our focus just for a moment to students who are O divergent or students with learning differences, because we work at the, a large percentage of different kinds of students at develop prep. Some of whom have some kind of documented learning difference. And often through schools, they might get time and a half. They might have some additional resources provided to them, but we still go back to this notion of executive functioning and enrichment being critical to seeing them grow as a learner.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (10:40):

But we also see that it needs to often be done in conjunction with some kind of therapeutic support. We talk about students being emotionally ready to hear our instruction or listen to our guidance. And if they’re not ready to change their habits in routines or listen to what we’re saying, they’re not likely to, I’m curious to hear your thoughts on that. I don’t know what the right term would be, but that emotional availability to be willing to change habits and routines. So this combo of therapy with some of the guidance we might provide, for example,

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (11:12):

There’s so many different parts of that, but just to start with having a psychological evaluation in or neuropsych that can help identify what the problem is. There is one and then figure out what strategies and solutions that you can use. So that’s when extra time would come in or preferential seating in the classroom and all that, by the way is just a way to level the playing field, right? It’s not unfair in way. It’s just to kind of get that kid to be where other kids are at in some way. And I think that for a child or a teen, to know that there’s a glitch in their brain, that they’re really smart, but there’s a little glitch that many people have, by the way. They’re not the only ones can really take away shame because I think a lot of times kids who are maybe have ADHD and are not paying attention or not en quoting information can have a lot of shame and knowing like, oh, it’s just a glitch in my brain and there are workarounds.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (12:01):

You can’t ever really fix a glitch, but you can learn strategies to learn how to deal with it. I think that can be very empowering and help take away the shame and build self-esteem cuz otherwise kids feel like, why am I not getting it? I dumb. Why did not do the homework? I feel bad about it. So understanding what the issue is can go a long way in helping with that. Cause I think often with any kind of learning issue or executive functioning issue, there comes a sense of shame. And I think that also the idea of working together with therapy and an executive functioning coach, the idea of planning to get homework done in advance, not craming it at the last minute or studying at the last minute that can take away a tremendous amount of anxiety because there’s anxiety involved. You’re like, oh my God, it’s 12.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (12:44):

O’clock the night before my test. And like, I don’t know what I’m doing, right. But if you have it structured and set out in advance, then that takes away that anxiety and you can use that self to say like, oh yeah, I’ve got it. I can do this. Right. I think that’s really important to be able to say I’ve got it. And the other thing is that when you have anxiety, you’re not really focused on what’s at hand, you might not even be able to encode the information. So that could be due to an attention issue that you’re not focused on it, or it could be due to an internal process of I focused on what’s going on and in my internal world. And so I’m not hearing what’s going on around me. And so if therapy can help, first of all, reduce shame, as I said, and help with anxiety to regulate anxiety so that you can be present.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (13:26):

I think that works so well altogether. And same thing with depression, it’s like a lack of motivation and it’s rumination in your head and it’s low motivation. It’s feeling badly about yourself and you can’t focus on studying if you’re wrapped up in the world of anxiety and depression. So if therapy can help a kid or a teen feel more present, feel better about themselves, get activated so that they’re not in this world of depression, then they’ll do better at school is school is like a litmus test in a certain way for how a kid’s functioning. Like when they’re feeling good, they wanna do the best that they can. And they’ll put that effort in. And so if they’re able to attend and feel good about themselves and build their self-esteem at school, it will become like a feedback loop. Feel good about yourself in one way.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (14:13):

And then you continue to perform, you treat the underlying anxiety, depression shame, then that helps a kid be at a more optimal level to focus at school because you can’t focus. If you’re wrapped up in anxiety about whatever it is at that moment, there’s also research on the carrot and the stick. You can use the stick, you know, that metaphor with the donkey, right? You can use a carrot to get in, to move forward. You can get a stick to so you can use a stick. And it’s the same thing. You know, adults might relate to with dieting. Like you’re like, Ugh, I don’t fit into these jeans and I really want to, and I’m eating too much and I’ve gotta stop. And that will work for like a week or two, but then it will fall off. What you need to do is actually move to what you wanna do, right? Like I want to be happy and healthy and fit. So I can be around for my family for a long time. And actually like studies show that nothing that can be accomplished through harshness, can’t be done better through firm kindness. So if you can have firm kindness with yourself, then you can move more into a place of like, I wanna do that and I’ll do what it takes to build the habit, to get there

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (15:16):

From kindness. I’d like to build on that just for a moment. So in speaking with a student recently, I remember talking about accomplishing tasks, a student with ADHD, and it was about accomplishing tasks. And there’s a difference. I think, at least in what I observed in having difficulty remaining focused on a task or feeling compelled to get up from your desk after a short duration of time and not just sitting down to do the work at all. And the other is we talk a lot about with students of work before play. So if you have a number of tests, so we work with college students as well. Uh, there’s a large population of students in American colleges who are struggling due to get a functioning skills. They somehow made it through high school and middle school and they find themselves in college, not really sure of what to do.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (15:57):

And the writing center is not cutting it. And one of the things that we were saying recently to a student was this idea of make a plan for yourself. I’m going to accomplish X, which I know is achievable in this amount of time before I can do Y. So you get to go out your friends at nine, if you finish whatever goal you have in front of you and then hold yourself accountable to that, you shouldn’t get that reward. If you didn’t get done some manageable task, but the key is teaching them, what is manageable? What is achievable and what is reasonable in terms of accountability, at least that’s how we see it as educators. I’m curious about your take on that, how you can create some kind of framing or scaffolding for, or tasks you have to complete, but also some kind of boundaries. You still get to watch that Netflix show or play that Xbox game or go out with your friends. If you didn’t do that very bare minimum of tasks you need to do to be responsible for whatever schoolwork is assigned to you. And in this moment, I’m thinking more of slightly older children later high school and or college.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (16:51):

First of all, I think college is, is a really big shift because you’re leaving behind. It’s kind of like ending childhood in a way, right? And you’re like a mini adult, a really young one now with no experience about the world and all of a sudden, there’s no parents there to tell you to do your homework or turn off the lights and go to sleep at a decent time. And you have to develop your own sense of structure and your own internal motivation and I think that’s a challenge and that’s a process and that’s something that I think college students learn. I think that’s a skill that does develop over time. And I think that the goal really for me, would be to find your internal motivation. What are you looking for? What are you working on this degree for? Like I mentioned, when I was in college, I knew I wanted to become a psychologist.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (17:32):

So I would skip things so that I could study for my entrance exams or whatever I had to do. Because when you can focus on that motivation, then that’s what draws you forward. And I think that, yes, like you said, habit, accountability are a really big deal. And that’s as a young adult is when you start to learn that for the first time, I don’t have a teacher, who’s gonna check my every assignment or make sure I’m handing things in on time or my parents, right? Like I have to learn how to start to do it for myself. So you need to start to learn that accountability and you also need to have work life balance. Part of being a college student is like being free and
having fun and independence for the first time in your life and learning how to manage that in a responsible way.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (18:12):

I think work life balance is so important for everyone, for students in high school, too college or adults too. You have to fill up your own bucket with some good times. First. I think the idea of making a contingent on getting your work done, I think that’s a good one. It might not always be feasible, right? Like, oh, there’s a party tonight. I want to go to. And my, all my friends are going, but I haven’t finished this. So what do you do? And then I say, that’s where flexibility comes in. We’ll make a plan. All right, well, I’ll get as much done as I can now. And then I’ll get more done tomorrow. Or it’s 12 o’clock at night, the night before test. And I need to get some sleep because sleep is when you’re hippocampus in your brain consolidates information. And if you don’t sleep the night before a test, you’re not gonna remember it the next day, the same way.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (18:56):

So it’s actually the best thing you can do right. Is to go to sleep. So I think that’s important. And I think like you said, you know, developing certain habits, like what you said about getting the hard work done first is really important because otherwise, first of all, you’re dreading it the whole night until you get to it. And second of all, you don’t have the same energy when you’re tired. And when this is your third or fourth assignment, like get the hard thing done first. So developing some habits and strateg like that, I think can be very, very helpful for a young adult. Who’s just emerging as an independent person and learning how to manage their lives.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (19:31):

That makes a lot of sense. I think what would be interesting for some of our listeners to hear would be how does a parent going back to the role of the parent in raising their child here? What kind of signs can a parent look for, where it might be necessary to seek therapy as a solution for some of the challenges as a learner. So we’re talking about observations of either underperformance or stress and anxiety in and around the learning environment where therapy may be helpful. And I won’t say as opposed to executive functioning, because in tandem, obviously it’s beneficial. And we’ve also found that even high performing students benefit from executive functioning and enrichment for rain because they’re often inefficient and some other protocols happen to work for now. But at some point when the rigor gets to a certain level or the amount of volume of work gets to a certain level, the inefficiency leads to not able to process everything all at once and they hit a wall at times. So it’s this, isn’t just a point I’m asking about under proof forming, but your observations of stress and the relationship between learner and school and what a parent can look for as signs.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (20:39):

I think all of that is important, right? I mean, just to start with, how do you know if your child is struggling? I would look for signs that maybe they’re internally preoccupied. They seem like they’re always thinking or ruminating or worrying about something or they’re easily distracted. They look away or you can’t get their attention, messy backpack or messy locker, always losing things, forgetting to bring home their jacket from school, for example, or their notebook, or just knowing that they’re not working up to their full potential. Right. There’s a reason for that. It could be executive functioning. It could be emotional. It’s hard to know. Or the teachers might mention that they’re noticing something in class like this. Child’s not totally with it all the time. What’s going on. You know, then you have a conversation to try and get to the bottom of it.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (21:22):

And I think that another thing is like socially, right? Learning happens in a social context. You’re at school as a social context. And that’s a big thing. So how is your child doing with friends? How are they feeling at lunch and recess or do they have someone to sit with? Do they have someone to hang out with? I think those are all important cues to what’s going on for them internally. And I think also sometimes, like you said, there can be very high achieving people, but they don’t always know how to balance for their work or they might need a little bit more efficiency. And I think I would just look for signs of stress, signs of anxiety, signs of like, I can’t handle this. I’m feeling overwhelmed or withdrawing going to their room. You can observe on someone’s face. If they’re worrying about something and try and help, just bring them back.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (22:06):

I think it’s so important for parent and to be able to tell kids to first of all, to praise the effort, not the outcome, or I just want you to work hard and do your best and learn something when the grades are less important and to help just bring them back to themselves and understand like it will be okay. Right. And actually, I think that’s a big part of why I might refer one of the children or teens I work with for executive functioning coaching, because I wanna take the stress outta the parent relationship, right? Like I, the parent managing the kid and their workload all the time, there can be so much stress and fighting involved with that. And I want them to just be free to be together and enjoy each other’s company without the parent. Shouldn’t have to be the teacher at home.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (22:45):

You might just need someone outside the family. Like I said before, about therapy, it’s just sometimes help to have someone outside it’s less stressful, right? There’s less history and baggage kind of associated. And then you can have a professional who has their own objective take on like, well actually in order to get the results you want, it’s better to spread your studying out like this. Right. They’ll and kids. They don’t listen to their parents a lot of time. My kids don’t right. They, I wanna hear from someone else like another adult. And so to hear from another adult can be really helpful.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (23:16):

That’s wonderful. I think building on what you said about focusing on input more than the output or the way in which a student might be studying or how they’re approaching their studies versus a particular grade, that’s something we really focus on as well. We find that yes, you should have grade goals. It shouldn’t be an ambiguous effort. There is measurement in life. There is measurement to determine one’s understanding of certain subject matter, but it’s not praising or not praising necessarily that goal. It’s using it as a data point to infer how the protocols are working, how are your study habits working? And one of the metrics, not the only, but one of the metrics is the grades. But then focusing on the routine is everything. And we find with students who join our program early on, parents are looking for immediate signs of change. And one of the things we try to tell them is your child’s been studying this way probably for 10 or 15 years, there are a lot of habits and routines to unpack.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (24:09):

They might not have been coming home, grabbing a snack and then hitting their homework before they played. They might have a long series of routines of doing things a certain way, or they have a phone next to ’em while they’re studying. And they’re used to doing that. Well, a tough one. Yeah. It’s a tough one. So there are a lot of habits and routine teams that have crept into our lives that are not always optimal. So we tell increasingly families that there’s a bit of a curved approach to like what observations you can see in changes in the beginning, it’s laying out these foundational principles. It might take two months just to teach foundational principles, but month three and month four, you start to see the adoption of, or the integration of some of these things into their schooling. That, and you start to see the grades following it takes time, but it’s a permanent change.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (24:49):

They at least have permanently that ability now to draw from, they may choose not to, they might relapse a bit, but then now they have these fundamentals that they can build off of. I’m curious to know, I don’t know, rate of change. That might be too much of a physics way of looking at human brains. But when we think about what parents can look for and signs that things are heading in a direction that is more balanced and more healthy, more optimal for a learner, how long sometimes might it take for the human brain to become plastic and adaptable to some of these inputs and become different in a positive way.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (25:21):

There’s a neuroplasticity, right? So you can change your brain until the day you die, how long it takes to, to develop a new habit. I think there’s various research on that. I’ve heard four days, I’ve heard 21 days, but I don’t think any of that is really true. I think it’s just anything that you do on a consistent basis. The first time you’re creating a new neural pathway in your brain, it’s like whacking weeds through the jungle with a machete it’s arduous, but the more you travel down that neural path pathway, the easier it becomes to do that. So your first thought might always be, yeah, I’m gonna drop my backpack and play video games, but what’s your second thought, right? What do you do with that? And how fast do you move from that way of being to new way of being? And that’s just a matter of practice and the more you practice it, the better you become at it, what you were saying before about finding the work life balance.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (26:07):

And it’s really important. Like I said, just, I wanna reiterate, like to have parents praise the effort, not the outcome, because cause you wanna teach your kids. They’re learning about something interesting, right? They’re learning about the world and how to be in the world. And these are, this is skills and information they will have in their lives. And even if they say, well, I don’t need geometry in my life. I’m not gonna be in math. It’s still teaching you how to think. And it’s expanding your brain in a different way and it’s expanding your capacity to learn. And I would like to see parents focusing on that, like finding your internal motivation for it, grades are important, but your internal motivation is really, what’s gonna make you try and go that mile to get to where you wanna go

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (26:48):

Love that idea. And in this idea of also subjects that are relevant or not relevant, one of the things that we talk with our students about is being comfortable with being uncomfortable. There might be subjects or content areas that are not as interest sting or not appealing, or you’re not seeing the connection between that and whatever future you’re imagining, but there are aspects to life which requires that we learn how to, in some cases, tolerate things. In other cases, we pick up skills and knowledge along the way that might be relevant in ways we can only appreciate and understand later at certain moments, right? But praising the effort that can continued and consistent effort toward doing their job, which is to be a learner in that moment is really more important than necessarily only that performance, the performance on

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (27:33):

That test. Yeah. To learn something. Yeah. So I also want to adjust your question that you’ve noticed students becoming increasingly stressed and anxious. I think the best advice I can give of parents and kids, teens is to just slow down, trying to like slow yourself down. Anxiety makes you move really fast. So slow yourself down and pay attention to your own needs. Like what’s going on for me at this moment. And then you have a little bit of space between you and what’s ever going on. That’s what I’m always trying to work with people and finding space space, you and the anxiety space between you and your depression space between you and whatever’s kind of taking over you. That’s not quite you or not how you wanna feel and to offer yourself self compassion and to offer yourself a sense of like, I can make mistakes and that’s okay.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (28:19):

And also a good way of getting there is to just when you’re feeling really anxious, let’s say about that upcoming task, slow down your breathing. And as long as you double the exhale from the inhale that will help. So in for four and out for eight is really simple and really effective, or just feel your feet touching on the floor. Or one of my favorite ones is just, it’s called the, I call the five, four, three, two one trick, which is you name five things that you can see, four things that you can touch. Three things. You can hear two things that you can smell. And one thing that you can taste, right. And that brings you right back to your senses. So when you’re kind of feeling like overwhelmed and anxious, it lowers you down. And like I said before, also, like I want, I don’t want people to try and get rid of their anxiety because they can, I don’t won’t work, but labeling, it goes a long way in giving you space from it, right.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (29:06):

Just labeling anxiety actually regulates anxiety. And so I would label what’s going on for me right now and accept it. It’s okay to have it. It’s okay to have anxiety. It’s part of life. It’s not gonna hurt you. And when you’re okay with it and not trying to get rid of it, then you feel more at ease in yourself because you’re not fighting a with yourself internally. So I know there’s all stuff like stress busting tips or whatever. And I would say more just like, you know, accept it. And that’s what the breathing or the other techniques are about. But just accepting that it’s, there will go a long way in regulating it. That’s

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (29:39):

Very powerful. I’ve heard it described also as when you’ve identified or can label something. It dissolves its power over you in many ways. Right? And you realize that you’re not in those moments, actively solving any problems you’re in this loop of indulgence, almost like the cycle of thinking about something, but you’re not actually working toward a solution. And once you’ve and realize that, oh, I’m stuck in this loop, then perhaps you can break free from it.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (30:05):

Well, actually what happens is you go from the, a amygdala, which is a fierce sense of your brain pre to cortex where you can actually do something with it. And I always think of it as popping as so bubble, if you touch it in, it pops. So the minute, you know, you’re thinking and you label it as anxiety, it pops, it doesn’t have the same strength over you.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (30:23):

I love that. I think we’ll definitely wanna do a follow up series, talking more about brain science, because a lot of what we’ve been studying in the education space as amateurs in brain science, but as educators seeking to understand the minds of our learners, being able to build positive and constructive memories, they can draw from during moments of crisis in particular. So they can stay focused when they want to and not be when they’re not. But perhaps that could be a topic for another day. So before we go, where can people learn more about how to get in touch with you or learn more about you?

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (30:54):

I have a website it’s So then I, I L a N a R O S E N B E R G. And they can also email me at or call me at (917) 620-8749.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (31:13):

That’s wonderful. Thank you, Dr. Rosenberg for being with us today, we will post that information on our website as well. And thank you for all that you’ve shared with us and our listeners.

Dr. Ilana Rosenberg (31:21):

Thank you so much.

Dr. Tony Di Giacomo (31:23):

That’s all for this episode of a novel take. Thanks for listening. Remember to subscribe for more discussions on the latest education headlines, key topics and expert interviews. As always, you can learn more about us at and find us on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram @novellaprep. Im Dr. Tony Di Giacomo. Bye for now



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