The Coping Toolbox, a Child Psych Podcast

A podcast hosted by Canadian licensed Clinical Child and Adolescent Psychologists Drs. Jennifer Vriend, Laila Din Osmun, and Mary Simmering McDonald, C.Psych. Topics covered include a wide variety of subjects such as coping during COVID-19, dealing with child anxiety, sleep difficulties and parenting issues. Guest speakers include other Child Psychologists and developmental professionals.

Listen on:

  • Apple Podcasts
  • Google Podcasts
  • Podbean App
  • Spotify
  • Amazon Music


The Adolescent Brain

Monday Apr 10, 2023

Monday Apr 10, 2023

In this episode, Drs. Jenn and Mary explore changes that take place in the adolescent brain, including how rewiring fine tunes the brain. This process starts at the back of the brain and moves to the front, resulting in adolescents making decisions that are more heavily influenced by instincts and emotions. We discuss that the increased desire to socialize with peers as well as the increase in risk-taking behaviour are adaptive and biologically driven. We provide tips to help adolescents and caregivers with managing some of the challenges that take place and highlight positive factors associated with this developmental stage.
Dan Siegel – The Adolescent Brain:
Dan Siegel – How the Teen Brain Transforms Relationships:

Friday Jan 27, 2023

In this episode, Dr. Laila interviews world-renowned child psychologist, parent coach and award-winning author, Dr. Dawn Huebner. They discuss the importance of intentional practice in the treatment of childhood anxiety disorders and how parents can help their children take on right-sized, progressive challenges when facing fears.
1. Dr. Huebner’s Website & Books, including Dr. Dawn's Mini Books About Mighty Fears:
2. Dr. Huebner’s TEDx Talk:

Healthy Relationships

Wednesday Oct 19, 2022

Wednesday Oct 19, 2022

In this episode, Drs. Mary, Jenn, and Laila discuss qualities that are frequently observed as part of healthy relationships. Listeners are encouraged to observe what qualities they notice in their present relationships. Qualities discussed include having a sense of acceptance, respect for boundaries, a sense of independence, feeling supported, reciprocity and balance, and having fun.
1. PREVNet's Healthy Relationships Tool:
2. Dr. Nadine Thornhill's YouTube video (Sexual Violence Prevention & Support Centre - Teaching Teens about Consent:
3. Teach Your Teen to Set Emotional Boundaries by Marilyn Price-Mitchell, Ph.D.:

Thursday Oct 06, 2022

In this episode, Drs. Jenn, Laila and Mary discuss how parents can help their children and teens build resilience. Topics covered include the importance of modelling resilience, optimism, self-compassion and self-care, routines, and supporting children during difficult situations.
The Resilience Workbook for Kids: Fun CBT Activities to Help You Bounce Back from Stress and Grow from Challenges by Caren Baruch-Feldman et al.
The Grit Workbook for Kids: CBT Skills to Help Kids Cultivate a Growth Mindset and Build Resilience by Elisa Nebolsine et al.
The Resilience Workbook for Teens: Activities to Help You Gain Confidence, Manage Stress and Cultivate a Growth Mindset by Cheryl M. Bradshaw.

Sunday Feb 20, 2022

In this episode, Drs. Jenn, Laila and Mary discuss social anxiety in children and teens. Common symptoms, evidenced-based treatment, and how parents can help their children cope with social anxiety are reviewed. 
The Shyness and Social Anxiety Workbook for Teens: CBT and ACT Skills to Help You Build Social Confidence by Jennifer Shannon LMFT and Christine Padesky

Wednesday Dec 22, 2021

In this episode, Dr. Jenn is joined by Joanne Doucette, Registered Social Worker, from Ottawa (Ontario). They discuss differences between grief and mourning, the uniqueness of the experience of grief, emotions associated with grief (e.g., guilt, anxiety, and anger), suggestions for how to talk to your child about death and illness, and how to support your child’s grief journey. 

Monday Nov 22, 2021

In this episode, Dr. Jenn interviews Dr. Penny Corkum, Registered Psychologist & Professor in the Clinical Psychology Program with the Department of Psychology and Neuroscience at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia). She is the principal investigator for the Better Nights, Better Days pan-Canadian team. Dr. Corkum shares her expertise in children’s sleep. Topics include: the importance of sleep and consequences of inadequate sleep, the effects of COVID on sleep, and the role of behavioural interventions in the treatment of sleep issues.
Better Nights Better Days:
Sick Kids Sleep Handout:
Anxiety Canada Sleep Handout: Sleep Handout:

Friday Oct 29, 2021

In this episode, Dr. Laila interviews Dr. Jody Thomas, Clinical Health Psychologist, Founder and CEO of the Meg Foundation, and Adjunct Faculty at Stanford University School of Medicine. Dr. Thomas discusses evidence-based strategies that parents and healthcare providers can use to reduce pain and prevent needle fears in children. The importance of minimizing painful experiences and medical trauma in early life for long-term health is reviewed. 
Meg Foundation:
Interactive tool for creating a plan:
Pain Champions:
Resources for healthcare providers:

Friday Oct 01, 2021

For this episode, Dr. Mary is joined by Dr. Wendy Craig, leading scientist and expert on bullying prevention and co-founder and Scientific Co-Director of PREVNet (Promoting Relationships and Eliminating Violence Network) for a discussion on bullying in children and teens. Dr. Craig shares her expertise regarding how to recognize bullying, health implications for all individuals involved in bullying, and the importance of adult intervention in the prevention and disruption of bullying. Helpful ways that children, youth, parents, and teachers can respond when they receive reports of or witness bullying are discussed. In addition, bullying in the context of COVID-19 and ideas for supporting individuals who experience racial bullying are reviewed. Finally, ideas for supporting the individuals victimized by and those perpetrating the bullying are reviewed.
Sick Kids: 
Parent Handout: Bullying Handout for Parents:
What Makes a Bully?
What Parents Need to Do in Schools:
Racial Bullying:

Monday Sep 13, 2021

As a follow-up to the Helping Kids Develop a Healthy Body Image episode, Dr. Laila interviews Connie Beaulieu, CSCS, a Fitness Professional with over 25 years of experience from Ottawa (Ontario). They discuss healthy lifestyle choices for youth including avoiding fad diets, the negative influence of social media on body image, the importance of regular exercise, and how parents can help model healthy lifestyle choices.
***Although this discussion is around a psychologically healthy and balanced approach to nutrition and exercise, some of these topics can be sensitive to some listeners. If these topics are triggering for you, please look after yourself by seeking help.***
CHEO - Helping Your Child or Youth Spend More Time Outdoors:
Caring for Kids - Physical Activity for Children and Youth:
Government of Canada - Healthy Living Activity Tips for Children and Youth:

About the Hosts


Dr. Mary Simmering Mcdonald, C.Psych is a registered Clinical Child Psychologist who completed her Ph.D. in Child Clinical Psychology at the University of Windsor in 2012. She has worked in many settings including children’s mental health centres (e.g., Windsor Regional Children’s Centre, Children First, The Teen Health Centre), university clinics (e.g., University of Windsor Student Counselling Centre), a sexual assault crisis centre, schools (e.g., a preschool for children who are autistic, local high schools), and pediatric hospitals. She completed a pre-doctoral residency at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa. She has co-authored publications in the areas of computer-mediated communication (e.g., Facebook), online partner aggression, adaptive and maladaptive coping, and help-seeking behaviours. She currently works in private practice at Centrepointe Professional Services in Ottawa. She is particularly interested in helping children and teens develop adaptive coping skills and healthy relationships.

Dr. Laila Din Osmun, C.Psych. is a registered Clinical Child Psychologist who completed a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) degree in Clinical Developmental Psychology at York University (Toronto, Ontario) in 2012. She has co-authored several publications in the areas of pediatric pain, parent-child relationships (e.g. caregiver emotional availability) and infant emotion regulation. She has experience working in a variety of settings including children’s mental health centres (e.g. Thistletown Regional Centre, Reach Out Centre for Kids and Mothercraft - Breaking the Cycle), university clinics (e.g. York University Psychology Clinic) and children’s hospitals (e.g. Holland Bloorview Kids Rehabilitation Hospital) in Toronto, Ontario. In addition, she completed a pre-doctoral internship in Clinical Child Psychology at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa, Ontario. She currently works in private practice at Centrepointe Professional Services in Ottawa. She is passionate about parent-child mental health and working with children, teens and families.

Dr. Jennifer Vriend, C.Psych. is a registered Clinical Child Psychologist who completed a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) in Clinical Psychology at Dalhousie University (Halifax, Nova Scotia) in 2012. She completed her pre-doctoral internship in Clinical Child Psychology at the Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario (CHEO) in Ottawa, Ontario. Dr. Jenn co-authored several publications in areas including Sleep, ADHD, Autism, Perfectionism, and Body Image. She has worked in various hospitals, including CHEO (Ottawa), Hotel Dieu Hospital (Kingston), the IWK Health Centre (Halifax), and Bradley Hospital (Providence, Rhode Island). Dr. Jenn works in private practice in Ottawa, and she is a co-owner of Queensview Professional Services. She is passionate about working with children and youth. She enjoys working with the media as well as giving community presentations on various topics, including anxiety, sleep, resilience, and parenting strategies.

They were honoured to have their podcast profiled by the Canadian Psychological Association (CPA) during Psychology Month:

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