I received a question from a student asking for help with a circumstance she was experiencing – a person she considered to be her best friend decided to stop talking to her and won’t tell her why. She felt confused, sad and angry.
It’s painful when someone that you believe is a friend stops talking to you and won’t give you a reason.
I remember when one of my friends was upset with me and I couldn’t figure out why. When I asked the reason, they responded with, ‘I’m not going to tell you. You should know.’
I thought, ‘If I knew I wouldn’t be asking.’
I found it very upsetting and frustrating that we couldn’t just talk about it. I couldn’t fix or change what I didn’t know.
Since we all think differently and have different perspectives it’s important to communicate when something is bothering us. Communication is the key to maintaining a healthy, caring relationship.
Unfortunately, we can’t make people listen to us and understand our perspective. They have to be willing to want to hear what we have to say.
A tip to help you communicate with your friend:
Write/type a letter/email communicating all of your thoughts and feelings using the words ‘I feel’ or ‘I think’. Using these words will help you express yourself without blaming the other person. When you use ‘you did this’ or ‘you made me feel this’ people’s listening shuts down and they start to go into defense mode. Remember you are only sharing your feelings and thoughts – not blaming or shaming the other person.
Writing a letter allows the other person to consider your point of view when they are ready and they can refer back to it. People often need time to think and reflect. It also allows you to share your thoughts and feelings with clarity. At the end of your letter, ask them to consider answering your letter letting you know their thoughts/feelings.
It is easy to assume that everyone is on the same page and should ‘just know’ what the other is thinking. I have found that some are not only ‘not on the same page’ they are ‘reading different books’.
Until next time…
16 Jun 2022
Overcome Negative Comments and Opinions
I am saddened by the number of kids who share the affect negative comments and opinions have on their self-worth. I can relate to them.
During my school years, I took disrespectful, hurtful remarks to heart. I was becoming unhappy with who I was and with my physical appearance. I started to find myself worrying about what others thought of me all the time. I was beginning to believe all those remarks about me were true.
Some comments and opinions tear them down – some steal their confidence and self-worth. I want them to know that opinions don’t mean anything until they say they do. I want them to know that they have the final say in what they choose to believe about themselves regardless of what others say.
How do you help kids overcome negative comments and opinions that tear them down? How do you strengthen their confidence and self-worth so that disrespectful, hurtful opinions don’t become what they believe about themselves?
Kids Need to Believe They are Enough
TRY THIS: Have them write out what they want to believe about themselves regardless of those negative comments, opinions and judgments.
Start their belief with I CHOOSE.
I Choose to Believe I AM ENOUGH.
I Choose to Accept myself just the way I am.
I Choose to Love the body I am in.
I Choose to Enjoy & Appreciate my uniqueness.
I Choose to Respect myself, others & my dreams.
Encourage them to place these beliefs everywhere they can see them as a visual reminder – their mirror, locker, binder, sock drawer, back of their phone – so that anytime a negative thought/worry enters their mind, they can replace it with their new belief. This is something that I still do.
Keep reinforcing that they have the final say in what they choose to believe about their body, their talent, their abilities and their life. They are enough!
I can remember my son at 2 years old saying, ‘I can’t!’ My husband and I both looked at each other and thought ‘no way is that going to be his mindset!’ Every time Kai would say, ‘I can’t!’ we’d have him repeat, ‘I can. I just need help.’ This is now an ongoing mantra in our home.
This mantra gives your child courage.
Changing ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’ allows your child not only be determined and successful but only to believe in possibility. Adding ‘I just need help’, creates an opening to ask for & receive support.
Getting a child to ask for help is a skill.
THINK ABOUT THIS: What emotions are making it harder for your child/student to ask for help? Emotions like embarrassment, fear, frustration and shyness can stop them from having the courage to reach out for the help and support they need and deserve.
REMEMBER THIS: Getting a child to ask for help is a skill that shows strength, confidence and curiosity. It’s an important part of a growth mindset.
TRY THIS: The next time you hear your child/student saying, ‘I can’t’ gently remind them to replace those words with…
I CAN. I JUST NEED HELP!
Until next time…
5 May 2022
Does Your Child Worry?
It’s normal for kids to worry from time to time. The worrying child can be filled with lots of stressful ‘what ifs’.
What if they don’t like me?
What if I don’t make the team?
What if my parents/teachers get mad at me?
What if I can’t do that?
Kids have vivid imaginations, making it easy to create worse case scenarios for their worries.
Choosing What You Say to a Child
Reminding the worrying child that they have control over what thoughts they choose to focus on, is essential to helping them move through their ‘what ifs’.
Resist the urge to say, ‘You don’t need to worry. You’ll be fine. Stop thinking about it.’ Kids tell me they find these words unhelpful.
Instead, TRY THIS… acknowledge the worry and the emotion that the worry triggers. Then have them do the following exercise to help them move through their worry.
A student emailed me after one of my presentations, ‘I can’t believe it. My friend betrayed me. The person I thought was my friend told other people a secret about something that was happening in my life. I am so upset, especially since she promised she would not tell anyone.’
I remember something very similar happening to me when I shared confidential information with my friend and the next day she shared our conversation with other friends. I was surprised, hurt and angry. I felt my friend had betrayed me. I wished I had chosen not to share. I wish I could have made my friend keep secrets instead of gossiping.
Although I couldn’t change the choice my friend made, I did have choices in how I reacted to this upsetting circumstance.
Let’s look at a few of my options:
A) I could choose to talk to her about how I felt. B) I could choose never to talk to her again. C) I could choose to tell her only things that I didn’t mind other people knowing.
In order to choose what choice would work best for me, I had to first decide what I wanted as my End Result (my goal). Having an End Result is so important because it’s what guides your choices.
The End Result I wanted was to keep her as a friend because there were qualities about her that I appreciated. For me, CHOICE A and C worked the best. Letting her know how I felt and realizing that she wasn’t good at keeping a secret helped our relationship.
Not everyone will have all the qualities that you think they ‘should have’, but that doesn’t mean that you have to write them off. I suggested to this student to share their disappointment and to find qualities (like humour, kindness, generosity) that they enjoyed about their friend and choose to focus on that. In doing this, it would help rebuild their friendship and still create a relationship where they could enjoy spending time together.
However, if their friend continues to treat them in a way that feels hurtful, then I suggested that it was important to decide whether the friendship/relationship was worth continuing.
This is what I know: Although you may not be able to control what others say and do, you do have control over how you act, react and the choices you choose to make and the boundaries you choose to create
Until next time…
7 Apr 2022
Do You Fess Up when You Mess Up?
Ever caught yourself yelling to your child ‘CALM DOWN’ – only to realize that it was you who needed to calm down first?
When I asked this question on my Instagram story over 90 percent said YES.
As parents/educators, there will be moments where we are dysregulated and reactive.
What if we used those moments as teachable moments? This would remind kids/students that we too are learning the skill of self regulation and when we mess up – we own up!
1) The next time you react in a way that you are not proud of – apologize and share with your child/student the emotion you were feeling when you yelled.
It may sound like this, ‘I am sorry that I yelled, I was feeling frustrated.’
2) Let them know what you will do the next time to help you find your calm.
It may sound like this, ‘When I am feeling frustrated, I’m going to take three deep breaths before I speak.’
3) Share the choice you wish you would have made and what you will do next time.
It may sound like this, ‘I wish I would have shared with you that I was frustrated and I wish I would have spoken in a calmer voice.’
It’s not about perfection – it’s about progress!
This is what I know: When you model self-regulation, you are giving kids the invaluable life skill of developing emotional intelligence.
Don’t you wish you could pick and chose the emotions you want to experience?
Especially during lockdown and online learning. I remember one morning laying in bed, mentally preparing the start to my day.
I was telling myself…
‘Today I won’t feel irritated. I felt irritated yesterday and it was exhausting, not today!’
Within 10 minutes of getting out of bed my son was already complaining about having to log on to do his learning – he was asking for his fifth snack and it wasn’t even 9 am yet!
I was irritated!!
I couldn’t avoid it. My body and brain felt irritated without my consent.
This is what I know: I quickly learned that emotions can surprise you and they aren’t to be avoided and can’t be avoided for the long term. We are emotional beings whether we are comfortable with it or not!
So, the real practice becomes in allowing ourselves to feel and acknowledge our emotions and then find healthy ways to move with/through them.
Here are some simple and effective strategies that I find helpful:
• deep breaths (make your exhale longer than your inhale)
• remind myself that it’s ok to feel what I’m feeling
• notice where the emotion impacts me physically (neck pain, stomach ache , heart rate)
• 5 min meditation
• talk to someone
• go for a walk
• listen to music
What helps you move with and through an uncomfortable emotion?
10 Mar 2022
There is so much going on in the world! You may feel a lack of control which affects your mood, your daily routine and your interactions with your children. So many kids are also feeling the same stressors.
We all need a break! We need to focus on the things we can control.
Being intentional about spending time together is something you can control. Time together supports kids in feeling secure, loved and less anxious.
Here are a few things my son Kai and I enjoy doing together:
Reading stories before bed – I like to use fun voices as I read – this gets both Kai and I laughing!
Preparing a meal together helps us build connection and creates a sense of accomplishment.
Hiking or walking/bicycling in a park or the woods. Leaving life’s distractions and busyness for the calm of nature, improves our ability to relax and let go.
Choosing an activity or game your child/family enjoys. Kai always chooses mini sticks – not one of my favourites – but hey 🙂
Writing in a journal that has written prompts inspires him to write and reflect. To get your children started, download the UPower mini journal. It has a story, quotes, posters & questions. They can do it independently or you can do it together.
This is what I know: Focusing on the areas of your life you can control gives you the mental and emotional boost you need to keep moving forward.
25 Feb 2022
Mindsets of a Resilient Child
Children aren’t born resilient. Seeing challenges, mistakes and changes as a learning experience is an essential part of building a resilient child. The good news is that resilience is a skill that can be learned and strengthened with practice and support.
Here are 3 mindsets that can help you on the journey to building a resilient child.
1. A CHALLENGE IS A CHAPTER OF YOUR LIFE NOT YOUR WHOLE STORY
If a challenge is seen as an opportunity for growth, children are better able to deal with it, bounce back, adapt and learn from it. If it is seen as hopeless, it is easy for them to feel like giving up. Changing perspective changes their internal dialogue about an event or circumstance to a more positive, less emotional viewpoint.
Ask kids to take a challenge they are experiencing and answer the following questions:
What’s something that’s hard for you right now?
What have you learned about yourself from this challenge?
How would you face this challenge the next time?
2. SEEING MISTAKES AS AN OPPORTUNITY
The fear of making a mistake and feeling embarrassed can be a huge deterrent to young people trying something new. What if we taught children to see making a mistake as an opportunity to grow and learn? And that when they feel the awkward emotion of embarrassment – that’s ok – it’s part of the journey.
What if we taught them that ‘the butterflies’ or nervousness they are feeling is a good thing and that it’s natural to feel that way? Perhaps then, they would be excited to try something new instead of fearing ‘what if I make a mistake?’
Ask kids to do the following exercise:
Write about a time you allowed your fear of making a mistake stop you from saying or doing something.
What do you wish you would have said or done?
What did you learn from this experience?
The next time you feel nervous, what could you do? Examples: breathe deeply, repeat ‘it’s ok to feel nervous’, ‘I am brave’…
3. LIFE IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING
Children who understand that life is like a roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs, will be able to bounce back and accept change with more ease. Studies show that viewing change as a challenge that they can tackle instead of a threat, equips young people with the ability to better deal with adversity. It allows them to find creative solutions to new challenges, to face adversity with calmness and confidence and to have a sense of mastery over life circumstances
Ask kids to complete the following exercise:
Write about a time you did something you thought you couldn’t do.
What did you learn about yourself from that experience?
List 3 new things you could try.
Resilient kids become resilient adults, able to not only survive, but thrive in the face of challenges, mistakes & changes.
The support we give our kids today will positively impact their future!
Until next time…
8 Feb 2022
Because I Felt Like It!
Ever wondered, ‘Why is my child/student acting this way? Why are they being rude, disrespectful or hurtful? That’s not like them.’
Ever asked, ‘Why did you do/say that?’
Here’s why: Emotions.
I’m sure you have heard this response to the above questions… ‘because I felt like it!’… and it’s probably true.
A circumstance happened that caused them to feel frustrated, worried, upset, angry or stressed. However, the circumstance wasn’t the only reason for the behaviour, the circumstance triggered an emotion and the child reacted out of that emotion causing a behaviour.
Since emotions are super easy to react out of, they can easily impact choices leading your child/student’s to behave in a way that is not their character.
The next time they have a behaviour that doesn’t reflect who you know they are, instead of asking ‘why did you do that?’
ASK: ‘What emotion were you feeling when you did or said that?’
Watch myvideoto learn more about my take on behaviour & emotions.