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23 Nov 2022

Hurtful Words

“Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”

Hurtful words do hurt!

They can have a devastating impact on a child’s mental and emotional well-being. They can leave them feeling rejected, embarrassed, discouraged, anxious and can affect their self-esteem, self-worth and identity.

After one of my presentations a young lady shared that she was being called fat and she didn’t know what to do. It happens way too often to both girls and boys!

I shared an activity that has helped me, my son and others bounce back from hurtful words.

The goal is to take the hurtful word – in this case F.A.T. – and change it to a meaning that strengthens confidence and resilience, which is beneficial for both mental and emotional health. When you encourage kids to practice this, they will start to see themselves differently.

They will learn that what they say to themselves is in their control and what they choose to tell themselves matters.

Step One

F.A.T. could mean

  • Fabulously. Awesome. Teen.
  • Fun. And. Talented.
  • Fit. And. Toned.

Step Two

Apply One of the Options Below Using the New Meaning to the hurtful word.

Option 1 – ‘You are right! I am a Fabulously Awesome Teen!’ (or the meaning they have created) Since the person delivering the hurtful words is not getting the reaction they expected, there is a good chance they will eventually get bored and stop.

Option 2 – If saying, ‘You are right! I am a Fabulously Awesome Teen!’ feels uncomfortable, then just repeat, ‘I am a Fabulously Awesome Teen!’ to yourself as you walk away.

For every word that hurts, take each letter and have it stand for a positive, empowering meaning. Then use option 1 or 2 with the new meaning.

Here are a few more examples:

U.G.L.Y. – Upbeat. Generous. Lovable. Youth.

L.O.S.E.R. – Lover. Of. Sports. Especially. Running.

The more kids hear their own voice saying encouraging words, the more their self-worth will shine!

Until next time…

9 Nov 2022

Kids want you to know…

I really enjoyed your presentation. It opened a few doors for me. This past year I went through some problems but your presentation showed me another way of looking at my problems. You really helped me to know that my feelings big or small are normal and that it’s okay to feel.’ – Male Student

Sometimes kids think they should only feel HAPPY because they believe that is the only way people will accept them.

Kids tell me that when they hear, ‘It’s OK to feel what you are feeling’, they know they have been respected and validated – that they have been given the space to express and share their emotions.

Space to feel gives space to heal.

Practicing ‘space’ builds connection (1 min video). It allows kids to feel comforted, supported, and more open to finding ways to move with and through their emotions.

Remind them that feeling a wide range of emotions is natural and normal and that we accept them no matter how they are feeling.

The more we choose to step outside our comfort zone by acknowledging and sharing our own emotions, we model and teach them that…
‘It’s OK to feel what you are feeling‘.

Until next time…

26 Oct 2022

Thriving through Emotional Chaos

At times it can be difficult to remain calm and thrive through the emotional chaos you might be experiencing. Your emotions seem to be all over the place. You promise yourself you won’t let your emotions get the best of you but then they do…you make a reactive choice from your emotions.

Later regret floods your brain. You wish you had taken a breath and been more self-aware of the emotions you were feeling and handled them differently.

Sound familiar?

Since emotions fluctuate and change according to the circumstance and mood you are experiencing, emotions are not a reliable place to make all choices from.

What helps me thrive through the emotional chaos so I can remain calm in order to make choices I am proud of, is keeping my character (who I believe I am), at the forefront of my mind. I repeat, ‘I choose to be respectful and patient.’ I even have it written on post-it notes as a visual reminder 😊

I remind myself that I am allowed to feel frustrated, disappointed, angry, upset (so are you). When I take a deep breath and say, ‘Sara, it’s OK to feel that way but your character is Respect & Patience’, it actually shifts my approach. It shifts my choices.

What character traits do you want to be known for as a person?

Training yourself to be conscious of the emotions you are experiencing so that you can breathe through them to make character-based choices, is essential to making choices in the moment that you can be proud of for the moments to come.

Until next time…

12 Oct 2022

How to Help a Child’s Negative Self-Talk

Kids are constantly encountering new experiences and challenges which can trigger uncomfortable emotions causing them to speak negatively about themselves. No one wants to hear a child putting themselves down.

Positive self-talk is about speaking to themselves with compassion, empathy, kindness and respect.

Benefits of Positive Self-Talk

  • Builds self-esteem
  • Enhances emotional & mental well-being
  • Improves self-regulation
  • Boosts confidence in their own abilities
  • Influences their choices & decisions
  • Develops resilience

Tips to Promote Positive Self-Talk

Emotions – Kids want to know that they are not bad, nor wrong for feeling how they feel. We all feel a wide range of emotions. They can feel angry, frustrated, disappointed and still show respect for themselves, others and their dreams. Kids need to be reminded, ‘It’s ok to feel.’ These words provide both comfort, validation and connection.

Reframing – Redirect their thoughts by asking them questions like: ‘What is one lesson you learned from this experience?’ or ‘Who could you ask to help support you?’ or ‘ What could you do differently the next time?’ Helping them see the circumstance through a different lens helps them to learn and grow.

Model positive self-talk – Modelling what you want children to learn is the best way to teach. If you find you are putting yourself down, admit it. Use it as a teachable moment. Let’s face it – we’re not perfect! Let them know what you wish you would have said.

Recognize their talents & strengths – Even though it’s important for them to recognize negative thoughts and uncomfortable feelings, they can learn to reframe their mindset and focus on their strengths. Have them create a list of their talents & strengths to have a visual reminder.

Gratitude – Choosing to focus on something they are grateful for is a powerful mindset shift that helps them bounce back from challenging times and move though tough emotions. Since their brain can only focus on one thought at a time, choosing to look at what they are grateful for (especially during difficult times and mistakes made) is a powerful practice that strengthens resilience. Ask them, ‘What could you be grateful for from the challenge or mistake?‘

Over time what children repeat determines their belief about themselves and their abilities. Below is a list of phrases your child/student can use to remind them that what they say matters to their confidence, resilience & well-being.

Until next time…

28 Sep 2022

It Hurts to be Bullied

Being bullied happens too often, and it can make kids feel scared, sick, embarrassed, anxious, depressed and sad. Bullying can make them feel alone with nowhere and no one to turn to.

That’s why Paul Davis (internet safety expert) & I decided to invite Emily, who is 18 years old, to join our podcast to share her bullying story that began in grade 3.

Words from Emily: ‘In grade 3 no one liked me & I don’t know why. No matter how hard I tried I couldn’t fit in. I was the one who got picked last in gym class. I kept saying grade 4 will be better. It did get better for a while until the day our teacher asked us to mark each other’s spelling test. When mine was returned to me I saw messages written on it, “You’re not smart! You’re dumb!”

You feel so hopeless. You believe you will never get out of being bullied. You have no reason to go to school – you hate it there. My principal tried to help and for a while it was fine until it wasn’t. When you’re 9 years old you are just starting to figure out life and when the adults have no hope of fixing the situation you feel alone.’

Paul Davis reminds us that we need kids to know if they speak out about any type of bullying, they will be supported.

Once Emily entered high school, she had an idea…click here to watch or here to listen to the full podcast where Emily shares her idea.

One piece of advice to adults from Emily: ‘The most helpful thing an adult can do for a child that is being bullied is to take the time to listen & to let the child talk about how they are feeling & then help work through their emotions together, so it isn’t just on the child’s shoulders.’

Until next time…

14 Sep 2022

Strengthen a Child’s Resilience

As kids get older they start to rely more on the relationships with their friends, and less on their parents.

This can be problematic if they believe their friends are the only people they need in their village. Without the benefit of life experiences, friends usually can’t give the support and advice a young person needs to responsibly navigate to adulthood.

Even though I had wonderful friends, they didn’t have the guidance I needed when I shared my sadness and confusion around my parent’s divorce, the lack of relationship with my dad after the divorce and the boy in my class who made fun of me most days.

My mum could see I was struggling and recognized I needed more than she could give me. She realized she needed to expand my village. She started sending me to character development courses, support groups and leadership camps.

As a preteen and teen I wasn’t the least bit interested in going. Getting really angry telling her I didn’t want to go and telling her I didn’t like her, got me nowhere. My Mum would simply reply, ‘You don’t have a choice.’

How does expanding a child’s village help?

I couldn’t see any benefit in my mum’s decision at the time – all I could see was that her choices were taking away time from me hanging out with my friends. Now in reflection, I can clearly see that by expanding my village to include mentors, coaches, teachers, new experiences and wisdom taught me to be confident, responsible and resilient.

Teaching your child the importance of learning from different mentors and role models will not only enrich and expand “their village”, it will also help develop their mental, emotional and physical well-being

Your child will probably not thank you for expanding their village. However, one day they will look back as I did…

Until next time…

5 Sep 2022

I can’t do this…YET!

I was having a conversation with my 12 year old nephew about heading back to school and asked, ‘Are you looking forward to going back to school?’

‘Kind of.’

I wanted to know why he said ‘kind of’.

‘Well… I do like the social part, however I worry about my performance at school, like doing well on tests and getting good grades. I’m not good at certain subjects.’

I shared with him the power of ‘YET’.

‘You don’t know it YET!’

‘You aren’t good at it YET!’

‘You haven’t achieved it YET.’

His demeanour changed as he said, ‘oh I like that.’

The Power of ‘YET’

Teaching your children/students to add the word “yet” at the end of a sentence changes how they think, feel and react to challenges and mistakes. It creates a mindset of growth, possibility and hope. It gives them the confidence to stay determined and put in the effort. It reminds them that they have the ability to learn.

I have created a “yet contract” that your children/students can sign to remind them to add the word ‘yet’ at the end of their sentence whenever they start to say ‘I can’t’ or ‘I’m not good at it’.

Until next time…

12 Aug 2022

Your Child Made a Mistake – Now What?

Has your child ever wanted to try something new but you know they didn’t because a voice in their head was saying, ‘I could make a mistake, look silly and end up feeling embarrassed.’

Mistakes can cause children (adults as well) to question their ability, their self-worth and affect their confidence. They may decide to only try things they know they are good at.

Mistakes happen even when they try their very best. It’s how you approach their mistakes that makes all the difference.

How to Handle Your Child’s Mistakes

Your reactions can influence their resilience, confidence and self-worth. It can determine how they handle mistakes and what they see themselves now and s an adult.

Teaching a child that mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow will encourage them to keep trying.

Instead of focusing on what they did wrong, focus on supporting them through the emotions they may be feeling like embarrassment, frustration, anger and disappointment. (totally normal)

Help them to:

  • Reflect on their mistake: What would you do differently the next time? Who could you ask to help you improve?
  • Redirect their thoughts: What could you be grateful for from the mistake? At first they might think, ‘there is nothing to be grateful for.’ The simplest way to discover what they could be grateful for is to ask, ‘What did you learn from the mistake? (could be as simple as they learned that you support them)

Embracing Mistakes

Changing the way they think about mistakes, gives them a gift that will make a difference for years to come

Encourage your child to try a new skill or task with enthusiasm and joy, reminding them that they are not only growing as a person but also learning so much about their wonderful self!

Until next time…

10 Jul 2022

Friend Won’t Talk to Me

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.

I wrote the song ‘Doesn’t Mean Much’ because I wanted to remind myself that I have the final say in what I choose to believe about myself.

Kids Hear So Many Opinions

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.

Examples:

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!

P.S. Here is another exercise to help strengthen their confidence & self-worth.

Until next time…