Empowering Youth in the Digital Age: Important Insights
Since technology is a dominant force in most young people’s lives, it’s important to make sure they learn to navigate this digital environment responsibly because they don’t yet see the impact technology has on their life.
Here’s 4 tips to support your efforts to help kids navigate technology responsibly:
1. Enhanced Emotional Well-being
Reducing exposure to online content, particularly social media, can lessen the negative impact on self-esteem, body image and anxiety. Spending more time interacting face-to-face with peers and adults can foster stronger relationships and help develop essential social skills, such as communication and empathy. Your child will most likely push back and not agree and that’s OK. You can still create and hold your boundary even if they don’t agree. Remember …’their disappointment is not your guilt.’
2. Revealing the Reality
They need to know that what people post online isn’t the whole picture. People often embellish their lives, making their life seem more magnificent than it truly is. It’s crucial to remind kids that nobody’s life is perfect, that everyone experiences challenging circumstances and tough emotions. They also need to understand that their online footprint is permanent, that even deleted content can have lasting consequences. What is cool or funny now, may have negative implications in their future.
3.Keep technology out of the bedroom.
Removing electronic devices from bedrooms, ensures that everyone sleeps better, waking up well rested and ready to focus on the day ahead. Having them in the bedroom, especially phones, is too tempting to check one last message. By ensuring phones are not within reach in the morning, children have the chance to engage with their own thoughts about the day ahead.
4. Set rules for the whole family
Part of good boundary setting is leading by example and being consistent with your own use of technology. Everyone should follow the same rules which include:
Amount of use that is acceptable.
Times when electronics can and can’t be used.
Which programs and apps can be accessed or installed on computers and devices.
Safety and security guidelines.
Behaviours that are and are not appropriate when interacting with others online.
After a recent presentation a grade 11 student shared that she decided to delete her social media accounts because she realized she was basing her self-worth on the number of likes and comments she received on her posts. After only one week of being offline she said she noticed a major increase in her confidence because she was no longer basing her worth on social media and the opinions of others.
Without rules and regulations for digital and online use it’s too easy for kids to get sucked into the online world. Moderation and boundaries are key! In the end it will help safeguard their self-worth and confidence.
Until next time…
25 Oct 2023
Tired Child: Building a Bridge of Understanding
The other evening, my son was really having a hard time listening. I don’t know about you, but when my child isn’t listening, it can trigger lots of different emotions, such as frustration, annoyance and even anger. In these moments, since it’s easy to interpret his lack of listening as a form of disrespect, I consciously work on being mindful of how I am perceiving his behaviour.
If I view it from the perspective of him being intentionally disrespectful and choosing not to listen to me, it’s very easy to react from my anger. However, if I step back and become an observer, I notice something completely different – I notice that he’s tired.
When kids have a tired brain their ability to listen and respond is significantly diminished. They don’t have the capacity to engage with us the way they would when they’re well-rested.
It’s important to recognize this because children, mine included, won’t say, “I’m really tired, and I can’t listen properly because my brain is exhausted.” If I even suggest he might be tired, he will vehemently deny that his words and actions have anything to do with being exhausted.
Instead of interpreting his lack of listening as disrespect, which would cause me to react, I choose to view it as exhaustion. I know that his tired brain is hindering any possibility of a rational discussion. My focus becomes staying calm and avoid taking his words personally, so I can help him achieve a relaxed state.
If there are issues that need addressing, I save those conversations for the morning. After a good night’s sleep, he wakes up transformed, like a totally different person!
This is what I know: Tired brains can’t rationalize. They are reactive, lack emotional regulation and aren’t open to listening and learning. Remembering this will help you approach their behaviour with empathy and patience, allowing you to support them in the best way possible.
Until next time…
8 Mar 2023
Can Compliments Cultivate Kids Confidence?
We want kids to be confident enough to give a compliment and to receive one.
However, their role models (the adults in their life) may respond to a compliment with, ‘No I’m not.’ By responding this way, it models to children to deflect the compliment which doesn’t allow those kinds words to be absorbed and used to cultivate confidence.
THIS IS WHAT I KNOW:
If a person gives a compliment, it means that they have taken the time to recognize you.
When you receive a compliment, model fully accepting it by choosing to smile and say thank you.
Share with your kids how those compliments made you feel and why you appreciate them.
When kids hear and see this as a way to respond to a thoughtful compliment, it teaches them to confidently do the same.
Modelling and teaching children to not only graciously receive a compliment but also to give one is an important part of their emotional and social development.
Too often we keep compliments to ourselves rather than letting others know what we are thinking or we brush off the compliment given to us rather than being grateful for the praise we have received.
When my son tells me something complimentary about someone, I let him know that saying the compliment directly to the person is a way of celebrating them. I remind him that accepting a compliment is a way others celebrate him.
Challenge yourself and your children to give and receive compliments throughout the day that not only show you appreciate others but you also appreciate yourself.
Compliments have power for both the giver and the receiver to enhance emotional and mental well-being and boost confidence.
Until next time…
7 Dec 2022
Emotions – No Thank You!
Avoiding emotions and telling yourself not to feel them, impacts your well-being. It affects your ability to communicate with others, your relationships, your performance, and your choices.
Suppressing emotions, pretending not to feel them and saying ‘I’m fine’ can lead to stress, burnout and more importantly emotional fatigue – yes that’s a real thing!
You can’t communicate effectively when you are emotionally charged. Training yourself to be aware of your feelings is essential to being able to communicate calmly and respectfully.
Did your heart skip a beat at the thought of talking about your emotions?
Learning to articulate how you truly feel creates emotional awareness. Most people’s emotional vocabulary consists of angry, sad, happy or anxious. There are many more emotions between those:
angry –> frustrated –> annoyed –> irritated
sad –> disappointed –> regretful –> depressed
happy –> excited –> confident –> content
anxious –> nervous –> worried –> confused
Expressing emotions can be tough. It can feel overwhelming and vulnerable. This is especially true if you learned as a child that sharing your emotions made you seem weak or feel shameful.
Expressing your emotions helps you:
Calm down quicker
Make character-based choices
Bounce back more easily
Improve communication skills
Bring harmony and well-being to your mental and physical state
Instead of reacting and avoiding emotions, take a pause and check-in with how you are feeling.
Here’s what I know: Being mindful of the emotions you are experiencing is essential to making choices in the moment that you can be proud of for the moments to come.
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…
18 Nov 2019
Does Common Sense Exist?
“Common sense is sound practical judgment concerning everyday matters, or a basic ability to perceive, understand, and judge that is shared by nearly all people.”
Let’s dive into the definition…
Is sense really common?
The above definition implies that the average person should just know how to act in specific situations, but the problem with that is we are all different. You and I weren’t raised the same, didn’t learn the same things, didn’t have the same experiences, don’t live by the same rules—so what may seem to be common sense to me could be new information for you and vice versa. Wait, what?!
Here’s my theory… If sense were common, then we wouldn’t see road rage, violence, greed, and poor manners. No one would fall out, breakup, or argue over how to parent or teach children. We’d all agree on the fundamentals in life.
But we don’t.
Different experiences = Different sense.
Through my work, I’ve learned that sense and awareness is not common for people. Our experiences impact what we learn and how we perceive what happens around us and because we all experience different circumstances, we learn different lessons. There’s nothing common about it.
For example, my parents raised me to believe that mistakes are opportunities—an essential part of learning and growth. This is now common sense to me, but when I present this idea to a child who was raised to believe mistakes should be avoided, it’s new for them. They’ve learned the opposite.
When our version of sense differs, whose opinion is common?
Does this sound familiar? Someone acts in a way that surprises you and your instant reaction is: ‘Well, it’s common sense, right?’
But what if it’s not?
I remember one day we had guests over. After greeting them at the door, I expected they would take off their shoes. Instead, they walked around inside with their shoes on.
And here’s where sense isn’t common. At my house, we remove our shoes at the door, at their house that isn’t the expectation.
What if it’s not about common sense but
your expectations aren’t communicated, others won’t know what you want. How
would my guests know to remove their shoes if they normally don’t at their
house? In this case, I should have politely asked them to leave their shoes at
the door They would then know my expectations instead of me relying on common
It’s too easy to jump to the assumption that someone should know better because it’s common sense.
The more helpful reaction is to identify what your expectation is and clearly and politely communicate it to the other person.It’s simple, really! By being clear about expectations you can save yourself and others from unnecessary disappointment.
6 Nov 2019
What does it Take to Forgive?
The classroom culture was being affected by a few students who were holding onto words and actions that had taken place since…wait for it…GRADE 2!! For the last 6 years they tried to move on but ‘the moving on’ was a struggle because they had never forgiven each other.
There was a shift in the room when the students communicated how they FELT about what happened in grade 2.
They realized the problem wasn’t what happened in grade 2, the problem was the emotions the circumstance triggered. They never learned to express their emotions or move through them in a healthy way or forgive.
They agreed they wanted to create a school culture where respect and kindness rule. Hard to do with a dark cloud of emotions hovering over you – easier to accomplish when you are willing to listen to each other’s emotions with compassion and respect. So that’s what we worked on during the workshop and it was incredible to see the shift.
Forgiveness isn’t saying what happened is ok – it’s saying that you are no longer willing to carry around the pain, anger and resentment.
Once they reached the point where they were able to forgive themselves and those around them, the room we were sitting in became a lighter, brighter and more connected place.
We ended in a circle.
As each person shared a piece of wisdom for the group, we wrapped coloured string around each wrist so they could see that through sharing they are connected. Before we cut the string between each of them (so they could each leave with a string bracelet), one person shouted ‘let’s all link our hands!’