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18 Jan 2023

Tips to Helping Kids Ride the Waves of Emotions

Kids tell me they don’t like feeling tough emotions like anger, sadness, guilt, frustration and disappointment because – not only is it uncomfortable – they also think, ‘this is it, this is how I’m always going to feel.’

A few weeks ago, my 10-year-old son was so upset. I could see him desperately trying to hold back his tears. I said, ‘It’s OK to cry.’ He gave me a frustrated look and said, ‘I don’t like feeling this feeling.’ which triggered him to cry causing him to get even more upset.

That was a light bulb moment! That had me reply with, ‘I get it. I don’t like feeling those uncomfortable emotions.’

Think back to when you were a kid… didn’t tough emotions and challenging times feel permanent?

Later that night when he was in a calmer state, we had a reflective conversation. I asked, ‘How are you feeling now?’ He replied, ‘I’m feeling happy.’

I asked, ‘How were you feeling this morning?’

‘Upset, frustrated and angry.’

‘Did you think those emotions were going to last forever?’ he responded with a resounding ‘YES!’

‘And how are you feeling now?’

‘Happy.’

‘So did that feeling of sadness last forever?’

He thought about it and firmly said ‘NO!’

We then had a conversation about other times in his life where he faced a challenge or made a mistake and it triggered emotions. I reminded him that he always got through them including now.

Even though we may not like feeling the emotions brought on by challenging circumstances, they can’t be avoided no matter how hard we try. Sometimes they get really intense and then subside like waves. We need to teach kids to be like a surfer and ride the ‘waves’ of their emotions.

Tips to help kids ride the waves by:

  • talking about how ‘it’s OK to feel all emotions’
  • giving them a safe space to feel without criticism or trying to fix how they feel
  • reminding them they can get through tough emotions
  • exploring various strategies that will help them work through their emotions when they are in a calm state

Helping kids ride the waves of emotions is not only important for their overall well-being, it will also help them through the challenges they will experience throughout their life.

Until next time…

21 Dec 2022

Feel Stressed and Overwhelmed?

It’s easy to feel stressed and overwhelmed when you have a lot on your plate – the same may be true for your kids. Everyone has times in their life when it feels as though the world is speeding up and keeping up seems impossible.

I find it easier to keep things in perspective when I take time for me. Making time for ‘You Moments’ is crucial to feeling inner peace. When you take the time to do things to create inner peace your life appears less chaotic. This is also important to model to your kids.

Here are a few things that I do to help me regroup when I feel stressed and overwhelmed:

  • Pen to Paper – writing out your feelings, nagging thoughts and worries helps clear the clutter that can sometimes take over your mind. I find it very healing to slowly rip up the paper after writing it – a great way to let go of stress and feel a sense of calm
  • Gratitude Break – feeling and expressing gratitude not only boosts emotional and mental well-being, but also boosts your immune system and your happiness. Focusing on what you enjoy and are grateful for, helps to shift your mood and mind to a happier state.
  • Breathe – I know this seems obvious but the quality of breaths you take makes a BIG difference in helping you feel calm and relaxed. I notice when I feel stressed and overwhelmed, I tend to take shallow breaths and sometimes even hold my breath. Be conscious of taking big, deep breaths in, hold for 5 seconds, then breathe out. Try five in a row.
  • Music – listening to your favourite music or singing along to a song can provide a temporary escape from a stressful day. Choosing specific lyrics can help you look at your day differently.
  • Talk with Friends and Family – carve out time to give them a call. It can be helpful to share your concerns and to hear what is happening in other people’s lives. It reminds you that you are not the only one to feel stressed and overwhelmed.
  • Drink Water – stress can be caused because our bodies are thirsty. Sip water continuously throughout the day. Being dehydrated can make even the simplest task overwhelming and frustrating.

BONUS TIP     

Revamp your To-Do List – create two columns – a MUST DO and a would be NICE to DO.

In the MUST DO column, put everything that is time sensitive and needs to get done that day. In the NICE to DO column, put the things that you would like to accomplish but if you don’t, ‘oh well.’

As you complete a task, cross it off! Crossing tasks off your list feels so good – ‘YAY! I got that done!’

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…

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…

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…

24 Mar 2022

Ever Tried to Avoid an Emotion?

Don’t you wish you could pick and chose the emotions you want to experience?

I have.

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

Feeling Overwhelmed?

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.

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 my video to learn more about my take on behaviour & emotions.

Until next time…

26 Oct 2021

Are you feeling discouraged and want to give up?

When times are tough and emotions run high, it can be easy to feel discouraged and want to give up.

In those times try this:

1. Be aware of the emotions you are feeling (name them). Honour them by reminding yourself it’s OK to feel them.

2. Take some deep breaths and reflect back on how far you have actually come. The challenges you have overcome to get you to where you are today, use this as strength to keep moving forward.

3. Remind yourself that the journey isn’t supposed to be perfect and that you have the tools to dig deep and keep going.

This is What I Know: Challenges are chapters of your life not your whole story! You Are Enough! You Matter! You’ve got this!

P.S. These strategies also work for your children/students.

Until next time…