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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…

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…

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?

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…

14 Oct 2021

Kids want to know ‘They Are Enough!’

I want kids to know it’s possible to face adversity and still choose to believe in yourself! That is why, in my presentations to youth, I share stories about two dreams I had growing up and the challenges I encountered along the way.

My first dream was singing the national anthem at a Blue Jays game. Despite being told NO multiple times, and feeling frustrated and embarrassed each time, I chose to keep asking. My persistence and belief in myself turned that dream into a reality.

The second was auditioning on Canadian Idol. I made it past two rounds of judges only to hear from the celebrity judges, ‘You can’t sing, give up and do something else!’ When I left the competition that day, I felt sad, frustrated, angry and disappointed. I wanted to give up! But then I realized, if I chose to give up, I wouldn’t be respecting myself nor my dreams. So, I chose to keep singing and recorded multiple songs.

Even though I encountered many challenges, I’m so glad I decided to learn the important lessons those challenges were teaching me – lessons of determination, putting in the effort, and most importantly – bouncing back from disappointment so that I could move forward with even more motivation to pursue my dreams.

This is What I Know: We can’t save our children/students from challenges and tough emotions, but we can support them, share with them, and teach them ways to keep going. Reminding them that it’s not as much about the challenges and emotions they face, as it is about who they choose to become and how they choose to bounce back. Challenges are chapters of life, not the whole story and when life gets tough, I want them to know…They Are Enough!

Until next time…


29 Sep 2021

Do you know what makes you happy?

Do you put your happiness on hold?

Do you wait for a special occasion or a goal to be achieved?

This is what I know… Looking for ways to bring happiness into your life is very important to your emotional and mental well-being.

Think of everything you could do to create happiness. It might be talking to a friend/family member, going for nature walks, writing in a journal or watching/playing sports. It could be as simple as starting your day with your favourite breakfast food, song or cup of coffee/tea.

Write your happiness list on a big piece of paper and put it where you can see it.

You have now created your guide to HAPPINESS – a guide that will remind you how to tap into your happy place when you are feeling stressed, anxious or ‘blue’.

I forgot to add…your happiness list should not include ‘I’m only happy when_____ is happy.’ Never let your happiness depend on someone else’s happiness.

You deserve to be HAPPY! Make it a conscious choice!

P.S. Have your children/students create their own list.

Until next time…

29 Jun 2021

It’s been one tough school year!

Even though amusement parks have been closed, I have felt like I have been riding a roller coaster with lots of ups and downs. School opened, school closed, school opened, school closed…causing my emotions to be all over the place – sad, happy, frustrated, disappointed, excited, upset – you get the picture.

That’s why I decided it was more important than ever to focus on gratitude – to focus on what meant a lot to me – what I valued most. I realized that ‘the practice of gratitude’ benefitted me, not only mentally and physically, but also emotionally. Focusing on what I appreciated shifted my mood and mind to a happier state.

With that in mind I want to give a HUGE round of applause to:

Educators (in all capacities): Connecting with students through a screen is tough. Even though you had to quickly adjust and adapt to a new way of interacting, you stayed committed to keeping students interested and engaged. You made a difference for so many kids. You handled their silliness, their emotions & their interruptions with grace.

Parents/Guardians: Being home with your children 24/7 was a test of your patience, endurance and ingenuity. You had to take a more active role in your child’s education, even though you may have been working at the same time. You survived your kids constantly reminding you, ‘I’m hungry. I don’t want to do this anymore. I’m hungry.’

Students (including my son Kai): It was a tough go. They had to give up so many routines they looked forward to, like recess, taking the school bus, after school activities, socializing with friends and for some, the before and after school programs. My son told me, even though he could see his teachers and friends virtually, it wasn’t the same as in-person, making it more difficult to stay motivated.  I thank our children for being brave, determined, tolerant and patient (a difficult one for all of us).

I believe that no matter what is happening in your life, it is possible to focus on what you are grateful for, even if it’s the tiniest ‘gratitude’. Sometimes, for me, it was simply the thought of sitting quietly for five minutes sipping a coffee.

Wishing you Joy, Fun & Laughter!

Until next time…

26 May 2021

It is a BIG Deal to a Child

Children come to us with what seems like an overwhelming reaction to something we see as ‘no big deal’. To them, it is a ‘BIG deal’.

It can be easy to dismiss the distress your child is experiencing, not because you don’t care, but because you want to add logic, ‘everyone else is experiencing the same thing’ or ‘it will pass’.  You may even think, ‘compared to what I’m going through or what’s going on in the world, it’s not a big deal’ and then shrug off their feelings.

It’s important to let kids know that you see their sadness, frustration, upset, anger and worry and that you are going to help them through it.

A few weeks ago my son started crying and then sobbing. He missed his friends so much. My heart was breaking seeing his sadness.

Initially my brain wanted to use logic with him, ‘There’s nothing we can do about it. All your friends are probably feeling the same way.’

I wanted to fix it, but I knew I needed to let him release his emotions. So I sat beside him & let him cry. When I saw he had gotten all his tears out, we talked about what we could do together to help him through his ‘big deal’.

When our children are in an emotional state, our job is not to problem-solve. It is to support, comfort and listen with empathy.

Until next time…