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1 May 2024

How to Help a Child Overcome Loss

As children travel through life’s various challenges, they will inevitably need help to overcome loss.

Whether it’s in sports, extracurricular activities, relationships, or in everyday life, shielding kids from experiencing loss deprives them of the potential for personal growth and resilience.

Helping children overcome loss is vital for their development.

Be there for them as they confront and process the loss. Instead of trying to fix or change their emotions, listen to their thoughts and emotions with compassion and understanding.

Whether they are feeling sad, disappointed, angry or frustrated, create a space where they feel safe to express themselves. By recognizing and accepting their feelings, you teach them that it’s okay to experience a range of emotions and that they are not alone in their struggles.

Help them recognize that within every loss, there are often hidden opportunities or alternative paths waiting to be discovered. By reframing their perceptive on loss, they can often uncover hidden silver linings and find renewed hope and optimism.

Watch the video to learn one parent’s approach to his child losing her best friend.

Until next time…

18 Apr 2024

How Powerful is Self-Talk in Shaping a Child’s Resilience?

Recently, I had a conversation with my 11-year-old son about his self-talk during challenging moments—whether on the ice or in everyday life.

I asked him, “What do you tell yourself when things don’t go as planned? How do you bounce back?”

His response was simple yet powerful: “I tell myself, ‘I got this.’ And I keep repeating it.”

When his self talk is, “I got this,” it not only impacts his confidence and determination but also influences the path he will choose to take.

Whenever your child is facing a challenging time, the words they repeat matters. It’s the difference between perseverance and belief in themselves or self-doubt and defeat.

I encourage you to ask your child what they could tell themselves that would give them the power and confidence to bounce back from  mistakes, misplays and challenging circumstances.

Here’s What I Know: In teaching them the power of self-talk, you will equip them with a valuable tool for navigating life’s inevitable challenges with courage and resilience.

Until next time…

4 Apr 2024

Do you speak to your child’s way of listening?

Do you find yourself wanting to give feedback in the sports or activities your child is engaged in? Are you speaking to your child’s way of listening?

Our son plays hockey.

My husband and I found that giving immediate feedback on his performance as soon as he steps off the ice or during the car ride home, wasn’t landing well.

As parents we thought we were being helpful and supportive. We thought we were speaking to his way of listening. Instead, it only caused frustration and irritation. Not only were we off in our timing, we also realized we weren’t speaking to his way of listening.

Fortunately, we recognized this and called a family meeting where we asked him, ‘What do you need from us?’ and ‘How will you hear us best?’

He shared that he didn’t want to talk right after because he needed time to decompress from the competitive adrenaline racing through his body – makes sense. He said, ‘When I’m ready, I want to hear two things I did really well and two things I can improve on.’

This allowed his voice to be heard and created connection. It also gave us valuable insight into how and when he hears information best. It helped us speak to his way of listening.

By empowering our son to voice his needs, we’re helping him self-advocate and also giving him a sense of independence. This not only benefits him in hockey but also in all aspects of his life, especially relationships.

Just as teamwork is crucial in his hockey, it’s also essential within the family unit. By working together and understanding each other’s perspectives, we are able to better support our son in his athletic pursuits and personal growth.

This is what I know: It’s important to recognize that what works for you may not necessarily work for your child. By being open to adjusting your approach, you learn to speak to your child’s listening, which is essential for fostering a healthy parent-child relationship.

Until next time…

22 Feb 2024

Crash Course on Resilience for Kids (Part Two)

As children navigate the ups and downs of growing up, resilience is a necessary tool to guide them throughout their journey into adulthood.

We can’t change that they will face challenges along the way. What we can do is give them resilience-enhancing strategies so these challenges don’t break them.

Implementing the strategies provided in this message, combined with those shared in my previous newsletter, will enable kids to face challenges with courage, learn from setbacks and foster a positive mindset.

1. When they view challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, it transforms their way of thinking and gives them hope. This change in mindset helps them handle problems, recover from tough times and learn from the experience.

2. They can be confident and have self-doubt, be brave and feel anxious, be afraid and excited – all at the same time. Teaching children to embrace the complexity and often the discomfort of their emotional experiences enhances their ability to navigate the unpredictable journey of life.

3. Since the brain can only concentrate on one thought at a time, deliberately choosing to focus on gratitude becomes a powerful practice for building resilience. By regularly thinking about what they are thankful for, children realize that they have the ability to choose the thoughts they focus on.

4. Building a support network strengthens resilience. Joining a club, sports team, volunteering, connecting with family members and friends creates connection and belonging.

By providing your kids with these resilience-enhancing strategies, you will see their challenges turn into triumphs, setbacks into stepping stones and problems into opportunities.

Until next time…

8 Feb 2024

Crash Course on Resilience for Kids (Part One)

I’ve been hearing more and more about the lack of resilience skills in our young people particularly noticeable in the aftermath of the pandemic.

In light of this, I’ve created a crash course aimed at strengthening our children’s ‘resilience muscle’ for their overall well-being and future success. Here are the initial four strategies; stay tuned for more ways in the next newsletter.

1. Life is a series of ups and downs. Giving kids the opportunity to find solutions to challenges and mistakes, will enhance their ability to problem solve. It will also give them the confidence to face adversity.

2. Not everyone will like them. Even though that may hurt, it’s essential for children to understand that, even in the face of non-acceptance, they possess the power to love and accept themselves unconditionally.

3. It’s totally normal to experience emotions. Some moments bring happiness and joy, others cause disappointment and frustration. Challenges bring up emotions that can feel overwhelming and vulnerable. Expressing their emotions helps them communicate their needs, seek support and navigate difficulties.

4. Help them reflect on past experiences to identify challenges they have faced and overcome. This process helps them recognize their ability to navigate difficulties, fostering a sense of accomplishment. The realization that they’ve effectively dealt with challenges in the past instills the confidence required to approach similar situations with more calmness.

By arming children with the tools to navigate life’s twists and turns, you empower them to face challenges with courage, learn from setbacks, and cultivate a positive mindset. The efforts you put in today will shape their well-being and success for the future.

Until next time…

11 Jan 2024

Riding the Waves of Life with Determination

Every challenge you have faced and the choices you have chosen to make has created who you are today.

Picture yourself as the captain of a ship. Sometimes the water is calm and the choices are easy. Other times, the calm waters give way to crashing waves, intensifying the difficulty of your choices

Knowing your destination is crucial for guiding your ship in the right direction, and this holds true in life as well. Being clear about the person you want to be, the character traits you want to process, and the goals you want to achieve, gives clarity when navigating through tough challenges. You have a destination and even if the massive waves of your circumstances try to throw you off course, you persevere and continue moving towards your ultimate goal.

When you aren’t clear about what matters to you, it’s easy to allow circumstances and the emotions they trigger, dictate your actions and choices, which leads to a feeling of being out of control. Acting with intention instills confidence.

By respecting your goals, and acting in alignment with them, you will find yourself making small choices every day that help build the person you imagine.

Remember, it’s your choices, not your circumstances, that truly define you. Consider who you want to become, the traits you want to embody, and the goals you wish to fulfill. This now becomes the destination that guides you.

What I know is: All is possible when you choose to be determined, put in the effort and most importantly – BELIEVE in YOU ALWAYS – even when you are in the midst of a fierce storm!

Until next time…

23 Nov 2023

Helping Kids Get Excited about their Unique Beauty

We talk a lot about the issue of ‘bullying others’, even dedicating an entire week to it. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that kids also ‘bully themselves’, creating negative self-talk that can have a lasting impact on their mental and emotional well-being, as well as their confidence.

I’d like to share a personal experience when I found myself going down a self-defeating, self-bullying path.

In grade 8 I represented my school in the running relay at the annual track and field day. After I had competed, a classmate came up to me and blurted, ‘You have big, fat legs.’ I was shocked and hurt.

What my classmate didn’t know was that I was already struggling to like my legs. I used to compare them to my friend’s legs – wishing mine were more like hers. Since my legs were bigger and shorter, I made it mean that mine were not beautiful. Comparing myself to her legs was ridiculous – it wasn’t going to change anything – it certainly wasn’t going to make my legs longer and thinner. Knowing this didn’t stop me from complaining about my legs to my mum.

One day she turned to me and said, ‘Let’s go to the doctor and see if she can cut them off.’ That was a wake-up call for me. Gradually I began to realize that I was wasting so much time and energy bullying myself. I was missing out on the beauty around me, including my own.

If a child you know is struggling with body image challenges, here are a few suggestions on what I did to help me be more appreciative of my body:

1. I found a photo of an Olympic athlete who had big, muscular legs standing proudly on the podium after winning a gold medal. She was happy and proud, not concerned about the size of her legs. That photo, pinned on my wall, inspired me to always remember to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’.

2. I wrote uplifting, encouraging, supportive thoughts and words. I placed them everywhere that I would see them. I repeated them over and over, knowing that the voice I heard the most throughout my day was my own, so I needed my words to be powerful and positive. Two of my favorites: ‘I choose to love and respect myself’ and the word ‘gratitude’.

3. I took the parts of my body that I resented and wrote down all the reasons why I needed to be grateful.  For instance, recognizing that my legs allow me to run and walk, wear my favourite boots and take me wherever I want. This exercise played a pivotal role in helping me appreciate and be thankful for my body.

4. I posted photos of myself as a little girl around my room, choosing photos from ages 3 – 8. In these photos I saw a young girl who loved life, who smiled just because she could. She didn’t worry about how much she weighed or how big her legs were. These photos reminded me to treat myself with kindness and compassion

With consistency and mindful effort, I started to believe, ‘I’m beautiful just the way I am.’

This is what I know: It’s crucial to teach and model to kids the importance of kindness, acceptance and compassion, not only towards others, but also towards themselves.

Until next time…

28 Jun 2023

Where’s the Parenting Manual?

When you become a parent, you are expected to know all the ins and outs of raising a child. You may still be asking – ‘where’s the parenting manual?’ –  especially when it comes to emotions. Since one doesn’t exist, I would like to share three tips I have learned from my parenting journey that has made a difference for me and my family.

1. Be the calm in your child’s emotional storm. Being calm can be difficult, especially when a child’s behaviour triggers your emotions. You can’t help a child regulate theirs if you are lost in your own. Training yourself to be conscious of the emotions you are experiencing so that you can manage them, is essential to being able to best help your child with what they are experiencing.  When a child is reacting from emotions, stay curious – what has happened that is creating the emotion? Remember that they are not a bad kid, they are a kid experiencing a BIG feeling that they are not sure how to navigate.

2. I don’t say to my son, ‘make a good choice’ because in the heat of his emotion (like anger, frustration, sadness, jealousy), he feels he is making a good choice. It’s important to be specific: make a kind choice, make a responsible choice, a respectful choice, a brave choice – replace ‘good’ with the specific character trait you are hoping they make a choice from. Although emotions are natural and normal, they aren’t the reliable place to make all choices from.

3. A key part of being able to help strengthen your child’s well-being is being aware of the strategies that help them manage and navigate tough emotions in healthy ways. Ask your child what helps them find their calm. Create a list of their ways so you know what to suggest when emotions arise. Post the list somewhere that will serve as a reminder for both you and them. Knowing strategies in advance helps the emotionally charged child better bounce back from challenges and stressors.

This is What I Know: Parenting is both a wonderful and stressful process. It is not a sprint, it’s a marathon – exhausting and frustrating at times, but also joyous and rewarding!

Until next time…

31 Jan 2023

How to Boost a Child’s Confidence

As parents, guardians and educators you want the children in your life to believe in themselves and their abilities no matter what!

So how do we arm children with the ability to bounce back from those negative, disrespectful judgments and opinions that challenge their belief in themselves?

Since we can’t save them from the all the tough moments they will face – the best use of our energy is to give them tools to boost their confidence.

Although they don’t have control over what other’s choose to say, the GOOD NEWS is… they have the final say in what they choose to believe about their body, their talent, their abilities, their life and their UNIQUENESS!

Below is an exercise I used growing up to help strengthen my confidence and self-worth. I use it with my 10 year-old son and thousands of students. It’s called a UPower Thought. UPower is your personal power to choose your actions, reactions and beliefs regardless of the circumstances.

Creating their own UPower Thought is a way to boost their confidence and to talk back to their self-defeating thoughts. They will hear their voice many more times than they will ever hear anyone else’s.

  1. On a piece of paper have them write the hurtful or disrespectful word(s) they have heard.
  2. Rip up that piece of paper while saying the words ‘I choose to let go.’
  3. Then take a new piece of paper and write the words: ‘I choose to believe I am…’ (they will fill in the rest with what it is they actually want to believe about themselves regardless of the negative comment/judgment).

          Some examples:

          ‘I choose to believe I am enough.’

          ‘I choose to believe I am amazing just the way I am.’

          ‘I choose to believe I am someone who makes a difference in the world.’

          ‘I choose to believe I am courageous and kind.’

  1. Have them take a few minutes each day repeating their UPower Thought to themselves. The more kids hear their own voice saying encouraging words, the more their confidence and self-worth will shine!

When you encourage kids to practice creating their UPower Thought, they will start to see themselves differently. They will learn that what they to say to themselves is in their control and what they choose to tell themselves matters.

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…