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25 Feb 2022

Mindsets of a Resilient Child

Children aren’t born resilient. Seeing challenges, mistakes and changes as a learning experience is an essential part of building a resilient child. The good news is that resilience is a skill that can be learned and strengthened with practice and support.

Here are 3 mindsets that can help you on the journey to building a resilient child.

1. A CHALLENGE IS A CHAPTER OF YOUR LIFE NOT YOUR WHOLE STORY

If a challenge is seen as an opportunity for growth, children are better able to deal with it, bounce back, adapt and learn from it. If it is seen as hopeless, it is easy for them to feel like giving up. Changing perspective changes their internal dialogue about an event or circumstance to a more positive, less emotional viewpoint.

Ask kids to take a challenge they are experiencing and answer the following questions:

  • What’s something that’s hard for you right now?
  • What have you learned about yourself from this challenge?
  • How would you face this challenge the next time?

2. SEEING MISTAKES AS AN OPPORTUNITY

The fear of making a mistake and feeling embarrassed can be a huge deterrent to young people trying something new. What if we taught children to see making a mistake as an opportunity to grow and learn? And that when they feel the awkward emotion of embarrassment – that’s ok – it’s part of the journey.

What if we taught them that ‘the butterflies’ or nervousness they are feeling is a good thing and that it’s natural to feel that way? Perhaps then, they would be excited to try something new instead of fearing ‘what if I make a mistake?’

Ask kids to do the following exercise:

  • Write about a time you allowed your fear of making a mistake stop you from saying or doing something.
  • What do you wish you would have said or done?
  • What did you learn from this experience?
  • The next time you feel nervous, what could you do? Examples: breathe deeply, repeat ‘it’s ok to feel nervous’, ‘I am brave’…

3. LIFE IS CONSTANTLY CHANGING

Children who understand that life is like a roller coaster, with lots of ups and downs, will be able to bounce back and accept change with more ease. Studies show that viewing change as a challenge that they can tackle instead of a threat, equips young people with the ability to better deal with adversity. It allows them to find creative solutions to new challenges, to face adversity with calmness and confidence and to have a sense of mastery over life circumstances

Ask kids to complete the following exercise:

  • Write about a time you did something you thought you couldn’t do.
  • What did you learn about yourself from that experience?
  • List 3 new things you could try.

Resilient kids become resilient adults, able to not only survive, but thrive in the face of challenges, mistakes & changes.

The support we give our kids today will positively impact their future!

Until next time…

11 Dec 2021

Your Mindset: Friend or Foe?

Your mindset can be your best friend or your worst enemy.

This what I know: Your mindset matters! It determines what you are willing to experience, ideas you are open to and who you see when you look in the mirror. Changing your mindset doesn’t happen by chance. It happens by choice.

Here are 4 simple effective ways to train your mindset to be your friend:

1) Add the word YET at the end of a thought to give Hope and Growth. Ex: ‘I’m not good at that … yet.’ The simple word YET reminds you that your efforts will pay off and that there is room to learn and grow.

2) Mind over Matter. Instead of choosing to focus on the obstacles that are in your way – focus on what you want to achieve. Acknowledge the obstacles and then choose to focus on your desired end result to keep you motivated.

3) Affirmations. What you tell yourself and repeat, over time will be what you believe. Choose your thoughts wisely. ‘I’m not enough’ will create a very different feeling than repeating ‘I am enough’. Only you have the power to choose what you tell yourself.

4) Gratitude. Choosing to focus on something you are grateful for is a powerful mindset shift that boosts happiness and helps you bounce back from challenging times and move though tough emotions. Since your brain can only focus on one thought at a time – choosing to look at what you are grateful for (especially during difficult times and mistakes made) is a powerful practice that strengthens resilience.

Until next time…

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10 Nov 2021

What If They Don’t Like Me?

If you were to ask me what one of my biggest worries was as a teen, it would be ‘what if people don’t like me?’ I can remember having sleepless nights worrying about things I said and did – wondering if I offended anyone or looked silly.

While the desire to be liked is normal, believing that it’s necessary for everyone to like you is unreasonable. Having that belief started to impact my self-esteem and confidence. I started to base my self-worth on what others thought instead of what I thought. I was becoming more concerned with others liking me instead of me liking myself.

One day I realized the only person I needed to impress was the person I saw when I looked in the mirror – ME!

An activity that really helped me let go and allow my unique qualities to grow and shine was creating mindful thoughts. (an activity that works for all ages)

Take a piece of paper and write: ‘I CHOOSE ______’ and fill in the blank with what it is that you want to say to yourself. Create as many as you need.

Examples:
I choose to believe I am enough.
I choose to believe I am courageous & talented.
I choose to believe I am perfect just the way I am.

Place the paper(s) where you can see them as a reminder of what you are choosing to say to yourself. The more you repeat it, the more you will believe it.

Place the paper(s) where you can see them as a reminder of what you are choosing to say to yourself. The more you repeat it, the more you will believe it.

This is what I know: When you choose to let go of worrying and choose to start accepting that not everyone will like you, not only will you be able to focus on the people who are in your cheering section, you will also find yourself much happier.

Until next time…

10 Jun 2021

Why did you say that/do that?

We tell our kids ‘Be Kind!’

We tell them kindness matters, that being kind makes a difference not only for others, but also for themselves.

Here’s the thing…our kids want to be kind. Whenever I do a presentation for students, they always tell me that kindness matters.

When we see our kids making choices that show kindness we feel proud. When we see a choice that isn’t kind, we immediately ask, ‘WHY did you say that/do that?’  

While it is helpful to know the answer to that question – I believe there is a more important question to ask.

Please watch my video for the answer.

Until next time…

13 May 2021

Let Go of the Guilt

You know it’s important to take care of yourself.  You know it will help with your emotional, mental & physical well-being. You know
it will boost your happiness and you know by nurturing yourself, it will put you in a better place to help those you love.

Knowing isn’t enough. You actually have to put your knowledge into action.

And beyond that… you have to make self-care a necessity – a MUST do!

Have you made it your top priority?

If not, do you by chance feel guilty when you do something for yourself?

If you answered yes – please watch this video

Until next time…

18 Nov 2020

Start Each Day with an Intention

‘You’ll come down from the Lurch with an unpleasant bump. And the chances are, then, that you’ll be in a Slump. And when you’re in a Slump, you’re not in for much fun. Un-slumping yourself is not easily done.’ Dr. Seuss ‘Oh The Places You’ll Go’

When we went into lockdown last March I definitely came down the ‘Lurch’ with an unpleasant bump. All my presentations were cancelled. It was a scary time for me. How was I going to ‘un-slump’ so that I could move forward and not stay scared and worried?

The answer…I started creating a daily intention.

Intentions are like a GPS. They give your brain direction – a focus that creates a structure for your daily choices. It doesn’t mean you won’t have any challenges or uncomfortable emotions throughout your day – it means you now have a compass that:

  • Clarifies your choices.
  • Keeps you focused throughout the day.
  • Boosts your happiness and peacefulness.
  • Helps you live in the moment.

Daily intentions give you hope, accountability and keep you moving forward. And that is exactly what my intentions of ‘I choose to be courageous to reach out and ask for help’ and ‘I choose to be open to new possibilities’ did. They helped me ‘un- slump’

It was slow moving at first. I had moments of frustration, disappointment and even sadness. I did a lot of deep breathing, mindful meditation and writing in my journal. In choosing to keep moving forward, guided by my intentions, I was able to create my new virtual presentations for teachers, students, parents and businesses. And I have to say – I am loving it!

Until next time…

27 Jan 2020

Praise Effort Regardless of the Results

My husband coaches our son’s hockey team. His coaching philosophy is one I admire and wholeheartedly believe in. Here’s what he shared with the parents early in the season:

“We’ve been praising the full effort of the kids and are less concerned with who scores… not that we don’t acknowledge the goal, we praise how the goal came about.”

I love this concept and think this coaching technique can carry through to how we as parents and educators interact with kids on a daily basis.

Consider doing this: Praise their effort regardless of the results.

For example, your child or student receives an A on their recent test. Do you say:

A. ‘Wow! You’re really smart!’  or…

B. ‘Look at what you have achieved. You chose to put in the effort and be determined. Excellent work!’

More and more studies show that choice B is more beneficial for kids. Using the theory of Carol Dweck, a psychology professor, choice B teaches our kids a growth mindset, while choice A encourages a fixed mindset.

With a growth mindset, people approach challenges knowing that they have the ability to learn and to improve every day if they put in the effort. With a fixed mindset, people believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talent, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that. Their goal becomes to look smart all the time. (Wikipedia)

I think there’s more to unwrap here…

How do you teach children a growth mindset and the value of effort?

Let’s use hockey as an example.

When players understand the importance of being open to learning they become confident enough to put in the effort to embrace new skills. They start to realize that, even though they may not have learned all the skills, it doesn’t mean they never will, it just means they haven’t learnt them YET! This mindset gets them ready to take on the challenges of training and development. And regardless of whether they win or lose, they learn to value the experiences.

This mindset will look like this:

‘I will put in the effort’.
‘I like to learn new skills’.
‘I am a problem solver’.
‘I can overcome challenge’.

Praising effort helps kids see the importance of the actions they took. If they know that being determined to go after the puck and staying focused on skating with a full stride helped them score a goal, they’ll know to stay focused on practicing those skills in order to score again. If we tell them, “You’re so talented! Great goal!” how will they know what they need to do to score again? How will they know which character traits they used to get there?

By attaching specific character traits to their efforts we show children that character based choices matter and what their effort and character looks like in action.

How do you shift your words to praise the effort in every day situations?

Here are some examples:

  • Great job! (what made it a great job?) You were so determined to learn your spelling words!
  • You’re a good friend. (what makes them a good friend?) You showed generosity because you shared your snack.
  • Way to go! (what did they do?) You were kind. You held the door open for them.

The more we focus our praise on acknowledging the efforts and the character traits used to achieve the desired end result, we teach children that the journey matters—how they succeed is just as important as succeeding.

Exercise: Start to praise the effort instead of the results with your own kids or students. Pay attention to how you praise and pause in those moments…what character trait could you add?

Want to share how you’ve changed the praise dialogue for your family or school? Tag me on Instagram with an example of how you praised the effort to teach your child/student about a character-based choice they made. Let’s work together on this!

Until next time…

sara westbrook signature

8 Jan 2020

Celebrate You!

Let’s not wait to only celebrate on special occasions – let’s celebrate along the journey.

Sometimes we think that something big needs to happen – only then can we justify a celebration. Have you ever said ‘when I get there or when that happens, then I will celebrate’?

By holding off you rob yourself of appreciating and celebrating the steps you have taken along the way. It’s those small successes that get you to your desired end result.

By choosing to celebrate yourself and your journey, you elevate your emotional state as it creates a feeling of happiness and gratitude.

Tips to Celebrating You:

  • Take time to reflect back and recognize how far you have come. 
  • Write down all your accomplishments – even the small ones. Place them somewhere as a reminder when you are feeling frustrated or upset with yourself.
  • Give yourself compliments. Say thank-you when someone compliments you.
  • Do something special to show you care about yourself. It could be as simple as making your favourite coffee/tea, a walk in the park, a massage, a movie, whatever it is that you wish you would take time to do. You deserve it.

Life can go at a fast pace and it’s easy to get caught in what feels like a race. It’s up to you to choose to slow it down by being mindful of the moments so you can celebrate the journey not just the end result. 

When you choose to celebrate YOU, it allows you to celebrate others.

Until next time…

sara westbrook signature

10 Oct 2019

You have the Final Say About You

It can be easy to allow negative opinions and judgments become what we believe to be true about ourselves. Important reminder: You have the final say in what you choose to believe about yourself, your body, your ability, your world.

Think of 3 things you are grateful for – I’ll wait…

Now that you have 3, write them down. Don’t have pen and paper…type them in the notes section of your phone or email them to yourself. As of this minute you are armed with a way to combat those self defeating thoughts.

Gratitude is transformational! When you are choosing to focus on what you are grateful for it transforms how you see yourself and your life! You are giving yourself the gift of inner peace and happiness. You are giving yourself YOU.

Will it take practice & effort to choose your thoughts and focus on gratitude – yes.

We may not be able to change others’ opinions and judgments (wouldn’t that be nice?) but, we can change what we choose to focus on and believe…which changes EVERYTHING.

Until next time,

sara westbrook signature