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.
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?’
‘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.
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…
23 Nov 2022
“Stick and stones may break my bones, but words will never hurt me.”
Hurtful words do hurt!
They can have a devastating impact on a child’s mental and emotional well-being. They can leave them feeling rejected, embarrassed, discouraged, anxious and can affect their self-esteem, self-worth and identity.
After one of my presentations a young lady shared that she was being called fat and she didn’t know what to do. It happens way too often to both girls and boys!
I shared an activity that has helped me, my son and others bounce back from hurtful words.
The goal is to take the hurtful word – in this case F.A.T. – and change it to a meaning that strengthens confidence and resilience, which is beneficial for both mental and emotional health. When you encourage kids to practice this, they will start to see themselves differently.
They will learn that what they say to themselves is in their control and what they choose to tell themselves matters.
F.A.T. could mean
Fabulously. Awesome. Teen.
Fun. And. Talented.
Fit. And. Toned.
Apply One of the Options Below Using the New Meaning to the hurtful word.
Option 1 – ‘You are right! I am a Fabulously Awesome Teen!’ (or the meaning they have created) Since the person delivering the hurtful words is not getting the reaction they expected, there is a good chance they will eventually get bored and stop.
Option 2 – If saying, ‘You are right! I am a Fabulously Awesome Teen!’ feels uncomfortable, then just repeat, ‘I am a Fabulously Awesome Teen!’ to yourself as you walk away.
For every word that hurts, take each letter and have it stand for a positive, empowering meaning. Then use option 1 or 2 with the new meaning.
The more kids hear their own voice saying encouraging words, the more their self-worth will shine!
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…
12 Oct 2022
How to Help a Child’s Negative Self-Talk
Kids are constantly encountering new experiences and challenges which can trigger uncomfortable emotions causing them to speak negatively about themselves. No one wants to hear a child putting themselves down.
Positive self-talk is about speaking to themselves with compassion, empathy, kindness and respect.
Benefits of Positive Self-Talk
Enhances emotional & mental well-being
Boosts confidence in their own abilities
Influences their choices & decisions
Tips to Promote Positive Self-Talk
Emotions – Kids want to know that they are not bad, nor wrong for feeling how they feel. We all feel a wide range of emotions. They can feel angry, frustrated, disappointed and still show respect for themselves, others and their dreams. Kids need to be reminded, ‘It’s ok to feel.’ These words provide both comfort, validation and connection.
Reframing – Redirect their thoughts by asking them questions like: ‘What is one lesson you learned from this experience?’ or ‘Who could you ask to help support you?’ or ‘ What could you do differently the next time?’ Helping them see the circumstance through a different lens helps them to learn and grow.
Model positive self-talk – Modelling what you want children to learn is the best way to teach. If you find you are putting yourself down, admit it. Use it as a teachable moment. Let’s face it – we’re not perfect! Let them know what you wish you would have said.
Recognize their talents & strengths – Even though it’s important for them to recognize negative thoughts and uncomfortable feelings, they can learn to reframe their mindset and focus on their strengths. Have them create a list of their talents & strengths to have a visual reminder.
Gratitude – Choosing to focus on something they are grateful for is a powerful mindset shift that helps them bounce back from challenging times and move though tough emotions. Since their brain can only focus on one thought at a time, choosing to look at what they are grateful for (especially during difficult times and mistakes made) is a powerful practice that strengthens resilience. Ask them, ‘What could you be grateful for from the challenge or mistake?‘
Over time what children repeat determines their belief about themselves and their abilities. Below is a list of phrases your child/student can use to remind them that what they say matters to their confidence, resilience & well-being.
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?’
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.’
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…
12 Aug 2022
Your Child Made a Mistake – Now What?
Has your child ever wanted to try something new but you know they didn’t because a voice in their head was saying, ‘I could make a mistake, look silly and end up feeling embarrassed.’
Mistakes can cause children (adults as well) to question their ability, their self-worth and affect their confidence. They may decide to only try things they know they are good at.
Mistakes happen even when they try their very best. It’s how you approach their mistakes that makes all the difference.
How to Handle Your Child’s Mistakes
Your reactions can influence their resilience, confidence and self-worth. It can determine how they handle mistakes and what they see themselves now and s an adult.
Teaching a child that mistakes are an opportunity to learn and grow will encourage them to keep trying.
Instead of focusing on what they did wrong, focus on supporting them through the emotions they may be feeling like embarrassment, frustration, anger and disappointment. (totally normal)
Help them to:
Reflect on their mistake: What would you do differently the next time? Who could you ask to help you improve?
Redirect their thoughts: What could you be grateful for from the mistake? At first they might think, ‘there is nothing to be grateful for.’ The simplest way to discover what they could be grateful for is to ask, ‘What did you learn from the mistake? (could be as simple as they learned that you support them)
Changing the way they think about mistakes, gives them a gift that will make a difference for years to come
Encourage your child to try a new skill or task with enthusiasm and joy, reminding them that they are not only growing as a person but also learning so much about their wonderful self!
Until next time…
19 May 2022
How to Get a Child to Ask for Help
I can remember my son at 2 years old saying, ‘I can’t!’ My husband and I both looked at each other and thought ‘no way is that going to be his mindset!’ Every time Kai would say, ‘I can’t!’ we’d have him repeat, ‘I can. I just need help.’ This is now an ongoing mantra in our home.
This mantra gives your child courage.
Changing ‘I can’t’ to ‘I can’ allows your child not only be determined and successful but only to believe in possibility. Adding ‘I just need help’, creates an opening to ask for & receive support.
Getting a child to ask for help is a skill.
THINK ABOUT THIS: What emotions are making it harder for your child/student to ask for help? Emotions like embarrassment, fear, frustration and shyness can stop them from having the courage to reach out for the help and support they need and deserve.
REMEMBER THIS: Getting a child to ask for help is a skill that shows strength, confidence and curiosity. It’s an important part of a growth mindset.
TRY THIS: The next time you hear your child/student saying, ‘I can’t’ gently remind them to replace those words with…
I CAN. I JUST NEED HELP!
Until next time…
5 May 2022
Does Your Child Worry?
It’s normal for kids to worry from time to time. The worrying child can be filled with lots of stressful ‘what ifs’.
What if they don’t like me?
What if I don’t make the team?
What if my parents/teachers get mad at me?
What if I can’t do that?
Kids have vivid imaginations, making it easy to create worse case scenarios for their worries.
Choosing What You Say to a Child
Reminding the worrying child that they have control over what thoughts they choose to focus on, is essential to helping them move through their ‘what ifs’.
Resist the urge to say, ‘You don’t need to worry. You’ll be fine. Stop thinking about it.’ Kids tell me they find these words unhelpful.
Instead, TRY THIS… acknowledge the worry and the emotion that the worry triggers. Then have them do the following exercise to help them move through their worry.
A student emailed me after one of my presentations, ‘I can’t believe it. My friend betrayed me. The person I thought was my friend told other people a secret about something that was happening in my life. I am so upset, especially since she promised she would not tell anyone.’
I remember something very similar happening to me when I shared confidential information with my friend and the next day she shared our conversation with other friends. I was surprised, hurt and angry. I felt my friend had betrayed me. I wished I had chosen not to share. I wish I could have made my friend keep secrets instead of gossiping.
Although I couldn’t change the choice my friend made, I did have choices in how I reacted to this upsetting circumstance.
Let’s look at a few of my options:
A) I could choose to talk to her about how I felt. B) I could choose never to talk to her again. C) I could choose to tell her only things that I didn’t mind other people knowing.
In order to choose what choice would work best for me, I had to first decide what I wanted as my End Result (my goal). Having an End Result is so important because it’s what guides your choices.
The End Result I wanted was to keep her as a friend because there were qualities about her that I appreciated. For me, CHOICE A and C worked the best. Letting her know how I felt and realizing that she wasn’t good at keeping a secret helped our relationship.
Not everyone will have all the qualities that you think they ‘should have’, but that doesn’t mean that you have to write them off. I suggested to this student to share their disappointment and to find qualities (like humour, kindness, generosity) that they enjoyed about their friend and choose to focus on that. In doing this, it would help rebuild their friendship and still create a relationship where they could enjoy spending time together.
However, if their friend continues to treat them in a way that feels hurtful, then I suggested that it was important to decide whether the friendship/relationship was worth continuing.
This is what I know: Although you may not be able to control what others say and do, you do have control over how you act, react and the choices you choose to make and the boundaries you choose to create