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…
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
Until next time…
7 Apr 2022
Do You Fess Up When You Mess Up?
Ever caught yourself yelling to your child ‘CALM DOWN’ – only to realize that it was you who needed to calm down first?
When I asked this question on my Instagram story over 90 percent said YES.
As parents/educators, there will be moments where we are dysregulated and reactive.
What if we used those moments as teachable moments? This would remind kids/students that we too are learning the skill of self regulation and when we mess up – we own up!
1) The next time you react in a way that you are not proud of – apologize and share with your child/student the emotion you were feeling when you yelled.
It may sound like this, ‘I am sorry that I yelled, I was feeling frustrated.’
2) Let them know what you will do the next time to help you find your calm.
It may sound like this, ‘When I am feeling frustrated, I’m going to take three deep breaths before I speak.’
3) Share the choice you wish you would have made and what you will do next time.
It may sound like this, ‘I wish I would have shared with you that I was frustrated and I wish I would have spoken in a calmer voice.’
It’s not about perfection – it’s about progress!
This is what I know: When you model self-regulation, you are giving kids the invaluable life skill of developing emotional intelligence.
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…
23 Nov 2021
Are You as Courageous as This Kid?
My friend Jenn wrote a post on Facebook which really resonated with me. I think it will do the same for you, your kids and students.
‘Today, I was inspired by someone I love. A key member of their team was unable to be present for an important moment. He stepped up to fill a role he hasn’t played, and the rest of his team stepped up to ensure success. He stepped out of his comfort zone.
This person is my 10-year-old son and his team is their hockey team. John is a defender, but tonight he played goalie for his team. And his team stepped up to defend him.
Yeah, it’s just a game. But they taught me tonight. The whole team inspired me. And that’s parenting – we teach them, they teach us. Comfort zones are boundaries we create, and that we can break.
So proud of this kid and his courage!
And yes, they won – as a team.’
This is what I know: Stepping outside your comfort zone isn’t easy, especially if it’s accompanied with the fear of ‘what if I can’t do this’ or ‘what if I make a mistake’. Choosing to make courage greater than your fear will not only feel incredible, but also open the door to so many possibilities.
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.