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5 May 2022

Does Your Child Worry?

What ifs?

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?

What if………..?

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.

Here are a few more strategies to help calm the worry brain’.

Until next time…

21 Apr 2022

My Friend Betrayed Me

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.

Me too!

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!

TRY THIS:

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.

Until next time…

BONUS: Click here to learn more

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?

10 Mar 2022

Feeling Overwhelmed?

There is so much going on in the world! You may feel a lack of control which affects your mood, your daily routine and your interactions with your children. So many kids are also feeling the same stressors.

We all need a break! We need to focus on the things we can control.

Being intentional about spending time together is something you can control. Time together supports kids in feeling secure, loved and less anxious.

Here are a few things my son Kai and I enjoy doing together:

  • Reading stories before bed – I like to use fun voices as I read – this gets both Kai and I laughing!
  • Preparing a meal together helps us build connection and creates a sense of accomplishment.
  • Hiking or walking/bicycling in a park or the woods. Leaving life’s distractions and busyness for the calm of nature, improves our ability to relax and let go.
  • Choosing an activity or game your child/family enjoys. Kai always chooses mini sticks – not one of my favourites – but hey 🙂
  • Writing in a journal that has written prompts inspires him to write and reflect. To get your children started, download the UPower mini journal. It has a story, quotes, posters & questions. They can do it independently or you can do it together.

This is what I know: Focusing on the areas of your life you can control gives you the mental and emotional boost you need to keep moving forward.

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…

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…

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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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 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…