Being a parent is a tough job! It’s also a rewarding job!
We don’t instantly see the fruits of our labour which is difficult, as we live in a world where instant and convenience is served to us constantly…Uber Eats, Curbside Pickup, Online Banking, Same Day Deliveries. We have come to expect speedy results.
Modelling and teaching our children the essential skills of confidence, emotional resilience, healthy relationships, character values and perseverance, takes lots of patience, loads of effort, consistency and time you sometimes feel you don’t have.
The time you put into your child today is not just for them now, it’s for the future them. As parents we are in the business of planting seeds and watering them, not knowing when those seeds will take root. We want our kids to grow into adults who are confident, have strong mental well-being and can navigate their emotions in healthy ways.
On the hard days, remember that with consistency, nurturing and modelling, your efforts will pay off.
Until next time,
28 Sep 2022
It Hurts to be Bullied
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…
10 Mar 2022
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…
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…
14 Oct 2021
Kids want to know ‘They Are Enough!’
I want kids to know it’s possible to face adversity and still choose to believe in yourself! That is why, in my presentations to youth, I share stories about two dreams I had growing up and the challenges I encountered along the way.
My first dream was singing the national anthem at a Blue Jays game. Despite being told NO multiple times, and feeling frustrated and embarrassed each time, I chose to keep asking. My persistence and belief in myself turned that dream into a reality.
The second was auditioning on Canadian Idol. I made it past two rounds of judges only to hear from the celebrity judges, ‘You can’t sing, give up and do something else!’ When I left the competition that day, I felt sad, frustrated, angry and disappointed. I wanted to give up! But then I realized, if I chose to give up, I wouldn’t be respecting myself nor my dreams. So, I chose to keep singing and recorded multiple songs.
Even though I encountered many challenges, I’m so glad I decided to learn the important lessons those challenges were teaching me – lessons of determination, putting in the effort, and most importantly – bouncing back from disappointment so that I could move forward with even more motivation to pursue my dreams.
This is What I Know: We can’t save our children/students from challenges and tough emotions, but we can support them, share with them, and teach them ways to keep going. Reminding them that it’s not as much about the challenges and emotions they face, as it is about who they choose to become and how they choose to bounce back. Challenges are chapters of life, not the whole story and when life gets tough, I want them to know…They Are Enough!
Until next time…
6 May 2020
Teaching Kids to Bounce Back
Children are experiencing a lot of changes during this unprecedented time. They are missing their friends and their extended family. Their routines have been turned upside down. They may be frustrated with staying home and overwhelmed with the conversations around COVID-19.
As a parent, you might wish you could shield them from the challenges they face, but that’s neither possible, nor beneficial for building their resilience. During this time it’s especially important to help them see their challenges as an opportunity to learn, grow and bounce back so they can keep moving forward.
Here are 3 tips to help your child be a ‘Bounce Back’ kid:
1. Explain that everyone is facing changes and challenges. Ask them to write out all the choices they can make from the challenging circumstances they are experiencing. This will change their focus from ‘what happened’ to ‘how can I move through this’
2. Each day they will experience different emotions like anger, disappointment, happiness, frustration, sadness. At times these emotions will feel like they are riding a roller coaster. Knowing that these emotions are normal and experienced by everyone will help them realize they are not alone and that it’s OK to feel a range of emotions.
3. Encourage them to come up with healthy ways to release these emotions (drawing, talking to someone, reading, watching a show, journaling etc). Have them create a list so that they know what to do when these emotions arise. Put the list in a place they can see everyday. It’s also important for you to know their healthy ways to release their emotions so that you can remind them what to do when they are feeling overwhelmed.
Let your children know you are always there for them.
Remind them: They Matter! They are Enough!
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
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…
23 Sep 2019
Parenting/Teaching through the Cloud of Frustration and Anger
Parenting/teaching is one of the hardest jobs and also one of the most rewarding! For this article let’s talk about the ‘hard part’.
My career as a speaker allows me to speak with many parents and educators. Through listening to them and learning from my own experiences of being a mom, I realize that one of the most difficult challenges is parenting/teaching through tough emotions like frustration, anger, stress and sadness.
Ever had a moment when you are feeling calm, cool and collected and suddenly something happens that triggers your emotions to go into overdrive? In a split second you react in a way you’re not proud of. You spend the rest of the day feeling guilty as you reflect on how you could have handled the situation very differently.
When our seven-year-old son, Kai, is not listening or is acting irritable, it triggers frustration in my body which can easily lead to anger. Parenting/teaching out of one of those emotions can quickly lead to uttering unreasonable consequences or saying/doing things I later regret.
We often hear about the importance of teaching children self regulation. This is where it gets difficult – we actually have to model self regulation in order to teach our young people to do the same. ‘Do as I say, not as I do’ doesn’t work anymore!
Here’s what I’ve learned that helps my son, husband and I self regulate when we are experiencing tough emotions (some times at the same time). We name our emotions even though it feels uncomfortable and we want to deny their existence.
Give these two simple, yet effective steps a try. They will help you calmly handle the next time the cloud of frustration and anger sets in.
Name the child’s emotion: I can see you’re feeling really frustrated right now and you’re making disrespectful choices out of feeling frustrated.
Help them move through their frustration: Together create a list of healthy ways that will calm their brain and body. Suggest one of the ways when they are in the chaos of their emotions.
Always remember the best way to teach is to model what it is we want children to learn. If you’re still not sold on the idea of naming your emotions and finding ways to move through those emotions here are more benefits: