Every challenge you have faced and the choices you have chosen to make has created who you are today.
Picture yourself as the captain of a ship. Sometimes the water is calm and the choices are easy. Other times, the calm waters give way to crashing waves, intensifying the difficulty of your choices
Knowing your destination is crucial for guiding your ship in the right direction, and this holds true in life as well. Being clear about the person you want to be, the character traits you want to process, and the goals you want to achieve, gives clarity when navigating through tough challenges. You have a destination and even if the massive waves of your circumstances try to throw you off course, you persevere and continue moving towards your ultimate goal.
When you aren’t clear about what matters to you, it’s easy to allow circumstances and the emotions they trigger, dictate your actions and choices, which leads to a feeling of being out of control. Acting with intention instills confidence.
By respecting your goals, and acting in alignment with them, you will find yourself making small choices every day that help build the person you imagine.
Remember, it’s your choices, not your circumstances, that truly define you. Consider who you want to become, the traits you want to embody, and the goals you wish to fulfill. This now becomes the destination that guides you.
What I know is: All is possible when you choose to be determined, put in the effort and most importantly – BELIEVE in YOU ALWAYS – even when you are in the midst of a fierce storm!
Until next time…
7 Dec 2023
Parenting with Love Through Life’s Boundaries
In our ongoing endeavour to establish healthy boundaries that nurture the mental and emotional well-being of our children, there are three challenges that often come up to test our efforts:
1. Desire to be liked: You may worry your children won’t like you when enforcing boundaries and consequences. While it isn’t pleasant to hear your child yelling, ‘I don’t like you’, it doesn’t mean they don’t. What they are really saying is, ‘I don’t like your boundaries. I don’t like your consequences.’ Understanding this, helps you respond with the intent of encouraging growth rather than reacting solely from the emotions you may be triggered to feel, like anger or guilt.
2. Remembering when you were a kid: You may find yourself thinking, ‘I know what it’s like to feel disappointment and I don’t want that for my child.’ Attempting to protect them from disappointment is not in their best interest. We want kids to grow into adults that know how to manage emotions like disappointment rather than avoiding them.
3. Wanting them to make their own choices: While it’s important to encourage independence and decision-making skills, many parents make the mistake of thinking their child has the logic and reasoning of an adult and will naturally make the responsible choices (I have had those moments). Unfortunately, our children don’t have the life experiences to pull from, nor the maturity to know what might be in their best interest.
Strategies to Establish Healthy Boundaries
1. Clarity on your boundaries: Knowing what boundaries and consequences work best for your child ahead of time will stop you from making a decision in the heat of the moment – one you may later regret. Plus, letting your child know the expectation ahead of time gives them clarity and awareness.
2. Be their parent: Growing up, when I would push back on my mom’s boundaries, she would say, ‘I’m your parent and I have a job to do.’ This mindset allowed her to enforce the structure that I needed, even when I didn’t know that’s what I needed. She didn’t allow my disappointment to become her guilt. Remain sturdy. Remember you are arming your child with important life skills.
3. Stay consistent: Children thrive on consistency, and it helps them understand the boundaries that are in place. Of course, there will be times when you will fall off track, but be honest with your kids by saying, ‘I haven’t followed through with what we talked about and that’s on me. Moving forward my expectations are…(fill in the blank)’. Your kids will appreciate your honesty.
4. Preventing entitlement: Establishing clear boundaries helps prevent a sense of entitlement. When kids understand that there are limits to their wants and behaviours, they learn the valuable lesson that the world doesn’t always cater to their every wish. This realization fosters a more realistic and appreciative perspective, reducing the likelihood of entitlement.
This is What I Know: When your child pushes back – that’s their job – your role is to maintain a healthy boundary. By staying steadfast, they will learn to cope with disappointment, frustration and setbacks, essential for bouncing back from life’s challenges.
Until next time,
23 Nov 2023
Helping Kids Get Excited about their Unique Beauty
We talk a lot about the issue of ‘bullying others’, even dedicating an entire week to it. However, it’s crucial to acknowledge that kids also ‘bully themselves’, creating negative self-talk that can have a lasting impact on their mental and emotional well-being, as well as their confidence.
I’d like to share a personal experience when I found myself going down a self-defeating, self-bullying path.
In grade 8 I represented my school in the running relay at the annual track and field day. After I had competed, a classmate came up to me and blurted, ‘You have big, fat legs.’ I was shocked and hurt.
What my classmate didn’t know was that I was already struggling to like my legs. I used to compare them to my friend’s legs – wishing mine were more like hers. Since my legs were bigger and shorter, I made it mean that mine were not beautiful. Comparing myself to her legs was ridiculous – it wasn’t going to change anything – it certainly wasn’t going to make my legs longer and thinner. Knowing this didn’t stop me from complaining about my legs to my mum.
One day she turned to me and said, ‘Let’s go to the doctor and see if she can cut them off.’ That was a wake-up call for me. Gradually I began to realize that I was wasting so much time and energy bullying myself. I was missing out on the beauty around me, including my own.
If a child you know is struggling with body image challenges, here are a few suggestions on what I did to help me be more appreciative of my body:
1. I found a photo of an Olympic athlete who had big, muscular legs standing proudly on the podium after winning a gold medal. She was happy and proud, not concerned about the size of her legs. That photo, pinned on my wall, inspired me to always remember to have an ‘attitude of gratitude’.
2. I wrote uplifting, encouraging, supportive thoughts and words. I placed them everywhere that I would see them. I repeated them over and over, knowing that the voice I heard the most throughout my day was my own, so I needed my words to be powerful and positive. Two of my favorites: ‘I choose to love and respect myself’ and the word ‘gratitude’.
3. I took the parts of my body that I resented and wrote down all the reasons why I needed to be grateful. For instance, recognizing that my legs allow me to run and walk, wear my favourite boots and take me wherever I want. This exercise played a pivotal role in helping me appreciate and be thankful for my body.
4. I posted photos of myself as a little girl around my room, choosing photos from ages 3 – 8. In these photos I saw a young girl who loved life, who smiled just because she could. She didn’t worry about how much she weighed or how big her legs were. These photos reminded me to treat myself with kindness and compassion
This is what I know: It’s crucial to teach and model to kids the importance of kindness, acceptance and compassion, not only towards others, but also towards themselves.
Until next time…
12 Oct 2023
How to Handle Kids’ Disappointments and Strengthen Bonds
Life is a series of ups and downs and it’s natural for children to face disappointment along the way.
When my son confides in me about a disappointment, my natural instinct is to think of solutions and ways to fix it, especially if he is feeling sad and dejected.
Disappointments are valuable life lessons that help develop skills like perseverance, empathy, resilience and problem-solving. If you try to protect them from disappointment, it will stop them from developing these essential skills. Without a healthy approach to disappointments, a young person can feel like a failure, causing them to give up or quit.
Below are four strategies to help you and the child in your life effectively deal with disappointment:
1. Acknowledge Emotions
Let them know that it’s okay to feel disappointed and that it’s an emotion that everyone encounters at various times in their life. Remember to acknowledge your own emotions when you see a child experiencing disappointment. Being able to feel your own discomfort is an important part of teaching them to lean into uncomfortable emotions.
2. Validate Emotions
Refrain from dismissing their emotions. Avoid phrases like “It’s not a big deal” or “You’re overreacting.” Such statements invalidate their emotions and can make them feel unheard or misunderstood. Instead, validate their emotions by saying, ‘I understand you’re feeling really disappointed right now’ or ‘That must have been really tough for you.’
3. Teach Emotional Management Strategies
Help them identify healthy ways to release their emotions that bring them comfort and calmness when they are upset, such as deep breathing, counting to ten, or finding an activity that relaxes them.
4. Encourage a Problem-Solving Mindset
Together brainstorm potential solutions or strategies to improve the situation. This approach gives them a plan to better prepare them for handling future disappointments.
Providing a supportive and understanding environment goes a long way to helping a child not only navigate disappointment, but also develop resilience.
Until next time…
28 Sep 2023
Building Emotional Connection, One ‘Refresh’ at a Time
Emotions run high. Meltdowns occur. Tantrums happen.
You can’t have conflict resolution without first facing conflict.
You can’t have redirection without first creating connection.
When you have moments of despair, they need repair.
One effective strategy for enhancing conflict resolution, fostering connection, and facilitating repair is to incorporate ‘refresh’ into your resource toolbox, much like refreshing a computer when it’s bogged down and not functioning properly.
To illustrate the effectiveness of using ‘refresh’, let me share a recent circumstance involving my 11-year-old son.
The other day he experienced a really tough moment as we were about to leave the house. He wasn’t getting something he wanted within the timeframe he was hoping for. While this wouldn’t typically bother him, on that particular day it triggered an emotional storm! I should also add that he had some late nights that had obviously caught up to him, although suggesting that to him wasn’t an option.
I needed to remain calm and steady in his emotional storm – not an easy task, especially when I was frustrated, realizing we needed to leave and I wasn’t even ready! Nothing I said was helpful or comforting. I took a deep breath and stepped away, giving him the space to feel what he was feeling.
After a few minutes, I bent down to his level, knowing this wasn’t the time to question his behaviour or engage in a conversation about it. Instead, I recognized that he needed to hit the ‘refresh button’.
I looked at him and said, “I understand you’re upset that things aren’t going the way you wanted them to. I’m feeling the same way.” (this validates the emotions felt and adds connection)
I presented two options:
1. Continue with our back-and-forth.
2. Take a deep breath and ‘refresh, starting over.
He chose to ‘refresh’, and we did just that without the need to have a further conversation. We hugged and both felt a weight lifted. (this is our way of creating repair)
Despite a bumpy start, we had a wonderful day.
1 Jun 2023
The Importance of Giving Kids a Voice
Kids learn confidence by having their own voice.
Here are 4 ways they can learn to speak for themselves:
1. Give them a say in decisions about their lives. This doesn’t always mean they get what they want. It means they can participate in the discussion, voice their opinions and be heard.
2. Encourage them to make eye contact and speak to adults on their own behalf. This could begin with ordering food at a restaurant or paying for an item at the store.
3. Let them face appropriate consequences at school, or during extra-curricular activities. This teaches them to be responsible for their actions and to deal with the emotions that follow.
4. Allow them to solve their own disputes with others, only stepping in when necessary.
This is What I Know: When kids have a voice, they are more likely to be resilient, motivate themselves, take on new challenges, learn from their mistakes, take responsibility for their actions, and ask for help when they need it.
Until next time…
19 Apr 2023
How does role-playing help kids deal with challenging circumstances?
Unexpected challenges will happen and it’s easy for those challenges to stop kids in their tracks. Although you can’t save children from every challenging situation, you can give a beneficial tool to help them better navigate the challenges and choices they will face.
The next time your child is struggling with how to handle a situation or not sure what choice to make, try role-playing. It gives your child’s brain a blueprint of what they can choose to do.
Role-playing also gives them:
a safe space to express themselves
a sense of control and calm as they work through their emotions
an opportunity to problem-solve as they act out the solutions to the situations.
A few days ago, my son Kai came home from school upset. There was something going on at school so he vented about the circumstance. Then, of course you know me, I asked what emotions it triggered. We talked about his emotions and then we role-played the circumstance.
I said, ‘Kai you be you & I will be the other person.’ I acted out my role in the circumstance he was facing at school and as he acted out what he was going to choose to do or say, I could see relief and less stress on his face. Then we reversed roles. We even started being silly by changing our voices. We both laughed. It was a way to add some humour to a serious situation.
The more fun you make role-playing, the more it will put your child at ease and the more they will enjoy doing it.
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…
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 myvideoto 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.