Sunday | August 9, 2020

How to Effectively Talk to Your Teenager

Communicating with teens is a tricky affair which requires a great deal of mutual understanding between teens and their parents. According to Debbie Pincus, a relationship coach and creator of the Calm Parent AM & PM™ program, teens and their parents are wired differently which makes communication a real challenge.

Due to the giant difference in their respective thought processes, parents should demonstrate empathy while communicating with their teens. However, in reality, many parents tend to push their kids, forcing them into a “zone” where they either erupt or completely tune them out. Unless parents follow a compassionate approach to talk to their teenagers, the communication gap widens, giving rise to mutual distrust and loss of respect.

So, here are a few tips for parents to consider while talking to their kids:

 

Understand and Empathize

Many of the so-called “helicopter parents” tend to push their kids into behaving in certain ways without even realizing the consequences of their actions. In all probability, such actions can be counter-productive.

As parents, you should always remember to walk in your child’s shoes before expecting them to share your concerns. Once you speak to them as their friends would, they will open up and listen to your point of view.

In fact, sometimes the best thing you can do is let them speak. Don’t feel you need to solve every problem they have. Sometimes being a sounding board is the all they want from you so you should go with that.

Everything from your approach, your tone and your choice words can go a long way in setting up the foundation for successful discussions.

The Melbourne Child Psychology Services share a variety of research-driven techniques for parents to develop empathetic conversations with their male and female children.

 

Don’t Make it About Yourself

As a parent, it’s hard learning the ways to effectively connect with your teen. But, believe it or not, it’s even harder being a teen. According to a study by the National Institute of Mental Health, the human brain develops very rapidly during adolescence, which explains their sudden bouts of temper, sadness and frustration.

The study also found that the surge in hormones affect both their body and their mind, making teens behave the way they do, leaving them emotionally vulnerable.

A 2014 survey by the American Psychological Association also found nearly 30% of the 1018 teens surveyed were feeling sad, overwhelmed and/or depressed.

When you try to speak to your teens, it’s critical to treat them as teens, and not as adults. Teens might respond inappropriately during your conversations. However, parents should learn how to take the emotion out of the whole exercise to avoid taking it personally. The more you understand your teens, the less you’re likely to make it about yourself.

Unlike adults, teens don’t come equipped with the ability to make better choices right away. As parents, you need to help them develop the right perspective as they encounter challenges in life. This will help them make better decisions as they grow.

 

Decide on Your Response Patterns

You have been through a variety of conversations with your teens. The most difficult are when your kid is aggressive, impolite, and confrontational. It’s natural for many parents to respond to such situations aggressively. However, if you want to talk to your teens constructively, you need to learn the art of self-control and not giving in to your anger.

​When your teen says something that pushes your buttons, you may need to choose to step away rather than engage in a verbal duel with them. Remember, you can’t always control how your kids behave but you can certainly control your own behavior.

According to WikiHow, here are a few of things to avoid while handling conflicts with teenagers.

1. Tell them it’s not worth fighting over: Use an empathetic voice to tell your kids you understand their perspective and there are better ways to handle the situation.

2. Don’t yell at them: When your kid has done something wrong, control your impulse to yell at them. Instead, talk to them calmly about the consequences of their action and how it can affect themselves and others.

3. Give them space: Often it’s better to allow the kids to calm down before you discuss a conflict or approach a resolution with them. Let the raw emotions die down and your kid become their normal self before you start talking.

 

Tips for Teenagers

Most adolescent kids believe their parents are unable to understand them and it’s better to keep quiet or defend themselves. However, it doesn’t have to be this way.

Communication is a two-way process. Even as parents try their best to empathize with their teens, the kids themselves have a role to play as well. With a little bit of cooperation and understanding, you can establish a cordial relationship with your folks and lead a conflict-free life. Here’s how:

 

Understand Your Parents’ POV

At times, a small action such as patiently listening to your parents can help you understand their view points. However, teens that are increasingly skeptical of their parents’ opinions tend to avoid making any efforts appreciate their parents perspective. Sometimes, you both are on the same page, but all you need is pay a little more attention to your parents’ points and see if that’s something you can accommodate without making a huge compromise in your own point of view..

For example, if you want to stay over at your friend’s on the weekend, they are likely only worried about your safety. Instead of completely disregarding their POV, try to understand their concerns and help them become assured of your safety (i.e regular text check-ins).

 

Address Their Concerns Directly

Once you have developed the habit of listening to your parents, you are way ahead of most teens in terms of establishing rock-solid communication with them. However, it’s not done yet. If you understand what triggers their concerns about your choices, let them know you have thoroughly thought them through. Referring to the previous example, reassure your parents about your safety and whereabouts so they can reach out to you in case of an emergency. Such little (yet meaningful) actions can infuse mutual respect in your relationship with your folks and create a strong foundation for your interactions with them in the future.

 

Don’t Ridicule Their POV

While parents are not supposed to unfairly push their point of view on their teens, you should respect them for their opinions. For a healthy and positive relationship, you need to attempt listen to your parents without judging them. There’s no incentive for disrespecting parents that work hard to ensure your well being. You want to show them the respect you would want from them in return. Ridiculing their points of view won’t serve any purpose and ruin any chance of healthy interactions.

 

Make “I” Statements

While working on resolving a conflict with your parents, always use the “I” statements and try to avoid the “you” statements. For example, instead of saying, “you have no idea about the challenges I’m facing…”, try to say, “I’m not sure if you’re aware of the challenges I’m facing”.

When you use the “you” statements, you’re putting the blame directly on your parents for any lack of understanding. With “I” statements, you can easily articulate your thoughts in a respectful manner, allowing a faster resolution of the conflict at hand.

 

Final Thoughts

While the tips above are a good starting point for both parents and teens, real-life situations can greatly vary, which requires parents to exercise their best judgment. However, no matter what, both parents and teens should restrain their emotions while resolving a conflict, without letting their ego derail the process.

​With active listening and constructive interactions, parents can pave the way for their teens to make choices without jeopardizing everyone’s collective interests.

 

October 25th, 2018

Posted In: Uncategorised


Sports: Are you Pushing Your Teenager too Much or too Little?

In today’s competitive environment, you want to make sure your kids keep up with the demanding academic schedule while pursuing sports among other extracurricular activities.

However, many parents find it really difficult to decide whether they’re being too harsh or too lenient in their overall approach.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Sports can teach your kids about discipline, unity, perseverance, and value of teamwork[/pullquote]

When it comes to sports, there are compelling benefits for your kids. Sports can teach your kids about discipline, unity, perseverance, and value of teamwork, all of which enable them to develop into a successful individual in future.

Before talking about the potential dangers of pushing too hard, it’s important to remember the benefits sports offer to your kids.

 

​​Benefits of Your Teens Playing in Team Sports?

  • According to a survey, teens pursuing sports are a lot less likely to use drugs, smokes, have sex, carry weapons, and have unhealthy eating habits.
  • Research shows teens participating in sports are happier than kids who don’t pursue sports. While sports-oriented boys in the middle school were five times more likely to describe their health as fair/poor, the girls were 30 times more likely.
  • When your teens participate in team sports, they not only learn about the team spirit, stay motivated to work towards a common goal. When they stay in a team, the value of group effort is reinforced every day.
  • Learning to socialize with students from different walks of life during the middle school can be a challenging phase for any teenager. Team sports offer an opportunity to get along with different groups and nurture a sense of belonging.
  • Team sports teach your teenagers the value of cooperation, discipline, commitment, practice and, determination. The value of hard work and achievement is harder to learn in the abstract. Through setting goals and playing like a cohesive unit, your kids learn a lot more naturally.
  • Nothing makes your kids aware of leading a healthy life quite like athletics. Teens participating in active sports know the importance of staying fighting fit. Therefore, they’re more likely to follow an active lifestyle and healthy routine. What’s more, according to a research, kids pursuing sports are likely to avoid obesity and unhealthy eating habits.
  • When Kevin Kniffin, a behavioral science professor at Cornell University, conducted a study, he found kids who played sports in high school make better employees. In fact, the study also found that potential employers tend to favor jobs candidates who played active sports in their school career.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Encourage your kids to pursue sports for fun and leisure but don’t force them into rigorous and intense training. [/pullquote]

​Are You Pushing Your Kids Too Hard?

As a parent, it’s only natural for you to have high hopes for your kids. You want to them to succeed academically, athletically and otherwise. However, in the process, you might be exerting too much pressure on your kids.

So, how will you know if you’re pushing your kids too hard to pursue multiple activities apart from studies?

According to parenting coach Elaine Taylor-Klaus, kids tend to show signs when they’re overscheduled and stressed. For example, pushing your kids to take up baseball practice, guitar lessons and art classes every alternate day can demotivate them, and even affect their grades.

While some kids express their displeasure openly, more reticent children may act grouchy and irritable.

Therefore, you need to make sure it’s fun for your kid and he/she is enjoying the extra-curricular activities. That’s how they’ll sustain their enthusiasm and pursue those hobbies in the long run as well.

As a matter of fact, Tiger Woods is probably a great example how the element of fun encourages your kids to get better at sports activities. In an interview with Washington Post, Tiger revealed that he fell in love with golf at an early stage, not because his parents pushed him into it but because his dad would keep it fun, light and competitive. He also said he’d be okay if his son Charlie didn’t play golf professionally.

 

​The Dangers of Pushing Your Kids too Hard

When it comes to sports, parents should be aware of the safety threshold for their kids. There are many who push their kids to a point where they become overtrained, stressed and burned out.

According to a national survey, nine out of 10 parents tend to underestimate the length of time their kids should take off from playing any sports during the year.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and the American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine (AOSSM) advise that kids should stay 2-3 months (or even a season) away from a specific sport every year. Moreover, it’s recommended that young athletes should take one day off each week from organized activities.

Parents who aggressively push their kids to an unrelenting sports regime, allowing little breaks, may end up harming their kids in the long run.

Fred Fornicola, health coach and fitness professional, warns parents against pushing their kids too hard and advises that they should follow an appropriate athletic program which allows ample scope for safety, progression, and recovery.

Ellis Cashmore, a professor of culture, media and sport at Staffordshire University says parents should stop pushing their kids to become sporting heroes as most youngsters will never make it. Warning parents of potential downsides of encouraging teenagers to pursue a rigorous sports routine, he said overdriven kids could resort to performance-enhancing drugs among many other consequences.

 

​Final Thoughts

While sports offer a range of benefits to your kids both in the short and long run, pushing too hard could have potential implications for your young kids. Encourage your kids to pursue sports for fun and leisure but don’t force them into rigorous and intense training. After all, you want to keep your young kids safe from injuries.

May 8th, 2018

Posted In: Athletics, Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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Recognizing Early Warning Signs of Child Depression

Depression

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What if He or She Just Has the Blues?

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In recent years, there has been a groundswell of activism and campaigning to reduce the stigma of depression and mental health anomalies. A number of celebrities and public figures have come forward to tell their stories of struggling with depression.

Though we accept what we hear about adults dealing with depression, it’s difficult to recognize the early warning signs of depression in children. When a child or teen is withdrawn, sullen or frequently sad, adults often assume “It’s just a phase he’s going through.”, or “She’s just hormonal!”

Maybe your child is growing through a difficult time, or their emotions are being affected by hormones. Maybe there is a long term mental health condition which you should recognize, and work with your doctor to determine the best course of treatment.

Here is some guidance we’ve curated from professionals on how to determine:

  • If your son or daughter might have a depression disorder, or just have “the blues”
  • Common symptoms and signals you can watch for
  • When you should contact your doctor, social worker or other professional

How to Spot a “Black Dog” In Your Child’s Life

Australian author Matthew Johnstone published a compelling book living with depression called “I Had a Black Dog”. It has become a global phenomenon, and inspired an awareness campaign from the World Health Organization. It identifies depression as a mood disorder, but one which can be managed by therapy, medication or a physical wellness programs.

The “Black Dog Book” identifies many of the symptoms of living with depression like:

  • Feeling helpless or hopeless
  • Severe spikes in appetite, and weight loss or gain
  • Anger, guilt, feelings of worthlessness and/or irritability
  • Difficulty sleeping, or sleeping too much
  • Loss of interest in activities your child usually loves to do
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and social events
  • Strange aches and pains
  • Difficulty concentrating, poor performance in school
  • General negativity or ambiguous thoughts
  • Lack of interest in personal hygiene, dress or being around people

If you find your child is expressing concerns about these symptoms, or if you observe them exhibiting these signs, try and start a dialog with them. Try not to be too confrontational about it, as your child may retract and hide their feelings. Concealing depression symptoms is another sign of clinical depression. Discuss your concerns with your child or teen supportively, not accusingly.

What if He or She Just Has the Blues?

If your child or teen is exhibiting some of these symptoms suddenly, or for a short term basis, they may just have a case of “the sads”. They may just need:

  • Fresh air
  • Exercise
  • A change in nutrition choices
  • A conversation with you that is calm and patient. Allow them the time to speak their feelings
  • To distance them from video games, social media or the internet
  • Space, understanding, and recognition that their feelings are important

There may be something happening at school, with relationships with friends or romantic interests that are causing “angst” or sadness. Try to help your child through what they are dealing with. If the symptoms persist, consider speaking with your family doctor about forms of treatment. There are also support resources at the school, either to “compare notes” on symptoms you are seeing, to get referrals to community programs, or talk to counsellors about options.

If you are noticing some of these warning signs of child depression, don’t despair. If you have been experiencing signs of sadness or stress yourself, your child or teen may be picking up on your emotional cues. Recognizing whether your son or daughter is suffering from a mood disorder, or just a temporary bout of the blues is important.

If your physician diagnoses your child as being mildly or deeply depressed, there are a number of pharmaceutical options which your doctor may recommend to treat their condition. Early detection often helps to diminish depression, and alternative approaches to medicine are often effective.

Other therapeutic options include:

  • Discussions with a therapist, social worker or psychiatrist/psychologist
  • Fitness programs
  • Family sessions with a mediator
  • Nutritional consultations

Regardless of the long term plan, starting with your family doctor is often the best first step. Other community resources like the CMHA, YMCA or peer groups might be a good next step. Your child’s future can be made drastically better if you open up a dialogue with them, help them feel safe, and work towards a mentally healthy future.

May 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Uncategorised

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Crestwood Gives – Providing for Families in Need

December is often a month filled with paradox ­

  • Warm spirits in cold weather
  • Extreme loneliness hidden among celebrations of love and friendship
  • Lean poverty amid bountiful generosity
  • Hunger and sorrow overshadowed by feasting and celebration

Though many of these challenges face Canadian families all year round, they usually come to the forefront of our minds around the holidays. Charitable organizations have but four to six weeks to capture the hearts, minds and wallets of those more fortunate.

Give from More than Your Wallet

It takes more than just donations to organizations like the Salvation Army, Daily Bread Food Bank or the The Hospital for Sick Kids Foundation. It takes activism, volunteering and advocacy from all Canadians. Working on a build for a local Habitat for Humanity, or spending time with seniors at a nursing home can be inspiring all year

Making a pledge to dedicate yourself to a cause at this time of year is good for the heart. Keeping that pledge will be good for your soul.

All too often, we pass a mother and her child in a grocery store, and we don’t know she could barely gather enough money for a few days worth of food.

Maybe you and your children meet someone who has just received long term disability status. They could have been denied insurance coverage, or can no longer work because of pain, or injury. Reaching out with support to people in crisis extends beyond that individual to their loved ones.

These people in need, and many others in dire circumstances, may be calling out for help, though we miss their calls. We are often distracted by stories in the media about celebrities, our own material pursuits, or we’re distracted by other trivial matters which seem important at the time.

How to Make a Difference

There are many examples of people paying their good fortune forward which we hear about every day. Small gestures from children can bring joy to an elderly person’s life. Forgiveness between loved ones or friends. Giving of your time, in circumstances like working with special needs children or adults can go just as far as financial donations, in the right spirit.

Communities like Big Brothers and Big Sisters of Canada not only helps boys and girls by providing role models. They, like all organizations that care for children, provide needed respite for mothers and fathers who need time to work, rest, or learn better ways of parenting. Volunteer as a Big Brother, Big Sister or even for a Junior Achievement class and make a difference in a young person’s life, and that of their family.

It Takes a Village

As the saying goes, it takes more than just a mother and a father to raise a child to adulthood. Providing moral guidance and support, not judgement, is in the best interest of a person growing up.

You won’t likely find many legitimate opportunities to help families on your own. Crestwood has partnered with a number of service groups and charities which cater to the well being, safety and security of the most vulnerable Ontario families among us.

Talk to your child about the benefits of being active in their community, and the role of Crestwood in it.

Encourage your children to learn about power of activism such as:

  • Volunteering for charities which focus on family
  • Donations of food, clothing, toys or other goods which would benefit their less fortunate peers
  • Befriending someone at school who has trouble fitting in, is new to the school or just needs a companion
  • Participating in groups that keep the city safe, clean and free of bullying

The opportunity to learn about helping others when a child is young can translate to a lifetime of service, support of community, and engagement in making Canada a better place to work, live and play in. Together with Crestwood, let’s help families in Toronto, and across Canada.

 

April 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Technology, Uncategorised

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6 Tips to Help You Get Ready for College or University

If you’re headed off to college or university in the near future, you’re probably pretty excited, but nervous, too. It’s natural to get the jitters before embarking on any new experience, but with a few tips, you’ll be well prepared for the life-changing journey that lies ahead. Here are a few things you can do in advance to get ready for college or university.

 

Tip #1 – Learn to cook . . . and do laundry.

​Yes, you might already be signed up for the meal plan and have the local pizza parlour on speed dial, but living away from home also means you’re an adult now. You’ll likely need to take care of yourself more than you’ve had to while living at home.

​Before you leave for school, learn to make a few things you like to eat. Ask your parents to teach you a few tricks, buy a recipe book, figure out what pots and pans you’ll need. Experiment in the kitchen. It would also be a good time to learn to wash your clothing.

​Do you wash the lights and darks together or separately? Which items of clothing need to hang to dry and which can go in the dryer? These are all good things to figure out in advance—before you accidentally shrink your favourite shirt at school. While you’re in this mode, do you know how to clean a washroom, vacuum and make your bed? This is a great time to learn.

 

​Tip #2 – Establish a financial plan and budget.

​If you don’t already have a credit or debit card and have your online banking account set up, this would be the perfect time to get your financial situation sorted out. Not only will you be responsible for shopping for things like food and books, you might also have bills to pay if you’re living off campus. Ask your parents for help or visit your local bank to get set up.

​While you’re thinking about finances, establish a budget for yourself. How much money will you need each month? Where will the money come from?

​Do you need a part-time job this summer to help pay for the year ahead? Do you need a job on campus? Be realistic and start thinking about how much you’ll need for food, entertainment, tuition, books and other items you might be required to pay for while living on your own.

 

Tip #3 – ​Figure out where to live.

​Have you already been accepted to residence? Have you decided to live off campus? If you’ve got that sorted out, that’s great. You’re ahead of the game. If you are still in need of accommodation, this would be the time to get cracking.

​Do your research. Where do most undergraduates live and why? Y​ou’ll likely want to be near your classes so you aren’t running a mile across campus to make it to school on time. Or perhaps you want to be near the shops or entertainment scene? It might be convenient, but it could also be distracting.

​Will you have a car? Where will you park? Take a tour of the campus to get your bearings. Speak to other students who are already in their first or second year. Contact the school for advice if you’re unsure.

 

Tip #4 – ​Get packing.

​Did your college or university residence give you a packing list? Do you know the dimensions of your dorm room? Certain things will likely already be provided, such as a bed, closet, desk and some shelves. What else do you need to live on your own? Toiletries, a shower curtain, bath mat, cookware, pantry staples, cleaning and laundry supplies are some ideas to get you started.

​Don’t forget your clothes. Will you be visiting home often or will you need to pack for several months in advance? Will you be joining a club, hitting the gym or trying out for a team? You’ll need to plan accordingly and bring all the necessities.

 

Tip #5 – Don’t forget your school supplies.

​Do you have a laptop, printer and whatever other office supplies you’ll need to complete your course assignments? What about a phone, chargers and all the cords you’ll need to connect your electronics?

​Put together a list and figure out which items you know you’ll need and which you might not need. For instance, you might be able to submit essays and projects online, while others professors will require a hard copy.

​Talk to older students and seek their advice. Think about the things that will keep you organized. Do you need an agenda, calendar or bulletin board? Make a list and check it twice!

 

Tip #6 – ​Don’t worry.

​You will make friends, you will find your way to your classes and you will have fun. This is definitely a new phase in your life, and it’s easy to get overwhelmed by the unknown. If you’re prepared in advance with all the essentials, you’ll have one less thing to worry about when you arrive on campus your first day.

April 3rd, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Nutrition, Parenting, Uncategorised

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