Tuesday | August 20, 2019

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.

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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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Student Summer Jobs

It is problematic as a parent to know whether you’re making the right decisions for your teens. One of the things that begins to plague the minds of parents at this time of year is whether or not their teenager should have a summer job.

There are so many ways to spend a summer. After a tough academic year, your teen might want to chill out and spend time with their friends. They might want to travel, play sports or take a course. Working is a great option as well. But which will be the most beneficial experience for your child and which will universities value?

According to education experts and parenting gurus, holding a job is a great idea and teaches teenagers a variety of valuable lessons—lessons that will weigh heavily in your teen’s favour when it comes time to apply for university.

Here are a few reasons why getting a summer job is a great idea:

Interview skills: There’s no better way to prepare your teen for the road ahead than to have them experience the job application process. Not only will they have to create a winning resume, they will also gain experience looking for work, networking, applying for jobs and interviewing for positions. These skills will come in handy whether they actually get the job for which they’ve applied or they don’t. At some point they will apply for a scholarship or job and they will be that much further prepared than their peers who never experienced the process. It can definitely be nerve wracking and stressful, but the more experience they have the more natural it will become as they get older.

Rejection: Let’s face it: like all of us, our kids are bound to experience rejection at some point or another. They might apply for their first job and get it, or they might be turned down. This in itself is a great experience in building resilience and handling upsetting life lessons. It’s a skill that needs to be learned and managed. The better your teen gets at handling rejection, the easier it will be for them to bounce back and move onto other experiences and opportunities. They might even learn about themselves in the process. Maybe they are stronger, more positive or more independent than they imagined themselves to be. Maybe they will come to appreciate why they didn’t get the job—what experience they are lacking or why an interview went badly—and use it get the next job. Even rejection has its benefits.

Responsibility: When your child does get that first job and enters the workforce for the summer, there are myriad lessons they will learn. The first of which is perhaps responsibility. They will need to learn to arrive on time, to handle difficult situations or people and they will be depended upon to do their job properly. Having a job is also a great way to learn about teamwork, commitment and time management. These are all key life skills that will be required to succeed not only in their first job, but in every other job that follows.

Finances: Earning your first paycheque is a fantastic way to start learning about the value of a dollar. Your teen will quickly come to understand how hard they had to work to earn their first cheque. They might think twice before wasting money in future or be inspired to learn about how to save. Some quick calculations will help them discover how much they might need to work before they can earn the new pair of shoes they’ve been coveting. Perhaps they want to start saving for college or university or to travel after high school. This is a perfect teaching opportunity for parents. Sit down with your child and give them a lesson in managing their money. How much should they save? How much can they spend? Make sure they open a bank account and get a debit card. Teach them financial responsibility. Let them pay for certain things so they can feel proud of what they were able to buy.

Confidence: There’s nothing like being recognized for a job well done to boost a teen’s self esteem. Knowing they worked hard, did a good job and were recognized can make a teenager feel proud and accomplished. They will begin to learn about what they are good at and what skills need to be improved. By doing certain jobs, they will learn about themselves—their likes and dislikes. They will over time grow into themselves, mature and understand who they are and what they want in life.

In short, aside from having less time to lounge around on the couch during the summer, there is very little downside to encouraging your teenager to look for a job this summer. Though working might have its challenges, your teen will definitely have earned a sense of accomplishment by the time school starts again in September.

April 20th, 2018

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

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Fun Things to Do in Toronto This April

As another winter transitions into spring, the occasional snow squall drops in to remind Torontonians they live in The Great White North. Many years have passed since the army was called in to dig out the city. Though much of Canada has mostly forgotten Toronto’s inability to survive a snow storm, Ontarians just up Highway 400 aren’t quite sure if “The 6ix” even experiences winter any more.

Winters vary in intensity, and sometimes it seems Mother Nature skips spring in Toronto, and transitions right into summer. Regardless of the weather, the Greater Toronto Area seems to wake from a long slumber in the spring, and there are many great events to see, and places to go.

If you need help shaking off the winter blahs, here are ten GTA experiences you’ll want to be a part of.

Toronto Blue Jays Home Opener

Most Torontonians would love to watch the Maple Leafs compete in the NHL playoffs each spring, yet fate hasn’t been kind to “The Buds” for many years. Catching the Blue Jays in their season debut in the Rogers Centre gives the city new hope, excitement and optimism. In April, hot dogs taste their juiciest, baseball bats sound their loudest and mini donuts smell their sweetest. OK, Blue Jays, let’s play ball!

Hot Docs Film Festival

Though it lacks the star power of the Toronto International Film Festival in the fall, the Hot Docs Film Festival brings great documentaries to Canada’s largest city. From late April, to early May, reality film makers from around the world descend on Toronto to promote their productions. The Annex region of Toronto plays host to films on topics like:

  • Culture & Creativity
  • Stories from Around the World
  • People and Perspectives
  • Ideas and Issues

These topics leave a lot to the imagination, though the films are real, the crowds are real, and rookie filmmakers are hopeful Hot Docs will launch their career skyward. Spring may have sprung, though Torontonians do like to spend time in dark theatres!

Other Toronto spring film festivals include:

  • TIFF Kids Film Festival
  • Inside Out Film Festival
  • Canadian Film Fest
  • Human Rights Watch Film Festival

Running and Climbing

For Torontonians and tourists who need to get moving in spring, there are lots of opportunities to get off the couch, and raise your heart rate:

  • Good Life Marathon – This challenging run is on May 1st, is a qualifier for the Boston Marathoners and starts in Nathan Phillips Square
  • CN Tower Climb – On April 16th, hordes of charitable Torontonians run up 1,776 steps in support of the World Wildlife Fund. Teams and individuals
  • Harry Rosen Spring Runoff – Early April brings this run in support of the fight against prostate cancer. 5k and 8k runs for all ages

Just as dogs, bears and cats shed their winter coats in the spring, many Torontonians join these events, or take to the streets to walk, jog, cycle and run right past the gym they joined in January.

A Food Festival for Every Palate

To build enough energy to participate in the fitness challenges above, you need fuel right? Toronto offers a broad spectrum of global cuisine year round, and in the spring there are food festivals including:

  • The Raw and Vegan Festival – Or stay home and have a salad
  • Curry Fest – Probably best after the CN Tower Climb, not before
  • Toronto Life’s Best Restaurants Event – 15 top restaurants, showcasing their wares
  • Feast on St. Clair – Get your eat on at multiple purveyors of food

There are a number of events showcasing adult beverages. This is a family blog, so we’ll stick to delicious eats here.

Bursting into Bloom in T-Dot

Every year’s first blooms depend on when Mother Nature is ready to bring flowers to Toronto parks, however when it’s time, you’ll find them exploding into view here:

  • Casa Loma
  • Toronto Botanical Gardens
  • High Park Hillside Gardens
  • Spadina Museum
  • High Park cherry trees
  • Hopefully, your back yard

Torontonians love their gardens, and not just when Frankie Flowers is in town. April showers, some topsoil and some hard work in mid-to late Mays should restore the grey and brown city to match the colours in the vibrant new Toronto sign.

The DVP Isn’t the Only Zoo in Toronto!

Though the Toronto Zoo is famous for its baby pandas, there are many places around the city to spot some of our fine furry friends in the spring:

  • High Park Zoo
  • Reptilia (what says spring better than lizards?)
  • Brooks Farm
  • Far Enough Farm
  • Riverdale Farm
  • Pingle’s Farm Market

If you’ve enjoyed getting out of the city for your maple syrup fix, and plan to spend some quality time in the city, here are some other events you should consider:

  • Doors Open Toronto
  • Fashion Week
  • Toronto Music Week
  • Toronto Spring Bike Show
  • Toronto Spring Fishing Show
  • The Spring Boat, RV, and Motorcycle Shows

If you’re still stuck for ideas on things to do in Toronto this spring, you just haven’t paid attention. The warm weather is on the way, so if you have some time on your hands, do some spring cleaning around your house, or stroll Toronto’s streets and enjoy the rebirth of our city!

April 9th, 2018

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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