Sunday | July 21, 2019

What I Would Tell My Younger Self About Planning a Great Career

For many teens, deciding on a career is fraught with uncertainties which make them nervous about their career choices.

Should a career reflect their passions? Does pragmatism always have to involve going with the grain? What if they have to start their career all over again looking for newer possibilities in an evolving industry? In short, how do they make smart choices?

Some of the greatest advantages for millennials is their comfort with technologies and the seamless integration of their lifestyle into the digital landscape. However this does not mean every young person would or should want a career in technology (ie. programmers, digital marketing etc).

It always bodes well to take stock of where we are and what we want, especially while planning a career. It can set the wheels in motion for a wonderful fulfilling future or can it turn out to be a long and painful professional life.

 

Looking in the Mirror

When it comes to making the right career choices, maintaining clarity with your thoughts is vital. While some career choices might seem appealing on the surface, they may not be so great in the long run.

Choosing the right career begins with exploring your passion and instincts. Teens should discover their likes and dislikes and think about choosing career options that are aligned with their strengths. Whether you choose technology over arts or a trade over law, make sure you know where your interests lie. Moreover, you need to prep yourself to be mentally resilient and flexible. It’s extremely important for teens to learn how to cope with setbacks in their career journey

 

Research, Research, Research

The easiest accessible database is Google. One can research a host of career options covering a range of interests. Whether your career motivators are financial, social, artistic etc., there is no limit to the research data available for you. You can even go to job sites to see the wide array of opportunities available. There could be roles to never realized that existed that excite you.

It also pays to look ahead ​​and see how industries and job markets are predicted to change in the future.

​Reach out to people who work in the chosen area of interest and communicate with them over email, social media or LinkedIn. Reading up about notable personalities who have made it big or following their blog posts also help assess your career direction.

​No online research can beat actual conversations with experienced people involved in industries or careers that interest you. Try to take every opportunity to speak to as many people as possible. And ask lots of questions about what they like/dislike about their jobs and what advice they can give a younger person planning a career in their field.

 

Start Building Career Skills Early On

As a teen, it’s really difficult to figure out your plans about your career. However, rather than fretting over what’s right or wrong, the best way to deal with this confusion is to do a couple of internships while you’re at school. This will give you ample scope to explore your strengths, likes and dislikes, which will eventually help you make the right career decisions. The good news is making mistakes in your internship won’t probably cost you a huge deal. Use the internship experience hone your skills that will stand in good stead moving forward.

 

Mentoring

It helps to develop healthy mentor-protege relationship. The mentor should calm your nerves when you are at the precipice of something new but also pick you up when you fall to hard. They are like a very wise human pros-and-cons checklist. They help in deconstructing your thoughts and provide strategies on how to move forward. People-pleasers are not great mentors. Seek those you can provide practical experience with unbiased advice for you.

 

Develop a Well-defined Career

Dreaming big is one thing but charting your career path is another. Many teens are instinctively ambitious but what they lack is the clarity about their career objectives.

Whether you want be a medical professional or astronaut, you should learn how to develop your career path accordingly. Gather as much information about your career goals as possible. Speak to industry professionals and practitioners and learn about the ground realities. Some career goals will require a decent academic performance throughout your high school and college degree. Be aware of the scores you need and the courses you need to complete to be better prepared for the competitive industry. The more you learn about your goals, the better are your chances of getting there.

 

Take Risks Early

No matter what your career options are, you need to develop a risk appetite for success. In the rapidly evolving world, it’s important to stay current with you career options and learn skills required to pursue your career goals. When you’re in your teens, it’s easier to take risks since you’re not really strapped with many responsibilities of a middle-age professional. As a parent, you need to encourage your teens to take calculated risks and extend support to help them through the journey.

 

You Can Change Your Mind

These days a typical working career can last approximately 40 years. That’s a long time.

​​Because it’s so long, you have time to start a job, learn what you like and dislike as you get more experience and then adjust your career plans accordingly. In fact this can be done several times over a working career.

​Nowadays it’s practically impossible to come across anyone that ends their career with the same company and profession that started in their 20’s.

​There has never been a time with more flexibility and options for change available to people in the workforce. This can take immense pressure off anyone starting to plan a career in their teens.

 

Understand the Meaning of Happiness

Remember that your career choices are ultimately the means to an end and not the end in themselves. Regardless of the career you pursue, it’s important to understand the meaning of motivation. There are many who make tons of money but are still unhappy with their life. While money is one key to leading a satisfying life, it doesn’t necessarily ensure an emotionally fulfilling life. If you’re in a job that continually stimulates and rewards with you then you are likely to lead a healthier and happier life. And that is the true measure of a successful career.

February 1st, 2019

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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How to Foster Lifelong Learning in Your Teen

The brain is rapidly developing in the teenage years.

​We all want our kids to enjoy learning and to make the most of their education. We place value in ensuring they work hard, study for their tests do their homework to the best of their abilities and appreciate the educational opportunities they’ve been giving. A good education truly is a gift.

This sense of curiosity might be even more important than parents realize. Research has shown that curiosity impacts performance as much as hard work. When you’re curious about a subject and study up on it, you tend to retain that information for longer periods. It’s also associated with positive behaviours such as tolerance for uncertainty, humour and out-of-the-box thinking.

​These are all skills associated with happiness, resilience, creativity and intellectual growth.

So how do we foster that sense of lifelong learning in kids? How do we ensure they grow up with a sense of curiosity that will motivate them to want to learn and explore throughout their entire lives? Here are a few tips:

Encourage your children to ask questions. If your child asks a question, don’t brush them off with a simple answer such as “I don’t know.” Don’t simply say “good question.” Go the extra step further and help them find the answer to the question they have asked.

Maybe it’s a matter of going to the library and finding a book that explains the topic. Maybe you can go online together and read the literature. Take them to a museum or help them interview someone who has the answer.

​There are so many methods of learning and ways to find answers. ​What is your child’s preferred method? Maybe they are more hands-on. Maybe they enjoy learning by opening a book. Let them know how much you value their curiosity and reward them by helping them discover the answer. They will enjoy the journey and not hesitate to approach you the next time they are curious.

Talk to your child’s teacher. When you communicate with your son or daughter’s teacher either casually or during more formal parent-teacher interviews, ask if they have noticed whether there is anything in particular your child is curious about. What is their favourite subject? What style of learner are they? Do they seem particularly curious about anything? If not, perhaps they have suggestions for how you can stimulate a sense of wonder. Your teacher will know things about your child that you might not have noticed and their experience in the education field will give them valuable insight into your particular child.

​Let your child’s teacher know how committed you are to being involved and in fostering an appreciation for lifelong learning in your child. You are a team dedicated to furthering your child’s education and you share the same goals. Don’t hesitate to speak openly to your child’s teachers about this topic.

Encourage your teen to do their homework well. If you step in and help your child right away, they might not have the opportunity to assess whether they understand the work. By helping, you deny giving them a chance to see how resourceful they are. You will also give them the chance to realize what questions their homework will spark. They might even discover they don’t understand the homework at all.  You’ll want to make yourself available, of course, to answer questions or suggest ways in which they might find the answers.

If you’re stuck on how to facilitate the process, here are a few suggestions:

  • If your child doesn’t understand what is being asked of them when you’re helping them with an assignment, you might want to read the question together and say, “What do you think the question is asking?”
  • If they don’t understand what they are supposed to do as they work on their homework, try asking them if they have any ideas for how to solve the problem.
  • If your child is unsure of the assignment, suggest calling a friend or reviewing their notes from class. Follow up the next day and make sure they understand or asked for help from the teacher.

Ensure learning happens outside the classroom, too. As much as we prioritize in-class learning, there is so much to be discovered outside of the class as well. The best way to foster additional opportunities is to encourage your child to participate in extra-curricular activities. Perhaps they like sports, music or want to learn a language. Sign them up for a class at the local community centre or in the neighbourhood. If they discover they aren’t interested in that particular activity, try another. Don’t give up. Extra-curricular activities are a great way to make friends, expand their skills, get exercise and figure out what they are interested in and what they aren’t.

Stimulating that sense of curiosity is very important and there are so many ways in which you can help build this sense of wonder in your child. Once you light that spark, there will be no stopping your child in their quest for lifelong learning.

December 6th, 2018

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

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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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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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