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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 When a child or teen is withdrawn, sullen or frequently sad, adults often assume “It’s just a phase he’s going through.”, or “She’s just hormonal!”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:
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:
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.
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:
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:
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.
Echo Editor May 3rd, 2018
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.
Crestwood Echo April 20th, 2018
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.
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!
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:
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:
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:
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.
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:
There are a number of events showcasing adult beverages. This is a family blog, so we’ll stick to delicious eats here.
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:
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.
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:
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:
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!
Crestwood Echo April 9th, 2018
Tags: april, canadian film festival, casa loma, cpclearns, crestwood preparatory college, crestwoodprep, eduction, feast on St. Clair, festivals, kids, students, teens, theatres, things to do, tiff, Toronto, toronto zoo
December is often a month filled with paradox
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.
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.
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.
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:
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.
Echo Editor April 9th, 2018
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.
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.
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.
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? You’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.
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.
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!
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.
Echo Editor April 3rd, 2018