Tuesday | September 17, 2019

Building Positive Self Esteem in Your Teen

Being a teenager is difficult. Their bodies are changing and growing. Their hormones can make their emotions hard to control. They are meeting new friends, forming new relationships, having new experiences. There are also raised expectations that can feel daunting to meet.

All of this can cause teenagers to have low self-esteem. A teen with low self-esteem will feel unloved, have negative feelings about themselves, avoid trying new things, be easily influenced or blame others for their failures.

We want our teens to have high self-esteem, which is important for their success in life. When a teen has high self-esteem, they view themselves positively, act independently, try new things, are proud of their accomplishments and are better able to handle their emotions.

So how to we ensure our kids grow into teens who have high self-esteem? Luckily there are many ways in which parents can help facilitate a positive self-image in their teens.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                                       “practice making positive statements about themselves.”[/pullquote]

Praise your child. You don’t want to come off as insincere and compliment everything they do at every turn. This will backfire, particularly for children who have lower self-esteem and don’t accept compliments easily. But you can make a point of letting your child know when they did a good job or that something they did caused you to feel joy or pride in them. We are so often quick to criticize—if only to help our children improve—but well-deserved praised can be very meaningful and heartfelt.

Involve your teen in discussions. Ask your child for their opinion and show them what they think matters. Whether you’re discussing the news or where to go for lunch, seek their thoughts and encourage them to voice their opinions. Teenagers tend to have lots to say and showing them you value what they think will go a long way toward building their self-esteem.

Offer constructive criticism. Rather than putting your child down or making them feel ashamed of their mistake, think about how you can frame it in a more positive light. For instance, rather than telling them how disappointed you were in their test result, let them know that this is a good starting point and that if they spend a little extra time studying, you know the next mark will be better.

​Teach them you have faith in their abilities. Help them set goals and achieve them. Rather than focus on the negative, teach them how to reframe it in a positive way.

Encourage your teen to discover their interests and talents. There’s no better way to feel good about yourself than when you’re doing something you enjoy and at which you excel. Finding that hobby or talent can be tricky, but don’t give up if they don’t find it right away.

​Have them try something new, play with them, say “yes” if they come to you with an idea of their own. This is also a great way to make like-minded friends, expand their skills and even get some exercise if sports is what they enjoy.

Teach your child to practice making positive statements about themselves. It’s so easy to get down on yourself. Too often, we find ourselves saying negative things about ourselves. Teens in particular might tell themselves they are “uncool,” “unlikeable,” “unattractive” or “not smart enough.” This will only harm their self-esteem and can lead to depression and anxiety.

​It’s so important to encourage our teens to practice saying positive things about themselves and to look at situations in a more positive light. For instance, rather than allowing your teen to be upset that their team lost the baseball game, encourage your teen to think about all they fun they had playing. Remind them that they tried their best and that their next game represents a whole new opportunity to have fun, try hard, and maybe even win.

Remind your child that everyone is good at different things. It’s easy for teens to compare themselves to other teens. They tend to notice if others are better at them in certain subjects and feel bad about themselves in comparison.

​Encourage your teen to think about all the things they do well. Let them know it’s great for them to be proud of their friends for their accomplishments. Their friend is sure to compliment them right back when your child excels at something else. This is a great way to spread the goodwill and ensure your child and their social group becomes supportive, rather than competitive.

View mistakes as valuable. We can’t excel at everything and be our best all the time. Sometimes we make mistakes or experience a failure of some sort. If your child is feeling down, encourage them to view mistakes as learning opportunities. What do they think went wrong? How can they improve or act differently to have a more positive outcome next time?

​Growing up is about making mistakes and learning from them. It’s how you progress. Let your teen know you’re proud of them for trying and for learning from their mistake.

Self-esteem is very important and we all want our teens to grow into adults who think positively about themselves and can be happy with their place in the world. With these tips, you’re sure to get your teen off to the best possible start.

March 1st, 2018

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

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Devices and Your Teen’s Developing Brain

We all know that too much screen time is bad for little kids. This includes time spent using iPhones, iPads, video games and computers. Many studies have exposed that too much screen time for little kids can cause permanent damage to their brains. In fact, it can interfere with a child’s ability to focus, concentrate and communicate as they grow older.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                      “over use of social media can lead to anxiety“[/pullquote]

But do high-tech devices have the same impact on our teenager’s brains, or is more screen time okay for teenagers? It seems to all depend.

​Some screen time is important and even essential for teens. Using a computer is a great way to conduct research or type up school assignments. Phones are an important method of communication and have become increasingly important as a way of interacting with peers. Video games and time spent playing on an iPad are fun and can be a great way to unwind with friends.

But moderation is the key. This is especially important since a person’s brain isn’t fully developed until age 25. This means that too much screen time can definitely negatively affect a teenager’s developing brain. Here’s how:

Too much screen time can lead to dangerous addiction. According to one 2013 study, addiction is linked with depression, impulsiveness and traits associated with autism. It occurs when addicts turn to technology to experience a rush, which is what happens when dopamine floods the brain. The need for this pleasurable sensation fights with the brain’s ability to think rationally and use restraint.

Though you might not think getting a rush from technology is a particular problem, it can actually be deadly. What happens when a teenager is so addicted to their phone that it interferes with their ability to drive safely? They might text and drive or check their phone while behind the wheel, which is dangerous. It can also be illegal depending on where you live.

Technology is not only addictive to the teenaged brain, but over use of social media can lead to anxiety, depression and a loss of interest in socializing face-to-face. Experts have seen an alarming rise in tech-related mental health issues. Parents are being called upon to limit their teen’s time spent on social media, to enforce tech-free family time and eliminate phones from their teenager’s bedrooms at night. It’s all in an effort to ensure their teenager has a healthy balance of socializing, exercise and interaction outside of the virtual world.

Too much screen time can also affect a teen’s ability to sleep. Sleeping and dreaming are essential to developing and maintaining long-term memory. When a teenager is on their phone late into the night, they aren’t getting the sleep they need for their brains to properly function.

In addition to its impact on the brain, over use of technology can have negative physical side effects as well. Too much screen time can lead to eye strain, headaches, tendonitis of the wrist and pain in the neck, shoulders and back.

While technology can have negative impacts on the developing teenager’s brain, we must also recognize it’s an important part of life today. In fact, we can’t live without it. The key is to ensure our teens have balance in their lives. It’s important they socialize with friends, interact with real people, get enough sleep, and not let technology interfere with their physical safety and mental well being.

February 19th, 2018

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

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Helping Older Kids Understand Extreme Cold Weather Conditions

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]It does not take long for intense cold weather to negatively affect your children when outside.[/pullquote]

The winter can be a fun season.

There’s so much to do outdoors, like skiing, tobogganing and ice skating. But extreme cold weather can mean risks to your health and safety. Often, parents worry about cold weather as it relates to little children. We bundle them up warmly and know they’re protected from the elements.

It’s easy to assume older children will know how to dress themselves warmly and appropriately for cold weather, but it’s not always the case. Not only are snow pants for teenagers sometimes seen as “uncool,” but older kids might either not check the forecast or underestimate the dangers of -20 degree Celsius weather.

That’s why it’s especially important for parents and older kids to develop an awareness of extreme cold weather conditions—what it means, the dangers it presents and how to prevent things like frostbite and hypothermia.

An Extreme Cold Weather Alert is issued when Environment Canada predicts a forecast of -20 degrees Celsius or colder or a wind chill of -30 degrees. Whether your kids walk to school or go outside at lunch or recess, exposure to cold weather can lead to respiratory illnesses like colds and flu, frostbite and hypothermia. Some of these conditions will require immediate medical attention.

To limit illness and exposure to the elements, you’ll want to ensure your older kids know how to stay warm and dry. A few things to note:

Check the forecast. When you get up in the morning, put on the news or check a weather app on your phone. What will the temperature be throughout the day? Will it be a dry day or does the forecast call for precipitation? What is the temperature with the windchill factored in?

Dress in layers. Wool and fleece hold heat better than cotton and make great inner layers. Top inner layers with waterproof and windproof outer layers and warm, waterproof boots. If you’re planning to spend any time doing outdoor activities, wear thermal leggings, warm socks and snow pants. You can even buy special mitten and boot inserts at sporting goods stores to warm your hands and feet if you’re going to be skiing or skating, for instance.

Cover exposed skin. Wear a hat that covers your ears, warm mittens (instead of gloves) and a scarf or neck warmer to prevent wind from touching your skin. Make sure to zip up your jacket and cover your face against the biting wind to prevent skin from painful frostbite.

Change wet clothing. If you’re wet or have been sweating, you’ll want to change into warm, dry clothes as soon as possible to prevent developing hypothermia.

Reschedule outdoor activities. If extreme cold weather is forecasted, your school might reschedule that ski trip you were looking forward to. You should also consider rescheduling other outdoor activities, like skating with friends, and plan to do something indoors, such as see a movie instead. An indoor activity would be a much safer idea on days like these. You might also want to take public transportation or ask for a ride rather than walk to school or your friend’s house if the weather is expected to be extremely cold.

Know the signs. Frostbite can occur when skin is exposed to extreme cold. Skin will freeze and die when temperatures are so cold that blood can no longer circulate. It can affect any area of skin, including cheeks, nose, hands and feet. Skin will turn yellowish and feel stinging or numbness. The condition requires medical attention, but there are things you can do in the meantime. You’ll need to remove tight clothing or jewellery and warm your hands in your armpits, which retains heat. Get inside immediately. You can even immerse frozen fingers and toes in warm water.

​Hypothermia, another cold-weather-related condition, occurs when the body’s temperature drops below 35 degrees. Symptoms include shivering and confusion and, if untreated, can result in organ failure and death. Warning signs for kids include bright red, cold skin and very little energy. Seek medical attention immediately. While waiting for medical help, replace wet clothing with dry, get indoors, wrap the body with warm blankets and drink warm liquids.

It does not take long for intense cold weather to negatively affect your children when outside. Just take a variety of precautions to help them understand how to reduce their chances of overexposure.

 

January 9th, 2018

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

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Are school uniforms beneficial to learning?

There is much debate in the education community surrounding school uniform policies. Are uniforms a great way to improve focus, level the socioeconomic playing field and create a sense of school citizenship, or are they an expensive way to curb students’ creativity and diminish their sense of individuality?

Of course, there are arguments to be made on both sides. Those who do not support policies requiring students to wear certain colours or specific pants, skirts and tops often site the expense. Indeed, uniforms can appear expensive as parents may be required to purchase a year’s worth of clothes at once. Others point to uniformity as a way to diminish a student’s individuality. How can a child express themselves in a creative way if their wardrobe choices are limited to the same outfit as their peers?

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                              clothes can’t serve as a distraction[/pullquote]

Proponents of uniforms find the pros outweigh the cons. Of course, there are safety arguments. If everyone in the student body is dressed the same, it’s easy to identify intruders and know who belongs to the student body.

​Others in support of uniforms have found that implementing a uniform policy can reduce theft. Since uniforms have an equalizing factor, students aren’t permitted to come to school wearing labels or flashy clothes. There is less competition, peer pressure or a sense of wanting clothing items their more privileged peers are wearing. In this way, uniforms reduce or even eradicate theft as there is no advantage to stealing. In some schools, the use of uniforms even reduces violence, as groups or gangs can no longer identify themselves by wearing certain clothes or colours.

Uniforms can even improve a student’s grades. Since there is no need to keep up with the latest fashions, clothes can’t serve as a distraction, which enables students to focus on learning. Nobody can show too much skin, inappropriately expose their bodies or make clothing choices in an attempt to attract attention. Rather, students are in a better position to concentrate on their studies and build relationships with one another based on substance.

Practically speaking, many parents find it’s easier to dress their children in the morning when their child is required to wear a uniform. There is no delay as children debate what to wear—something that can often be a time-consuming process, especially as students mature into teenagers. There are no arguments about what constitutes an appropriate outfit as items such as spaghetti straps, torn jeans and short skirts aren’t options.

Thanks to social media, it’s easy for parents to connect to find solutions to address the cost of uniforms. For instance, online message boards and community groups can be used to arrange clothing exchanges. This means that bigger ticket items such as blazers can be handed down from one student who outgrew it to another who needs it. Parents can save money by buying these clothing pieces second-hand, rather than buying new. Parents have also been known to voice their opinions with respect to selecting lower cost uniform suppliers. In some cases, they have banded together to request suppliers who meet certain ethical or environmental standards.

​Some schools, in turn, are adapting uniform policies to include plain white button-down shirts or navy blue pants, for example. These kinds of clothing pieces can be purchased at retail stores like The Gap or Old Navy, some of which have uniform sections in their stores and online. These clothes can be easily purchased at affordable prices throughout the year and be worn year-round.

Uniforms are an important piece of the education puzzle and one that can contribute to enhanced learning and discussion.

November 21st, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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Studying Abroad Can Be A Great Way To Experience The World

Have you ever considered studying abroad? If you have always dreamed of living in another country, learning a new language and meeting new people, studying in a foreign place is your chance to do all this while acquiring school credits.

It might seem overwhelming at first. Choosing if you should go, what you should study and where you should travel is a big decision. It requires careful thinking and research. If you’ve ever dreamed about studying abroad, here is some information to help get your thinking process off to a productive start.

Determine if you want to go. Studying abroad can be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to learn about the world and yourself. It’s an extraordinary way to experience another city or country first-hand, rather than from a book. It turns a new city into your classroom, enabling you to learn skills that can’t be mastered sitting at a desk. For instance, not only do study abroad programs enable you to earn a credit to help you graduate, but it can also be an exciting way to experience a new culture. When you’re in a new place, you get to try local foods, pick up a language or perfect one you’ve been learning at home.

​[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]gain confidence, become more self-reliant[/pullquote]

You will experience history and immerse yourself in a different environment on a daily basis. Even as you find your way around a new city, you will become more independent and meet new people in the process. You will gain confidence, become more self-reliant and get out of your comfort zone. While this sounds great, you know yourself better than anyone. Are you ready to leave home for a few weeks or a semester? Do you have friends who will be making the trip with you? These are things to consider, because as fun and exciting as studying abroad can be, you have to be ready to make the trip.

Figure out what you want to study and where. Now that you’ve decided studying abroad is for you, there are other things to consider. Are you interested in earning a language credit, studying English in the birthplace of Shakespeare himself or discovering history in a place that’s captured your imagination since you were little? These are all things to think about.

​What you study and where you study are often linked. Certain programs may be available in some cities, but not others. If you don’t speak the language of the host country, you might have a harder time studying there than in another place. On the other hand, this could be your chance to brush up on your French or Spanish, for instance, and you may want that immersive experience. Speak to your parents and guidance counsellor about making the right course selection for you. There are also resources online to help you find the right course and city to meet your needs.

Budget accordingly. Studying abroad can be expensive. There’s the flight, tuition and room and board to consider, not to mention meals, transportation, excursions and entertainment. ​Do you have money saved? Can your parents help? Have you researched financial aid and scholarship options that can offset some of the cost?

​If this is something you really want to do, it might be a good idea to start saving in advance. Get a part-time job and set money aside so you can travel abroad in the future. Perhaps you can even work while you’re there to earn money. What about considering ways to save money? Perhaps you can have a roommate or live with a host family when you’re abroad. These are options, and ones your guidance counsellor can discuss with you when you meet to chat about studying abroad.

​Of course, you’ll need to do your research and establish a budget. It’s important to figure out how much you can anticipate to spend in a given city. What is the currency exchange rate? Is the city relatively expensive or inexpensive? How much will you need to earn or save to afford the cost?

Prepare for your trip. Once you’ve chosen to study abroad and selected a program, place and budget, you’ll want to prepare for your trip. What are the visa requirements for the country in which you will be studying? Is your passport up to date? Do you have travel and health insurance in case you become ill while you’re away? Often your school can help you with these things, but it’s best to be aware of these matters yourself as well.

​There are often other things to consider, too. Do you need any vaccinations? Go to the bank and ensure you have the proper currency and enough of it. Do you also have debit cards or credit cards? You’ll want to let your bank know of your travel plans in advance.

​Make sure you have all your travel information handy, as well as names and address for where you’re staying and studying. Do you have travel guides handy? Check luggage restrictions to make sure you don’t pack too much. You’ll also want to ensure you’ve packed correctly.

​Have you also checked the weather in the city in which you’ll be staying? Some winters are milder than others, and some summers (like in Australia) are colder than ours.

​Go online, read travel guides, talk to others who have been abroad and prepare accordingly for a life changing trip.

November 17th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Technology, Uncategorised

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