Saturday | January 25, 2020

Crestwood Gives – Providing for Families in Need

December is often a month filled with paradox ­

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

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

Give from More than Your Wallet

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

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

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

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

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

How to Make a Difference

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

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

It Takes a Village

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

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

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

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

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

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

 

April 9th, 2018

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

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How to Smooth the Transition From Public to Private School

You have made the decision to put your child in private school.

​Making the transition from one school to another is often challenging, but the transition from public to private school can sometimes add another layer of change.

Often, kids who make the switch will have to figure out a new commute to school, make new friends, adjust to different teachers and establish a new routine. When adjusting to private school, however, other things might change as well. Students might also have a uniform for the first time, the curriculum may be more rigorous, and the academic culture might not be what they are used to.

In time, things will get easier and kids adjust well. If you want to ensure a smooth transition, here are a few tips to make the process easier.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]                             “Tremendous Opportunity for Success”[/pullquote]

The commute. Your child will likely have attended a public school that was in close proximity to your home. You may even have been able to walk to school. But choosing a private school can sometimes mean a new or further commute. Plan your route in advance. Will you be driving your child or will your child be taking public transportation. Make sure you know how long it will take to get to and from school during rush hour so you allot enough time to get there safely on time. If your child will be taking a bus or train, practice the route in advance so your child can confidently make their way to school. Do you have a safety plan in place so your child can reach you if they get lost or if you’re late. Do they have a key to the house in case they now arrive home before you? Do they have enough snacks in their bag in case their commute is longer and they get home later than they used to? This is a great time to think about the commute and put plans in place as you begin a new school.

Uniforms. Your child might be required to wear a uniform for the first time. Have a positive attitude and discuss the benefits with your child if your child is anxious about the change. A uniform means that they don’t have to labour over what to wear in the morning. Students will be judged by their peers by their ideas, not their shoes. It makes getting ready in the morning faster and easier. Take your child for a fitting and make sure their uniforms fit well. Stock up on essentials so your child has enough clothing to last the next several months. Then on the first day, they will look around and realize they fit right in.

 Academic culture. There is a difference between the culture at private and public schools. This can vary between private schools too, but either way, your child is likely to notice a difference. Things like teacher expectations, smaller class sizes, more rigorous curriculum, greater choice of extra-curricular activities and new travel opportunities can feel overwhelming. Go online and read about your new school in advance so you know what to expect. There may be online content describing what your child is likely to experience at their new school. Talk to other students who attend the school. Be prepared with a list of questions. Is your child curious about how students interact with their teachers when the classes are smaller? Are they worried about whether they might be behind in a certain subject? Do you meed to provide a tutor for your child. Speak to the principal about what supports might be in place to help your child if they need it. Chances are, your new school is more than prepared with answers to any questions you may have.

Mentor opportunities. Don’t be afraid to ask for a mentor if one hasn’t been assigned. Often, private schools have a plan in place to help welcome new students into the fold. They might have networking opportunities for parents to get to know one another in advance. Teachers might plan class trips early in the year to help students get to know one another. Some schools might even assign peer-to-peer mentors to new students. This is a great opportunity to be guided by someone who has experience at the school and can teach your child the ins and outs of being a student in this new environment.

​Personal attention: Smaller class sizes with well qualified and accessible teachers provide unique care for each student in private schools. Individual learning plans are the norm. This supportive environment means students receive tremendous opportunities for success in high school. And there is a wide array of resources and guidance available to help students prepare for university or college.

Starting anything new can be stressful, but it is also an exciting opportunity for your child to spread their wings, grow and develop into mature, responsible, successful adults. If you’re prepared in advance, the transition is sure to be a smooth one for your child.

March 29th, 2018

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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

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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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