Thursday | October 6, 2022

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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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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Helping Your Teen Cope With Problems in High School

High school can be an exciting time filled with possibility and opportunity for your teenager. But it can also come with its fare share of problems.

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Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress


The chance to delve into new subjects can be counterbalanced by the pressure to manage a school schedule with many courses, projects and deadlines. There are new social situations and relationships to manage, peer pressure to deal with and social media dilemmas. There are extra-curricular activities and volunteer obligations that can demand an increasing chunk of your teen’s time. Meanwhile, getting top grades becomes increasingly important when guidance counsellors start talking to your teen about university applications and the competitive nature of being accepted to a program of your teen’s choice. There are also typical hormonal changes and physical developments that can be confusing at times.

It’s no wonder more teenagers than ever before report having had a major depressive episode, or MDE. This is defined as a stint of at least two weeks in which a teen experiences low mood and energy, reduced self esteem, loss of interest in activities, difficulty sleeping with sleeping problems concentrating. In fact, a recent study of young adults published Pediatrics found that the percentage of adolescents who had an MDE jumped from 8.7 percent in 2005 to 11.5 percent in 2014. That’s an increase of 37 percent in just a few years.

This data has left experts and parents concerned as there hasn’t been an equal increase in mental health interventions for adolescents. Many are under-treated or not treated at all for these symptoms.

So how can you help your teen face problems they are sure to encounter in high school? Here are a few strategies you can use to guide your teen along a positive path.

1. Exercise is one of the best ways to reduce stress

​Why not go for a walk or hike with your teen? Enjoy a bike ride together or hit the gym regularly. This will enable you to both increase your endorphins while spending time doing something together. Make sure you work it into your schedule and go at a time that’s doesn’t interfere with sleep or upcoming deadlines.

2. Make sure your teen takes breaks to focus on friendships and activities they enjoy

​This strategy has also been shown to reduce stress, and it’s critical for their overall health and wellbeing. Whether they like hanging out with friends, seeing a movie, playing hockey or taking an art class, hobbies and friendships offer a much needed break from the pressures of academics.

3. Enforce good study habits

​Help your teen stay on top of deadlines and tests with an agenda and a regular schedule for completing homework. Show them how to organize and prioritize deadlines, perhaps by showing them your own personal strategies. Make sure homework is done in a peaceful environment clear of distraction. This might mean they study in their room without their smartphone next to them. Social media can be a major distraction and can prevent them from focussing on their work. Suggest your teen to speak with you, their teacher or guidance counsellor if they are having difficulty managing.

4. Encourage your teen to talk to you if they are feeling stressed or have other challenges at school, whether it is social or otherwise

You don’t have to offer advice or lecture them. Sometimes, they just want someone who will listen and not offer judgement. Ask your teen how they felt in that situation, what they wish they would have done instead and how they hope to respond in future if the same situation arises. In this way, you’re helping them work through problems in a way that is comfortable, constructive and feels safe to your teen.

5. The importance of good nutrition and proper sleep patters cannot be underestimated

​Make sure your teen is eating healthy, nutritious foods at regular intervals so they have energy to concentrate and think. Breakfast is an important meal that gets their day off to a decent start. Encourage them not to skip meals. Do pack snacks and water in their backpack in case they get hungry during the day. Enforce a proper bedtime, especially on school nights, so they feel refreshed at the start of each day. A lack of sleep can result in miserable mood and an inability to think clearly. Consider a tech-free bedroom to ensure your teen doesn’t end up on social media until the wee hours.

September 6th, 2017

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

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Protect your Family Against Mosquitoes this Summer

Summertime means it’s mosquito season. Not only do those pesky insects cause itchy, red welts on your skin, they can also pass viruses, like West Nile and dengue fever, from person to person.

So how can you protect your family against mosquitoes this summer? Here are a few tips:

Scientists know that mosquitoes aren’t attracted to people who are “sweeter.” In fact, research shows these little insects are more attracted to bigger people than little people, men over women, and even pregnant women over non-pregnant.

If you’re hot and sweaty, you’re also a magnet. So are people who move around a lot. If you stand still, you’re less likely to get bitten.

Everyone in these target groups are more attractive because they produce more heat and carbon dioxide. If you’re in any of these groups, you’ll want to take extra precautions.  

Which methods offer the best protection? Eating bananas and garlic won’t help. Despite any myths, there’s no anti-mosquito diet that has been proven to work. Some people use vitamin B12 patches that reduce bites up to 40 percent. Still, it doesn’t prevent bites altogether.

Citronella candles offer weak benefits at best. If a breeze comes along, any protection blows with the wind. You can use citronella oil on the skin as an option. Wearing perfumes, even if they are sweet, can also act as a repellent because their oils can deter bites.

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Mosquitoes love to bite when the weather is 12 to 22 degrees Celsius.[/pullquote]

Temperature and sunlight matter most. Mosquitoes love to bite when the weather is 12 to 22 degrees Celsius. When it’s below 10 degrees Celsius, mosquitoes don’t really bite. Colder evenings offer natural protection.

You’ll also want to get rid of stagnant water that collects in buckets and birdbaths, as these attract mosquitoes. Dry areas are better. Yet not all water bodies attract mosquitoes. Clean chlorinated pools and hot tubs are safe as well.

Try covering your skin with light coloured tight-knit clothing. Research shows that dark colours attract mosquitoes better than light colours, though nobody knows exactly why this is the case.

The best way to prevent getting bitten altogether is to use a bug spray recommended by experts like the Environmental Protection Agency. They have an online tool to help you find products that will work for you.

Why do bites bother us in the first place and what can we do if we are bitten? When a mosquito bites, they draw your blood and inject their saliva, which contains proteins that trigger your immune system. Your body will release histamine to fight the protein, and this is what causes itchiness and swelling.

[pullquote align=”left” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]Not everyone is affected in the same way.[/pullquote]

Not everyone is affected in the same way. While bites don’t bother some people, others will become very itchy, red and swollen around the site of the bite.

If you do get bitten, try not to scratch. Scratching causes inflammation, which will give you more of an itching sensation. If you scratch so much you break the skin, you can be at risk for infection.

There are many remedies that can help relieve symptoms. You can apply a cold compress, calamine lotion or rubbing alcohol. Honey contains natural applying antibacterial ingredients. Applying a cold tea bag or taking an oatmeal bath can offer relief, too. Over-the counter-medicines, like an antihistamine, will also work. In most cases, bites will clear up in a few days.

See a doctor if you get hives, have a hard time breathing or you feel your throat closing up. If you’re travelling, you’ll also want to see a doctor in case there’s a vaccine that can help prevent mosquito-borne diseases.

June 9th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Nutrition, Uncategorised

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Nutrition Tips to Enhance your Child’s Athletic Performance

We have all heard that breakfast is the most important meal of the day, but if your child is active in sports, proper nutrition throughout the day becomes essential. The right foods and drinks will fuel their bodies and their minds.

There are many resources parents can consult for information about this important topic. There is the Canada Food Guide, your child’s coaches, nutritionists and your paediatrician. In general, experts will agree that it’s essential for your child’s diet to include foods from the following categories:

  • protein – meat, eggs, nuts and dairy
  • carbohydrates – whole grains, vegetables and fruits
  • vitamins and minerals – dairy, fruits and vegetables
  • fats – meats, cheese, nuts and oils

Make sure they start their day off right with foods such as eggs, oatmeal, nut butters and fruit. Pack a healthy lunch and snacks to keep their energy up between meals. Lunch options might include a turkey sandwich on whole grain bread, a whole grain pita with banana and peanut butter or leftovers from dinner. Great snack options might include cheese, fruit or a handful of nuts.

To improve performance before a game or practice, children should eat two to four hours in advance to give food time to digest. Fuel up pre-game with a snack that includes carbohydrates and protein but is also low in fat and fibre. Bring a snack for longer practices, competitions or events, such as a sandwich, fruit or nuts. Energy bars are convenient, but whole foods are just as energy rich. After a game, aid recovery by drinking water and having a snack that also includes carbs and protein. Carbs give the body and brain energy while protein helps build and repair muscle.

Active kids might need more calories than the average child because they are burning more energy when they participate in sports. As a general rule, kids ages 6 to 12 need between 1,600 and 2,200 calories a day, but every child is different.

It’s also important that children hydrate with water, not juice, pop or sports drinks, which can have added sugar, caffeine and calories. Use a refillable water bottle and ensure your child drinks before, during and after activity to prevent becoming sick from dehydration. It’s recommended that kids have between 6 and 10 cups of fluid a day.

Typically, children should not diet no matter the sport or activity. As they are still growing, they need a balanced diet. Restricting calories, skipping meals, or adopting a diet high in protein or low in fats or carbohydrates can be harmful to both their physical development and mental health.

Studies show that there are many ways to encourage healthy eating habits in children. Many kids tend to naturally prefer carb-heavy diets, which isn’t good for kids in general, let alone athletes. If your child’s diet is limited to specific foods, for instance, you might want to take them to the grocery store and allow them to select a new food each time. Have them help out in the kitchen and prepare dinner or lunches with you. If they don’t like a certain food once, make it again and and again, and encourage them to try a bite every time. Eventually they might find their tastes change or that they are open to new experiences. Even if your family has a hectic sports schedule, try to plan healthy meals in advance so you’re not rushed or temped to feed them junk food in the car. When you can, sit together as a family. Eat slowly, spend time together, make it an enjoyable experience and model healthy eating habits yourself.

Parents concerned about their children’s diet or nutritional needs should contact their pediatrician or a dietician who specializes in children and athletes.


December 9th, 2016

Posted In: Athletics, Nutrition

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