Wednesday | March 29, 2023

How to Help Your Child Manage Peer Pressure

As your child gets older, she will become increasingly influenced by her peers. Sometimes this can be a good thing. For instance, your son might want to join certain school clubs or participate in extra-curricular activities because his friends are. Your daughter might want to read certain books because all her friends are reading them.

Other times, peer pressure can take a negative turn. Your child might be pressured by their peers to do things they wouldn’t normally want to do, like smoke cigarettes, cut class or exclude another student on purpose.

These situations can be hard to manage. Some kids will submit to peer pressure because they want their friends to like them. Joining the group, even in a questionable activity, can help them feel as though they’re fitting in. Sometimes, kids are afraid they’ll be made fun of if they use their better judgement and say “no.” At times, they just might be curious to have a new experience and understand what all the fuss is about.

As a parent, you’ll want to prepare your child to deal with difficult situations in which they might be pressured by their peer group to do something they know is wrong. How can you help? Here are a few tips.

​1. Teach them to go with their gut

​Your child will instinctively know what’s right and wrong. They’ll get that feeling in their stomach or hear the voice in their head telling them it’s wrong to lie to their parents, that it’s unhealthy to smoke and that they are hurting someone’s feelings by being a bully. Let them know how important it is to recognize these instincts. Reinforce positive values.

​Make sure you tell your child how proud you are of good behaviour and healthy decisions. This will help build your child’s confidence as he or she grows older. It will also strengthen your relationship. When your child is faced with a problem, he will be more likely to communicate with you and reach out to you for advice if you already have a trusting bond.

2. ​Help manage friendships

​Encourage your child to choose their friends wisely. If you notice that certain friends are a good influence, invite them over or suggest they join an activity together. Let your child know how much you like their friend and explain why.

​You might need to tread carefully if you see your child spending more time with a friend who you know is likely to be a bad influence. Discouraging or banning the friendship outright might only bring them closer together. The best thing you can do is have an open and honest conversation with your child about your concerns.

​Make sure you impress upon your child the importance of saying “no” if they are being pressured to do things they don’t want to do. Reinforce the idea they shouldn’t put negative peer pressure on others by goading them into doing something they don’t want to do. As much as they should know to say “no,” they must listen when others say “no,” too. Encourage your child to have lots of different friends and to be part of a variety of social circles so they have the opportunity to pick and choose the friends who share similar values and make them feel good about themselves.

3. Teach your child how to say “no”

​It can be hard to say “no,” but if you give your child the tools they need, they will be able to steer clear of trouble. Sit down with your child and have a frank discussion. “What would you say if your friend told you to smoke a cigarette?” you might ask. Or “What would you do if your friend wanted you to shoplift?” See how your child responds. If they are unsure of what to say, this is your chance to guide them. Talk to them about why it’s wrong to smoke, do drugs or lie to their parents. Discuss the potential consequences to their health or safety.

​Give them the facts and information they need to understand your point of view. While it’s great to be armed with information, sometimes, it can even be as simple as saying, “I’ve already told you ‘no’. Please don’t ask again.” Encourage them to back up a friend who is also being pressured to do something wrong.

​Let them know it’s ok to walk away. You might want to role play various scenarios together. If that doesn’t appeal to your child, suggest practicing in the mirror. In future, they might want to spend more time with their other friends who don’t make them feel uncomfortable. You might also be pleasantly surprised when your child is able to confidently respond “no” to peer pressure.

If your child has made mistakes or is having trouble saying “no,” encourage them to talk to someone who can help. This might be you, a guidance counsellor, teacher or coach. It’s never too late to learn.

September 29th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, 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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Keep Your Kids Reading During The Summer

Kids need time during the summer to relax and unwind from a busy school year. But that doesn’t mean they should stop reading as soon as school is out. According to the latest Kids & Family Reading Report, 80 percent of kids ages six to 17 and 96 percent of their parents agree that reading during the summer helps kids during the school year. In fact, when kids don’t read during the summer, they can lose key skills and fall behind come September.

So how can you get your kids to read during the summer? By making it fun! Here are a few tips to help you get your kids to crack open a book.

Read to your kids every day

During the year when routines are more rigid, it’s easy for parents to read aloud to their kids every night. In the summer, those routines tend to fall by the wayside as kids want to play outside longer and enjoy the lengthier days. Throw camp and vacation schedules into the mix, and it’s a lot harder to find the time to read every day.

Try to find a time during the day to read to your kids, even if it isn’t at night. Maybe there are a few minutes in the morning before the camp bus arrives. Bring a book to the beach or the park. Maybe you can send your child to overnight camp with a few fun books they can read aloud to kids in their bunk. These are great ways to ensure you’re still carving out reading time during the summer.

Read on your own

Set a good example by picking up a few books on your summer reading list as well. Pack books on road trips, read on the subway or read in the evening in bed. Turn the TV off and have reading time on the weekend. It’s an especially great thing to do on a rainy day instead of watching a movie. If you can figure out a way to make it a priority, your kids will follow the lead.

Take your kids to the library

If they don’t already have a library card, take them to your local librarian and get them set up. Show them how to use the library and where age-appropriate books can be found. Often there are events at the library, such as author readings and literacy activities for kids. Find your local library’s schedule and bring your kids to the library often.

Listen to books in the car

Many books are also available on CD. This can be especially good for kids with learning disabilities, but it’s also a great thing to do rather than watch a movie during long car rides, for example. It develops listening skills and imagination. It’s also a good way to appreciate a book together. Afterward, you can discuss what you heard.

Let your child choose their books

Don’t insist they read certain books—either classics, educational books or ones you read as a child. Encourage them to choose books they want to read. This will foster a love of reading and independence.

Subscribe to magazines your kids would enjoy

There’s Chirp or Chickadee, Sports Illustrated Kids, Highlights for Children or National Geographic. It’s exciting when a new magazine arrives at their doorstep every month with their name on it.

Participate in Summer Reading Camps

Scholastic, for instance, makes it fun by enabling kids to log reading minutes and record what books they’ve read to earn digital rewards. Inspiring and motivating, it’s a perfect way to keep kids ages four to 14 reading over the summer. Their site ( also features book lists and recommendations; once your child finishes one book, they’ll have a new one to devour.

August 15th, 2017

Posted In: Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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Moving to Toronto

Toronto is a great city. In fact, it’s consistently ranked one of the best and most livable cities. With a population of 2.79 million people and 5.5 million in the Greater Toronto Area, it’s Canada’s largest city and one of the most multicultural on the planet.

If you’re moving to Toronto, it can be overwhelming and exciting at the same time. Here are a few things you should know:

Toronto is one of the safest large cities in the world. You can ride the subway and walk around, even at night, without worrying. But there are still some areas that are safer than others. Make sure you know where you’re going before you end up in the wrong part of town. How can you learn more about where to go and not go? Torontonians are friendly—ask someone for help if you’re lost or need directions. Pick up a local paper for recommendations on where to go and things to do. Toronto Life magazine, Toronto Star and Metronews (a free paper) are great places to start. They won’t steer you wrong. There are also lots of websites, such as or you can visit and books to read that will offer you advice about the best places to see—and the places to avoid.

Toronto is very multicultural—and cultural. That means there are lots of neighbourhoods to explore and festivals to attend. The summer is an especially good time to check out all the culture Toronto has to offer. There’s Pride festivities, Taste of the Danforth, food truck festivals and jazz and arts celebrations. Visit the Beaches, Queen Street West, Yorkville and Harbourfront, to name a few popular destinations. There is so much amazing food to eat and things to see, so whatever you’re craving, Toronto is a haven for culture. No matter who you are or where you’re from, everyone is welcome in Toronto.

Ride the Rocket. You’ve probably heard that traffic in Toronto is atrocious. Whomever told you that is right. Learn to ride the TTC subway system and use the bus routes. You can get a student rate on a Metropass or pay the regular fare, which is $3.25. The TTC’s website ( has lots of information to help you get where you need to go. More above-ground routes are being planned to make the city even more accessible. You can even take a train directly from Union Station to Pearson International airport. If you enjoy biking, there are lots of bike lanes in the downtown core. Or you can always take a taxi or hop in an Uber. If you’re driving, look for Green P parking or other paid lots. Pay attention to parking signs or you could end up with a ticket. And don’t text and drive or drink and drive. The police are always monitoring to ensure drivers are driving safely and obeying the laws of the road.

The city is expensive. There’s no way to sugar coat it. Housing is especially costly—the average detached home is now more than $1 million. Rent can also be high, but the good news is there are lots of condos and apartments for rent in every part of the city. Do you know where you want to live? Do you have a roommate to share the cost? Is student housing available to you? Do your research and find some place convenient and affordable. While housing prices are high, other things can be found on the cheap. Get recommendations from foodies to find delicious, affordable places to eat. There’s lots to be found. “Street meat” (hot dogs sold by vendors on street corners) is tasty and cheap.

Make friends. Toronto is a big city and it can be overwhelming when you first arrive. You’ll want to do your best to meet people. While it can be scary at first, this is a great opportunity to explore new interests and get involved. Join a gym, sign up for a class, volunteer or participate in a local student group. There are no shortage of ways to meet people. You will quickly find that Toronto is home.

June 28th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Uncategorised

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Develop Your Teenager’s Moral Code

[pullquote align=”full” cite=”” link=”” color=”” class=”” size=””]“Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It’s about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.”[/pullquote]

Your teenage son or daughter is bombarded with influences from more sources than any generation before them. Consider just a handful of the influences teens are faced with:

  • School friends, peers and faculty
  • Neighbourhood friends
  • Celebrity influences like musicians, internet celebrities and others in the media spotlight
  • Community leaders and laggards
  • Romantic interests
  • Siblings, extended family and you…their parents
  • Employers at part­-time jobs, or sports coaches and teammates

You likely feel like you’re fighting a losing battle sometimes when you are trying to influence your teen’s choices as they mature. There may be times when you feel like throwing in the towel, but short term perseverance will lead to long term gain.

Here’s how to become the role model, guide and confidant your teen needs you to be.

Tailor Your Approach

It’s likely you get no end of advice from your own friends, parents and social circles on how to best nurture your teen’s moral compass. Take the advice with appreciation, but act in the best interests of your family’s long term happiness. Adolescent men and women respond differently to different approaches, and they’ll evolve over time.

The more opportunities you can take to get your teen to unplug, unwind, and speak their mind openly, the better chance you will have to succeed. Avoid being confrontational, or judgemental with your son or daughter. It may cause them to retreat and stifle communication, especially if they suffer from insecurity or shyness.

Don’t be a Buddy or a Taskmaster

Striking the right balance between disciplinarian and pal takes work. You might miss the years when your child was a toddler or pre­teen, when their dilemmas were simpler, and they were less rebellious and filled with roaring hormones. You have to have be there to reward your teen when they follow the right path, but be willing to show measured discipline when they don’t.

Here are some elements of your personality which you’ll want to leverage most:

  • Your sense of humour ­ about yourself, and life lessons
  • Patience and forgiveness
  • Adaptability and having an open mind
  • Fortitude to deliver consequences and reward consistently and as deserved

There are going to be times when your teen will try your patience. As parents, you want to show a united front when guiding your son and or daughter through their teen years, in good times and bad. If your teen sees Mom and Dad as being in different camps, they could play one side against the other.

Know When to Lead, Observe and/or Insert Yourself

There are some case where you need to trust your teen to try something, and succeed or fail. Allowing a teen to test boundaries is often better than sheltering them from the consequences making mistakes. If they want to try something that is:

  • Legal and moral
  • Won’t break the rules of their social sphere
  • Doesn’t cause long­term, negative consequences

Build their trust by letting your teen exercise some independence, but be prepared to support them if they fail without judgement. The teen years are a pivotal time for every person’s development to independence, and you need to know when to take off the training wheels.

In terms of friends, both of the same and opposite sex, it’s especially important to create an environment where your teen is comfortable introducing you to their friends. Creating tension when a friend is around could drive some relationships “underground”, and you’ll lose your opportunity to be an influence should relationships get toxic.

Do your best to have relationships in your own life which set a good example for how to treat friends and loved ones. Whether Mom and Dad are together or separated/divorced, the best gift you can give to your child is to have as much friendly, positive communication in their lives as possible. A reasonable amount of respect goes a long way to building your teen’s confidence and trust.

Parenting expert, Dr. Ron Taffel said of parenting teens,

Even as kids reach adolescence, they need more than ever for us to watch over them. Adolescence is not about letting go. It’s about hanging on during a very bumpy ride.”

Though it’s tempting to steer your teen towards the smoothest, least travelled roads in life, sometimes you have to let them get a few flat tires and scratched fenders along the road to a responsible adulthood.

June 6th, 2017

Posted In: Community, Education, Parenting, Uncategorised

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