Experts, Facts, Parenting, school, Social

Imposter Syndrome in Kids

No doubt you’ve heard of “imposter syndrome” – the idea that we achieved something through luck or by accident – not by hard work, expertise or skill – and that it could disappear at any moment.

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According to Wikipedia: “The feeling of being a fraud that surfaces in impostor phenomenon is not uncommon. It has been estimated that nearly 70% of individuals will experience signs and symptoms of impostor phenomenon at least once in their life.[17] This can be a result of a new academic or professional setting. Research shows that impostor phenomenon is not uncommon for students who enter a new academic environment. Feelings of insecurity can come as a result of an unknown, new environment. This can lead to lower self-confidence and belief in their own abilities.[8]

You know what? Kids can have it too. You may have noticed a hint of this if your child says something like, “I’m not good enough to be in the school play so I won’t bother trying out” or “I can’t accept that spot on the team. I’m not fast enough; they’ll probably cut me” or “Maybe they should ask someone else to be the student council treasurer – it must have been a mistake.”

Now, this could be due to anxiety of course and we all get anxious or have doubts about achievements, promotions, try-outs, etc. It could also be due to low self-esteem which can be something that plagues kids and adults pervasively.

To help counter-act imposter syndrome, experts talk about building self-esteem, resilience and understand the concept of “fake it ’til you make it.”

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Other ways to help your child combat imposter syndrome is to provide examples in your own life – when you’ve felt like an imposter or a fraud in a new situation – say a great new job, the go-to yoga teacher, school mom, president of a non-profit board, presenter in an awards show, mentor for others, speaker at a conference – and how you overcame (or masked) those feelings to take on scary new situations and thrive.

If 70% of people experience imposter syndrome, it’s pretty likely that our kids will experience it too. We should be ready to show them that many people feel like frauds when presented with exciting opportunities and that’s okay – we can:

  • prepare
  • act confidently
  • be self-aware
  • give ourselves a pep talk
  • discuss the feelings with trusted adults or mentors
  • and… hopefully tackle the situation and come out more confident on the other side!

Do you or your child suffer from imposter syndrome? If so, what did you do to combat it?

Yours autumnally,

Lisa

Parenting, Peer relationships, school, Social, Study

Is there anyone out there?

Hello! Let me first apologize for my abhorrent delay in posting. It’s been 4 months (!) since my last post and I don’t really have a decent explanation for the ridiculous gap. Is pandemic madness a good enough excuse…?

Now that my apology is done, let’s get down to brass tacks: School 2020.

Normally, the beginning of September is an exciting (albeit anxious) time for parents, children and young adults.

Being that it’s 2020, even the term “back to school” is tenuous. Are your children doing virtual schooling? Attending physically? A combination? No matter the mode, how are you and they handling it?

I’ve had friends and family members tell me that they’re freaking out, worried and anxious about their children attending school due to Covid. I totally get that – anyone who reads, watches or listens to the news knows that there’s a SERIOUS risk of getting sick once school starts.

However, even though I’m an anxious person by nature, I’m doing a pretty good job of staying calm. First of all, my teens want to go to school so that’s good. I feel like it’s important for their mental health to be physically at school interacting with their peers and teachers.

And, while I’m a huge fan of all things digital, virtual school just doesn’t cut it for me. Even my high-achieving daughter tells me that virtual school did not work for her and it certainly didn’t work well for my super intelligent son who also happens to have ADHD.

The chance of…

nodding off

getting hungry and grabbing a snack

losing interest in the content

having technical issues

becoming distracted by ambient noise

etc. etc. etc. is so great.

Distracted much?

Time will tell if our children’s learning & mental health will suffer due to the effects of the pandemic. Optimists will say that children are resilient and most can adapt. Realists will tell us things will never go back to normal, our children and young adults will lose much of their academic smarts and that we’re going to have to re-think our education system.

There ARE some cool creative options that people are investigating including: learning pods, outdoor or “forest” schools and OG homeschooling. We have no choice but to adapt and move forward.

I’d love to hear what you and your family are planning to do for school 2020. Feel free to comment here or write to me at the email address in the “About” section.

Yours in pandemic parenting,

Lisa

Experts, Facts, Parenting, Philosophy, school, Study

What is Neurodiversity? Why There’s No Such Thing as “Normal.”

If anything is clear right now, it’s that “we’re all in this together” (cue the music from High School Musical).

With most of the world being shut down due to the spread of COVID-19 and an understanding that the virus doesn’t discriminate based on gender, age, ability, education or income, many are realizing that we’re more alike than we are different.

photo of people holding each other s hands
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To that end, I read a fascinating article today about neurodiversity on Psychology Today. Do you know the term “neurodiversity“? I had heard it bandied about in relation to autism and Asperger’s which are diagnoses now widely pulled together under the general term “Autism spectrum.”

As is related in the Psychology Today article, neurodiversity is becoming a movement – with people advocating that many forms of brain “disorders” including epilepsy, Tourette’s Syndrome, ADHD, psychosis and others, are simply different ways of thinking and processing information – and they are not “abnormal” or “disordered.”

You probably know that someone with ADHD or a learning disability or dyslexia may process a question or a conversation or a math problem more slowly or differently than others. In the past (and even now), children and/or students may have been chastised or stigmatized or embarrassed by their inability to answer quickly or “the right way.”

But this old thinking may be flawed. We know that the brain can change and augment and develop and, like snowflakes, no two brains are the same. Therefore there isn’t necessarily a typical brain from which all human can be modeled. Just like there’s no “normal” body type.

In fact, many people with mental, emotional, and physical disabilities are now looking upon their diagnosis as a gift – as an opportunity to be creative and discover new ways of thinking or solutions to ongoing problems.

photo of a girl wearing blue sweater
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This isn’t meant to candy-coat (dis)abilities and diagnoses and pretend everything is lollipops and rainbows. Parents of children with mental health diagnoses often face steep challenges every day.

But, with a better understanding of growth-mindset parenting and the inspirational movements of neurodiversity, kids and parents can feel better about their abilities and their future opportunities by embracing what was once brushed off as “different”, “wrong” or “weird.”

What do you think? Does the neurodiversity movement make you or your child feel empowered and hopeful?

Yours energetically,

Lisa

 

Books, Exercise, Family, Home, Parenting, school, sleep, Social

Four Things You Can Do Today to Help Your Child’s Mental Health

Whether you live in India, Finland, Canada, Britain or anywhere else — we’re all feeling the sting of self-isolation. Here are a few important and relatively quick ways you can help improve your children’s mental health.

boy child clouds kid
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  1. Move!

Sitting in a chair doing school work or on the couch using SnapChat all day isn’t healthy. Depending on their age, you can offer to sing silly songs or make up a song. You can do a TikTok dance, you can ask Alexa to play “workout songs” and do an indoor workout. This family has fancy outfits and a choreographer to design their dance but you can still make your own silly video!

And, if you’ve been following this blog for any length of time, you definitely know how I feel about the importance of going outside.

woman wearing red dress jumping
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2. Connect!

We’re all missing our friends, colleagues and/or extended families. For single parents or essential workers, life isn’t necessarily boring but it can be stressful and lonely. If your kids are missing their friends, grandparents, or cousins, there’s always social media of course.

But if you’re trying to get them offline – you could show them how to write a letter or poem. Some parents are using this time to teach their kids life skills, like laundry, dishes, garbage, etc. Depending on the age of your child, you could do something more fun like writing a handwritten letter, write the address on the envelope, put a stamp on it and put it in the mailbox. It might seem funny to some of us, but many children and even teens have never written a letter!

happy birthday card beside flower thread box and macaroons
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3.  Read!

Have you or your kids had a chance to read any new books (or re-read favourites) during the shut-down? Now that online school is on for many in different parts of the world, reading books may fall to the wayside.

I admit that even my reading has waned recently but I’ll get back at it this weekend. I am actually paying my kids (judge me if you must!) to read books during the pandemic. They have to be “real” books (not comics or magazines) but the topic and genre can be of their choosing.

Reading is an easy, low-cost, educational, fun way to pass the time – and increase imagination and comprehension at the same time.

couple reading books
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4. Shut down!

Remember that it’s okay to shut down mentally, physically and literally (shut down your computer, your kids’ devices, the TV, etc.) at the end of the day or whenever makes sense) for you – and do something that takes your mind off of current events.

Sometimes the path of least resistance is best. So, if you and your kids like to ride bikes – do that (in a socially distanced manner of course!). If you prefer playing cards or listening to music, by all means! Maybe drawing or talking or just sitting quietly is best for everyone.

Whatever you do, remember that we don’t need to be watching the news online or on TV or the radio constantly; we can all use the time to sleep, dream and think.

What have you and your family been doing to stay healthy & sane? I’d love to know.

Yours in quiet solitude,

Lisa

family games, Home, Parenting, Peer relationships, school, Services, sleep, Social

Coronavirus and your Kids: Tips for Parents throughout the School Closure

I didn’t want to write this post. I feel like many people are taking advantage of the COVID-19/coronavirus to hawk things or make money (re-selling hand sanitizer anyone?), spread misinformation or cause unnecessary panic.

photo of woman covering her face
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However, several close friends and family members have mentioned that their children are feeling anxious about the pandemic and they don’t know what to say or how to help their kids feel better and more calm – not to mention: what to do for three weeks while their children are off school (or out of daycare as the case may be). Here in Ontario, the government has mandated an extra two-week school closure in addition to the traditional March Break (beginning this weekend/Monday).

While, I’m not a psychologist, social worker or psychiatrist, I have written a lot about mental health, learning disabilities, anxiety and depression – both for this blog and for organizations, magazines and web sites. We can’t completely shield our children from panic or tragedy, but we can try and make sense of it for them.

For starters, depending on the age of your children, you might want to explain the science of how viruses spread and how we can ALL do our part by:

  • Washing our hands frequently and with soap (a lot of kids forget the soap part or the drying off part)
  • Not touching our faces (so difficult – especially with colds or allergies)
  • Keeping away from others as much as possible (again, tough for kids who are mostly social animals and want to give hugs and high-fives)
  • Eating healthy foods and drinks (there are lots of ways to inject fruits, veggies, fibre and probiotics into our diets)
  • Getting plenty of fresh air and exercise (more on that below)
  • Getting enough sleep (always important!)

grayscale photo of baby lying on hammock
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I’ve pre-warned my tween/teen children that none of us is going to spend the next three weeks just staring at devices. We can read actual books, play games and cards and utilise this opportunity to clean and de-clutter our spaces — which is also a great way to improve mental health!

And, since we’re doing the “silver lining” thing: For me, this is just another excuse to get outside for a hike or a walk or a bike ride. (Anyone who reads this blog or knows me personally, knows that I am a hiking/fresh air fanatic!). As social distancing and no non-essential travel are being advised, local hiking, trekking and biking is the perfect activity.

Here are a few blog posts that can help motivate you and your kids to get some exercise and fresh air during the COVID-19 school closure and throughout the spring and summer:

What are you doing to keep yourself and your family sane during this unprecedented time in history? Are you able to stay calm and enjoy a hiatus of sorts or is the closing of schools and limited travel putting additional stress on your family? Feel free to write to me or comment below.

Yours in parenting peace,

Lisa

 

 

 

Books, Experts, Home, Parenting, Peer relationships, school, Social

Educational Options for Your Child, Part 2: Homeschooling Continued

Good morning! I apologize for the delay in posting – I was on a much-needed vacation last week. I also apologize for the font changes in this current post: I tried to do some adjustments behind the scenes but it looks like two different font styles still appear.

A few weeks ago, a fellow blogging associate, Heidi, kindly provided info on how and why parents might decide to homeschool . Until recently, this was an area of parenting/teaching/education that I had known about for some time but didn’t fully understand. Homeschooling is chosen by families for a variety of reasons. For this blog, we discuss it from a mental health/learning disabilities perspective.

woman reading book to toddler
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Another fellow blogger, a successful business owner, parent and home-schooling expert, also agreed to answer some burning questions that may help you decide if homeschooling is right for you and your kids.

Dana is the owner of Train Up a Child Publishing.  The information on Dana’s site/blog is extremely helpful and may assist you in understanding the ins and outs of homeschooling as well as the various methods and philosophies involved.

Here are a few of her answers. I will add a second part to this post soon – she provided such important and detailed information that I can’t fit everything into one post!

Question 1: From your perspective, what’s the criteria for homeschooling? For instance, do you feel it’s best in all cases for both parent and/or child?  

There are many circumstances and possible criteria for homeschooling. I don’t feel like homeschooling is best in all cases. Regardless of the criteria, if parents aren’t committed, willing to invest time and money in curriculum/supplies/and possibly tutors, and willing to make homeschooling a priority in their lives, it’s probably not a good choice.   
 
From the parent perspective, they might feel homeschooling would be better for their child because: 
  • They disagree philosophically/religiously with some of the content of what is taught. For example, the school policy changes you may have heard about in California that have literature that talks about many genders. Many parents that this area should remain within the realm of what parents would teach in the home, rather than in their first grader’s classroom.  
  • Their children may have been diagnosed with epilepsy, or other medical condition that require closer medication management/health care than may be possible in the public/private school system
  • Their child(ren) may have been diagnosed with ADHD or are on the Autism spectrum and have or have had difficulty coping with a typical public or private classroom. Parents who homeschool these children can provide them an environment that better suits their needs:
    • a less distracting room for homeschooling, without every inch of wall space covered with colorful things, like many elementary classrooms, particularly
    • the opportunity to give children their own quiet space to learn and focus, complete with a bouncy ball or other soothing/tactile objects
    • hands-on and other customized lessons that appeal to their student
    • customized therapies and methods that parents have found to work for their child at home because their school systems aren’t able (or perhaps willing) to implement them in a classroom situation
    • more frequent opportunities for breaks, more easily incorporate movement into studies
    • can take the time and provide mentorship in teaching their child relational behaviour — one to one. I’m sure this would be impossible for most teachers because of the teacher to student ratios, even in special ed classes
  • They feel as though their child would be safer at home from bullying, school violence, etc.

man wearing black crew neck shirt reading book
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Question 2) What would you say to a parent who is considering homeschooling due to their child’s anxiety, depression, bullying, etc.?
 
I would tell them what it’s like to homeschool and give them places to research it further in their state/country. I’d suggest they visit and get plugged into a local homeschool support group, ask lots of questions and maybe shadow a homeschooling family or go on a field trip or park day with a homeschooling group. If parents are strongly considering homeschooling, it would be good to bring their child into the discussion. 
 

I’d let the parents know to look for a support group that met together regularly with activities for parents and for kids, went on field trips, provided a co-op or group classes, etc. (With ours, we had yearly school pictures, a yearbook, a prom, lots of field trips and small classes in many academic and enrichment areas, from writing classes to Taekwondo.)  

Question 3) What are some characteristics of successful homeschooling parents/teachers? What are two or three things that must be in place? 

Homeschooling parents must be committed to homeschooling at the start. That doesn’t mean they have to do it forever, but they need to be committed to at least a year at a time.
They have to be willing to spend money as necessary for their child’s curriculum and activities, and they have to be willing to make homeschooling a daily priority for at least one parent. That doesn’t mean the homeschooling parent can’t work parttime, but homeschooling has to happen daily in spite of the job. Sometimes homeschooling happens on the weekend or at night — it doesn’t have to look the same in all families and nor does it have to look like public school. 
 
It works best if parents have taken the time to train their children to [listen] when they were small.  Mutual respect between parents and children makes it a ton easier. And it’s easier to start with that in place, although it’s never too late to develop.
 
As I said, at least one parent has to assume the responsibility for homeschooling and make it a priority in their life.  Also, most homeschooling parents have to be willing to take the time to learn along with the child. They have to commit to at least weekly planning time, they have to be able to grade papers or get help from someone who can do this if they need help.  Sometimes moms change kids — one who did well in math might teach math to her child and mine, and maybe I teach writing to my child and hers, for example.  

accomplishment ceremony education graduation
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Thank you so much, Dana, for your insightful views. Again, please visit Train Up a Child Publishing to learn more.

I was doing some further research on supports for homeschoolers: If you are in Ontario, Canada, the Ontario Federation of Teaching Parents looks to be an amazing resource. I am very impressed with their site and how user-friendly it is to access.

Let me know if you find this information useful and if you have other advice or resources to share. I’d love to hear from you.

Lisa