Category Archives: Uncategorized

Kids & Exercise

man wearing blue crew neck t shirt holding girl near mountains

Photo by Josh Willink on Pexels.com

Hello! I am happy to include a guest post from the tenacious and talented Sarah Maurer of Miss Adventure Pants. I recently wrote a guest post for her site about hiking with kids and am thrilled to include her expert tips here.

Yesterday, I wrote a similar post about how I may not be the perfect parent but I am really good at getting my tween and teen outside and active as I believe it is so important for everyone’s mental health. Unfortunately that post was lost in the great unknown (most likely because I forgot to save it as a draft!) so Sarah’s helpful list has saved me and will hopefully inspire you & your family as well.

Seven Surprising Facts About Kids and Exercise

If you have a hard time getting your kids to put down their phones and play outside, you’re far from alone. Raising active kids in the information age is a challenge for almost all parents.

Research by the Kaiser Family Foundation found that kids spend an average of 7 hours a day interacting with devices and screens. That’s about the same amount of time you spend at work — and they also do it on weekends.

However, even when it feels like pulling teeth, motivating your kids to exercise is almost always worth the trouble. If you need extra motivation to persevere, consider what the research says about kids and exercise:

1. Being active at a young age helps to prevent chronic disease in adulthood.

People who were active as children have a lower lifetime risk of many chronic illnesses, including high blood pressure, type 2 diabetes, osteoporosis, and coronary artery disease.

2. For kids, the health benefits of exercise are mental as well as physical.

Active children ages 6–17 are less likely to develop depression than their sedentary peers. A two-year study involving 4,600 middle school kids found that the exercisers among them scored lower on measures of depression like anxiety and fatigue. While the study didn’t look specifically at the effects of exercise on childhood depression, the authors posited that young exercisers probably experience the same mood-lifting benefits as adults.

3. Exercise helps kids learn.

Schools, think twice before you cut your physical education programs any further. Active kids ages 6–13 score higher on measures of cognitive function, thinking, and memory skills than their less active classmates.

4. Kids need a surprising amount of exercise.

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services currently recommends that children and teens engage in 60 minutes of physical activity a day, including vigorous activity on at least 3 days a week. That may seem like a lot when you think in terms of aerobics or spin classes. But keep in mind that for kids, this can include active recreation like walking, skateboarding, biking, and ball games.

5. Kid athletes are surprisingly mighty

Until fairly recently, experts warned parents about the dangers of too much exercise during childhood. They posited that activities like weight lifting and long-distance running might harm growing bodies. However, research hasn’t borne these concerns out. Weight training in particular has been shown to be safe and effective for school age children, so long as they avoid maximal effort and explosive movements (no power cleans!).

people wearing backpacks walking on pathway near green leaf plants

Photo by Kai-Chieh Chan on Pexels.com

6. Active kids tend to become active adults.

Experts lament the fact that so many sedentary children are growing into sedentary adults who are at increased risk for chronic illness. However, the opposite is also true. Kids who enjoy exercise and physical activity will tend to maintain these interests as adults, reaping many health benefits along the way.

7. The best way to raise active kids is to be active yourself.

What’s the number one predictor of physical activity in kids and teens? It’s having an active role model in their lives, whether it’s a parent, a sibling, or anyone else they look up to. That’s a great reason to be active as a family — even when the kids would sometimes rather be playing video games.

For some excellent tips on hiking with kids, check out this blog post by Lisa. I’ve also written a 4-week walking workout plan that you can enjoy with children and teens.

Hopefully, these tips will motivate you to get active with your kids, whether you’re walking the dog together, doing exercise videos, lifting weights, or just monkeying around at the playground. And if you hit some resistance from the kids, rest assured that the lifelong health benefits will be worth it.

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Sarah Maurer is a fitness coach and hiking enthusiast who blogs at missadventurepants.com. She previously worked as a school counselor to elementary and middle school students.

Are you a Judgy McJudgerson?

photo of man pointing his finger

Photo by Rodolpho Zanardo on Pexels.com

Have you heard this famous saying about parenting? “I was the perfect parent until I had children.”

I just love this tongue-in-cheek phrase because it’s so apt. We are all the perfect parent, teacher, doctor, actor, trainer, etc., until we step into that person’s shoes. Then it’s like, “Hmmmm…maybe this isn’t as easy as it looks.”

Before I was a parent (and, if I’m being truthful, even afterwards), I’d often think: “Oh, I would never let my kid [fill in the blank]:”

  • Eat candy before dinner
  • Watch a horror flick
  • Skip a day of school to stay home and sleep
  • Ignore another child
  • Talk back to me

But, a lot of situations have multiple variables… Perhaps that parent’s kid has been cooped up sick for a week and is finally feeling better and wants a piece of candy at 5 pm. Or, maybe the child who looks like he’s being ignored has been badgering someone else for weeks on end. Or, maybe the parent you’re judging for letting their teen walk all over him is just too mentally exhausted to reprimand their child. There is almost always more to the story than what appears on the surface.

Of course, I still have opinions, questions and concerns at times. While I’m not a social worker, therapist or doctor, I volunteered with Children’s Aid Society for five years and was on the parent advisory council for a regional children’s mental health organization and I have a good understanding of trauma, abuse and neglect.

My parenting judgements (or lack thereof) aren’t all noble either; sometimes I roll my eyes when parents or babysitters let their kids stuff their faces with sugar or run amok in the movie theatre. I mean, there are limits to everyone’s patience! However, I really do try to give people the benefit of the doubt before I become just another Judgy McJudgerson.

What about you? What’s your take on judging other parents? Do you try to hold back or abstain altogether?

 

Sensitive much?

 

alone black and white boy child

Photo by Kat Jayne on Pexels.com

“Calm down, you’re just being sensitive…” “Oh, don’t pay attention to him, he gets so over-sensitive about everything.”

Sound familiar? Are you or your child often labelled as “sensitive” or “hyper-sensitive”?

Hypersensitivity is common in some types of people such as those with ADHD as well as people who are very creative. I’m sure you’ve heard artists, singers, dancers, painters, and actors who are known for their intense reactions to situations big and small.

I find the link between sensitivity and creativity fascinating. I recently discovered “The Highly Sensitive Person” or HSP which I believe is a term coined by Dr. Elaine Aron. I love her site and blog as well.

While there are many good and exciting things about being a sensitive person (better overall emotional intelligence and the ability to “get” others quickly), it can be annoying to oneself and to others. However, I’ve learned that it’s important to be true to one’s self no matter what – even if others would prefer you to act or think differently.

Do you know anyone who’s “hyper-sensitive” or “overly emotional”? Is that you or your child or spouse? Feel free to comment here or reach out to me via email.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Bell Let’s Talk Day 2019

Bonjour! Hello! Shalom! Hola!

It’s been more than a few years since I last posted. There are many reasons for that: new job, less time, blog burnout…just to name a few.

However, percolating in the back of my mind was a desire to re-start this blog. And, the impetus which finally made me log-in again is two-fold:

  1. Out of the blue, a stranger reached out to me for help after Googling and coming up with my blog and my contact info. She was looking for local resources for her son and family based on her son’s mental health challenges. More on this soon.
  2. It’s Bell Let’s Talk Day here in Canada – and, from what I gather – now across the globe! #BellLetsTalk gets families, kids, parents, individuals and organizations talking openly and honestly about mental health. This is all in the hope of removing the stigma that still surrounds mental health and mental illness.

Anyway, it’s great to be back…there are so many topics pertaining to children & youth in regard to mental health and development. There will never be a dearth of content, news items or ideas.

I’d be happy to hear from you about your challenges or successes when it comes to your child’s or your own mental health and development.

Cheers! For all of you caught in the polar vortex today – keep dry and warm. Only 49 days until Spring arrives.

Lisa

Children’s Mental Health Resources

mentalHealthHere’s a listing of some well-known, larger mental health organizations mixed with smaller, regional locations. If you’re in one of these regions and need help with your child’s mental health issues, please click on the links and reach out.

Kinark Family & Child Services

Offering one-on-one mental health counseling, autism support and group programs for children and youth. Servicing York Region and other smaller regions in north-east Ontario.

Seeds of Empathy

“Sister” organization to Roots of Empathy; this organization fosters emotional literacy in young children.

Strongest Families Institute

Offering counselling services and specific assistance programs via the internet and telephone. Servicing certain areas in Nova Scotia, Ontario and Alberta.

Institute of Marriage and Family Canada

Not a mental health organization per se, the IMFC presents research and studies on issues affecting families. marriage and children in Canada. There are some useful facts and resources on the site.

Early Childhood Development Support Services (ECDSS)

Offering development and training to professionals in the human services sector and home visits to new mothers who face challenges. ECDSS operates in Edmonton, Alberta.

Ominous

She went to chase the storm.The murky waters of mood disorder

Closer it called

Come to me. Come find me.

So she approached. Slowly at first and then more quickly. Exhilerated.

It wasn’t long before the storm engulfed her.

Surrounding, beating, pulsating, bleary, engulfing.

Take me, she said.

Gladly it answered.

Blackness surrounded her and she was happy.

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

changeWelcome (back).

It’s been almost two years to the day that Kids And Mental Health went on hiatus and so much has happened during that time: personal change, career change, relationship change…

It’s a lot of disruption – some good, some bad. But, in keeping with David Bowie: “I’ve turned and faced the strain” and am learning to adapt.

This is a lovely thought on change by Rumi: “Yesterday I was clever, so I wanted to change the world. Today I am wise, so I am changing myself.”

Whether stressful or exhilarating, change is a fact of life. My children, as they grow and evolve, are learning to adapt to new friends, teachers, schools and circumstances.

I’m constantly wondering: If we introduce change in a positive but meaningful and realistic way, can we help our children be more flexible? Does it matter as change will inevitably come to them? We always want to protect our kids – take away (or at least lessen) hurt feelings, pain, slights and embarrassments but so much of how we react to things is based on individual personality.

For instance, It’s taken me a very long time to become philosophical about life changes. At one time, a friend moving away would mean anguish and sadness. Now, while I’d certainly be upset if a good friend moved away, I try to remember that new friends will be made and old friendships can be cherished and nurtured.

How do you, your children and family deal with change? What’s your philosophy on  inevitable life shifts?

When Vicious Behaviour Goes Viral

Towards the Light

Towards the Light

By now, most of the world has heard about Rehteah Parsons’ life and death.

Beautiful, young and said to show great compassion for both humans and animals, Rehteah was sexually assaulted at a party, photographed and then victimized all over again when the photo was posted and shared by who knows how many students.

Ironically, the cause of so much of Rehteah’s pain and torture (social media) is now one of the vehicles being used to express outrage and promote justice.

Just this morning I signed a petition on Change.org demanding an independent inquiry into the police investigation which declared that no crime had taken place regarding both the rape and distribution of graphic and revealing photos. There are also Facebook pages set up, tweets posted and emails being sent to Justice Minister Ross Landry.

Why does it take death and despair to invoke a change in our laws? How can we use social media in a way that’s innovative and useful without promoting hatred, bullying, stress and destruction? Obviously, the way we engage in and rely on social media must change. Now.

Tell Me!

Tell Me!

Recently, I received two non-fiction children’s books written by Leanne Matlow – a counselor and workshop facilitator based in Toronto. Her two books are: Thinking About Thoughts and Tell Me!

Tell Me!, illustrated by Tamar Tal-El, focuses on the worry, anxiety and concern that sometimes consumes children and teens.

In this short colourful book, a pre-teen is worried about her twin sister, Kim. Kim is dealing with an anxiety disorder and the book cleverly and clearly illustrates how one family member’s health concerns can radiate out to affect family and friends. Kim’s sister is frustrated because although she can see that  Kim is suffering and her personality has changed, no one explains what’s going on. She herself feels anxious and alone.

After speaking with her parents, our protagonist understands that Kim is having a difficult time. She begins to see a “coach” named Dr. Simon who later explains to her whole family what’s happening with Kim and how they too can help her out. “Finally, the truth!” says our protagonist.

Dr. Simon goes on to outline the four “superheroes” whom Kim uses to help stay calm and focused. They are:

1) Do-It Guy who tells us it’s best not to avoid; just give it a try.

2) Distraction Dude helps us focus on something else instead of our anxious thoughts.

3) Whoa! Man reminds us how to stop unreal, unwanted or unhelpful thoughts.

4) The Reflector assists us by reminding us of our past successes.

If your child is dealing with anxiety you may want to pick up Tell Me! and use it as a tool for meaningful discussion. Let me know if you do.

Leanne Matlow is a Professional Colleague of the Academy of Cognitive Therapy and an Associate member of the Association for Behavior and Cognitive Therapies. Leanne’s blog for parents can be found at http://lmatlow.blogspot.ca.

You’re the Voice Inside Their Head

Admission: I’ve missed my self-imposed weekly deadline by about 9 hours. You know what? After the day I had yesterday, I’m going to give myself a break. Enjoy the post.

Image

Help me shape my brain, will you?

Being a writer and a “people person” (whether that’s virtual or IRL) I tend to be on social media a lot. Now, I’m not even close to the top of the heap for followers, friends, link-ers, plus-ers, pin-ers, etc., but I do post information, thoughts, images and review others’ posts almost daily.

If you’re on Facebook, you know it’s rife with serious or tongue-in-cheek e-cards, mini-posters and political statements. I see dozens each day. However, recently, a friend posted an inspirational ad which really struck me.

It said something like, “The way you speak to your child will be the voice inside their head.”

Why did it strike such a chord with me? I’m not sure but I’ve been thinking about the statement ever since I saw it. Perhaps it’s because I have so much going on in my own brain – always have. Conversations, admonishments, occasional encouragements, comments, questions, nagging reminders…the list (and those nagging reminders) goes on and on.

If mine is going to be the voice inside my child’s head, I want it to be the practical yet positive lead cheerleader not the bitter, angry football coach. I know firsthand how harsh inner voices (read: critics) can be and, ideally, my children’s not-so-silent inner voices will be shouting out, “Way to go!” and “Keep your head held high” instead of, “Why are you so stupid?” or “Try harder next time, moron”.

What does your inner voice have to say today?