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Sensitive much?


alone black and white boy child

Photo by Kat Jayne on

“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.


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.


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.


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 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