Tag Archives: creativity

Shake It Up For ADHD

adhdAre you aware of the advocacy group CADDAC (Centre for ADHD Awareness Canada)? This organization (and its sister org CADDRA) is a useful resource for parents, families, psychologists, educators and those diagnosed with ADHD themselves.

Today, on the CADDAC blog, there’s a useful explanation of a new University of Mississippi study indicating that movement actually helps facilitate learning and growth for children with attention deficit hyperactivity disorder. From the study: “Hyperactive movements associated with the disorder may allow children with ADHD to enhance their cognitive abilities.”

This makes sense in many ways as many of us (even those without ADHD) feel the need to stand up, “fidget”, tap fingers or toes, twirl hair, or bounce up and down to get our creative juices flowing.

Sitting still for long periods of time not only inhibits healthy development and may cause severe health implications but, for children with ADHD, it can cause stress and dissuade imagination and working memory. 

Is positive thinking the key for kids?

Here’s more from U of M: “By allowing the hyperactive behaviors to continue, children with ADHD are able to increase their arousal and remain alert in the classroom. Yet conventional teaching and treatment methods demand ADHD children remain still, and the ability to focus on the lesson is lost in the child’s struggle to focus on not squirming or fidgeting, said Sarver.”

These days, many educators and teachers (at least in our school board) better understand that occasional movement, special seating arrangements, more frequent “health breaks” and re-imagined dynamics not only allows all students to more fully enjoy school but allows those with ADHD to fit in, become more engaged and reach their full learning potential.

While meds like Adderall or Vyvanse may work for some, others might be interested in choosing an alternative to Western medicine by way of natural supplement. Here’s an informative article that may shed light on questions about supplements: https://www.cognitune.com/best-natural-adderall-alternatives/

Please note: This article was shared by agreement with myself and Cognitune.

Maybe It’s the Music

Take the edge off with some tunes.

Take the edge off with some tunes.

Mornings can be rough in our home. Nine times out of ten someone’s had a crappy sleep or is having a grouchy morning. If we get out to school/work on time, it’s a very good day.

My personal issue is that no matter how many times I tell myself, “Be patient” (through closed eyes and clenched teeth), I often end up yelling, cajoling, or making threats — No video games after school! No dessert after dinner! — in order to get the crew moving. That’s not fun for any of us.

However, the other day, I put a few videos on YouTube while the kids were doing last minute school prep. Before everyone got too stressed out, the mood lightened as we listed to Trouble by Taylor Swift and Dynamite by Taio Cruz. Heads bobbed, lyrics were sung… it was a very relaxing and fun way to head out the door.

Anything I can do to avoid the crazy half-dressed-where-are-my-socks-I-can’t-open-the-toothpaste-cap type of morning is absolutely worth it. And, if music is added to the mix? Even better.

For Extreme Parenting Read The Glass Castle

This post contains affiliate links meaning that if you purchase this book through my link below, I may receive a commission.

Have you read The Glass Castle? Written by Jeannette Walls, now a successful American writer and reporter, this memoir takes the reader on an unbelievable journey through a traumatic, wild, raw childhood in the American south.

Next time you feel guilty about not being able to give your child the latest gadget, activity or toy, read The Glass Castle – it will instantly make you feel like you’re the best parent in the world.

Even now on my second read, I gasp at the outrageous acts of neglect foisted on Jeannette and her three siblings by parents, Rex and Rose Mary. These children often went for days without food, heat, electricity, proper clothing or even needed medical attention.

Here are a just a few examples from the book:

  • In the book’s opening chapter, Jeannette, at three years old, is cooking hotdogs on the stove top. Her pink dress catches on fire and she suffers severe burns. Rushed to the hospital, she entertains herself by picking at dead skin, happy to stay in the hospital where she receives fresh food, enjoys a cozy, clean bed and has a TV all to herself. She’s not eager to leave.
  • At one point the family moves to Welsh, West Virginia. First staying with Rex’s mother and father, a dour, unkind couple, the family later moves to a heatless, rusted old shack where they sleep in boxes, rarely have enough to eat and are traumatized by river rats who sneak into their home.
  • Jeannette suffers a nasty gash in her leg from a rusty nail. Her mother takes a quick look and declares it nothing but a flesh wound.
  • We find out later that Rose Mary inherited Texas land from her mother worth well over a million dollars. She could have sold the land to pay for the family’s food, medical expenses, and education. She never does.

Sure, the family enjoys extreme adventures – moving constantly from city to city, state to state, and all four children learn more about physics, astronomy, art, history, geography and hard knocks from their parents and their own ingenuity than the average child.

However, it’s only through sheer luck – or a kind angel looking down on the family – that anyone in the Walls’ family survives.

Virtual Sunshine

Blue Skies, Nothin' But Blue Skies...

Blue Skies, Nothin’ But Blue Skies…

After a fun and fruitful winter break with kids, friends and family, the January blahs are setting in. Sure, it’s sunny and relatively mild in my city today but, still, it is January.

With school back in session, extracurricular activities beginning, and work deadlines looming, feelings of warm sun and spring air are still well beyond my grasp.

So, I figure, if we can’t enjoy the real thing, please allow me bring you a  little bit of virtual sunshine:

Kind Over Matter — A beautifully-designed blog about kindness, gentleness and love.

An Invisible Thread — An absolutely heartwarming true story about a woman’s “chance” meeting with a hungry, poor child and the relationship that followed.

Call Me Hannah — A relatively new (but very popular) blog created by a 9-year-old girl who wants to inspire others to be generous and open-hearted.

The Dancing Egg — Written by journalist Caren Chesler, this engaging blog (also featured on Huffington Post), features the musings of a woman who had a baby at the age of 47.

Character Community — A volunteer-driven foundation dedicated to “nurturing positive character attributes and enhancing York Region as a desirable place to live, learn, work, and play.”

Please let me know if you have other stories, blogs or sites that might balance out January’s mental malaise – and Happy New Year!

Is Your Kid’s Glass Half Full?

Is positive thinking the key for kids?

Is positive thinking the key for kids?

I haven’t been feeling motivated to blog lately. That’s ironic because today’s post is all about positive thinking.

As a freelance writer and researcher, it can be hard to stay positive and focused. Deadlines and money are certainly motivators but when writers pitch ideas to magazines or bid on projects without an immediate return,

it can be difficult to stay on track.

What about kids? What keeps them positive and motivated? Certainly personality plays a part. My own children have wildly different personalities: one tends to be naturally upbeat, curious and positive while the other tends to be more serious, philosophical and wary.

Parents and teachers also influence this thinking. A study, written about in The Atlantic, found that parents have a role in helping children learn how to use positive thinking to feel better when things get tough. Re-framing potentially negative situations into positive ones helps children to cope with stress.

While I’m not going to suggest that positive thinking is the be-all and end-all of emotional success, I am trying to put into practice more of a “glass-is-half-full” approach. Teaching children to be grateful, optimistic and to re-frame situations is a life-long skill that can be used during challenges with school, friends, homework or family.

Do you or the children in your life tend to fall into the “half full” or “half empty” category? What have you done to teach kids to see the positive? I’m eager to hear your thoughts on this matter.

4 Reasons Why Every Kid Needs an Outlet for Self-Expression

Image

Creativity Alive

Hello, Readers. I was approached by my guest poster, Lauren. She inquired about writing an article for KidsAndMentalHealth.ca. I admit being both flattered and skeptical but, I was pleased with Lauren’s submission and post it here. I hope you enjoy it!

Everyone needs to have something in their life that they love to do and are good at. Far too often we see parents trying to figure out what their child loves to do, or, even worse, demanding that they partake in some sort of after-school activity in order to “do” something. However, when left to their own devices, all children will gravitate toward the things that they love to do.

And, more often than not, the things they love will develop into a special talent. Not only is this an important part of childhood development, it’s an important aspect of life for people of all ages. So, whether you child loves art, music, writing, science, sports, or fashion, the importance of unique self-expression cannot be stated enough. Read on for the top reasons why your child should be allowed to find his own way to do what he loves.

1. Builds Confidence

When a child discovers an activity that he or she loves, they will want to practice that activity as much as possible. This will lead to mastery and a huge boost of confidence for the child. Learning how to work hard toward something that they cares about, and seeing the positive results of that hard work, will bestow your child with the confidence to pursue all types of new things.

2. Reminder That Everyone is Different

During the childhood years, there can be so much pressure to do and like the same things as everyone else. But, as adults, we now know that just because the coolest girl in school loves gymnastics, it doesn’t mean that everyone else needs to like or be good at gymnastics, too. When your child has the chance to explore his own likes and dislikes, discover activities that he excels at, and become confident in those gifts, the world begins to become a broader and more accepting place in his own mind.

3. Creates Unique Personal Goals

How many times have we come across a grown adult who has only just begun to consider doing something with his life that he actually cares about? When a child has the opportunity to express and explore the things that come most naturally, he will have a head start on discovering his hidden talents and sources for future success.

4.  Reinforces Well-Rounded Development

The school system as we know it does not place much emphasis on development of creative outlets for students, and if a student does not fit in to excelling at either academics or sports, he or she runs the risk of feeling very left out.  And, even if your child loves something that is practiced in the school system, like sports, for example, he or she may not make the team. Unfortunately, these educational models do not do enough to foster the development of a well-rounded individual. Children, whether at home or in the classroom, need the opportunity to explore and develop in all areas, and finding a unique form of self-expression will allow them to do so.

By-line:

This guest post is contributed by Lauren Bailey, who regularly writes for accredited online colleges. She welcomes your comments at: blauren99 @gmail.com. 

Exploring Van Gogh’s Mind

Van Gogh's self-portrait taken from Wikipaedia

In an earlier post focused on the connection between creativity and mental illness, there were some excellent comments, including people asking to know more about Van Gogh (the famous European painter) and his well-documented challenges with mental illness and inner demons.

After conducting research, I’ve found that Van Gogh suffered (and, yes, I will use the word “suffer” as he seemed to live a rather tortured life) from a host of mental and emotional health problems.

Van Gogh smoked extensively, drank absinthe (a potent and sometimes lethal alcoholic beverage), and massive amounts of coffee, and is said to have a very poor and nutritionally-empty diet. These factors, of course, could have spurred on or impacted any of his emotional or mental conditions.

In addition to self-diagnosed epilepsy, Van Gogh lived with bipolar disorder, possible sun stroke, Meniere’s Disease, lead poisoning, hallucinations and depression.

Living with one of these illnesses could be debilitating but, the fact that Van Gogh was able to create works of art while battling chronic malnutrition, addiction and mental and physical illness is an amazing feat! I continue to be amazed by the secret lives of artists. However, as Susan K says in the comments section linked above in this post, is the price of mental illness worth it to the people who live it?

The Play Date Conumdrum

Play with me?

Today is a slow day. I’m trying desperately to get ready for a full-time gig that’s coming up in the next few weeks.

My husband has a cold today and has plopped himself on the couch, yet the kids are bored and chores need to be done. My son has a play date scheduled for later today, and my daughter desperately wants to play with someone. We’ve tried two different neighbours but they’re both busy.

I have a tendency to take things too personally; whether that’s someone who doesn’t want to “play” with me or a kid that doesn’t want to play with my child. It’s not like there was  a date scheduled in advance – we just showed up at the neighbours’ doors but, I still think children should be pleasant and polite even if they can’t play. One child just said, “No” as soon as my daughter cheerfully asked if he wanted to play. However, the other child was much kinder with the father explaining that they’re putting on a party for relatives today. Completely understandable but my poor daughter is disappointed.

What do you think? How do you handle bored and distracted children? Do you tell other children to be polite and respectful or just bite your tongue? Do you just slough off no-go play dates?

Novel Idea: How Books Spur Imagination

Got books?

This post doesn’t have a lot to do with kids or mental health except that I’m thrilled to be sharing my love of books, writing and reading with my children. I hope that they grow to cherish books and magazines and the art of the written word as much as I do.

So much can be gained from reading and thinking about books. Bored? Read the latest best seller or a long lost classic. Lonely? Off to the book store to fondle the gorgeous paper backs, hard covers and glossy magazines. Feeling blue? Write a short story about it.

I’m in two book clubs. Both of the clubs tend to focus on literary fiction. Today I participated in one book club’s meeting. The novel of choice was Come, Thou Tortoise by Jessica Grant. I didn’t have an opportunity to finish the book but I can say it defies quirkiness and creativity. If you like word play and, um, tortoises, give it a read.

It’s my turn to chose the next selection for book club # 2. I’ve chosen The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. Originally, I thought the book version stemmed from a long-standing blog but, I don’t see anything confirming this idea on Rubin’s web site. If you go to Rubin’s site, check out the Foreign Cover Gallery under About the Book – very cool.  I can’t wait to get my hands on The Happiness Project and, ideally, get happier as a result. Bring it.

Baby You’re A Firework: Creativity and Mental Illness

Oooohhhh!

I was trying to think of a way to mesh a blog post about fireworks together with the topic of famous people living with mental illness. You see,  it’s Victoria Day here in Canada and many people celebrate by setting off fireworks during the long weekend.

So, how’s this for a connection? Apparently Russell Brand lives with bipolar disorder (formally called manic depression). Brand is married to Katy Perry who sings the extremely catchy tune, “Firework.”  A creative segue is now made.

Apparently, Robert Munsch (author), Linda Hamilton (actress) and Edvard Munch (painter) also have/had bipolar disorder or depression.There’s also a huge number of well-known people who are said to be affected by Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder, too. Here’s a short list: Jim Carrey, Cameron Diaz, Bill Cosby, Avril Lavigne, Magic Johnson, and Paris Hilton.

It makes sense of course: There’s a long standing connection between mental illness, intelligence and creativity.  Some say that one must suffer for one’s art.

What do you think? Do you think that all brilliant artists “suffer” from some form of mental illness? Do you feel that passion is born from pain?