Tag Archives: children

5 Tips to Help Deal with Sassy Kids

kids-on-grass-2It seems to be that there comes a time in every child’s life when they transition from a cute and loving child, to a snarky and sassy tween or teen.  In this phase, kids go from good-natured to short-tempered, accommodating to resisting, happy to hold your hand to embarrassed to even be seen with you.


Let the eye-rolling begin.

Some parents roll with this change with remarkable good humour and grace; the rest of us may end up resorting to less-than-helpful responses to our kids.  If you think you may fall into that second category, here are five tips for getting your relationship back onto a better path.

1. Take a deep breath and don’t take it personally. 

Yes, it’s true that sometimes our kids can find just the right thing to say to cut us to the quick.  But they’re not necessarily trying to wound us that deeply, they’re often just trying out different ways of relating to others and seeing which ones give them a feeling of control and confidence.  It’s ok to respond calmly with something like, “That was very disrespectful.  I don’t like being spoken to that way, and I’m going to leave the room until we can agree that we’ll speak to each other more pleasantly.”

2. Harness the power of role modelling. 

As much as parents like to joke about the “do as I say, not as I do” method of parenting, children don’t tend to see the humour in it.  While there’s no doubt they can quite effectively push our buttons, a part of them is watching us to see how we’ll handle it.  Our kids look to us to learn how to behave in the world, and if we respond to them with anger, or an attempt at control by trying to put them in their place, then they learn that this is an effective way of responding to someone who is upsetting them.  While it might not seem like it in the moment, continuing to model respectful behavior towards our kids (and ourselves) does give them a blueprint for how to stand up for themselves appropriately and how to navigate difficult conversations.

3. Take a time out. 

We often get into the habit of believing that every parenting issue must be dealt with immediately.  But the reality is that sometimes we all need space to cool down, before we can get a real handle on the situation and think about the big picture.  It’s ok to tell your children, “We’ll talk about this later,” and then follow through and do it.

4. Catch them being good. 

You may have heard this phrase before; it’s something of a staple in parenting.  If we catch more flies with honey, than we want to be on the look-out for opportunities to acknowledge and appreciate those times when our kids express themselves assertively while still being respectful.  They don’t have to be talking to you; if you happen to overhear a conversation between two of your children, or one of your kids and a friend, it’s ok to pull your child aside later and quietly let them know that you thought she handled herself very well in that difficult situation.

5. Keep a healthy perspective.

While you may worry that the attitude demonstrated at home may be transported out there into the world at large, you can breathe easy knowing that it typically isn’t the case.  Kids generally reserve their worst behavior for family (lucky us), and they have a pretty good idea of what would and wouldn’t be considered acceptable with friends and other adults.

These little moments may not be the best part of parenting, but hang in there.  Keep in mind that a strong relationship is your best insurance against the dismissive and disrespectful attitude from our children, so don’t lose touch with them.  Find opportunities to chat and share, create little moments of connection, and soon the scales will start to tip in the other direction.

 By: Andrea Ramsay Speers

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Being A Mother & Having A Successful Career: The Delicate Balance Of Having It All

The-best-top-desktop-purple-wallpapers-purple-wallpaper-purple-background-hd-28I always knew that I wanted to be a mother. I dreamed of having children of my own to love and care for and was thrilled when my children, Madeleine & Nicholas, were born. They are an absolute joy and having them in my life is such a natural fit for me. They have enriched my life in more ways than I could ever adequately express and I love them dearly. But I also knew that I wanted a career. I didn’t always know exactly what it was that I wanted to do, but I never expected not to have to work. The thought of having a job always excited me.

As the years went by, things seemed to fall nicely into place: I was married, owned a home and a business, worked, volunteered, and took care of my children. I had a busy social life, a wide circle of friends, and was very active in my community. But then everything changed. I’ll spare you the details but, needless to say, it wasn’t pretty. My relationship of 20+ years was over. I found myself taking care of 2 children on my own, having to find a job that allowed me to be the mother I wanted to be and the career woman I now needed to be.

I had previously spent many years in the hospitality industry and also worked as a performer. Now, as a single mother, restaurant hours were impossible to keep and a career in the performing arts seemed like a frivolous pursuit. So I did something that many people are terrified of doing: I started over.

I saw this as an opportunity for reinvention and rebirth. I thought about everything that I liked, everything I was good at, everything I wanted, and everything I needed. I made seemingly endless lists. I took a free career planning course. I researched the requirements for every job that sounded even remotely interesting and I conducted informational interviews to help me narrow down the field of possibilities. I did absolutely everything that I could possibly do for free because there was no way that I was going to pay a single cent towards anything, until I was certain that I was making the right decision. I didn’t feel as though I had the luxury of being able to make any more mistakes. I wanted to get this right, even if it took a little longer to get there.

When I’d finally settled upon a few options, I had 3 main criteria:

1) Would I really enjoy it?

2) Would this career be a good fit with my family life?

3) If schooling was required, which program allowed me to obtain the highest academic credentials in as little time as possible?

When all was said and done, I chose to go back to school to become a Certified Image Consultant & Stylist which, ironically, was something I had already done for friends and family over the years anyway. I was always the person that everyone wanted to take shopping with them. People admired my sense of taste and style and I realized that I could actually get paid for doing what I’d always done for free! Imagine that! I definitely had moments of doubt but, for the most part, I was filled with excitement and exhilaration for what the future had in store.

My studies went exceedingly well. I made incredible connections and was presented with wonderful opportunities for growth and personal development. My newfound career path was such a perfect fit that I honestly don’t know why I hadn’t pursued it sooner! Workshop facilitation, speaking engagements, freelance writing assignments, and invitations to countless fashion and beauty events soon followed. Now, whenever I tell someone what I do for a living, the response is usually a version of this: “How exciting! It sounds like you have it all!” I have heard that phrase so often that it has forced me stop and think about what “having it all” really means.

For me, having it all used to mean having everything that money could buy. It was about the acquisition of stuff, about status and bragging rights, in addition to all of the “normal” wants and needs of life, love, and relationships. Now it’s all about choice and compromise.

My life has 4 main components:

1) my private time

2) my life as a mother

3) my business world

4) my social life

Each component is important to me and helps me to be a well-rounded individual. I’ve listed them in that order because that is the order of their importance to me. Some of you have already gasped and said, “Why on earth did she put her private life before her life as a mother?!!!” That’s easy: my private life takes 2 – 3 hours out of every day and happens before my children wake up each morning and after they go to bed at night. It does not detract from the time I spend with them in any way and, in fact, makes me a better mother. During my private time, I plan my day, meditate, exercise, listen to music, read, and unwind. That’s it. Nothing salacious here, so relax. That “me time” just makes me a happier, more grounded person, with the ability to face each day with a smile and to sleep soundly at night.

These are my choices. I own them and they work for me. If and when they stop working for me, I know that I will have the freedom and the opportunity to make other choices and adapt my lifestyle accordingly. That, to me, is the ultimate objective of having it all.

So where does compromise come into play? What gets sacrificed? Everyone who knows me is aware that my children come first. If there is a school event or excursion, a difficult homework assignment, a project to complete, a test to study for, or if a child is sick, my social plans will be cancelled and my business engagements will be rescheduled. It’s as simple as that. No exceptions. Luckily for me, being self-employed allows me to get most of my work done while my children are at school, so they rarely see me working or feel my absence. They’re actually quite happy when I have to go out to a meeting or an event in the evening, as they thoroughly enjoy their time at home alone.

Of course, having it all involves a tremendous amount of hard work! I was not born independently wealthy, nor have I won the lottery. It is a mistake to think that those we perceive as having it all laze about at the beach all day, piña colada in hand. People who have it all are some of the busiest, hardest working people on the planet. What they do with the money they earn is their business and they are free to spend it as they see fit, but they must earn it before they can spend it.

I used to live a life that, to the outside world, appeared as though I had it all. But I didn’t. People just assumed I did and I never disabused them of that notion because I felt as though it would have brought shame to myself, my family, and our business. Now I proudly tell people the truth about my past life. It wasn’t always pleasant, but it did help shape me into the woman I am today. My life now, although much simpler, is so much more fulfilling. I have a home I love, my children are happier than they’ve ever been, I thoroughly enjoy my work, I have meaningful relationships, I laugh and have fun every day, and I do things that I enjoy doing. I have given up a lot, but I don’t miss it. I make better choices for myself and for my children and we are all better for it. So, if you ask me if I have it all, my answer would be an unequivocal, “Yes, I do!”

Your version of having it all and mine might not be the same, but you are free to interpret it however you please and to do whatever it takes for you to achieve your goals. In spite of all of the self-help books lining the shelves of your favourite bookstore, there is no a one-size-fits-all diet, relationship guide, or career-planning manual.  What worked for me might not work for you and that’s okay. Having the choice to do what you want, to try different things, to add a number of life’s experiences to your personal shopping cart, and the ability to compromise as you see fit, that’s having it all.

By: Elizabeth Friesen

Elizabeth Friesen

10 Mental Health Tips for Students

student_mentalhealth_universityIt’s that time again – when the temperature starts dipping little by little, and back-to-school shopping supplies are advertised wherever you go. If you’re heading off to university or college for the first time, or are heading back for your last year of graduate studies, these ten tips will help you thrive and survive throughout this upcoming school year!

Students have the luxury to spend their days learning about (hopefully) what they are passionate about. University/college is also the place where you learn to push yourself intellectually and emotionally. Often, this can lead to burnout and exhaustion. We all know what happens when we reach that point… You sit in the library in front of your laptop, blankly staring at it, sitting for a couple of hours before finally getting started. Worse, you could spend your year feeling continuously unfulfilled, unbalanced and unhappy.

How do we prevent this?

You could use that time so much more wisely! Imagine if you could avoid burnout and intellectual exhaustion, instead thriving in both academics and mental wellbeing. We can take steps to prevent burnout mid-way through the semester. By implementing actions in your life that lead to balance and stress-reduction, you should be able to feel as though you’re thriving in both academics and mental wellbeing.

1. Connect with others

Make time for your friends and family. If you feel overwhelmed by how much you have going on, try scheduling a phone call with your parents instead of impromptu calls. This can help you feel like you have more control over your schedule. Prioritize friendships and staying in touch. Positive relationships with the people around us are incredibly healing and important for our mental health.

2. Take time for hobbies

A lot of people get to college or university and give up their hobbies. Love piano? See if there is a music room in your residence for you to practice! Love sports? Get involved in some intramurals! It’s a great way to meet friends and maintain balance in your life.

3. Contribute to your community

Volunteering in a new community can be one of the most rewarding acts you can undertake at university or college. If you’re living in a new city or town, it can help you get familiar with neighbourhoods and areas that you might not already know. Find volunteer positions that are fun for you! It’s an amazing way to meet like-minded people, and will look amazing on your resume once you’re finally finished school.

4. Get involved in your school’s extracurriculars

Getting involved in your school’s extracurricular activities, like mentoring and student counsel’s, are a great way to gain skills that can be applied to settings outside of the university or college. You’ll often be thrown into this new environment and learn time management, learn about long-term commitment, boosts your relationship skills and your self-esteem.

5. Take care of your (physical) self

You finally have the ability to live off of pizza and chips if you want! However, I can guarantee that a diet of soda and junk-food is going to leave you feeling sluggish and low-energy in no time. Make healthy eating a priority in your cafeteria and see what healthy options are available. You might also have access to an athletic centre at your school. Physical activity is an excellent motivator and de-stressor. In addition, exercising GIVES you energy, rather than draining you! So if you’re looking for an energy boost, try hitting the gym!

6. Get enough zzz’s

Sleep allows your brain to take in new information the next day, and consolidate memories from the day before. How are you supposed to retain all of the new information from your classes if you don’t give yourself enough sleep?

7. Make time for de-stressing routines

Take the time to meditate, do yoga, read your favourite book (for pleasure!) at least once a week. You might feel like prioritizing these isn’t important, but later down the road when you find yourself calm and collected instead of stressed out and nervous for your exams, you’ll be happy to have implemented these routines. In addition, it’s great to get a start on stress management techniques at an early age. Stress affects your physical health in addition to your mental health, so it’s important to keep under control.

8. Buy a day planner

If all of these activities and routines sound daunting to you, don’t worry! It’s completely doable! All you need to invest in is a trust day-planner. You can create blocks of time that you designate for stress management, intramurals, volunteering, friend and family time. You can ensure that you’re setting yourself up for a balanced week where you feel well taken care of and fulfilled.

9. Take a break

Make sure you give yourself periods of time where nothing is planned. Spontaneity can lead to some of your best school-related memories! You could end up exploring parts of campus that you had never anticipated, or go out with your friends to a new part of the city that you had never been. Make time in that schedule of yours for a little wiggle-room and flexibility.

10. Ask for help

Above all else, make sure you ask for help from a mental health professional who you trust. Having someone you trust to discuss your concerns, hopes and aspirations with can help to bring clarity, focus and drive to your year.

By: Kaya Quinsey

Kaya Quinsey Mental Health Professional