In the process of considering what is the best way for my own children to learn, I’ve spent time discovering more about what hurts and helps children when they are at school. We are in the midst of exciting times in education where hundred-year-old methods are now being examined with a critical eye. It’s also a time when the level of stress in kids is higher than before. Perhaps the combination of these two things will finally bring about real change in education as a whole.
I felt a little guilty yesterday as I rolled through the airport with one small carry-on bag and my purse – and nothing else. I remembered days as a mom of two young kids carrying a stroller and three bags (two crisscrossed over my chest and a backpack overtop that), sweating my way in and out of a bathroom and over to the departure gate - never mind getting myself and the kids through the flight intact!
One of the most-shared parenting articles last year was the Maclean’s magazine cover article: The Collapse of Parenting: Why it’s time for parents to grow up. I am quoted in this article, although I don’t entirely agree with the way the content was weaved together or presented — I’m more of a fan of titles which help parents feel supported than berated.
When I think back to all the wonderful Christmases I had with my family, I can’t remember a single present I received. Rather, I recall that my Dad got the BBQ going through science gadgetry when it was -30 degrees for our “surf and turf” meal, that we often sang at the table, and that we jived in the living room after dinner.
Last year during a particularly cold winter day, as I curled up with the afghan my mother had made for me about forty years ago, I had a sudden urge to make a blanket for each of my children.
At the time, the book The Year of Living Danishly was all the rage, which encouraged us to hunker down into blankets and pillows with candles burning nearby. I imagined having an afghan in progress draped over me all winter was a wonderful way to get through another period of cold.
I haven’t had the opportunity to get away for a vacation for quite sometime because of a new business venture, so I decided to visit Ste. Anne’s Spa with my dear friend, Erica Ehm, as a mini-vacation of sorts.
I remember very clearly the day a neighbour saw me outside with my then three and one-year-olds and remarked, “Wow, I miss those days so much.” I felt like hitting him! That reaction freaked me out and really told me there was something off in my world. I believe I smiled weakly and replied, “Yeah, the hugs are good but I’m sure you don’t miss feeling exhausted All THE TIME.”
We’ve encountered a new situation in our house that has caused me distress and concern: a sleepwalking child.
One night my husband and I were sitting downstairs watching a movie when quietly and suddenly (my children usually walk like elephants) one of my children appeared in the kitchen walking towards us. As he came closer, I could see his eyes were open but were glazed over and distant. We talked to him but he didn’t respond so finally we realized he was sleepwalking.
This past weekend I visited a student of mine just before she started a bone marrow transplant procedure at SickKids Hospital in Toronto. Her parents were delighted to let me know that they had found a perfect match for her. The donor even had the same blood type so unlike what often happens during these kinds of transplants where the blood type changes; hers will stay the same.
When my first child arrived, almost ten years ago, I had concerns back then about the effects of radiation emitted from cell phones, wireless devices, and Wi-Fi. I couldn’t find any definitive study results at the time on how radio frequency radiation (RFR) might be having an impact on my body or that of my baby’s, so to be safe, I may have went a bit overboard. I didn’t have Wi-Fi in the house, a cell phone, or anything beyond a lamp and clock plugged into our bedrooms.
I used to have the mindset that I couldn’t “afford" the things I knew would be helpful to me. Things that would help me while raising my two small children and getting my new business off the ground. The word “mindset” has been important because it was my thinking that stopped me from getting the help I needed more than my financial situation.
After twenty-five years of colouring my hair, at the age of forty-six, I’m going to stop! The crazy thing is that this decision has been a ridiculously difficult one. I’ve stared at myself in the mirror, sweated, lost sleep, and talked myself in circles about what to do.
I first started thinking about not colouring my hair when my frustration level at keeping it my childhood colour (dark brown) got too time consuming, too expensive, and too logistically tricky.
In all these years of studying and writing about tantrums, I admit I was still finding supporting my own children through their big emotions a challenge. I know the scripts, can do the calm-myself-down techniques, and even mostly exercise my own demons, but I was still sometimes flattened by other’s anger outbursts.
The topic of money is often in the news, but the recent American presidential election has increased the visibility of headlines like: “Is America Divided in to ‘Haves’ and ‘Have-nots’?” Assuming your family is similar to mine, you have likely heard questions like this from the children in your house: “Mom, what’s a ‘Have-not’ – are we poor?”
January has been billed as the “saddest month of the year,” but did you know that November is the one most likely to spark meltdowns, stress-reactions, and freakouts? I call this month the “Dark Days of November.” It’s true! In my line of work, it’s quite common this time of year to hear from parents, students, and teachers who are at the ends of their ropes for many different reasons.
Thankfully we can guide our families through the month of November so everyone comes out the other end reasonably intact.
Imagine having your school-aged son taken from your home and sent hundreds of miles away to a boarding school where your worst nightmares of how he might be treated actually happen? This unthinkable event was reality for the Wenjack family and the parents of 163,000 Canadian children who were taken from their families and send to residential schools 50 to 60 years ago.
One of the most painful things to hear our children or students say is: “I’m stupid” or “I’m dumb.” Our first reaction might be to utter something to counter their statement like, “No, you’re not!” but that response may actually not be helpful. Using phrases that show our children how to address their negative core belief thinking and change it will grow their self-confidence and motivation to handle any tough stuff that arises.
I think back to the days when I was a teacher before becoming a parent, which was about twenty years ago. Standing amidst 25 to sometimes 35 students, there were many moments where I just couldn’t think of how to make a student do something he or she was refusing to do.
I admit that sometimes I resorted to punishment rather than positive discipline and all these years later I cringe at those thoughts, wishing I could go back in time to change things. I now have better perspective into the potentially negative effects of that punishment.
If you’ve been following my writing for a while, you’ll be familiar with my “best of” or “favourite resources” posts. I like to survey my readers and colleagues about twice a year to find the parenting resources they find the most helpful.