Wednesday, June 8, 2011

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Monday, January 17, 2011

Self Esteem more important than Sex

New research shows that youth like getting a self-esteem boost more than they do sex, money or food. For example, they would prefer getting a good mark on an exam, or getting a compliment from someone.

Unfortunately there have been some people, including the head of the research team, Brad Bushman, who felt that this wanting a self-esteem boost was addiction like. That getting a compliment was like getting a band-aid for a deep wound; it actually does not solve the problem. This thought completely devalues the importance of self-worth.

Out of all addictions out there, wouldn’t this one seem desired and positive? I would rather my child want a compliment over alcohol at a party or diving in for another snack.

I feel that life is almost all about addictions, or habits. We all have habits, unhealthy and healthy. We need to make choices as to which habits we would like in our lives. Wanting self-esteem boosts, I would say, is a valuable habit.

This study also revealed that we as a society have a massive misconception about youth. We assume all they want is sex, food, booze and money. We are wrong. Maybe we should start trying to help our children do well on exams and tests. Maybe we should pay them a compliment more often. Maybe we should teach them that they are valuable.

Also in a different light, this study shows that our children are craving self-esteem boosts so much, to the point of addiction, because they haven’t been receiving enough at home, if any. So as a parent, here are some ideas to help you boost your child’s self-esteem.

Let your child know that you love them. Daily. Tell them or give them a hug.

Teach your child to hold to their values, as this will build a strong self-esteem.

Help your child develop positive thinking. All actions and behaviours begin as thoughts.

Encourage your child to develop, and spend time in their interests.

Most of all, teach them that they are not defined by a paycheck, how many friends they have, whether or not they have had sex or by anyone or anything else. They are the ones that define themselves. Their value is internal.

How would you boost your child’s/youth’s self-esteem?

Picture from FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Monday, January 3, 2011

Making Goals, Not Wishes For The New Year

A New Years tradition with my family is going out for breakfast on New Years Day. We went to a restaurant. While we were there we ran into some of my wife’s clients. They joked with us about how they were going to start their diets after breakfast. Their joke had me thinking about how lightly goals to change are being taken.

I have met many people who set “goals”. I would call them wishes. They state their goal for the year, say wanting to keep a cleaner home, but do nothing about it. They make no changes to their current system. It’s as if they are hoping fairies will do it for them.

We need to make goals, and do something about them. To get started on our goal making, lets understand a couple of principles so that we can make goals that invoke change in ourselves. You can also use these principles as you help your children make goals for the year.

First, the goals need to be specific to you. Your goals cannot include changing other people. This not only isn’t possible, it will only create frustration. By keeping goals personal, you will be in control of their results.

Second, you need to identify, and specify what your goal is. Your goal can be to change a certain habit, like nail baiting; or it can be to change a current pattern in life, such as to start getting up early; or a behaviour like being kinder; or even task related, such as writing a book. When you identify your goal, you know exactly what you want to accomplish.

Third, the goals you are setting need to be inline with your values and beliefs. If you value your time with your family, you shouldn’t create goals that would interfere with that time. Since in the long run, your goal will not be achieved, because it doesn’t line up with your values.

Fourth, you need to remind yourself of your goal. Set up alarms on your phone, computer, gaming system and anything else that gives you an automatic reminder. Also have it written, or a symbol of it, somewhere in your home, such as beside your TV, computer screen, on the mirror, or on the fridge. This constant reminder will keep your goal at the front of your mind, and prevent it from going onto the backburner.

Fifth, you need to be held accountable. If you can hold yourself accountable to yourself that’s fantastic. If you need to be held accountable by your spouse, parent, teacher, sibling, friend, or someone else, that is fine. This way your goal won’t get lost on the wayside if you hold yourself accountable.

Finally, you need to be S.M.A.R.T. about your goals. April Perry, from the Power of Moms, recommends that we be S.M.A.R.T. about our goals by making them Specific, Measureable, Achievable, Relevant and Time-bound.

As you are S.M.A.R.T. about your goals, and keep these aspects in mind about goal setting, you will be able to make changes to your routines, habits, behaviours, and tasks.

Good luck in your endeavors for 2011!

Photo from

Monday, December 20, 2010

Understanding Why Your Child May Be Impatient

Have you ever asked your child to wait? Especially for something exciting, like their birthday, a visit from friends or family, or an activity. What is their usual reaction when you ask them to wait? Probably negatively.  Have you ever wondered why this may be?

The best thing to do is to try and consider what it is like being in your child’s shoes.  This way you will have an idea about what your child is feeling and thinking. So that you can answer the question “what does your child think when you tell them to wait?”

Let’s do some math, so that we can try and figure out what your child is going through when you ask them to wait. Let’s assume you are 30, and your child is two.

If your child is two, they are (for simplicities sake) 730 days old. Or even 17520 hours old. What does it mean to them when you ask them to wait until tonight, or tomorrow, or next week.

Asking them to wait 2 hours is 0.00011 of their life.

Asking them to wait 12 hours is 0.00068 of their life.

Asking them to wait 1 day is 0.00137 of their life.

Asking them to wait 1 week is 0.00959 of their life.

That doesn’t seem like a lot, none are even a full 1% of their life.  But your child is two, and they are perceiving this world through their two year old eyes, and their two year old life.

So lets understand what your child interprets those wait times into some sort of meaning by putting you, the parent, it their shoes.

Again, lets assume you are 30 years old, or 10950 days old.

So when you ask them to wait 2 hours, it is like asking you to wait 1 day.

When you ask your child to wait 12 hours, it is like asking you to wait 7.5 days.

When you ask your child to wait one day, it is like you waiting 15 days.

Lastly, when you ask your child to wait a week, it is like you waiting 105 days, about 15 weeks, or 3.5 months.

Are you patient when you are told to wait 1 day, 7 days, 15 days, or 105 days? Especially when it is something you are looking forward to. Probably not, because those are long waiting periods for us as adults! 

When we see the world through our eyes and ask our child to wait 12 hours, it is a short time period for us, but not for them. Remember 2 hours of waiting for them is 1 day of waiting for us, 12 hours is 7.5 days, 1 day is 15 days, and 1 week is 3.5 months.

Hopefully now you will have a little understanding of why your child may be so impatient and frustrated when you ask them to wait for something important to them, it is a long time in their little life.

Sunday, November 28, 2010

Parents, Ask Your Kids For A Wish List

It’s that time of year again! Santa is making a list, and checking it twice! But how about you parents, do you have a Christmas list? Do you know what your children want for Christmas?  You might be able to save yourself some time and money by asking your children what they want.

I know Toys R Us puts out a top 100 toys of the year list.  This list is no where near accurate.  It is more of a list telling you what Toys R Us wants to be the top selling’s gifts for your kids for the holiday season.  However, if you survey kids and ask them what they want for Christmas and you get a totally different list. iPod Touch, iPhone and iPad rank the top of a recent survey compared to Bananagrams on some toy stores hot-list items. 

However, instead of taking hints from companies what your children want for Christmas, why don’t you ask them?

Grab the Sears catalogue, or some other sort of flyer that comes in the mail, and ask your children to circle what they want for Christmas.  Use colour coding if you have more than one child circling in the flyer.  You may be surprised to know what they want or don’t want for Christmas.  Your child is a unique individual who may not fit the “want” standards put out by a toy company, that’s why you need to ask them.

Another option, depending on the age of your child, is to have them make a list of what they want.  I realize this may take the “surprise” out of Christmas.  At least they will know they are getting something they want, and the surprise will be which items off of the list they will be getting.

If you have infants and toddlers who can’t express what they want for Christmas, maybe consider what you are buying them for Christmas.  Chances are they probably won’t remember what you get them; so don’t be over elaborate in what you buy them.  Maybe consider wrapping up diapers, wipes, bibs, or other infant needs as presents for your infant.  Your toddler probably has expressed interest in a theme, like Dora the Explorer or Toy Story; if that is the case, get them something related to that theme.

By asking your children what they want for Christmas, you prevent getting them something that has a one-day novelty and then is placed on the shelf or in the closet for the rest of their childhood.  So go ahead, and get a list from them.

How have you, or will you find out what your children want for Christmas?

Picture from FreeDigitalPhotos.Net

Sunday, November 14, 2010

Sexual Abuse: Myths & Warning Signs

I am going to address a topic that often doesn’t want to be discussed amongst parents.  That topic is sexual abuse.  I don’t want to flower over the seriousness of this, nor do I want parents to live in fear. I will walk the tight rope of balancing those feelings.

To start I am going to talk about four myths that are prevalent, followed by recommendations and warning signs.

The first myth that I want to dispel is that only girls are sexually abused.  Boys too are sexually abused.  As evidence I recommend reading the Sheldon Kennedy story, or the Theoren Fleury story (or watch the documentary here).

The second myth that is commonplace is that the perpetrators are strangers.  You know, that creepy guy peeking over the newspaper looking at you in the park. While this does happen, and receives a lot of media attention, this is not true. About 75% of the time victims know their abuser (such as the Elizabeth Smart case, and my two other examples).

The third myth is that sexual assaults can be prevented.  While safety protections can be put in place, sexual abuse predators cannot be stopped.  Perpetrators are efficient in luring in their victims.  I once heard of a father who told his daughter to fight to the death instead of being sexually abused.  Imagine the regret that daughter will feel if she is actually sexually abused. So please, know that sexual assaults can’t be stopped.

The fourth myth is that the victim asked for it, and that it is the victim’s fault.  While this ties in closely with the third point, it is different.  Our society seems to place the onus for the abuse on the victim, and that everything is their fault. By the way they were dressed, by things they said or didn’t say. No one ever wants to be sexually abused. It is not the victim’s fault.  It is the perpetrators, always.

As a parent, you need to establish an open relationship with your child, so that if abuse ever happens they can talk to you.  A perpetrator will do their best to make the abuse a secret; this usually involves making threats to the child’s safety, or to someone or something they love.  This is why you need to be close to your child, so that they can be open with you.  When I worked with parents of sexually abused kids, I would encourage the parents to use the word “surprised” instead of “secret”.  For example instead of telling your children you got a present for grandma and want them to keep it a secret, tell them that it is a surprise.  This will help decipher bad secrets from good surprises.

You also need to educate your child (age appropriately) about sexual abuse.  The most comfortable way I have found working with parents, is to use a “strike zone” like in baseball, instead of trying to describe body parts (which would be reserved for an older age).  A strike zone is from your knees to your shoulders, and no one should touch you in your strike zone, over or under clothing.  Do let your child know of exceptions, like doctors, nurses, bath times, and so on.

Here are some of the warning signs that sexual abuse may be happening.  Now please note these are just common indicators, just because their may be signs showing through doesn’t mean sexual abuse is happening.  In the same way, sexual abuse may be happening without any of the warning signs.

Physical Signs
  • Difficulty sitting or walking
  • Torn, stained, or bloody underwear
  • Genital/anal itching, pain, swelling, or burning
  • Genital/anal bruises or bleeding
  • Frequent urinary tract or yeast infections
  • Pain while urinating
  • Sexual Transmitted Disease
  • Pregnancy
  • Chronic unexplained sore throats
  • Loss of appetite
  • Weight loss/gain
  • Frequent stomach aches
  • Frequent headaches

Behavioral Signs
  • Frequently tired
  • Bedwetting
  • Nightmares
  • Depression
  • Irritability
  • Anger
  • Low self-esteem
  • Guilt
  • Avoidance of people
  • Sexual advances or inappropriate touching
  • Sexual drawings

If you suspect sexual abuse, seek help immediately, do not wait.

Some extra articles I recommend are:

Sunday, October 31, 2010

What to do with all that candy

Hallowe’en has officially come and gone.  You have taken the effort to get your children all dressed up to go and get candy (whether on Saturday or Sunday night).  Now you have a collection of candies, too much to consume at any sitting, or during any one week.  So what should you do?

Here are a couple of ideas of what to do with all that candy!

First, you should start filtering through the candy for anything that may not be suitable for your child.  Allergies are super sensitive in your child, so if they have a nut, milk, or some other kind of allergy, take them out before your child tries to eat one.  I realize you probably have done this already, but just take extra precautions since a lot of candies are small and could be over looked.

Second, you should start rationing the candy.  Set a reasonable, age appropriate, ration on the candy.  For example, two treats for lunch, two after school, and two after supper.

Third, award treats for good behaviour.  If your child wants more treats, ask them to do chores around the house.  For each chore they do, give them an extra candy.  If they finish their homework extra early, reward them.

Fourth, use the candies for bargaining.  If your child wants to watch extra TV, video games, or play time, have one candy after supper instead of two.

Fifth, maybe have a couple candies to yourself to help ease the sugar-rush-burden on your child.

Happy candy eating’s!

What are some things you are doing to ration your child’s candy intake?