Skip to main content

Posts

Things to do with our kids that can help end bullying

I hate bullying. I have been privy to hundreds, and likely thousands, of stories of the devastating effects of it in the children that have come through my office doors. However, I think sadly most of our attempts to stop bullying miss the mark.

Years ago one of my favourite professors and a well-respected expert on children’s behaviours told me that I should never tell a child to do something a dead person could do. What he meant by this is that children are designed to think in terms of action and not inaction. Rather than telling them to stop doing something we should give them something active to do.

Instead of telling kids to stop bullying we need to tell them what to do instead. I think the thing we need to be asking our children to do and training them in is empathy. Simply put, empathy is imagining the experience of others. Through practicing empathy kids get better at it. We all do.
Empathy allows children to know when they are being hurt and know when those around them are …
Recent posts

Small Changes- Big Results

Often times when we think of changes we want to make in our lives we imagine dramatic transformations like strict obedience to workout regimens, major reorganization in diets or huge shifts in the way we parent. However- thinking about change in this way often makes it feel overwhelming.

In working with families I’ve learnt that dramatic change- whether I think it’s needed or not- doesn’t often work out. I’ve been lucky to share space in thousands of families lives over the years and within that invitation have been lucky to observe or be part of some huge changes. None of them started out as a major change though. All of them started with a small change.

I remember hearing a story years ago about a train arriving at a station it wasn’t meant to be at. When the route was reviewed it was discovered that a switch had accidentally been engaged hundreds of miles earlier. The switch was small, taking up only a few feet of track and worked through a simple mechanical mechanism. However, be…

Being Emotionally Available builds Secure Attachment

Josh is going to get a little personal here.

In 2018 I ran for city council. It was an excellent experience that I will never forget but it was also a dramatic stressor on my family.

The night of the all candidates forum, just as I was about to walk out the door, my then seven-year-old son looked at me and said, "when is normal dad going to be back?"

Those words went straight to my heart.

It was difficult to explain to my emotionally vulnerable son why I was doing what I was doing, and how after campaigning, even if I got elected, I would be more available to him- or at least that was the plan.

When I didn't get elected, my children joyfully celebrated (punks). They weren't celebrating because I lost, they were celebrating because they believed their dad was going to "be back". Routine and structure might return to what it looked like before this whirlwind year. Their dad was going to be emotionally available.

Emotional availability, simply put, is being t…

Nerdy Parenting’s Comprehensive Guide to Helping Kids Sleep Better

Establishing and maintaining healthy sleep patterns is one of the most important things we can do for our children. Sleep impacts nearly every area of functioning. When I assess anxiety, depression, emotional regulation, behavioural problems or any other concern related to mental health in childhood- sleep is one of the first things I ask about. Also, children’s sleep concerns can dramatically influence parent’s sleep patterns, capacity and the quality of life experienced within the home.

Before we talk about how much sleep children need and how to help them get it, it’s important to consider how sleep has changed historically for humans. Prior to the invent of artificial lighting and debatably smart phones- humans typically slept in direct conjunction with natural light cycles. Initially, and still practiced in some hunter-gatherer societies, humans slept in small groups around a fire. Safety was determined by the presence of the group and the maintenance of the fire. As we found or…

Panic Attacks! What they are and what to do.

What's the deal with Panic Attacks? Panic attacks suck. They are one of the most overwhelming emotional experiences within our emotional rolodex. As someone who has had a number of panic attacks over the years, I can attest that they are some of the most uncomfortable moments in my life- worse even than hearing about a coworker's cat, awkwardly avoiding commenting as a friend tells you how good Nickelback is, or speaking in front of a large group of people. Overall, about one in  four people will experience at least one panic attack in the course of their lives and I would argue those stats are a little low as many don't actually realize that what they are experiencing is a panic attack.

Those experiencing panic attacks may believe they are “going crazy”, “dying”, or having a heart attack. In fact, men frequently present to the hospital complaining of symptoms of heart problems that are later diagnosed as panic symptoms. Panic attack's include feelings of dread, anger…

Read This With Your Kids!: Scaredy Squirrel at Night

Scaredy Squirrel at Night is just one of the many books in the Scaredy Squirrel series. While I'd recommend any of the books, this one stands out for it's emphasis on the importance of sleep.

Sleep etiquette is so often overlooked and undervalued in it's importance in mental health and overall wellbeing. Scaredy Squirrel at Night tackles that head on.


Those side effects are so simply, yet beautifully laid out. Plus, those side effects are not restricted to children, they even happen to us parents.

But don't worry (spoiler, sort of), there is a section on the side effects of getting enough sleep.

When you read this book, here are some talking points:

What helps you feel calm and relaxed?Do you see how Scaredy is trying to stay up, what keeps you up at night?When you feel tired, where do you feel it in your body?How can you tell you are tired?Have you had bad dreams? What made you feel better? After you have had a conversation about sleep, you and your child can fine tun…

Books you should read!: “The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive.”

Parents frequently ask me for books they could read to help them in supporting their child or their relationship  with their child. One of the books that I suggest most frequently is Daniel Siegel’s: “The Whole Brain Child: 12 Revolutionary Strategies to Nurture Your Child’s Developing Mind, Survive Everyday Parenting Struggles, and Help Your Family Thrive.”

If you are having frequent moments where your child’s behaviour baffles or infuriates you then this book might have something to offer to you. Understanding how children's brains function in moments of calm and stress can dramatically enrich the parenting experiences. This book is one of the few books available that insightfully integrates the growing body of research  on children’s developing brains with practical parenting strategies.

The over arching premise of this book is that parent’s can influence and better understand their children’s actions through understanding their brains. From minor annoyances to major freak out…