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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…
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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…

How to teach a child to breathe and why we should all do it!

The world can easily be overwhelming for a child. Teaching them to breathe thoughtfully is one of the most helpful things we can do to help them manage powerful emotional experiences. I think a lot of us know this- or at least have heard it mentioned. However, the way breathing has historically been taught or used in crises tends to not work. Here is why we should teach our kids to breathe and how to do it in a way that does work!

When is the last time you can remember being told to breathe in the midst of an intense moment and feeling as though the advice was well received and helpful? For most of us the answer is never. The problem here isn’t the breathing- it is the timing and the way that we are using the skill.

The more distressed we get, the less likely we are to be able to use strategies that are novel, or new, to us. Think about it. On days where you feel run down and exhausted what are the things you turn to? Likely the same blanket, TV show and brand of chips you have turne…

Smartphones don’t calm kids down!: Why digital media use may not be doing what you think it does for your kids

I regularly hear from parents that smartphones or other digital media devices can help their children calm. Using these devices can do a lot of things for a child- but calming is not one of them! Digital media is designed with the specific intent of holding attention and creating reward. They are exciting. This is a big part of why kids enjoy them so much and why they seem to be so addictive. Use of digital media like smartphone apps or console video games will influence a child’s behaviour and in some ways make behaviour more difficult to manage once following use.

Emotion and arousal are two key factors influencing children's behaviours- especially the challenging ones. Emotion refers to a series of responses in our bodies and brains that help us move towards things that are good or away from things that are bad for us or our species. The late Jaak Panksepp, who was a brilliant neuroscientist, identified the primary emotional states expressed by humans as rage, fear, lust, care…