Resilience…what is it?

Resilience is simply our ability to bounce back when something doesn’t go as planned.  You will recognise a resilient child by how they respond to challenging life situations, or by how they respond to a poor mark on an assignment, or losing a soccer game (or any game), or how they react when they have friend conflicts. Resilient children are able to recognise that sometimes hard things happen, but not let those hard things drag them down so far that they can’t really find their way back up very easily.  Children who aren’t resilient, may get depressed, unmotivated and often end up trash-talking themselves and others.

When I’m talking about resiliency to a student, I like to use the example of a rubber ball vs. a ball of playdough (or sticky-tac…whatever I have handy). When I press into a ball of playdough, it leaves an indent.  It changes the shape and it’s not as smooth as before.  When I press into a rubber ball, the shape isn’t changed – the indent bounces back out. The rubber ball is resilient – the play dough is not. My goal is to help kids discover how they can be more resilient..to help them find ways to be able to bounce back from difficult situation, be more confident and secure in who they are. If you are a parent or a child on this blog, this chart may help you to start thinking and talking about resilience.

Anxiety tools

 

Copyright @ WholeHearted School Counseling. This resource is intended for your personal use. Please do not share with others in printed form, or online.

You may have noticed that there are a lot of posts related to anxiety on here – tips for calming down or strategies for managing worry. That’s because anxiety is one of the most common childhood and adolescent mental health concerns in Canada (source), Experts have a bunch of reasons as to why that might be, from too much screen time to childhood trauma to anxiety patterns in their household, and the list goes on. It’s sometimes hard to pinpoint exactly what causes anxiety, but there are many tools available to help you manage it and take back control. This poster comes from a website called WholeHearted School Counseling. It’s a quick and easy checklist to help you take a breath, pause and reflect on how you’re feeling.  The next time you’re feeling anxious or worried, see if any of these little reflections or activities help you regain your sense of wellness.

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FUN FRIDAY

Let’s all just settle down

How many times have your felt angry or frustrated and you struggled to find a way to calm down?  Sometimes it’s hard to “find your calm” …and the result is often a bit messy. If you sometimes find it hard to settle down, try making a  calming jar. This fun project is easy to do with just a few crafty things.  Why might you want to make a calming jar? For starters, it’s…well…calming 🙂 . It also helps to settle down your mind so you can be in control of yourself. When you’re super angry or frustrated, often your feelings are in control. It is important that YOU get back control, and tools like calming jars, can help you do that. Here’s how you can make one:

How to make a Calming Jar

MATERIALS

  • Glass or plastic jars with lids, 16-ounce
  • 1/2 cup glitter glue or clear glue
  • Distilled water
  • High-temperature hot glue gun, optional
  • 1–2 teaspoons glitter

INSTRUCTIONS

  • Pour 1/2 cup of distilled water into the jar.
  • Pour 1/2 cup of glitter glue or clear glue into the jar.
  • Add 1–2 teaspoons of extra glitter to the jar.
  • Fill up the remainder of the jar with distilled water.
  • If desired, use a hot glue gun to squeeze a ring of glue around the lid of the jar.
  • Press the lid onto the jar and secure with the metal ring.
  • Shake the jar well to distribute the glitter.
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Challenge Accepted!

On Monday I posted about Thinking Errors, or A.N.T’s – Automatic Negative Thoughts. Today I am giving you a few strategies to challenge those negative thoughts. Once you see that you have fallen into the ANT trap, you can learn to FIGHT BACK! The first part of any solution is seeing that you have a problem to solve. Check and see if any of these ANT traps are on your yard. If you think they might be, try the strategies and see if they help.

Negative Glasses
  • If you have negative glasses, you will need to learn to be purposeful in finding the positives.  Once you hear the negative thought, stop and look closer at the situation – switch out the negative glasses for a magnifying glass and search for any positives that you have overlooked.
Positive Doesn’t Count
  • If this is your ANT trap, you need to learn to catch yourself when you dismiss something good that you’ve done, accept it and celebrate your successes!
Blowing Things Up
  • If this is your habit, you will need to learn to stop the runaway train! When something has happened and you find yourself feeling like it’s a major big deal and it’s not – stop, take a breath and practice reminding yourself “this is not a big deal”. Stop it from growing into a mountain when it’s in the baby hill stage! When you feel calm, go back and try to problem solve – plan for how you will overcome!
Mind Readers & Fortune Tellers
  • If you have a habit of predicting bad things will happen, force yourself to step back into the real, present world. Repeat things that you absolutely know to be true, and discard thoughts that are “what ifs”.

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The more you let yourself get caught in these traps, the stronger these thoughts can get.  Challenge yourself to fight back and become stronger, more confident.  These steps to a better mental health aren’t always easy – especially if they have become a habit, but they are possible!  Keep working at them, and if you need any help or you would like to chat about it, send me a message.

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Thinking Errors

Do you ever find yourself thinking thoughts like everything is terrible?  Nothing is going right? Everybody is mean? Words like everything, nothing and everybody are extreme words that, while they certainly express how you are feeling, aren’t the reality. They fall under the category of Thinking Errors. These all or nothing thoughts often happen when we are feeling upset or unhappy…and they are not very helpful!  Here are other thinking errors that we sometimes make:

  • negative glasses – when you only see the negative things that happen
  • positive doesn’t count – you down play the good things that happen
  • blowing things up – negative things become bigger than they really are
  • mind readers and fortune tellers – you expect things to go wrong

Take a look at the following examples and see if you can spot the thinking errors:

  1. People are always unkind.
  2. John went on a field trip to the water park. When mom asked him if he had a good time he said, “No, I didn’t like my lunch.”
  3. My friends will think I look silly with these shoes.
  4. Joanne scored a goal during her soccer game. When her coach said how well she had played, she thought, “that was just lucky, I am not a good player.”
  5. Sean did poorly on a math test and he got really upset and said, “I’m so stupid! I hate school and I’m terrible at it!”

Now go back and see if you can reword the thinking errors into facts, like this:

  1. People can be mean sometimes.
  2. John: “We got to slide down so many water slides!”
  3. I like these shoes, and I bet my friends will too!
  4. Joanne: “I did really well at soccer today!  I will keep practicing and get even better.”
  5. Sean: “That was a hard math test. I will need to talk to my teacher to see what I did wrong and study harder for the next one.”

Sometimes these thinking errors are called Automatic Negative Thoughts or A.N.T’s (see chart below). We often repeat these negative thoughts, these thinking errors, without realizing it.  As you go about this week, try to be more aware of how you respond to situations and if you notice that you tend to fall into these thinking errors, see if you can work at changing your thinking from negative (unhelpful) to positive (helpful).  If you have a journal, writing down the things you notice can be a great tool to help you on your way!

 

 

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FUN FRIDAY!

Happy Friday!

I hope you all know what this weekend is…Mother’s Day! I thought I’d post a fun little recipe you kids can make to honor your mothers.  This is one of the prettiest summer drinks that is perfect for your momma…and everyone, actually. You just need a few ingredients and a blender. Here it is:

Strawberry Lemon Crush

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup (250 ml) hulled strawberries (that means the green top is removed)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) granulated sugar (white)
  • 1/2 cup (125 ml) lemon juice
  • 1 and 1/2 cups (375 ml) cold water
  • Ice cubes
  • 2 unhulled strawberries or mint sprigs for garnish (that means to make it look pretty at the end)

Method:

  • Place hulled strawberries in a blender
  • In a bowl, combine sugar, lemon juice and 1/2 cup (125 ml) of the water, stirring until the sugar is dissolved
  • Add to the blended berries, slowly puree and add the remaining water until mixture is smooth
  • Serve over ice cubes in a pretty glass and garnish with unhulled strawberries or mint sprigs

Friendship Behaviors

Have you ever felt like no one wants to be your friend? Believe it or not, most kids (even sometimes adults) feel that way at one time or another. When we feel like people avoid us, we kinda like to point the blame at other people. “They are so mean. They are excluding me.” Now, while that may be true, what also might be true, is that we are acting in ways that make other people feel uncomfortable. Those are called “unexpected behaviors”. When that happens, people will usually find ways to avoid us. People don’t like that feeling of being unsafe, or unsure about what will happen next, so when someone acts in unexpected ways, without even thinking a lot about it, other people stop wanting to be around that person. The good news is that once we recognise that we have some behaviors we need to change, we can work on them! We can look at ourselves and see what we can tweak and improve on so that we will be able to make, and keep, more friends.

It is important to know that I’m not saying we should change who we are.  The “who’s” are things like personality, individuality, likes, dislikes, and what we look like.  However, we can change the “how’s“. How we interact with people, how we respond to people, how we handle conflict and problems. The behaviors are the “how’s” and when we work on developing better behaviors, we usually become a better friend. Someone that makes others feel comfortable and safe. Someone other people want to hang around with.

The Value of Connecting

Happy Monday, everyone!  I hope you all had a good weekend and were able to connect with people even though we are still being asked to keep 6 feet between us. I am thankful that I was able to connect with some family and friends in person this weekend – while being careful to maintain my physical distance.  I have really missed that face to face piece…social media is wonderful, and it’s better than nothing, but seeing people in person fills my bucket more than through a screen.

Speaking of connecting…did you know that connecting with other people is one of the most important parts of mental health?  It’s also good for your emotional health, and even your physical health.  Connecting is more than just having a conversation with someone, or sharing the same interests. Connecting is about being open and real with someone else. When open, real, and honest connecting is happening you feel understood and listened to, and you are also actively listening to the other person. There is eye contact and you are both responding to each other.

The quote, “Everyone is connected, but no one is connecting”, reminds me of the problem with texting and messaging. It’s pretty hard to have a real, emotional connection with someone without seeing, or at least hearing them. If you can’t see or hear each other, it’s difficult to respond with empathy and feeling, and get a real sense of how the other person is feeling.

In this strange time where we are being asked to “stay home”, I would like to encourage you to find ways to authentically connect with other people.  Video chats, phone calls (not just texting), visits in the driveway (6 feet apart) or over the fence are all ways to connect to each other.  Hug those in your household, and practice actively listening to each other. Not sure how to do that? Use this simple chart to help you to remember to Listen (not just hear):

 

FUN FRIDAY!

After 6 weeks of staying home, some of you might be looking for some new ideas. Take a look at the list of “101 fun things to do” and maybe you’ll find a bit of inspiration!  Having fun doesn’t have to be expensive, complicated or far away. You can be creative, adventurous and enjoy the people and spaces in your own house and backyard.

You can find more ideas on this website: Summer fun ideas you can do at home

That’s it for today!  Til next time, stay positive, stay safe and stay home 🙂

Daily Schedules

Some of you out there have shared that you are feeling overwhelmed by the school work that you should be doing. You are not alone! All too often, when something is overwhelming, it feels easier to put it out of sight and out of mind, and find something else to do instead. You might find a sudden urge to deep clean your room (something you’ve resisted ’til now) or you find that raking the yard, taking the dog for a walk or baking a cake all sound more appealing than school work! You might even have good intentions to get started and log into your email first thing…and then suddenly all your friends are on hang-outs and want to chat, and you get completely distracted and before you know it, it’s noon.  Or maybe you completely avoid all things work related and get lost in video games instead. Any of these things sound familiar?  It might make you feel better to know that you are not the only one struggling – this is a pretty common problem – especially as the weather warms up.

I’m going to give you a tip: MAKE A SCHEDULE. Having a schedule, a plan, a routine, helps you feel in control. Being organized helps you have a clear understanding of what is expected of you, you can see your deadlines easily, and you will feel more accomplished when you can check things off your list. There are many, many online templates for schedules. This website has lots of different styles and they are free to download and print: Daily Schedules and Planners

The most simple schedule or routine is to get up at 8:30, get dressed, have breakfast and then plan to start your school work at 9:00.  Spend about 45 minutes on ELA, another 45 minutes on Math, and then if you need to, spend another 30 minutes on other subjects like Science, Social Studies and French.  Take one or two 15 minute breaks and that will take you to lunch.  In the afternoon, use that time to get exercise, read, do some artsy stuff, bake, or spend time with your family.

If at all possible, try to avoid chatting with your friends, playing video games or doing non-school related stuff in the morning.  Reward yourself with those activities in the afternoon.  These are suggestions which work well for a lot of students.  I would encourage you to talk to your parents and see if this can work in your home – or come up with something that fits your family.  The key is to get some sort of routine in place so you can get your school work done, and reduce any anxiety or overwhelm that comes with being unorganized.

As always, I am here to help! If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or frustrated – send me an email from the link on the side menu.