Dealing with Disappointment

Life gives us lots of opportunity to learn how to deal with Disappointment.  From losing a soccer game, to getting a poor mark on an assignment, to a change of anticipated plans. Each experience has different levels of disappointment – some are little and you can work through them in a day or less. Others are more major and it might take a longer time to work through them.  Even though the length of time it takes to work through disappointment varies, the process is really similar for all of them.

I don’t know about you, but I’ve been disappointed that my summer plans will look different than I thought they would earlier this year.  I’ve noticed that I have felt a bit grumpier than usual, and I’ve found myself a bit more focused on what I can’t do this summer. We call that “ruminating”. The dictionary defines ruminating as thinking about something repeatedly. When we ruminate on something disappointing, we can get fixed on it and it becomes unhealthy.  Rather than ruminating on something, it is healthier to process it. Processing means to purposefully deal with something.  Here are some things you can do that help to process, or deal with, disappointment:

We can’t avoid disappointment, but we can learn how to handle it better.  Sometimes we can even learn how to turn it around to something better. The well known quote, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade!” is often more helpful than we think! As we wrap up for the school year, I wish you all a lovely summer – and I wish you a few months filled with relaxing and good memories.  Cheers!

The Anger Iceberg

Anger is often talked about as a “secondary emotion”.  This means that it is usually comes out because of a different emotion.  In the picture you will see that just below the waters’ surface are emotions like embarrassed, stress, hurt, unsure, scared etc.  There are other feelings like grief, sadness, shame and anxiety, among others, that could also be on this list. When you or someone you are close to is showing anger, try to pause, take a deep breath to calm your own response, and take a bit of a mental step back to see if there is something else going on that might be causing this reaction.

You can do this with others, but it is probably more important to start with yourself.  It takes practice, but you can do it!  Learning what triggers your own anger, is an important piece of becoming self aware, and when you are self aware, you are in the perfect place to grow in your character!

Anger itself is not a bad thing – in fact it is healthy to experience and understand why you are feeling angry.  But there are healthy and unhealthy ways to handle your anger.  Healthy ways to manage your anger are things like controlled breathing, examining your feelings, taking a timeout, distraction exercises like counting backwards from 20, journaling, exercising, etc. Unhealthy ways to deal with your anger are things like yelling, hitting others/themselves, swearing, throwing/breaking things, etc.

If you struggle with unhealthy angry outbursts, I would encourage you to talk to a trusted adult that can help you practice and work through why you feel the way you do. They can help you learn how to control your responses so that they are healthy and growing for you. As always, if you need someone to talk to, send me an email or click on the Kid’s Help Phone link to the left.

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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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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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):