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Mindful Breathing

This post is about mindfulness practice and how it may help your child be more in tune with their emotions and develop emotional balance.

Scholarly research finds that mindfulness practice decreases stress and anxiety, increases attention, improves interpersonal relationships, strengthens compassion, and confers a host of other benefits.

With the information overload that we experience on a daily basis, it may feel overwhelming and you might not know where to start. The website below has an 11 minute audio that guides you through a mindful body scan. If you are wondering what mindfulness is all about, this is a great place to start.



8 fights worth having with your child

Mom comforting child

Parenting is definitely one of the most difficult jobs that has the most at stake.  Your child’s future, your relationship with your child, your relationship with your partner, your child’s mental health…your mental health!  These, and so many more, are all at stake when you first begin the parenting journey. I fully believe that people parent the best they can with the tools they have.  Sometimes we just need a few more tools!  Tools that can help us gain a broader understanding, or tools that help us become stronger and more skilled at parenting.

The following article is one of those tools that will hopefully encourage you to keep “fighting the good fight”.  Mr. Wallace, our Vice Principal, passed this article on to me, and I’d like to share it with you! As summer is coming, I encourage you to take a look at the rules in your home, and remember that they are there for a purpose – to teach your child boundaries, to teach your child how to live with “no”, and in all of it to show your child that you love them enough to set healthy boundaries.

8 fights worth having with your kids

Expected vs. Unexpected Behaviors

Friendship.  Connectedness. Two things that we all need to some degree.  When kids come to talk to me about feeling alone, or not having any friends, I will often teach them about Expected and Unexpected behaviors.  When we behave in expected ways, other people feel comfortable and safe around us, and usually don’t mind being close to us.  When we behave in unexpected ways, people feel uncomfortable and sometimes unsafe around us, and it’s hard to make friends and be connected when other people don’t feel comfortable around us. I like the analogy of funerals and weddings.  If I’m at a funeral and someone comes in the door laughing and joking around, that is unexpected behavior.  What is expected at a funeral is a serious, sad or sombre attitude.  It is likely disrespectful to come into a funeral making jokes and laughing.  That behavior is more expected at a wedding. If a person comes to a wedding sad and sombre, that would be unexpected.  It is expected behavior to be joyful, smiling and cheerful at a wedding.  It’s not that the behavior is necessarily the problem, it’s the time and place: is the behaviour expected or unexpected.

  • EXPECTED BEHAVIORS: Things kids do or say that other kids think are friendly, helpful and respectful to others. 
  • UNEXPECTED BEHAVIORS: Things kids do or say that other kids think are not friendly, hurtful, unusual and disrespectful to others. 

Sometimes kids will need a bit of training and practice to understand if their behaviors are expected or unexpected.  They might need to be taught to recognize social cues that the other students are giving them that let them know that their behavior is making others feel uncomfortable, or even perhaps unsafe.  If you think your child could use a bit of help in this area, click on the link below!  I think the author does a nice job of explaining this in more detail. As always, feel free to send me an email if you’d like to talk, or if you would like me to connect with your child about this or any other concerns you might have! 

Teaching Expected and Unexpected Behaviors



An Idle mind… describes “Idle” as “not filled with activity”. Someone recently asked me the question, “Where does your mind go when it’s idle?” As I stopped to think about that, I quickly realized that my mind often went to a negative place.  Worry about this or that; replaying negative conversations in my mind; frustration; anger; irritation…all these things were very busy in my “idle” mind.  This made me see how important it is to train my brain to jump to a different track.  I need to create a habit of positive thinking, of being grateful and focusing on thoughts and attitudes that bring me life, peace and joy, rather than stress and anxiety.  Sound easy, right?  Not that easy- but definitely possible.

Brené Brown has a short video clip on the connection between Gratitude and Joy. Take a look:

Learning the practice of gratitude takes a bit of time, and for it to be successful, we need to be intentional – which means we do it on purpose, set time aside to practice it.  I hope that in these changing times, when there may be a lot to worry and get frustrated about, I hope that learning the practice of gratitude will be a way for all of us to have more joy, more peace and happiness in our lives.  As this happens, I suspect that those around us will feel it and be impacted as well. Need help getting started?  Take a look at these gratitude prompts and see if they’ll get you going!

Geocaching: an analogy for life

I recently was talking with a student about how fun geocaching was.  If you’ve never tried it, it’s basically a modern day treasure hunt. How fun does that sound?! When our kids were younger, we hunted for many, many geocaches.  We would check on the Manitoba geocaching website and find a geocache that we wanted to explore,  then off we’d go on our treasure hunt! We made up little tokens with our family name, and we’d leave those behind in the geocache, and the kids would take turns choosing something to take in return.

One particular year we were camping in Spruce Woods Provincial Park and had chosen a geocache that was nearby.  It was a bit of a hike, but we were a hiking family, so no big deal. So we thought.  We hunted and hunted, bush-whacked, and stomped through all kinds of terrain.  We happened to pick a particularly hot day, and even ended up running out of water.

What we thought was going to be an easy hike, ended up being hours longer than anticipated.  Finally, at one point I said, “Okay, I think we should admit defeat and turn back.” To which our youngest impassionately said, “We can’t turn back!  We’re the Martens’s!” Ouch.  Having always taught our kids we that were a super hero-esque family, able to accomplish anything we set our minds to, this comment particularly hit the mark!  So, my daughter (who by now realised the limits of our super powers) and I decided to turn around and find our way out, while the two boys and my husband trudged on.

Well, they actually did find the geocache, and as they turned around to come back, one of them noticed that there seemed to be a trail just parallel to where they were bush whacking.  Hmm…sure enough, unbeknownst to any of us (and certainly not in the description of the geocache *ahem*) there was a well maintained trail leading right up to the geocache.  So what could have been about a 2 hour hike in and out, took more like 5 hours.  argh.

As we were driving back to our campsite, with the evening sun in our rear view mirror, stomachs growling, quickly changing supper plans from hobo dinners to hot dogs…I was reminded of how life can be just like that geocache.  We sometimes find ourselves trudging through the bogs, and mosquitos and difficult terrain of life when, with some different tools, information and supports, we just might find a smoother path.  Practicing mindfulness, learning about coping strategies, maybe talking to someone who’s made the trek before, getting their perspectives and tips and tricks…all these things can help you find another path than the difficult one you might currently be on.

As always, you are invited to reach out through email if you are finding yourself on a rocky trail, and looking for someone to help.


Social Media

There are certainly many parts of our lives that have been impacted by Covid19 and the restrictions put in place.  Out of necessity we are finding other ways to connect to people besides in person. Not surprisingly, I have noticed that middle school students are becoming more and more connected via social media apps.  One very popular app is Snapchat, but there are many others as well.  While this is certainly a fun way to hang out with your friends, there are some safeguards that should be in place before you click “send”.

Just like it is important to lock your house or your vehicle so no one can get in and steal your stuff, or hurt you…it’s just as important to “lock” or set your privacy settings in a way that also protects you. It would be pretty creepy to have a random person looking in through your windows and watching what you do, knowing personal stuff about you…but that is pretty much what is happening if you don’t protect yourself on social media. The only difference is your phone or computer screens are the windows. Parents (and students), I have attached an article that can help you navigate through all the different steps, just click on the title below.  If you have any questions, or need some help figuring out how to set good privacy settings on other apps, send me an email – I’ll be happy to help!

Snapchat Parental Controls



This Too Shall Pass

I love this. It reminds me that whatever is happening in the moment will not last forever.  Sometimes you wish the moments would pass slowly – like birthday parties, sunsets or beautiful, summer days.  Sometimes you wish they would pass quickly – like a nasty cold, slow traffic, or a long, cold winter.  Either way – it is good to keep in mind – “This Too Shall Pass”.

When you are in a happy moment, remembering that “This Too Shall Pass” reminds us that we need to soak it in – Savour it. To savour something means to enjoy it as much as possible. When we are in a difficult moment, “This Too Shall Pass” reminds us that this hard season will not last forever.

Right now some of us are in hard season of uncertainty.  We are uncertain what the school year will bring. Some of us are uncertain about what sports will look like this year, or if we will be able to have family gatherings at Thanksgiving or Christmas.  Some families are uncertain about their jobs or their health. I want to remind us all, that This Too Shall Pass.  No pandemic has ever lasted forever, and this one is no different.  We don’t know exactly when it will pass, but we do know that IT WILL PASS.

I think it is a good practice to ask yourself, what lesson can I learn in this season? Whether you are in a happy season or a hard season of life, you can always learn and grow in your character.  In a happy season, learning to be thankful can be a valuable lesson.  It’s easier to be thankful when things are going well – so learn that lesson when it’s easy to!  That way, when things are hard, you can remember that lesson and it can help you find things to be thankful for. In a hard season, you might not get to choose a “lesson” – life will choose it for you. You might need to learn patience, or how to be kind to people that are sometimes nasty.  But whatever lesson life tosses your way, rather than getting angry, bitter or resentful – choose to grow. Choose to find joy, choose to look for ways to improve your character.

And remind yourself…This Too Shall Pass.

Let’s get this party started!

And, just like that, we’re back into the swing of things.  School started yesterday for teachers, and will start next Wednesday for students.  It was a very different beginning than we’re used to – new routines, new schedules and some new faces.  BUT…what is still the same, and will always be the same, is the complete commitment that every adult in Kleefeld School has to the safety and well being of every student that walks through these doors.

When we met as a staff, there was a lot of discussion on how to create an inviting, safe space for students.  There was a lot of discussion on how to support our families. There was a lot of discussion on how to educate our students in the best way possible – ensuring that this pandemic has as little impact on their learning and their academic futures as possible.  We Have Your Back! Which means we are looking out for students and families.

This will be a year that may have a few more unexpected twists and turns than usual, and this thought reminded me of a tree I saw this summer.  It probably started out it’s life as a sapling like any other tree. Along the way, it was obvious that it had to grow around a few obstacles – other trees, roots, rocks. At one point another tree had fallen onto it, so it had to grow differently from then on – a little crooked and bent – but grow it did!  It was very tall, very strong … and very unique.  We are all living through a strange, challenging season. I hope that we will all be like that tree – we will grow, and we will develop unique perspectives and strengths that really only can develop out of experiences like this pandemic.

Meet the teacher is scheduled for Tuesday, September 8, from 1:00 – 6:00, by appointment only.  You can schedule an appointment with your homeroom teacher online. If you’d like to chat with me, please call the school and set that up with the office or ask to speak with me.

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/yourself, 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.

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