They know the latest Apple application to download. Their profiles on Instagram and Facebook are always up to date. They score really high on games like COD (Call of Duty), Mindcraft and FIFA. Schools even have online computer applications for students who have “misplaced their agendas.” So why is my pre-teen and teenager still waiting the last minute to complete projects? Why do I have to repeatedly ask them to complete chores when I get home from work? When are they just going to “get it!”

Some may even believe that technology impedes the development of children. Studies show adults and children are spending an average of seven to nine hours per day screen time (includes phone, gaming devices, TV and computers). For us “old school” parents, who were not privileged with smart phones, laptops and social media, we may find it challenging to discipline effectively.

Many parents rely too heavily on taking their technology stuff away as a consequence. Taking things away and removal of privileges, especially after about age 10, is actually a fairly ineffective and frustrating method of discipline. Disciplining effectively is less about the “toys” available to our children, taking stuff away or grounding and more about teaching and time.

For those of us who knew how to obey, to respect and to do our chores (without being asked too much) regularly, we quite likely had positive guidance, good role models and a valued relationship with those caring for us. That’s how we learned responsibility. There are parenting manuals out there for parents… “I’m too busy”… “I shouldn’t have to read”… “They should just listen”… “Parenting comes naturally”………… ALL Stinkin Thinkin!

We want our kids to read and learn then… it is equally important to find ways to learn creative, effective, efficient and loving disciplinary strategies. Many families are opting to remove tech from the dinner table, preferring to enjoy meal time with talking and sharing the important events in their day.

Parent-focused counseling can help parents vent their concerning experiences, identify strengths both they and their child(ren) have as well as increase positive parenting strategies. One such example is to learn the skills of negotiating, developing, adjusting and maintaining healthy expectations or boundaries for all family members.  To learn more, call us today!

STOP! And Think About It

Pop culture social media has shown to have a great impact on our lives. With the holidays approaching and a new year to celebrate, much of the media flooding may be on fitness: looking your best this holiday season and setting weight loss resolutions for the new year.

Growing up, do you remember what your mom used to say about looking good? “You need to have a nice shape and always look your best so you can find a great man!” or perhaps you have heard these ones: “Stand up straight” and “Men like women who wear skirts and dresses!” Social media and pop culture (paired with life teachings from mom) can have a strong influence on girls’ perceptions. As a result, our thinking patterns and behavioural choices around exercise and “fitness” may over cater to these pre-programmed “ideals” of what our society accepts and, at times, demands (e.g. slim figures, fashion-forward dressing, and money-hungry jobs equates to a successful life).

Crash exercising is often about as unsuccessful as crash dieting. It only provides temporary results. It may create a dangerous shock to the body and increase risk of injury. It can also provide detrimental effects when we’ve followed a strict workout regime, only to see our efforts have not produced the results we wanted for our bodies.

The moment we decide that we want to workout just to look good, we are setting ourselves up for failure. We will be so focused on the inch here and the pound there, that we neglect attending to the additional benefits of regular physical activity. We also tend to focus so much on a timeline (i.e., a weight loss to be achieved by a specific time period). Especially with physical goals, we all too often aim to “lose” something rather than generating a positive approach… “aiming to gain” (e.g. health, energy, stamina).  A negative emphasis creates stress and worry ensuring our “number-associated” results will not be up to par or “good enough”.

So why workout? If it’s not to look good, what’s the point? This mentality can all too frequently, especially for females, fuel thoughts and feelings of comparisons to others, self-judgment, hyper-criticism and scrutiny. Being in a state of constant comparison with others, with “fitter” body shapes and “better” physical attractiveness, eats away at our sense of satisfaction, happiness, self-worth and joy.

When we shift our thoughts from looking good to feeling good, the additional benefits of exercising and an active lifestyle will start to kick in. Feeling good about ourselves and our fitness accomplishments boost our moods and influences us to engage in additional positive behaviours. This feel-good-do-good phenomenon benefits not only our lives, but the people around us as well: loved ones, families, coworkers and friends.

Counselling sessions with a professional, registered therapist can help begin this cognitive shifting process; a renewing of the mind if you will, an intentional reorganizing of our thoughts, like files in folders, so that we get the results and emotional energy we’re seeking. Get support today to achieve your healthier lifestyle goals. To book your start up session for the New Year… call us today!

When we hold our newborns in our arms, we are overwhelmed with feelings, emotions and thoughts. In fact, the term overwhelmed is an understatement of the first time this miracle appears in our arms. Yes, we had nine months to ponder what these tiny creations will look like, or how their personalities will develop and grow. We may sometimes even stress about all the dos and dont’s to keep our babies safe and as healthy as possible.

When they finally arrive, we whisper to ourselves (because no one can know that we’d ever ask such a question) “How on earth am I going to raise this child? How can I prevent her from being teased, or bullied? How can I get her to go to university and become successful? How do I get her to NOT have sex before marriage?”

If all these questions are screaming at you (even still today), know that you are not alone. You are not the first parent to doubt your capabilities. Not the first parent to want to keep any negativity and danger away from your child.

So now she’s 11 and growing into a beautiful young lady. She is beginning the steps of… “puberty” displaying hints of physical and emotional maturity. She does, however, not know it all yet (although she may portray that she does). She knows every song on the radio by heart, every new fashion trend, and all the celebrity gossip information. But she doesn’t know how to spell every word she speaks, still needs help comprehending math problems and is not yet equipped to conquer the world.

She dances beautifully, is confident in her own skin (so far), and shows love, respect and loyalty to her family (although she still needs gentle reminders to give kisses to her grandparents). So for the most part, she’s perfect! So what’s the problem? Why do parents feel like their babies are slipping away? ……they are not babies anymore.

All those questions we asked when we first held our babies in our arms and have stuck with us through their childhood; but now it is time to switch gears and throw those expectations away. Your child, now a preteen is growing, developing, forming moral opinions and has hopefully adopted a positive and healthy belief system. Pat yourself on the back for the work you’ve done (so far).

Our job as parents is to stay consistent with our love and support while providing increased flexibility alongside clear structure and boundaries. It’s okay not to have all the answers. It’s okay to grow and develop as a parent as your child is growing and developing as well. Reading parenting books may not be high on our piorities or something we have much time for. Find time anyway… yes you too fathers! Get books, audio books for the commute, find videos to learn from and even seek wise counsel as you’ll be rewarded with a refreshing and enhanced parenting approach.

Staying consistent with love means that the foundation of support and meeting your child’s needs is solid. It helps if we as parents attain patience. Santosha, a Sanskrit word meaning contentment and satisfaction, is a great way to allow ourselves to be patient in good times and in not so good times. We have shared many blogs about family relationships, conflict-resolution and sexuality that can help parents with those “not so good” times. Embracing Santosha helps parents when stages in our child’s development arise and may be difficult to cope with.

Flexibility involves awareness. Awareness that the time we were 11 is much different than the times for 11 year olds now. So things may seem to be happening too fast and our kids may know way more than we did when we were that age; but it’s okay!

Flexibility also involves honesty and open communication. The ability of a parent and child to speak openly and honestly, hear each other’s point of view and share opinions is truly powerful. More powerful than trying to control environments, set strict and unrealistic rules and refrain from the child’s input.

Being a parent is a life-long job and we can support you through the most challenging parts of what may be the most rewarding experience of your life. Call us today!

Where are the instructions?

Our previous post “Am I the Ugly Duckling” came from a son describing the trouble he is having in his family.  Today we bring you the father’s point of view.

“Growing up on a small island, I became accustomed to very structured roles of what it meant to be a man, and a father. So having two boys of my own, I was thrilled at the opportunity that my life learnings may be shared and transferred onto my children.

Somewhere I did something wrong. From the time they were toddlers, I tried to spend as much time as possible with them. Then, when I got the opportunity to introduce them to sports, I thought, ‘This is the best life.’ What became hard for me was accepting that my boys had in different interests. I think I tried my best to support my son’s magic card acts, which eventually got him into playing poker.

But disconnect from my son has become almost unbearable, and I feel a bit hopeless. Wanting to see both my sons happy and also not being okay with some of their decisions is difficult to express. All I am seeing now is a son who is smoking pot and not making any attempt to find a proper job or look into furthering his education. So needless to say that the conflicts in our home are increasing; my sons are no longer talking; I just don’t know what to do.

A part of me feels like I have failed as a father, and I do not handle failure very well. My sons are young adults and my wife and I are in our early fifties, so we can either endure this broken home for another 30 years or we can get some help. But where do we start?”

Often times, the trouble in families is built up from years and years of difficult behaviours, troubling thoughts, and increased conflict. With this amount of pressure on a family, it becomes even more difficult to find solutions to cope, mend broken relationships, and improve each other’s lives.

It is never too late to improve family!  The first step to getting help is reaching out. Contact us today and take that first step to helping your family.

* Tune into the next post as we provide information on family conflict and a few tools and strategies that help families cope better.

What About God?

For some of us, we are raised in a family that follows a specific religious denomination. The practices, followings, and teachings are supposedly instilled in us so that we too may follow the exact same practices, the exact same teachings. We, at times, felt that our parents’ or grandparents’ way of reaching their Higher Power was too strict to follow. Or, we had no parental influences that a Higher Power may exist. As a result, we may tell ourselves that this isn’t for us and religion isn’t real, isn’t needed or isn’t even useful. For many of us, this thought pattern marks the beginning of neglecting our spiritual development and putting road blocks in our spiritual journey.

As we slowly adopt this stinkin’ thinkin’, we become less open to the possibility that a Higher Power exists. How could He exist, when we face so many difficult obstacles? How can some “Being” watch us suffer, feel depressed, go through numerous failed relationships, or have communities deprived of food and shelter?

These questions run through our minds, especially when we are faced with life challenges. However, deep inside us, we still talk to this “Being.” We still have some spec of hope that a Higher Power will see us out of our troubles. This is what we call FAITH. If we were able to change our thoughts based on our faith in a Higher Power, imagine the possibilities that can open up for us.

“I asked for strength, and

God gave me difficulties to make me strong.

I asked for wisdom, and

God gave me brawn and brain to work.

I asked for courage, and

God gave me dangers to overcome.

I asked for love, and

God gave me troubled people to help.

I asked for favors, and

God gave me opportunities.

I received nothing I wanted.
I received everything I needed.

My prayers were answered.”

[from Rabbi Irwin Katsof’s How to Get Your Prayers Answered]

We know very well, at least usually, the parts of ourselves needing work. All too often, however, the physical aspects of living take priority over our spiritual development. Being guided to restore and build up our spiritual strengths can help us restore our relationship with our Higher Power. Spiritual strength enhances our relationships with ourselves and others. It helps us cope more effectively with life’s challenges. Prayer has been clinically proven to improve our health and well being.

To get assistance with your spiritual journey, reach out for counselling contact us today

Money and Mood Connection

It’s late at night, all of our daily tasks are accomplished, we lay in our bed, our heads hit the pillow, and we anticipate absolute silence, until we succumb to sleep. However we begin to toss and turn, and start to reflect on that day. We may even begin to worry about the day to come. We are bombarded with our own thoughts: “How am I going to meet that bill payment?” “What financial challenge will I face next?” “Why can’t I ever afford a vacation? Even just a small weekend getaway would be nice!” “How did I get here?”

When we are under financial strain, usually the decisions we have to make are done with feelings of stress, worry, and/or anxiety. We may sometimes assume that we will never get out of such a burden. Our hopes and dreams of a happier (wealthier) life are trampled and seem unattainable due to our current financial situation.

Although we question how we got in this situation, do we ever take the time to actually answer it? Seeking help from external, objective sources allows us to decipher the choices made. Financial difficulties may not have “all” stemmed from college tuition fees, mortgage or rent payments, or vehicle expenses. Financial difficulties can also develop from poor financial planning and decisions often driven by our own stinkin’ thinkin’.

Cognitive behaviour coaching or therapy helps trace back experiences in our lives that may be contributing to poorer decisions with money. When we consider how we, our family, especially our parents, handled financial situations, it becomes easier to clearly chart out a path toward positive change. Looking at historical financial decision-making, (cognitive loading onto our minds) allows us to to recognize certain negative patterns, thus finding  clues as to how to improve financially, also supporting change socially and emotionally. Changing those patterns is not easy, however, with coaching, support and hard work, change is possible, making financial stability attainable.

Call our Oshawa counsellors today to help you work through disruptive and even destructive patterns and achieve your financial goals today!

“My Kids are Driving Me Crazy”

Wait one minute. Who’s the parent? Who’s in charge here? It is very important to first take three or four deeeeep breaths and then, second, answer these two questions calmly. Of course you are the parent and you are in charge, however, there are certainly times you don’t feel like it.

Many people have heard about using time-out with children, usually when there is some misbehaving going on. Children will often struggle because they are, just like us parents, learning how to get along, navigate relationships, problem-solve etc.. The times when our little adorable ones are finding it difficult to behave quite often seems to coincide with the times we are busy and less able to attend to and respond to them.

Before automatically giving the child a time-out, it is important to give a few cautions, redirections or requests for better behaviour. These do not always result in the behaviour change desired which can then be an opportunity to use effective time-out and time-in. Yes “time-in”.  Imagine a sports team taking a time-out without a time-in?

Think of a time-out like a sports coach.  He sees something in the game that requires a bit of coaching and re-directing and calls a time-out, offering the players a chance to 1) relax and take a breather, 2) think about what happened and, 3) think about what can be done instead to improve the game. There is then a “time-in”. This is usually where the players are reminded “we’re all on the same team”, “you can do it” and and encouragement of some sort, like “go get ’em”.

For parents, the end of the time-in chat may be like a Robert Munch book that makes many mothers cry… “I’ll Love You Forever”… no matter your behaviour. That’s good coaching. The time-out in sports is short and so too is an effective one for family teams. Maximum time-out is between five and ten minutes, preferably the shorter time. Also, this technique is not usually used until the child is fairly verbal and aware of, and able to complete, behavioural expectations (age 2 or 3 and up).

Effective use of the time-out/time-in teaching or discipline tool does involve attending to the manner or non-verbal way in which it is given.  A positive parenting approach to time-out means parents display a relaxed, light face and tone that is delivered at the child’s eye level. A kind, loving and encouraging face and tone go a long way to help children (even spouses) feel more relaxed and willing during time-outs.  This also helps family see it as coaching and training rather than as punishment and this style of delivery affirms “we are all on the same team here”.

Sounds easy yet there are many variables such as different parenting styles, family situations and personality traits to consider. If you find you’re struggling more than being helpful, reach out and get an assessment and even some parent-coaching. You can even apply the time-out and time-in process to yourself.  Co-parents and couples can also benefit from the process.

For assistance or more information contact us today !