Mental Health and the Back-To-School Transition By Emmett Wells, LCSW, Clinical Director at Embark Behavioral Health in Greenwood Village, CO The back-to-school season marks a significant shift in the lives of children and young people. As students return to the structured academic year this fall, they not only face the demands of coursework but also the responsibility and social pressures. Amid the ongoing youth mental health crisis in the United States, it's crucial for families to communicate and lean on each other. This transition can bring both positive and negative effects. It offers opportunities for growth and learning but can also trigger mood swings, heightened anxiety, and depression in young individuals. To effectively support adolescents during this crucial time, parents and caregivers must adapt to the unique challenges their children may encounter. Active Listening and Relationship Building During this back-to-school transition, active listening is crucial. Parents and caregivers should be prepared for conversations that might be challenging for their children. This could include discussions about academic stress, social dynamics, or personal struggles. By actively listening and creating a safe space for dialogue, caregivers can nurture a secure caregiver-child relationship. This relationship provides a foundation for adolescents to express their thoughts, feelings, and concerns without fear of judgment. It's within these safe spaces that young people are more likely to open up about their struggles, making it easier for parents to provide the support they need. Cultivating Positive Habits for Youth Mental Health Positive habits play a pivotal role in the mental well-being of anxious or depressed youth as they return to school. These habits not only help in managing academic and social responsibilities but also serve as valuable life skills. Establishing routines that incorporate healthy practices is an excellent starting point. These routines can include consistent sleep schedules, balanced nutrition, and regular exercise. Such practices contribute to physical well-being, which, in turn, positively impacts mental health. Encouraging children to participate in after-school activities aligned with their interests and passions can foster a sense of community, providing much-needed emotional support and a sense of belonging. Moreover, dedicating time to develop coping skills is essential. Adolescents should be equipped with effective strategies for managing stress, anxiety, and other emotional challenges. This can include mindfulness exercises, deep breathing techniques, or seeking professional guidance when necessary. Parental Engagement and Adaptability Parental involvement in a child's education is a delicate balancing act. Encouraging independence while offering support can establish healthy boundaries without becoming overly involved. As adolescents
4 Wellness Tips to Give Your Teen Before They Move to College Moving out for college is both exciting and scary for you and your teen. You might feel thrilled to see where life takes them, but also a bit nervous about their new life living alone. At the same time, your kid is looking forward to independence, yet they might have some concerns too. Previously, we provided advice on how to support your second-year college student living away from home, including tips on cleaning and preparing meals. Now, what advice can you offer to a first-time dormer, especially regarding their health? If you have a soon-to-be dormer, here are a few wellness tips you can share with them. Watch their portion sizes All parents want their children to eat well. However, that doesn't mean giving them free rein. After all, there's something called the "Freshman 15," which refers to the weight gain college students may experience in the first year due to lifestyle changes. This can be especially common among dormers who often resort to convenient yet unhealthy foods. Ignoring this issue could lead to more significant problems, like becoming overweight and its impact on overall health. Luckily, your kid can avoid this by simply being more mindful of their meal portion sizes—a habit encouraged by sustainable weight loss plans. By doing so, they can still enjoy their favourite foods while keeping track of what they eat. For example, if they notice they've been consuming too much fried food lately, it's a good sign to include more fresh fruits and vegetables in their meals. Additionally, they can focus on eating until they're no longer hungry rather than eating until they feel full. This way, they can maintain a healthier lifestyle without feeling deprived. Move their body College life is always busy with classes to attend, papers to pass, and presentations to make. Despite this, it's essential to remind your kid about the importance of regular exercise to keep their physical health in check. The best part is they can choose the type of exercise they enjoy the most. If dancing to music is their thing, they'll be glad to know that it not only brings joy but also helps build strength, improves mood, and enhances memory. On the other hand, if relaxation is more their style, yoga is a great option. It's low-impact and can improve balance and flexibility. The best part is they can do both
10 Strategies for Keeping Kids Off Screens This Summer by Katherine Johnson Martinko Summer is the best time to give kids a digital reset. You’re out of the regular routine and there are numerous ways to keep busy without relying on devices. What follows is a rough plan for helping your family have a screen-free summer. By the time fall rolls around, your kid will be recharged and ready to cope with the digital deluge that school brings. Talk About Screens Talk to your kid about why it’s important to reduce screen time and what you hope the entire family will gain from the experience. They don’t have to like it or agree. Just be transparent and consistent in your approach, and acknowledge that boredom can be a powerfully creative state. Confiscate the Devices “Out of sight, out of mind,” as the saying goes. If you make devices temporarily inaccessible, kids will be more inclined to find other activities. Much of the allure of handheld devices lies in their accessibility and the ease of distraction. When that option disappears, it opens the door to other creative endeavours. Sign Up for Activities See if there are sports camps, art classes, or music lessons offered in your community. Having an activity that gets kids out of the house each day goes a long way toward filling time and fueling enthusiasm, especially if friends join. Prioritize Outdoor Time Send your child outside every day. It doesn’t matter what they do, whether it’s reading or art, lying in a hammock, visiting a skate park or BMX track, meeting friends for basketball or soccer, practicing on a trampoline or pogo stick, or going for bike rides; the point is to normalize being outside. Use a tracker like those created by 1000 Hours Outside as motivation. Engage in Microadventures The concept of microadventures is delightful—doing outdoorsy things between 5 p.m. and 9 a.m. Often, we wait for bigger chunks of time to plan things like hikes, camping, and stargazing, but then they never happen. If we can squeeze in these activities during the week, they help us feel refreshed. Take your kid on some microadventures this summer. Put Them to Work Assigning household chores keeps kids busy and reduces parental workload. Put them to work doing dishes, laundry, and vacuuming. Outdoors, let them handle weeding, watering, and cutting grass. Older kids can tackle jobs like repainting, cleaning gutters, and washing windows. Get Them Cooking Cooking is a fundamental skill that everyone should
How to Talk To Your Kids About Divorce by Dr. Eri Nakagami, Ph.D., LCSW Talking to your kids about divorce is one of the most painful and difficult conversations you’ll face. When you know that you will be separating or divorcing, it’s important to talk to your kids before they hear it from someone else. Work with your spouse to decide how you will inform them. Plan what you will say to your children Collaborate with your spouse on when, how, and what you will tell your kids. Plan to tell them on a day that allows for some family time, like a weekend. Do not have this conversation just before school or bedtime or on a holiday or other special day. Consider using a mediator, therapist, or divorce coach if it’s difficult to collaborate with the other parent or the two of you aren’t able to agree on how you will have the conversation with your children to help you work out the details. Be united Talking to your children together may be hard, but it lets your kids know that you’re committed to working together as their parents. It’s also important that your children hear this news at the same time and directly from the parents, not from anyone else that may have heard it first. If your kids are of different ages, plan to share the basic information with all your kids together. Then, during a separate conversation, follow up with the older children. Once again, seek help from a professional if you cannot have this conversation together. Avoid blaming You may feel that you want your children to know the “truth” (i.e., “Mom had an affair,” or “Dad is leaving us.”) but avoid the temptation to assign blame or say whose “fault” this is. This will cause your children to feel caught in a loyalty bind which is not healthy for them. The “truth” is less important than providing the support and reassurance that your children need. Try to use the “we” word when you are explaining the decisions that have been made. Addressing the “why” It is not important nor appropriate that you provide specific details about why you are divorcing. However, your kids will want to know why this is happening and may press for information. Although you don’t want to share details of a personal nature, be prepared to give some type of general explanation without blame. Remember that these are grown-up problems
Prom 2023: 3 Tips to Suit Up Your Teen for the Big Night Prom season is here, and the quest for the ultimate suit is well underway! Now it’s time to dust off some old-school promo photos and reminisce on the good ole’ days. This milestone can be thrilling for parents and teens alike. But between organizing day-of details, finding a corsage, and securing the perfect look, prom planning can often be stressful. Thankfully, Tip Top is the one-stop shop for all your teen’s prom needs. This makes it easier for prom-goers (and their parents!) by offering an extensive selection of suit styles and colours at unbeatable prices. Something for everyone Everyone deserves to shine at their prom. Whether it’s a bold pink suit, a solid bowtie that matches their date’s look, or a pair of fun “Class of 2023” socks, Tip Top’s wide range of options guarantees a look to suit anyone’s unique flair. Great picks for a great price Prom shopping doesn’t have to break the bank. In fact, Tip Top's premium suits are not only more affordable than rentals but also allow shoppers to keep (and re-wear) these stylish ensembles. Plus, with bundles like “buy the jacket get the pants for free,” prom shopping has never been more accessible. The perfect fit Parents, we've all learned from previous prom seasons that a flawlessly tailored suit remains timeless. Tip Top’s in-store tailoring service ensures that prom-goers are guaranteed to leave feeling happy and comfortable with their custom fit, poised to revel in the unforgettable evening. Not to mention, they will now be prepared for future events where they can flaunt their distinctive style. Prom shopping doesn’t have to be stressful. Tip Top is helping to make this shopping season as seamless as possible with many different styles, sizes, and looks, all at affordable prices. Embrace this opportunity to bond with your teen and create lasting memories as you embark on the quest for the perfect outfit!
5 Ways to Spend Family Day if You Have the Day Off With the first—and often most challenging—month of the year now behind us, many of us now turn our heads toward a much-valued recess from our winter routine, Family Day. Indeed, Family Day (read: three-day weekend!), usually requires some creative ideas to keep the younger ones entertained over the long weekend. Whether you have toddlers, tweens, or teenagers, it can be challenging to find activities that kids of all ages and interests will enjoy together. In this endeavour, it helps to share some ideas. So here are five ways you could consider spending Family Day. 1. A museum for activities and exhibitions that cater to all ages If you reside in the GTA, for example, the ROM is planning a lineup of activities inspired by its current exhibition, Canadian Modern, and invites visitors to participate in design-focused activities that will educate on the ways we can reduce our impact on urban wildlife. For the older ones, a museum ticket will allow them to visit the permanent Natural History and Art & Culture collections including Ancient Egypt or Reptiles & Amphibians. 2. Ice cream tasting, ranking your favourite flavours If the family’s interests lie mostly in the food and snacks department, consider visiting a Baskin-Robbins location and choose the most appealing flavours to taste, and rank them from favourite to least. With 31 flavours to choose from in the dipping cabinets, including the must-try and fan-favourite for multiple years, Love Potion #31, it’s going to be quite the challenge! When you’ve selected the best ones, bring them home in a pre-pack to continue the enjoyment at home. 3. Outdoor activities to re-energize the whole family Whether you prefer tubing, skiing, snowshoeing, or ice skating — Canada has countless outdoor activities to choose from. Family-friendly activities like these make a great excuse to rest and relax, then treat yourself to a creamy hot chocolate. 4. Weekend getaway No need to go too far — Family Day Weekend is the perfect occasion to visit your own province. Consider taking a day trip to a nearby town you've never been to before, where you can check out a new restaurant, coffee shop, or museum. You can tailor your itinerary to the family’s interests. 5. Film festival, movie marathon If the weather isn’t in your favour during the Family Day weekend and you choose to stay home, consider curating a lineup of your family’s favourite flicks to
The Gift of Love: 9 Last-Minute Valentine Gifts for the Family Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate love, affection, and the special relationships we have with our loved ones. Whether you're spending it with your significant other, children, or the whole family, it's a day to show those closest to you just how much you care. Bring everyone together this Valentine's Day with thoughtful gifts that create lasting memories! From printable Valentine's Day cards to personalized presents and the classic heart-shaped chocolates, there's something for everyone. These Valentine gifts are not only thoughtful and memorable but also practical and fun, making them great for the whole family. Printable Valentine Cards Celebrate Valentine's Day with a personal touch by printing out custom cards for your loved ones. HP Printables offers a collection of Valentine's Day cards you can print, download, and share with your special someone. From traditional love notes to playful and fun designs, there's something for everyone in the collection. With the option to print at home, you can avoid the hassle and expense of buying cards from a store. Show your family and loved ones how much you care this Valentine's Day with a custom-made card from HP Printables or printables.hp.com. La Vie En Rose Valentine's Collection The special lady in your life will love La Vie en Rose's Valentine's Day selection, from lingerie to comfy pajamas. Valentine's Day is always a good time for some new lingerie, but you'll surely love these pajamas. They come in the softest peachy dream fabric you’ll ever feel. Shop all these items at your local La Vie En Rose. Yes I Am Eau de Parfum Fragrance Valentine's Day is a time to celebrate love and femininity, and what better way to do that than with the signature fragrance of an empowered woman? The Yes I Am Eau de Parfum Fragrance is the perfect gift for the strong, independent woman in your life. Whether she's your partner, mother, daughter, or friend, this fragrance will make her feel special and appreciated. Lindt Chocolates Indulge in the perfect family treat this Valentine's Day with Lindt chocolates. Chocolate is synonymous with Valentine’s Day. Give a sweet tooth the gift of bliss this Valentine’s Day with a selection of chocolate from Lindt, everyone’s favourite chocolate! The LINDOR Amour Milk Chocolate Hearts Box, LINDOR Amour Milk Chocolate Hearts 3-pack, as well as the Amour TEDDY Milk Chocolate 5-pack, are great to give as individual candy grams for your kids
5 ways to make the holidays stress-free for tweens of divorce By Alicia Robertson Feeling anxious about how to get through the upcoming holiday season without too much drama? You’re not alone. While the holidays can be an incredibly joyous time, they can also be extremely challenging for families who are navigating divorce—especially when you’re determined to maintain the holiday cheer for your tweens. With careful planning and consideration for everyone’s top priorities and feelings, you can still achieve a stress-free holiday for you and your tweens this year. Make sure your legal agreement is inclusive of everyone’s needs The most important starting point is with the legal agreement that you and your former partner draw up when working through your divorce. Don’t rush through this step! Take your time to make sure that your final draft is truly inclusive of everyone’s needs, which will help ensure that everyone has a really positive holiday experience. Spend time discussing and determining everyone’s priorities: yours, your former partner’s, and your tweens’. Focus on the experiences that matter right now, but remember that over time, new family traditions may emerge and that the holiday season will look different at different ages and stages for your family. Remember that this is a legal document, so you want to be as specific and clear as possible. As parents, it’s your job to enforce this agreement when necessary, especially if your tweens get upset about the plans you’ve set for the holidays. In this situation, the best thing you can do to support your tween is to listen and validate their feelings—using statements such as “thank you for sharing your feelings and desires. This is not easy and how you feel and what you want is entirely reasonable. Let’s figure out how we can work through this together”. Care for your own emotions first In order to support your tweens through the emotions they’re going through during this tough time, you have to first focus on your own emotional self-care and healing. Start by having an awareness of what new feelings are coming up for you, such as grief around the loss of family traditions, not seeing the extended family you love, etc. Try to stay out of the victim mindset and flip that script by reminding yourself that you’re not losing or missing anything. You’re safe, well, happy, free, and you can make positive choices for yourself! You'll be better equipped to meet your tweens'
7 Ways to Combat Mental Health Problems in Teen Boys by Arianne Granada Talking about mental health with teen boys may be especially tricky because of their age and the way their brains are developing—especially if they're in the middle of a growth spurt. Unlike girls, who tend to talk about their emotions and ask for help, boys are often uncomfortable with these types of conversations because society makes it seem emotionally risky to demonstrate vulnerability. As parents, it is important that we help our teen boys to speak up about mental health issues. We should encourage them to talk to a friend or family member about their feelings and emotional issues ranging from stress at home and school to depression or anxiety. We chatted with Cassandra Simms, a psychiatrist who specializes in an all-boys residential treatment program at Embark Behavioral Health based in Chandler, Arizona, about how to help young men navigate through life with self-awareness and confidence. #1 Unlearn the stigma Mental health is still pretty taboo. We’re getting better about it, but for a long time, there has been a stigma around it being something to be ashamed of. This is often transferred down to our boys in society; they think they're weak if they aren't tough and don’t express their feelings. So it's important that we, as adults, don't make them feel ashamed of their emotions. Allowing them to express themselves encourages mental health awareness and makes a big difference in the long run. Understanding their language Sometimes the kid you’re talking to is just going to be defiant, or they’re going to be resistant to saying anything or they just shut down. Regardless of how long it takes, make sure you let them know you still want to talk to them. They'll realize that pushing away isn't working, and that makes you gain their trust that you're not going to abandon them despite their behaviour. Make sure that you pass that first wall so you can make it to the other side. Using their words when they talk about mental health issues is important so that they know you listen rather than using something you learned from a textbook. I had a young patient who was a baseball player once who described depression as a water-logged ball. As we would talk about it, I would ask “How are you feeling, how’s that ball? Is it water-logged or not?" Because it gives you an idea of
5 Tips to Raise a Resilient Teen By June Rousso, Ph.D. Teens today are faced with so much rapid change along with everyday academic and social demands. All of these demands can be very stressful at times. Our bodies naturally react to stress with a fight, flight or freeze reaction. However, we also can use our thoughts and emotions to develop resilience and better manage stress. This is where resilience comes in. But how to build it? Here are some tips for parents guided by the words of teens themselves from ChildResilient.org, a student-run non-profit organization born out of the pandemic. Tip #1: Encourage a strong sense of self in your teen. If you have a sense of who you are, you can easily direct yourself towards and away from situations — even toxic ones. As parents, give more choices when you can, and encourage your child not to be influenced by social conformity. While it is natural to want to be liked by others, it's also important to live by your own will. Let them learn to think independently, regardless of the good and bad opinions of others. Help foster resilience as well as build your teen's self-confidence by encouraging this kind of independent thinking. Tip #2: Don’t dwell on the past, especially the bad life experiences. While you never want to dismiss your child’s feelings, dwelling on the past prevents building up the strength to move forward in life. Children, especially teens, can be so sensitive to how they might have been judged in the past. Past opinions don’t matter and they need to learn to do things for themselves. Strengthen your teen's sense of self by teaching them not to be swayed by public opinion. With ongoing emotional reactions to stress — such as depression and anxiety — it is important to remind your child that these feelings are not all of who they are, which helps to keep your teen resilient. Tip #3: Explain that making social comparisons is natural, but overdoing it hinders being a resilient teen. When we compare ourselves to others, we usually come out on the short end of the stick or take on an arrogant attitude of feeling better. Communicating that there will always be people with more of something in some way is one message, but teens can also learn that these same people can serve as role models and be inspirational. At the same time, despite the social comparisons,