parenting Tag

3 Holiday Traditions to Connect with Your Teen   By Bernardo Salcido Starting this year as a new principal at middle school has been a wild ride to say the least. I think a coworker of mine said it best though, “The days are long, and the weeks are short.” Christmas sneaks up fast every year and it is my favourite time of year. It’s a time to reflect, connect, and take care of what matters most — family. Despite all the craziness 2020 has brought, we still have an opportunity to love the ones around us. These three strategies are excellent ways to dive deeper into your relationship with your teen and enjoy some time together. Holiday lights and hot cocoa This has been a favourite tradition ever since my children were little, and it still continues to deliver smiles even now that my kids are teenagers. Make a cup of cocoa in a travel mug for each family member, drive to where you know some good light displays are located and crank the Christmas music. Bake and decorate some cookies Finding a simple sugar cookie recipe and giving it a try definitely will lead to time together and enjoyment. The act of completing a task like baking helps a teenager let down their guard and open up. Make sure to prepare some frosting in a Ziploc bag so everyone can have fun making Christmas trees and Snowflakes on the cookies. Decorate and chill Decking your place out with Christmas décor — both new and old will get everyone in the holiday spirit! Break out your decorations from years’ past and get the entire family involved. Once the decorating is finished, break out the holiday snacks and sweet treats and turn on a holiday classic like Charlie Brown or The Grinch. This will surely bring out the kid that still lives in all of us — teens and parents alike. Parent mentor, middle school principal, and author, Bernardo Salcido assists parents with strategies to connect with teenagers. Follow Bernardo’s parenting advice on these social platforms: YOUTUBE - Connecting_with_teens INSTAGRAM - @connecting_with_teens BUY BOOK - https://www.iuniverse.com/en/bookstore/bookdetails/807601-connecteen

How to Talk to our Girls about Sex and Pleasure   By Amy MacLachlan “Pleasure is not synonymous with sex,” says Melissa Pintor Carnagey, author of Sex Positive Talks to Have with Kids. “Pleasure is with us our entire lives. It’s a birthright. And it’s through pleasure that we come to know ourselves and the world around us.” Carnagey is the founder of Sex Positive Families, an organization devoted to teaching parents and young people how to talk about sex. Having raised three children, including a daughter who is now 21, she is seeing the positive effects of openly and intentionally teaching her kids to be proud of their bodies, to trust their intuition and that sex is a good and pleasurable thing. “When we talk about pleasure, we’re actually talking about how girls can keep themselves safe,” says Carnagey, who is also a social worker, having spent 15 years in the area of HIV and sexual health. “Teaching children about consent from a very young age and talking about how pleasure is a force in all aspects of our lives, actually prepares them for when they do have sex.” There are all too many alarming stats and stories about things like girls and body image; pressures around giving oral sex and texting naked photos; and consent and safety issues. According to Carnagey, talking openly about pleasure teaches girls to get to know their bodies and to be comfortable with what they can do. It also empowers them to voice their needs and desires — something girls often aren’t allowed to acknowledge. On the flip side, it teaches girls about personal boundaries, and to know when things don’t feel good. “By erasing pleasure from sex ed, we’re failing to prepare our young people for safer, more satisfying experiences,” she says. Teaching girls about pleasure isn’t just about sex, then. It’s about laying the groundwork for healthy relationships, with others and with themselves. But where do we start? Isn’t it awkward? What should parents say? First, relax. Second, be encouraged that honest conversations about this sort of stuff are a great opportunity to connect and build a trusting relationship with your daughter. Third, keep reading. There are ideas and tips (and lots of reasons why!) to talk to your tweens and teens about pleasure and sex. Start with self-reflection Sara Dimerman is a psychologist working with children and teens and believes that when parents struggle with talking about sex, some self-reflection might be

12 Gifts for the Teen On Your List Ask any parent who is the most difficult person to buy for on their list and they’ll most likely say it’s their teenager. With trends and fads that can come and go as fast as a winter blizzard, it can be downright dizzying to choose the right gift. That’s why, this holiday season, we handpicked some holiday gifts that any teen would love to receive this Christmas. Turn Game Night Upside Down We’re all home now more than ever and it’s easy to just dissipate to separate rooms and stare at our devices. Parents looking for ways to connect with their teens can do so with a good board game! This Upside Down Challenge from Giant Tiger is hilarious!  You wear the goggles that make everything appear upside down and then you have to complete a series of challenges like filling the water bottle or write your name! It’s so much fun! You could even up the stakes and make a fun rivalry out of it. “Winner gets out of shoveling the next storm that hits!” https://www.gianttiger.com/507239/p/507239 Get Your Zen On We’re all stressed to the max these days — parents and teens included. While many would escape to the spa for some downtime, they might not feel comfortable right now doing so. So, why not grab your teen and have an at-home spa day?  This Life Brand Charcoal Set from Shoppers Drug Mart is great for detoxifying skin and leaving your complexion looking renewed and refreshed. The set includes a charcoal cleanser, facial cleansing wipes, four facial masks, and a bonus spa headband to match. And at $15, it’s a steal!! https://www1.shoppersdrugmart.ca/ Beautify Your Skin Care Routine This year, Quo Beauty upped its holiday game. Its limited-edition holiday collection is completely revamped — it’s 100% cruelty-free and has a playful, modern look. Besides makeup, they have a ton of accessories and tools too. Some of our favourite picks include the super-soft pink headband and Satin Cat Eye Mask with embroidered lashes. They are perfect for nighttime beauty routines! And how about this cute holiday penguin blending sponge? You can find all these beautiful gifts online at shoppersdrugmart.ca Give Back If there’s anything this pandemic has taught us, it’s to be grateful for what we have. Let your teen help you find a charity to give back to because it really teaches them about the joy of giving back and

How to Teach Your Teen the Art of Face-to-Face Connections   Here’s a question for you to ponder:  Are we as parents doing all we can to prepare our teens for high school, college or the workplace? Are we doing all we can to best support the next generation so they can function in the best way possible in the real world?  Are we supporting the next generation by way of offering them pivotal life skills?  What I’m talking about is developing face-to-face communication skills, in an age where it is becoming a lost art. We are all experiencing a unique time in history, no doubt about it. We are also searching to create a new sense of normalcy as well.  It’s more about physical distancing than social distancing.  We need to connect and interact socially now more than ever. And when it’s safe to connect face-to-face, that’s even better! Here are some tips on how to teach your teens the art of face-to-face interaction and become better communicators. Have mutually beneficial conversations I will make a basic assumption that we all like to be understood.  One main factor to really understanding someone is by listening.  Some quick tips on how to fully engage are to ask clarifying questions.  It is always OK to ask questions of anyone you are talking with, such as, “I really want to understand your point, would you mind saying it again for me?”  Or perhaps you can ask them to rephrase it in a different way so that you understand.  Instead of offering (pretend) nods of understanding, ask for clarity!  Don’t interrupt, listen more and talk less.  It’s easy to talk. When we talk, we are sharing what we already know, but when you truly listen, you may learn something. One quick tip I’ve used with teens to work on listening skills is creating a for-fun mock TV or radio interview.  I have my clients create a short list of three questions to ask, but I always stress one key point to them.  I emphasize for them to listen to the answers very carefully instead of thinking about the next question to ask on their list.  This small adjustment tends to bring big results.  By doing this, you truly put a focus on actively listening to someone and this small habit can be applied to real-life job interviews. How to have hard conversations Most of us, not just today’s youth, will inevitably need to

Top Chef Canada's Contestants on Cooking Up Their Careers If life in quarantine has you flipping channels in a neverending search to find something suitable to watch with your teen, you can now put the remote safely down for at least an hour a week. Food Network Canada's Top Chef Canada Season 8 has just started wherein 12 chefs from every corner of the country compete in the most prestigious cooking competition in the country, battling it out for the biggest prize in Top Chef Canada history and the coveted title of Canada’s Top Chef. Yes, they're in for a wild ride but we wanted to talk to the competitors about their lives BEFORE Top Chef. They were open and honest about their journeys that led them to the kitchen (they weren't all as smooth as butter), the importance of family support (one contestant's father STILL won't tell people his son is a chef) and their advice for teens looking to start a life in the kitchen. Adrian Forte When did you know you wanted to be a chef? I was always cooking as a teenager, but I decided to pursue cooking professionally the summer before Grade 12. I had realized I wasn’t going to be a professional athlete and I was already extremely passionate about all things food. I enjoyed being in the kitchen, so I thought to myself, “why wouldn’t I want to do this all the time?” What did your family say when you chose a career in the culinary arts, which can mean a lot of long nights and tough work? I come from a whole bloodline of chefs. My mother, grandmother, aunts and uncles all spent some time in the kitchen. My grandmother had seven children and it was a rite of passage in our household for every one of her kids to learn the craft. The tradition has been passed down for generations, so when I decided to pursue cooking professionally, my entire family was ecstatic about my career choice and they continue to support me. What do you wish you knew back then that you know now? Nothing. I believe life is a lesson and experience is the teacher (it’s sort of my mantra). I’ve always learned from my failures and mistakes, and I apply what I’ve learned to the next situation, endeavor or business venture. I’m a firm believer in trial by fire or sink or swim. Trials and tribulations develop

6 WAYS TO CONNECT WITH YOUR TEEN Many of us have made the resolution to do better. To have more meaningful relationships with our teens and to connect with them on a higher level. If you want to make this year the best ever with your teen, here are six things you can do. By Brooke Martin   LISTEN Teens have their hearts and minds pulled in different directions from daily pressures and worldly influences. The art of listening is a gift that heals wounds, loves unconditionally, and ignites creativity in the one being heard. Think about it. What kind of person do we lean into when we are trying to sort out problems in life? Generally, we gravitate to the open-hearted, non-judgmental and unsolicited people in our lives. The ones who listen, truly listen. Why is the art of listening so powerful? We can help our teens discover who they are by creating a safe space where they can pour out their thoughts and perspectives of life, tell their stories, and unload disappointments. MONITOR DIGITAL DEVICES Strap in parents! Teens today are the first generation of "screenagers," which means we are the first generation to parent screenagers. This is not an easy task! As a mother of three teenagers, the digital device battles flooded our home for a good two years until I finally grew a backbone and buckled down. As a result, my kids are happier, less stressed, and there is more peace in our home! Teenagers are turning to devices to cope with normal hard emotions instead of learning healthy coping skills in life. The average teenager in the U.S. spends nine hours a day of screen time. Studies show teens who spend over three hours a day are much more likely to have depression, anxiety, feel fatigued and chronic stress. The iPod was released in 2007 and Instagram was released in 2010. In the U.S., from 2007-2015 the suicide rate in girls doubled and increased 30 per cent in boys. Suicide is the second leading cause of death amongst all teenagers in the U.S. and is the No. 1 leading cause of death in teenage girls. How can we make improvements? SELF-CHECK. Our kids model our behaviour. Are we on our phones during dinner? Do we set our own time restrictions? Do we turn to social media (or video gaming) to cope with hard emotions instead of healthy coping skills? Be transparent with your teen in your own personal