Feeling Into Fall: Cultivating Resilience in Our Children Part One

By Colleen Drobot

Summer’s over, now it’s fall, just the nicest time of all. I remember reading that poem in the early weeks of primary school and feeling like it was a big crock. Summer, not fall! was the nicest time of all because I could play and be free and be with my mom and not have any pressure to perform or get things right. I could wake up slowly, camp outside, eat treats, and not have to be conscious of behaving or fitting in. My teacher probably felt the same way about summer. 

I know my mother welcomed the fall, which brought some respite from my siblings and me. Many parents long for the return of structure, healthy eating, bedtime routines, and yes, a break from their children, as much as they love them. 

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Jessie Kuehn
Supporting The Anxious Child

By Colleen Drobot

One day my 10-year old son came home shaken by an incident he experienced in the woods. He had gone biking with some neighbourhood boys and an older brother of one of his friends. In the forest, they came upon a group of angry teenagers who were arguing, and on the verge of a fight. As my son described the scene, I could sense that the violence in the air must have been palpable. Luckily, the brave 15-yearold accompanying my son stepped up and said, “Hey you guys, take it somewhere else. There are kids here!” Fortunately, the group actually listened. One of them mumbled “Sorry dude” and they left.

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Jessie Kuehn
The First Week of School: Creating Connections and Emotional Safety

By Colleen Drobot

Last night my children couldn’t sleep. Today was their first day of school and their bodies and minds were not quite ready for the transition. As my husband and I turned out our light, I heard my 9 year daughter’s little voice call out…”I’ll never get to sleep!” and then my 13 year old son reiterated, “Me neither. I’m going to be up until 3 in the morning!” After reassurances from us, sleep finally came. Earlier that evening however, they both expressed having a mix of excitement and anxiety about the first day of school. With the unknown comes apprehension. On many children’s and teen’s minds are questions such as: Will I like my teacher? Will I be able to do the work? Will my friends be in my class? Will I succeed this year? For older students it may be: Will I find my classes, will I make new friends, will I fit in?

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Jessie Kuehn
What Matters Most

By Colleen Drobot

Lately I have been thinking about how vital it is that I communicate to my children that they are very important to me. In our busy lives simple acts of showing our children they matter to us can get lost in the shuffle. We know we love our children, however, sometimes we may forget to express how much they matter to us.

When I think back to my childhood, I know I was special to my father when he would tweak my toes as we watched “The Carol Burnett Show” sharing a little plate of pickles, tomatoes and garlic sausage only he and I enjoyed. Or unexpectedly, he’d tickle me and tell me he was going to put salt and pepper on me and eat me all up! I’d giggle and feel very special. Out of the blue, my mother used to come up and hug me and say, “I haven’t seen you all day!” even though I had been right under her feet as she did the housework. These moments made me feel very loved and significant to them. They felt like free gifts—I didn’t need to achieve anything or work for their love; they showed their affection simply because of who I was, not for what I did.

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Jessie Kuehn
Cultivating Independence In Our Children

By Colleen Drobot

A recent study reported that North Americans place a high value on independence. We all want our children to grow up and stand on their own two feet; who wants their 30 year old still living at home? The problem is, as developmental psychologist Dr. Gordon Neufeld states, we are not birds that can be pushed out of the nest. In fact, the more we push independence, the more children will cling, give up, or look to someone else for help.

If we want to deepen attachment and cultivate independence, we first need to invite our children to depend upon us.

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Jessie Kuehn
Facing Separation

By Patti Drobot

Lately, I have had a number of parents coming to see me because their child is having difficulties separating for the school day. These kids are generally 5 or 6 years old and the parents are distraught. “It doesn’t feel right to have my child dragged out of my arms crying hysterically.” It doesn’t feel right because it isn’t right and yet all too often, parents are afraid to trust their instincts.

I recall a close friend in this struggle years ago when her daughter had trouble entering the classroom at the start of the day and saying good-bye to mom. The teacher told the child that Pippi Long Stocking, Harry Potter and Anne of Green Gables all managed to get by without their parents and she would too. Her alarm skyrocketed and the school administrator told my friend she was not allowed to come into the school to say good-bye to her daughter at the beginning of each school day. Coming home at lunch was also thought to contribute to the problem and more peer interaction was recommended. An anxiety disorder was suggested and therapy recommended. This mother would have none of it and did what she knew was in the best interest of her daughter. She continued to walk her daughter to class to say good-bye and put the focus on their return by letting her daughter know they would see each other at lunch. She also bridged the distance by giving her daughter a locket of hers to hang on to during the day. The school staff disapproved but she felt she knew best. Her daughter is now 12 years old, a leader in her community and happy to go to school.

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Jessie Kuehn
In Praise of Limiting Praise

By Colleen Drobot

We all want to rejoice when our child does something wonderful or achieves a goal. It is a natural part of being a proud parent. We celebrate their endeavors and want to acknowledge them. But when acknowledgment and recognition turn into praise in hopes they will continue to raise the bar, or if we recognize our child only when he or she does something well, we could be headed for trouble.

If we give our child attention when they do well, we also need to show them appreciation and affection when they don’t succeed. It is so important that we provide comfort and convey how much they mean to us, even if they fail or make mistakes.

When we give love and attention freely, no matter how well they do, a child can rest in the awareness that our love is unconditional.

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Jessie Kuehn
Understanding the Sensitive Child... from the Inside Out

When my beautiful son entered this world, like many parents, I had a belief that if I just loved him and was a good parent, everything else would fall into place—like baking a cake right? It didn’t take long to realize the universe had other plans for me and I had some learning to do. You see, my son came into this world a very sensitive being. Sensitivity can manifest in many ways and present differently in children. Many sensitive children experience tactile sensitivity—their clothes are itchy, tags need to be cut off, socks and underwear pose great problems. A child may have an auditory sensitivity. I had to warn my infant son every time I turned on the blender or vacuum cleaner to avoid him breaking into a wail. His sense of smell was heightened and even rice cooking in the kitchen would send him gasping for air. Some kids are ‘supertasters’ and experience the taste and texture of certain foods as too intense. This makes their range of good food choices very narrow. For other children visual stimulation can be overwhelming. Transitions can also be very difficult and too much stimulation is exhausting often resulting in irritable behavior. One of the most common manifestations of sensitivity is that these children feel very deeply, and their feelings are easily hurt. A certain tone of voice can seem very harsh to them.

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Jessie Kuehn