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Posts Tagged ‘family’

ADHD, Summer Vacation, and Taking Risks Without Yelling

Written by Ganz Ferrance on . Posted in Television Appearances

Click here to watch the full segment (8:43)

Click here to watch the full segment (8:43)

French Kids and ADHD

I love this holistic approach. I would like to believe that we in Canada are more like the French in this way than the Americans. It always makes sense to look at root causes versus just medicating the symptoms of any issue. Factors like structure, diet, emotional health, family, and social dynamics all play a part in most issues and are definitely part of the picture and the prevention or treatment of ADHD—this does not mean that medication (for this or other issues) is irrelevant or unnecessary. I think they have a place in helping the kids cope and experience success while making them available for the deeper life changes that would be beneficial. They are also indicated where the parents can’t or won’t make the needed changes to help the child. The feeling of struggle and not fitting in can sometimes be more damaging (long-term) than the medication side-effects. Like Dr. Brent Macdonald says, a combination of proper medication, effective counseling supports, and good classroom environments does a lot of good. So I never want to throw away this tool—but I would definitely look at those other factors I mentioned earlier as part of the picture.

Kids and Summer Vacation

Kids look forward to summer vacation all year. Some parents dread it. They feel like they have to be the social director of the family for two months. The truth is that kids don’t need to be entertained from sunup to sundown. It’s actually good for them to have some experience with boredom; this gives them the opportunity to use their creativity and imagination to figure out activities they find interesting. They also get to let their brains breathe when many of them are over-regimented during the rest of the year; it can be a time when they do some introspection and use fantasy and imagination. When you over-schedule your kids or take on the responsibility of planning every activity for them, they never learn to do it of themselves—and remember our job is to train them for life, not just to occupy their time for July and August. Sometimes it helps to do what Dr. Macdonald and Dr. Peter Nieman suggest: breaking up time during the day or a trip. This can create routine by subdividing long periods of time. You should also remember that kids are going to remember experiences and not the money you spent. So don’t feel guilty if you can’t afford Disneyland again this year. Board games, water fights in the back yard, and picnics can be just as memorable. I would suggest a couple of things to think about:
  1. Make sure to limit electronic time. You could even let them earn electronic time with activity time outdoors, for example, two hours of activity for every one hour of electronics.
  2. You could get together with friends, family, or neighbours and trade supervision duties, such as five families each taking all the kids for one day each. The kids get variety and company and you all get a break!
  3. Make sure you look after your own needs too or you won’t be fun to be around. When you are happy and well rested, you are able to plan and enjoy the activities with your kids (or let them enjoy them on their own) to a much greater extent.

Watch the full segment (5:55). Just click the photo.

Stop Yelling

Everyone feels better when there is a calm environment of patience and safety. Yelling makes everyone feel bad—the kids get scared, it hurts their self-esteem, and you feel guilty for losing it— and leads to poor decision-making. Those are the moments where you will tend to (over-the-top) punishments rather than consequences. One suggestion from Dr. Macdonald is to use quietness to establish and demonstrate control. Here are some other tips that really work:
  1. Intervene and remind kids of expectations in advance. Don’t let things get out-of-hand because that’s when it’s easy to lose your cool.
  2. Look after your own needs. You can’t be patient when you’re hungry, tired, burnt out, or feeling unfulfilled.
  3. Have realistic expectations of your kids. It’s their job to test the boundaries and they don’t have the discipline and emotional control that you (hopefully) do.
  4. Call a timeout early on. When things seem like they are going off the rails for you or your kids, call a timeout like a coach would and regroup.
  5. Make sure you apologize as soon as you can if you do lose it. This will help you become aware of the pattern and will help to restore the relationship with your kids. Just make sure it’s a real apology and that you’re not saying, “I’m sorry you made mommy yell.” Don’t blame them for your lack of patience.

Kids Need Risk in Play

I agree that kids need a sense of challenge. We all need to test ourselves in order to feel alive and to know our limits. Kids are no different. You can teach them to be safe and make good choices, but it’s important to let them roam a bit and figure things out for themselves. Remember your job is to train them or life—not just to keep them from hurting themselves. Little hurts now help them to learn how the world works and know when to be more mindful next time. The stats on long-term, negative health effects of keeping kids in and not getting exercise or fresh air are pretty clear. The bigger risk is staying in—not going outside to play and risk being hurt. A word of caution: kids still need a sense of parents being in control and looking out for them, so give them freedom to explore, but within defined space that you can monitor and access quickly. (Let little kids play in the playground, but know where they are and be able to get to them if they get into trouble.)
Health, Love, Happiness, SuccessDr. Ganz Ferrance


Life as a Bus Driver, Humiliating Discipline, Extreme Sports, and Defeating the Summer Backslide

Written by Ganz Ferrance on . Posted in Television Appearances

I love being on the Alberta Primetime Lifestyle Panel. We recently sat down to talk about the Bus Driver Incident, Public Humiliation of our kids as a form of punishment, and a few other pertinent topics. Hope you enjoy my summary of our discussion.


Bus Incident

This shows how incredibly hard the job of a bus driver is. You are responsible for the safety of everyone on the bus and the other people on the road. You have to also make sure the students are not being picked on, bullied, or misbehaving. I am not sure what tools they have in terms of discipline, but in the video, it looks like this kid was being a bully and inciting the other kids to disrespect the driver. As parents, the primary concern should be to address the issues of basic safety on the bus. I have a hard time with kicking him off the bus so far from home, but again, I’m not in that situation myself so it’s difficult to say he was wrong or right. I would have preferred to take him home and then deal with things via the school and parents the next day. But this may have been a pattern; he may have been warned; there may have been other factors.

Public Humiliation as Discipline

Discipline is very important. I don’t believe in “free-range kids”. However, I’m not at all in favour of humiliation or shaming of kids as “discipline”. You may control the behaviour in the moment but the long-term effects in the kid’s self-image, self-esteem, and (like Wendy Mueller says) as a “relationship-destroyer” are not worth it. If the child is strong-willed, the problem may even escalate, according to Dr. Peter Nieman. Our job as parents is to help kids learn how to be healthy, happy, productive, and contributing members of society—not to just make sure they behave. What I teach is…
    1. Have consistent and reasonable consequences for behaviour that are clear and make sense.
    2. Make sure the kid knows what the expectations and the consequences (both positive and negative) are.
    3. “Honor their decisions” and give them the consequences their behaviour tells you they have chosen.
    4. But always send the message that who the kid is valuable and loved.

Kids and Extreme Sports

It’s great when kids are into something (other than electronics, et cetera), but we have to be careful not to be so happy they’re not isolating themselves or getting lost in the virtual world that we overlook dangers and problems in the real world. Remember: “The opposite of dysfunction is dysfunction!” There are a few issues with letting kids do extreme sports:
    1. They don’t have enough experience to have good judgement. They haven’t been on earth long enough to see how some things play out
    2. Their brain development is not complete, so they don’t have good judgment. Especially in their teens—they are all passion and intelligence, but little reasoning and “behavioural inhibition”.
    3. Physical and brain trauma, concussions, and mild-traumatic brain injury—your brain is make up of different densities, so different parts move at different rates and have different inertia. Sudden head movements (starting or stopping) actually rips the brain apart at the cellular level—this is called “atonal severing”. These can be devastating to a child or teen’s personality, intelligence, and quality of life forever. I would say wait until they are much older and have more experience, and even then you probably still have to help them learn limits.
But one question to ask if you have kids interested in extreme sports is what their motive is. Is it to prove their superiority—that they’re special or better than their friends? Like both Dr. Peter Nieman and Wendy Mueller say, if their passion for the sport is there, safety should always come first (training, supervision, and proper protective equipment). It could be a good learning experience for them to take some risks, discover their own limitations, and discover other new passions.

Preventing Summer Backsliding

This is a real problem for some kids. I remember forgetting how to write or which had the pencil goes in after summer vacation. The key is to make staying sharp fun: structured learning around games and contests. Make it a built-in aspect of your daily or weekly routine in the summer. Do it as a family/group: “this is our quiet/homework/learning/enrichment time”. Don’t do it for too long each day; depending on the kid (age, maturity, et cetera), fifteen minutes to an hour is plenty. Also remember that helping your kids enjoy learning and feel good about themselves is also part of the goal, so don’t frustrate them. Start with easy stuff in each session and also in general over the summer, and then move to more challenging material. Success breeds success. Taking a break also helps kids stay engaged, so don’t worry about missing a few days, or even a week or two if you’re traveling. Traveling itself can be a very educational and enriching experience over the summer. Just make sure you make it a deliberate decision and not just because either of you don’t feel like it at the time. That can be a slippery slope with kids. Health, Love, Happiness, Success Dr. Ganz Ferrance


Caring for Ourselves

Written by Ganz Ferrance on . Posted in Blog

rear view mirror

How far do you have to get with your “tank of energy”?

How quickly would we burn out if we constantly had to push ourselves to the next destination without any fuel in our tanks?

Not caring for ourselves can affect us in so many negative ways. It can affect us physically, emotionally, and mentally. For example, if we don’t value our bodies, we will be more likely to get too busy, skip meals, sacrifice sleep, or ignore signals that our bodies are not functioning at their peak level. When we do this, we send the message that we believe what we are doing is more important than our own health and well-being. Unfortunately, our subconscious is more than willing to comply with this message and just go along with the status quo. In other words, it agrees with the belief that you as a person are less valuable than what you are doing or who you are doing it for. We need to refocus our intellect as well as our unconscious. Otherwise, we risk falling into the Pit of Burnout.

Stressful Family Situations during the Holidays

Written by Ganz Ferrance on . Posted in Blog

Click to watch the CTV segment

Between spending money, weather, traffic, running out of time, the holiday season is one of the most stressful times of the year for most people, especially when it comes to dealing with family. Here are some common relationship situations and what to do about them so you can enjoy this season – instead of just surviving it.