How not to engage in dramatic outbursts with your teens

“Mom, I have nothing to wear! Nothing!!! (Insert very loud and almost desperate voice…)”.  Every parent of a teen has heard this at some point and as you enter her room, you find clothes on the floor, clothes in her closet and clothes bursting out of her drawers!

Your first instinct is to state the obvious. “What are you talking about? You have a ton of clothes”. But you have a feeling this may just fuel the fire and lead to responses like, “nothing fits, it’s dirty, not warm enough…”the complaints will go on and on.

So do you engage? Yup, that’s the question. Do you try and rationalize with a teen that is being ruled by her emotional brain? This is not going to comfort her.

As a parent, I just want to fix the problem. Well, I’ve learned she may not be looking for a solution. So then why is she asking? How are we supposed to know that?

How do you know the difference between her asking for help and complaining? Well that’s like walking a tight rope – walk slowly and carefully. Sometimes your teen simply wants to vent. Sometimes they want to talk about it without you jumping in with a solution. So how do you respond?

Well, teens just want to feel heard.  So I might try and say, “That sounds like a tough situation, not finding any clothes to wear”. She may or may not confirm this. “Let me know if there’s anything I can help with?” and then walk away. You don’t need to engage in every battle with your teen.

What you can do is stay connected and build a strong positive relationship. Do this when your teen has calmed and their emotions have settled . Instead of engaging in battles with your teen – think to yourself:

  • Has your teen been getting enough sleep?
  • Have they been eating healthy food and getting exercise?
  • Is your teen stressed with school, work or extracurricular activities?
  • Are there any social issues that are causing them stress?
  • Is there a lot of family stress?

Think about the reasoning behind the outbursts. We know it’s not really about the clothes. Emotionally healthy children can cope better with stress levels, so teach your teen optimistic thinking to help them develop a positive outlook while building their confidence and self-esteem.

You can help your teen cope with strong emotions when they are not in the middle of an outburst. Wait until they’ve calmed down. Don’t engage if it’s not necessary. Also, be sure to talk about coping strategies and the importance of sleep, healthy eating and physical activity.

How have you dealt with your teen’s outbursts? We would love to hear from you.

For parenting information or to speak with a Public Health Nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.


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Role Modeling – they are watching us!

Kids are awesome imitators. What we do as parents shows our kids how we want them to behave.

A few weeks ago I was driving with my youngest in the back seat and we were running late.  We came upon a road construction worker re-directing traffic and had to change our planned route. My angry “Oh, great! Now we had to take the long way round!!” quickly melted when without missing a beat he piped up with a personal rendition of “I got my ticket for the long way round…” which instantly made me smile.

His question “Why were you mad, Mom?” made me re-consider my first reaction. “You know, I’m feeling rushed because we’re late, and I felt upset the construction made me change our route. But it’s great that they are fixing this road to make it better for us to drive and bike on!” And what happened next? I took a deep breath, relaxed and joined in the singing.

It’s important for me to not lose sight of the fact that my kids are watching and listening to everything I do. Especially when it comes to how I deal with challenging situations. I know that my kids are storing away my reactions as clues to how they should respond under similar circumstances.

When trying to be a better role model, I think about the qualities I value when I feel myself getting worked up. Things like:

  • Being patient
  • Showing respect
  • Being kind and considerate of others

And when I consider how to model these qualities to my son, it actually helps ME be a better person.

Here are my key learnings:

Try to keep your cool.

Breathe. Inhale, exhale, repeat. Yupp, it works for parents too. By role modeling that I can keep my cool in tough situations I am showing my child that they can to. Also, be forgiving to yourself (and them) when you don’t succeed 100% of the time. 

Be respectful with others.

Consider how you speak to your children, your spouse, your friends and neighbours, the driver who cut you off, the slow-moving check-out person at the grocery store. Do you model respect  through your words and tone of voice? 


Everyone wants to feel heard. If I want my kids to listen, I need to actually show them I am  listening when they talk. The same goes for pretty much everyone.

Model calm problem solving.  (Out loud where appropriate)

It helps kids to hear us problem solving aloud, and figuring out how to come to a reasonable solution by weighing our options. It will encourage them to do the same. Talk about your choices and decision making so they can use them as their own guidelines. 

Own up to your mistakes and accept mistakes in others.

Take responsibility for your mistakes. When things go wrong, try not to blame  people or circumstances. “I felt frustrated about having to go another route because we were running late. Yelling wasn’t helpful. I’m sorry.”

Role modeling is one of the most powerful tools you have in your parenting tool belt to influence the direction of your children’s character, whatever their age. When used to best advantage, you can pass on the values you want your children to adopt so that they become the adults you would like them to be. – David Streight

What do you think? Share with us, we would love to hear from you.

For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

About this guest blogger:

Kajsa KlassenKajsa Klassen – I am a public health nurse with the School Years Program. I love working alongside students, school staff and parents to create positive environments where all can thrive. As a mom of 3 I greatly enjoy sharing in the parenting journey with other Halton parents and all the adventures that come with it.  Our family likes to                                         explore the outdoors in our Halton Hills community.

Posted in Autism, Babies, learning, Mental Health, Parenting, preschoolers, School-aged Children, Special Needs, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Holiday traditions. Can you have too much of a good thing?

Oh, the holidays. It seems the second the jack-o-lanterns hit the compost we gear up to deck the halls. A holly jolly season ripe for memory making. Today, TV and social media are full of ideas on the latest, greatest way to create the perfect holiday memory.

And I soak it up like a sponge. A glittery, red and green, cinnamon-scented sponge.

Very early on in my parenting journey I set out to create memories and traditions for my growing family. Of course memories are created everyday, but the holidays are a hotbed of memory making opportunities. I learned the hard way however, that you can, in fact, have too much of a good thing.

It started years before with the home-made Christmas card complete with a picture of our growing children. At the time it seemed like a great way to connect with friends and family we didn’t see very often! Then came the holiday pj’s – who doesn’t love to come home on Christmas Eve to find a brand new pair of pyjamas to snuggle in to?

Business woman with Santa Hat is in panic because of something.

Year after year traditions were added to the memory making roster: gingerbread house decorating, trips to see the bearded guy in red, an afternoon of holiday baking, personalized crackers for the festive dinner table.

It was all very manageable until the year it wasn’t. And that year it really, really wasn’t.

It was the year I added a home-made advent calendar, cookies in a jar for the girls’ teachers (all eight teachers!) and home-made cake pops shaped like presents—all in addition to my usual annual tasks.

I found myself constantly walking around in a state trying to keep track of where I was on the holiday traditions to-do list. I had no time for anything else. Sit down and watch a holiday film with the family (as noted on December 14 on the family advent calendar)? Only if I worked on my Christmas cards at the same time. I was a multitasking maniac.

Then, it happened. It was past my bedtime on the night before the last day of school. I was tamping down ingredients in a jar (that takes forever by the way), my cake pops were falling off the sticks (who knew the icing-to-cake ratio was such a delicate balance?!), my gingerbread houses were leaning precariously and I lost it.  L-O-S-T it.

I had to give my head a shake. Somehow during all of this frantic memory making, I had lost sight of my goal.

I had been less than patient with my kids, my husband and my co-workers. I wasn’t sleeping well as I was constantly doing checks and balances on the spreadsheet in my mind!  The memories I was creating were of a grumpy, frantic, overwhelmed parent who wasn’t taking time to sit down and just be.

The following year I vowed to do it differently.  This does not mean that I gave up on traditions. I did the opposite. I focused on doing select traditions in a more meaningful way.

Happy family baking Christmas cookies at home. Little boy, girl and mother having fun in domestic decorated kitchen. Traditional leisure with kids on Xmas

After much thought and reflection, I was able to re-frame my mindset.  These tips helped me and I hope they will help you too.

  • Involve your kids (my girls actually came up with last year’s holiday greeting card idea and it was fantastic).
  • Just because you do it once doesn’t mean it has to happen every year. Maybe it becomes cherished because it’s done every other year. Just a thought.
  • Plan ahead and be realistic with the time you have.
  • Be present. Your kids are going to remember that you were there with them baking the cookies, not what kind of cookie you baked.
  • It’s okay to go for convenience. Home-made is awesome but sometimes store-bought treats and a snuggle on the sofa beat the two hours it would take in the kitchen to bake the treat.

And last but not least…

  • Stop and smell the poinsettias. Well, actually, don’t. They don’t smell like anything. But do take time to enjoy the season. You deserve it. ‘Tis the season to be jolly after all.

What do you think? Share with us, we would love to hear from you.

For parenting information or to speak with a public health nurse (every Monday to Friday from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.) simply dial 311 or 905-825-6000.

Posted in childhood, hectic, hurry, Mental Health, Parenting, rush, rush; stress; hurry; hectic; childhood; play; explore; imagination; curiosity;, School-aged Children, Teens, Toddlers, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Why you need to stop rushing your preschooler

Do you feel like you’re always in a hurry, rushing your kids around? Have you ever stopped and wondered how this affects your child?

I was recently walking through a park, when I noticed a grandmother with her young granddaughter. They had stopped and were looking at a blue heron sitting in a pond. The grandmother was crouched down and softly explaining to the toddler what was happening. “See how still he is. He’s looking for fish,” she told her granddaughter. The toddler was mesmerized by the whole experience. And I was transfixed by how wonderful this interaction was. Continue reading

Posted in childhood, curiosity, early literacy, explore, Grandparents, hectic, hurry, imagination, learning, Mental Health, Parenting, play, Preschool, preschoolers, rush, school health, stress, Toddlers | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The key to surviving life with a newborn

The key to surviving life with a newborn is low expectations.
Even lower.
There you go.

Remember all those things you had imagined pre-baby, you know that picture of you putting your little one down for a nap and then having lots of time to do things for yourself.  Maybe you hoped to be able to take a course, learn how to knit, exercise, look for a new house or even plan a reno.

Then when your baby is here and you realise, okay, maybe it was too much. Maybe I can hold off on some of these things. That’s a good thing, because you realized it was time to lower your expectations of yourself and your baby. Continue reading

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Teens and screens: tips to help your teen reduce screen time.

Teens are connected all the time. Aren’t we all? I don’t think my son is any different than other teens when it comes to being on his phone, watching Netflix or even playing video games. Technology is ingrained in our everyday life. I get it. I use technology and spend most of my work day in front of a screen.

As a parent of two teens and a public health nurse, I know screen time can affect both our mental and physical health and that recreational screen time should be limited to 2hrs/day. Recreational meaning watching TV, video games, etc. it doesn’t include educational time such as doing homework. However, I also live in the real world with a 15 year old boy. Continue reading

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Five easy ways to help keep your baby safe when they sleep

Sleeping baby on backOctober is Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) Awareness month and a good time to check if your little one is as safe as can be while sleeping. Safe sleep guidelines are being updated often as researchers learn more about ways to decrease your baby’s risk for SIDS. Here are five easy ways to help keep your baby safe*: Continue reading

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