News Archive

Now that our province is slowly re-opening, parents may be feeling the time crunch between preparing meals. Often times it’s easier and faster to cook meals without extra little helping hands but cooking together with your children is a fantastic learning and bonding experience for both of you!

In the kitchen children learn many things including the exploration of cultural dishes, counting, hand-eye coordination and new words to add to their ever-growing vocabulary.

Here are two ways we can simplify the cooking process with our little ones! First is a Bean Burrito recipe you can make together and next is the “What’s On My Plate” activity (just talking about food makes me hungry). 😋

Bean Burrito Recipe

What’s on my Plate Activity

Both these tip sheets are from Decoda.ca. Decoda is a wonderful web resource stocked full of family friendly activities – be sure to check it out! 😊


PRO TIP: An easy goal is to set aside one meal a week you plan to cook with your child’s help and assistance. Get them involved in the process right from the beginning: ask them what they’d like to eat, make a grocery list together and challenge them to try a new food each time.

I have found that picky eaters deny certain ingredients because they are new or unknown, so if you try to introduce it during the preparation stage, they will have the power of knowing what to expect.


Have fun in the kitchen!

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected

Hello everyone! Today I will be sharing a few information sheets from the Nobody’s Perfect parenting program that is funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada. CFS Regina runs this program in house twice a year. Give us a follow on our social media channels for updates on when the program will be taking place!

A lot of the time it’s easy to sit back and examine our lives under a microscope while removing ourselves from the equation. We begin to wonder why things are the way they are or why people act the way they do. However, when it comes to our kids it’s important to always include ourselves in those reflective thoughts.

Our children are who they are because of the stage we set for them to develop their personalities. A lot of what a child learns they learn from us as caregivers, their educators, their peers and the world around them. We often can’t control what happens in the outside world but we can control what happens inside our homes!

That’s what this first tip sheet is sharing – ways we can make it easier for our children to behave well.

The second sheet has two activities, one that is a guide that can be used for building routine with your child and the other shares information on how playing the classic “Follow the Leader” game can build a strong attachment between you and your child.

Remember, our children won’t know what we expect of them unless we do our part in showing them.


Stay Healthy, Stay Safe, Stay Connected!

Through the past couple of weeks I have come across parents struggling to explain to their children why they can’t play with their friends. A virus is a tough concept to grasp, especially because it’s invisible!

One way to open up discussion on the topic might not be a formal explanation but rather an action plan for when staying all day has your kids feeling cooped up, frustrated or worried.

Rosita from Sesame Street has a great video where she leads everyone through a simple belly breath exercise. At first, Rosita talks about how frustrated she is that she can’t play with Elmo, but by the end of the video she remembers that she can still have virtual play dates with her friend! Rosita explains that when you’re feeling nervous, angry or scared you can breath the yucky feelings away.

You can find the video here: Sesame Street: Learn to Breath with Rosita


PRO TIP: Try to monitor your child’s YouTube consumption as much as possible. Watch videos together and for videos similar to this belly breathing one, engage in the activity with your child. That way you know that your child is absorbing the material appropriately and it’s a great opportunity to bond. Plus, you might also get to relax while you belly breathe with your littles!


Stay Safe! Stay Healthy! Stay Connected!

Something we hear a lot about, especially recently, is how stressed everyone is. Do you ever stop to think about what that means? Does stress refer to how we act? What we say? How we think? The emotions we feel?

Oftentimes, when someone says they’re “stressed” it refers to thoughts, feelings, or behaviours that we might judge to be very negative. After viewing stress in this way for much of our life it can be very interesting to understand what stress actually is and how the stress response is critical for our survival!

Stress has been around for a while

Over thousands of years, our human species has evolved to include the stress response because it keeps us alive and functioning. For a moment, I would like you to imagine a scenario that causes you some amount of stress (ex: driving in heavy traffic, going to a job interview, watching the news, or missing a step when you’re walking up the stairs).

Pay close attention to how your body feels when you imagine this scenario. Some of our responses might include:

  • increased heart rate
  • faster breathing
  • tingling/energy in the body (especially the outer extremities)
  • nausea/loss of appetite; and
  • our attention becoming hyper-focused on scanning for threats or abnormalities

These are the exact responses that helped our early ancestors be faster and stronger in the face of threats to their safety such as large predators or even competing humans. This is known as the fight, flight or freeze response.

Our response to stress hasn’t changed – Our challenges have

A problem with this response is that the type of stressors we encounter in everyday life do not ordinarily include physical threats to our safety the way sabre tooth tigers or giant bears did for our ancestors. The things that stress us out tend to relate to relationships, our jobs, money problems, or changes and transitions in our life circumstances.

Unfortunately, our biological stress response is not able to discriminate between these types of threats and does very little to help us out, but our body thinks it’s being very helpful to us! Try to imagine these shots of adrenaline and cortisol racing through your body as your brain’s way of telling you:

“Don’t worry buddy! I’m primed and ready for action! I’m here for you!”

There is nothing wrong with you when you feel this way – it means that your body is healthy and is showing up for you to take on issues at hand. Our biology just hasn’t adapted as quickly as the challenges we face in modern society – that’s all!

Fight, flight or freeze and long-term stress

Another dilemma that we have right now is that our stress response is designed for very temporary threats to our safety. For example, imagine that a car isn’t slowing down for a stop sign and you need to either honk you horn at them to get their attention (fight), speed up to be safely out of their way (flight) or slam on your own brakes (freeze). As you can imagine, this adrenaline shot that you would feel is not sustainable over time but is very helpful for quick reactions such as this.

If this response is kept up over time, we can become exhausted, develop “burn out”, or even get physically sick. Over time, our brains also adapt to being under stress and will become more stressed more often. COVID-19 is a good example of a threat to our safety that is not passing within that few second window our stress response is designed for.

Therefore it’s important to see how our responses to this stressor might be harming us in the long term. Let’s have a look at COVID-19 for examples of how the fight, flight, or freeze response might be playing out in our everyday lives below. Try to think of how each response might have helped keep our early ancestors functioning well and is designed for our survival.

Ways to manage your response & long-term stress

The great news is that there are specific actions you can take to disrupt the fight, flight or freeze response. In fact, by being aware of the physical sensations you feel during stress you are already engaged in grounding, which means that you are redirecting your attention away from stressors that may or may not be there and placing that focus on what is immediately present in the here and now.

For those who practice mindfulness or meditation this process will sound very familiar! If you are interested in exploring this as an option, a great app for an introduction to meditation is called Stop, Breathe & Think and there are a TON of other online resources out there.

Once we are aware of our current stress responses, it can be most helpful to work with the way our stress response functions instead of against it. During the fight, flight or freeze response, the area of our brain that is responsible for rational thought actually gets decreased blood flow as more blood is directed to the areas of our brain that are responsible for our survival needs.

Because of this, when stressed it can be very difficult to remember details, problem solve, or prevent ourselves from reacting to our surroundings because these areas of the brain are not as activated. This is why it is very difficult to “think our way out” of being stressed.

A much more effective route to stress management works with how our brain and bodies function by taking physical action to stop our brain from signalling the fight, flight, or freeze response. There are many ways to do this, some include the following:

Practice Deep Breathing

Slowed and deepened breathing in turn slows our heart rate and lowers blood pressure, which signals to the brain that the threat to our safety has passed and puts our body into “rest and digest” mode.

Try it out: Place a hand over your belly button and focus on your inhale expanding this area and falling with a slow and controlled exhale. Scan the outside of a door frame with your eyes and match your exhale to the “long sides” in order to extend it. You can also use YouTube and a timer/app to count your breaths for you in a slow rhythmic pattern.

Take Time to Be Aware of your Immediate Surroundings

This will allow your brain to perceive that the “danger” has passed. Some people focus on the feeling of their feet on the floor or imagine roots holding them there.

Try it out: Identify 5 things you can see, 4 you can hear, 3 you can touch, 2 you can smell and 1 you can taste.

Try Physical Soothing

This can include things like weighted blankets, a long and firm hug from yourself or a loved one, or placing your hands over your heart while speaking calming and compassionate phrases to yourself such as “you are safe” or “you can do this”.

Stay Active

Another useful approach is to provide an outlet for your stress response, in other words – let’s get PHYSICAL!

For those who experience the flight or freeze response getting active will not feel natural but it is highly effective. Not only does getting “into our bodies” productively use the adrenaline and cortisol accumulating in our system, but it also tends to take our attention into the “here and now” instead of focusing on unchanging threats to our safety which tends to cause the stress response.

Being physical does not necessarily mean doing a ton of push-ups and burpees (thank goodness) but to find a physical outlet that is meaningful and enjoyable for you – some examples include:

  • Gardening
  • Playing with your kids on the floor
  • Deep cleaning
  • Yoga (Yoga with Adriene on YouTube is free and very accessible for beginners)
  • Creating Art
  • Dancing to your favourite pump-up jam
  • Physically active meditations such as Progressive Muscle Relaxation

For more tips on coping strategies, see our previous blog post 7 Tips for Coping with COVID-19.

The bottom line is, if you are worried or uncomfortable with stress being present please do realize that you are not alone in this. This is a very difficult time for all of us and your stress response is showing up for you because it is functioning properly and because you are human.


As always, if you’re looking for more support please call our counselling team at 306-525-0521. We have daily phone-in/video appointments from Monday to Friday and are here for you regardless of how well you think you might be coping (or not!). You are valued and your needs are important to us. 💙

Most if not all parents are well aware of the stresses that parenting can bring. During those stressful times we often relate to other parents who are experiencing the same trials and tribulations on their parenting journey. I believe as our society progresses we are becoming more interested and willing to learn about our children’s well being, and the stress in their lives. We all face stress at some point in our lives however there are different kinds of stress we experience (for example: positive vs. negative stress).

stress in children

The effects of negative stress on a child can show up in different ways, such as children struggling to sleep at night, sadness or tantrums. When children are very young it is often the job of the caregiver to help our children cope and relieve their stress by providing affection, speaking with a calm tone of voice and being a safe person for a child to exercise emotions in front of.

As children get older it is the job of the caregiver to provide their child with the tools to manage and cope with stress on their own. Seems like a heavy task if you think about it long and hard enough. However, I have a simple tool that comes from the parent program Kids Have Stress Too, created by the Psychology Foundation of Canada called The Stress Spotlight.

The Stress Spotlight is a recognizable symbol that can be used in helping our children understand how to reduce stress in the moment.

At the Red Light we STOP and identify the stress symptom:

  • Mad
  • Sad
  • Anxious
  • Worried, etc.

At the Yellow Light we CHANGE and use calming activities:

  • Deep Breathing
  • Yoga
  • Music
  • Conversations
  • Busy Bags, etc.

At the Green Light we GO and return to our day:

  • Continue Playing
  • Continue Learning
  • Continue Being You 😊

 

COVID-19 has disrupted our lives in many ways. Due to physical distancing, we may find ourselves working from home, under financial stress, or unable to see the people we love. Our Counselling team has put together 7 healthy ways to cope with the effects of COVID-19.


Keep Moving

It can be difficult to keep moving when staying at home, but physical activity is key to both our physical and mental health.

Try to move in a way that you find enjoyable at least once a day, whether that’s walking, dancing, stretching, cleaning, jogging, or lifting weights or other household objects (e.g., books, water bottles, cans)

Start small. Set an initial goal that you can maintain (e.g., walking for 15 minutes), then slowly work up from there.

Find some inspiration online. There are lots of free exercise videos available, here are some that we found:


Reach Out

Sometimes when we’re feeling stressed and anxious, we withdraw from other people. But social relationships are also central to our mental health.

While we can’t see people in person at this time, we can still connect virtual means. Reach out to friends and family through text messages, phone calls, social media or video chat/conferencing platforms like FaceTime, Skype, Zoom or HouseParty.

Make it fun by coming up with creative ways to spend time together, such as watching the same show, playing a board game or video game, or eating a meal at the same time.


Self-Care: do something you find enjoyable, relaxing or re-energizing

Engaging in relaxing activities won’t change the reality that we’re dealing with right now. However it’s important to rest and re-energize when possible, so that we can continue coping with these difficult times as best we can.

When we’re feeling stressed, we may forget to take care of ourselves, especially when we’re busy caring for other people. Even if it’s just 5 minutes, try to make some time each day to take care of yourself.

What self-care includes will be different for everyone. Some common ideas include:

  • Spending time outdoors
  • Going for a walk
  • Watching a favourite TV show/movie
  • Listening to music
  • Reading a book
  • Working on a hobby
  • Writing a journal
  • Taking a nap or bath

Practice Self-Compassion

Life as we know it has been turned upside down. It’s normal to feel like your mood, energy, or outlook have declined or are changing from day to day. Some people feel more productive right now, while others are feeling more tired than usual. People respond to stressful and traumatic situations in different ways, and that’s okay.

Practice self-compassion by giving yourself permission to feel sadness, anger, frustration, or grief as well as to find any joy and optimism when you can.


Step Away From News When Needed

It’s important to be informed, but the constant coverage of COVID-19 on news and social media can be overwhelming. Pay attention to what you’re thinking and feeling after consuming media content. Consider stepping away from your news feed if you’re feeling anxious or overwhelmed.


Focus on Choices

Many aspects of this situation are out of our control, including the choices that other people make during this pandemic. It’s easy to focus on these areas, although doing so can be frustrating and overwhelming.

Instead, try to focus on areas where you have choices and can take action, such as practicing good hygiene, engaging in physical distancing, and applying the healthy coping strategies outlined in this article.


Give us a call

If you’re concerned about your stress, relationships, or mental health, please give us a call at 306-525-0521.

Our counsellors are still available for phone and video sessions, or can refer you to other resources in the community as needed.


Stay Safe, Stay Positive, Stay Connected

Hey everyone! It’s a beautiful day outside and I hope you all get to enjoy the sunshine at some point during your day. Our weather seems to be taking a turn for the better, sunny days ahead!

With that, here is a tip sheet on how to have 15 Minutes of Family Fun Outdoors!

So many things we already do with our kids teaches them an abundance of developmental skills, which is great! Always know that you’re doing a great job parenting and that activities don’t need to be overly complicated in order to have a positive impact on your parent-child bond. A simple game of Simon Says works wonders for exercising our children’s brains in the early years. Or the game Red Light, Green Light is another that helps build all sorts of executive functioning like following directions, colour recognition, taking turns, etc..


PRO TIP: Take some time to plan a picnic, enjoy all five senses (sight, hearing, smell, taste and touch) as you enjoy your snacks together outside!


Take care!
Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected

With Spring well on its way, this can be a great time to start thinking about little seedlings! Below are two information sheets from Leap BC that include tips on how to introduce our little ones to the knowledge of gardening, where our food comes from and how it grows.

Food literacy plays an important role in a child’s development as food is what helps us grow and will always be a part of every human being’s life. Gardening is a fun way to teach your child about food, where it comes from and how we can grow it! It’s also a great way to keep your little ones occupied at home and help them learn responsibility. 😊


PRO TIP: A simple indoor garden can be made from items that are already in your home, such as seeds from oranges, lemons, beans or other fruits and vegetables. You can use a cardboard egg carton and grab some dirt from your local dollar store (or even outside). Experiment with your little ones as you begin this project, it’s a great opportunity to learn together!


Playing in the dirt is a great sensory experience for young children as well. There are many beneficial nutrients found in soil that our bodies need, especially children. Though dirt and mud may be messy, your child’s sense of excitement & joy makes every outdoor experience worth it.

Remember to be patient with your little ones and yourself as you both learn.


Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected

Crafting and learning with kids doesn’t always have to be extravagant. Our little ones value the time spent together before they value expensive materials. I have found a great resource from a literacy organization in British Columbia called Decoda Literacy Solutions that I would love to share with you!

To expand on the idea that our little ones value ‘time spent’ vs. ‘end product’, is a quote from the Circle of Security Parenting program:

“Delight in me for my being vs. delight in me for my doing. Sharing both forms of positive emotion are essential for healthy development. Why?Because someone delighting in you for who you are creates a sense of being inherently valuable and lovable. Having a foundation of being valued and loved makes the joy of accomplishment and mastery possible.”

Here are two “Let’s Make It!” info sheets for Toddlers 1-2 years old & Preschoolers 3-5 years old from the Decoda Literacy Solutions website. The “Tips for Parent” portion provides a practical approach on how to exercise delighting in your child for their “being” rather than their “doing”. The sheets remind us to be patient, follow your child’s lead, and learn with your child because not one of us is an expert in all things crafty!

As the weeks go on, I will continue to explore resources similar to the ones posted above. The Decoda Literacy Solutions website (decoda.ca) has a wealth of resources for all parents in our community. Check it out for yourself and simply click on the “Resources” tab, scroll down to “Online Resources” and begin your search!

The resources can be filtered through by category and type, most documents/activities are available as a downloadable PDF so they can be printed.

I would suggest filtering the resources by clicking on “Family Literacy” (on the left). These resources span over many different topics, including but not limited to:

  • Active Play
  • Indigenous Literacy & Games
  • Food Literacy
  • Physical Literacy

Most materials can be translated to French as well.


NOTE: The Circle of Security Parenting program mentioned earlier is an eight-week parenting program that CFS Regina runs twice a year. Circle of Security Parenting is an internationally known program that is facilitated in many languages around the world. The program expands on attachment theory and learning how to read children’s/babies emotional cues.

Be sure to follow CFS Regina on Facebook and Twitter to receive updates for when this program will run at our agency!


The Young Parent Program is wishing everyone well during this time!

Stay Healthy, Stay Safe and Stay Connected!!

Yoga is a great way to help your child explore their movement, define body parts, and build up core strength. It’s also a fun activity that will keep your little ones entertained both indoors or outdoors and wear off some of that Easter chocolate or candy energy!

I was able to find a terrific Yoga sequence for kids on childhood101.com. This ‘Garden Yoga for Kids‘ sheet fits right into our Spring season – what a perfect way to connect body, mind and nature!

Have fun with these poses and allow your little one(s) to be silly in their movements. Maybe even have them come up with some new poses of their own. Remember that yoga is a practice and no one is born a yogi! Be silly and have fun!!


Have a Happy Easter Weekend Everyone!

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Connected.