Wondering when is the right time to seek help from a Child Counsellor?

Stress and anxiety rates have skyrocketed in the last 18 months due to the pandemic. According to a CBC report, the main concern among educators is not the long gap or loss in academic performance but 90% of the teachers are concerned about the mental health of their students and peers. Anxiety levels in youth and children were already high pre- pandemic, but the effects of Covid-19 have just compounded these issues further. 

Dr. Shimi Kang states that some of the mental health issue trends that are on a rise with children and youth are:

Social anxiety : after spending months behind screens and masks, children are anxious to assimilate back into a social environment and build skills of confidence, setting healthy boundaries and engaging in open communication.

Technology addiction : Heavy reliance on technology to stay occupied through gaming and social media, stay connected socially with their friends, access their schoolwork have further exacerbated the issue of increased screen time – leading to problems such lack of control, distorted self-image due to social media, acting out/aggression when boundaries are being set, depression and isolation as they withdraw socially.

Hyper sociability & Substance Use: Is an increasing trend in adolescents where they want to socialize more than before, and this has been found to lead to increased alcohol and drug abuse.

Increased awareness and acceptance around mental health crises lately, has led to an unprecedented increase in demand for these services. The system is overwhelmed and translates into long wait times for therapists to see children and youth in these crises.

CBC News early last year reported that the Canadian Mental Health Association estimated an average wait time for certain kinds of mental health services to be stretched for several months to a year or more.

To meet this need Dr. Shimi Kang and her team at Dolphin Kids have recently expanded their offerings to include Counselling services geared towards children, youth, and their families. What makes this service unique is that all the counsellors work with collaborative support from a psychiatrist, Dr. Shimi Kang herself who has been in the field for almost 20 years.

So how could counselling help your child and when is a good time to seek help?

  • If your child has experienced recent trauma, bullying, or loss of some kind and has not had previous help
  • If they are acting out and/or aggressive
  • If you feel like you are not able to help your child with their feelings and manage their emotions,
  • If your child seems to get more aggravated when talking to you, or fear that they may disappoint you,
  • If they are choosing to isolate and disconnect, withdrawing from activities they once enjoyed
  • And on a more extreme end, if they engage in self harm or suicidal attempts or addictive behaviours
  • All of these are indicators that a counsellor may be helpful to intervene and help build a safe trusting environment and be able to navigate these difficult emotions, experiences, and conversations.

Child Counsellors can help with: 

  • Identifying the underlying issues that are affecting your child’s overall health and well-being. They can help them become aware, identify, and talk about their feelings.
  • Interpreting the issues they are experiencing and/or the trauma that occurred – in a way they can process and understand.
  • Various issues such as, stress and anxiety, anger management, coping skills, school-based issues- such as bullying, academic pressures, peer pressure and influence, as well as technology use, screentime, drug/alcohol addiction, family issues – such as divorce, single parent, grief and much more.
  • Dolphin Kids counsellors use methods and resources that seem to be familiar and attractive to young minds i.e., through arts, games, role playing, downtime practices- like journaling or drawing and other fun activities that they can identify with and hence achieve the desired counselling goals through these friendly methods.

If you feel you need additional support to help your child and family navigate through some Emotional – Mental Health challenges, our team of multidisciplinary and multi-linguistic counsellors are here to help. Simply email us at counselling@dolphinkids.ca or visit our website www.dolphinkids.ca




Tools for Adaptability, Mental Wealth, and Social Connection in Times of Stress

What if we go beyond “surviving” these stressful times and instead, plan to come out stronger than ever?

– Dr. Shimi Kang

We’re in this together! We wanted to provide you with resources that will help make your transition back to school a bit easier. Please feel free to forward these resources to your friends, family, and colleagues. Thank you for joining our mission to raise smart, happy, strong kids!

Wellness Reset Webinar

Back-to-School Lesson Plans

We’ve created complete lesson plans for K-4 that can help teachers and parents facilitate conversations about managing emotions, positive coping tools, and strategies we can use to build strong classroom communities.

Module 1 Resources:

Module 1 guides teachers and students to discuss ways they can build a strong classroom community that is founded on the future-ready skills of creativity, communication, collaboration, critical thinking, and contribution.

PDF Lesson PlanLesson SlideshowPDF Worksheet (K-2)PDF Worksheet (Gr. 3-4)

Module 2 Resources:

Module 2 focuses on building our emotional vocabulary and includes brain science links to our freeze, fight, and flight stress response. Students will learn how to recognize, name, and tame our emotions and feelings.

PDF Lesson PlanLesson SlideshowPDF Worksheet

Module 3 Resources:

In Module 3, children will learn why deep breathing is a powerful tool that can help us calm our minds and bodies when we feel scared, nervous, or anxious. 

PDF Lesson PlanLesson SlideshowPDF Worksheet

Module 4 Resources:

In Module 4, children will discuss the importance of play and how it is a powerful tool that can help us build our creativity and problem-solving skills. This module also provides opportunities for children to discuss physical distancing protocols.

PDF Lesson PlanLesson SlideshowPDF Worksheet (K-2)PDF Worksheet (Gr. 3-4)

Module 5 Resources:

In Module 5, children will practice building their social connections with others, and learn a few communication strategies using the “dolphin, tiger, and jellyfish” metaphors.

PDF Lesson PlanLesson SlideshowPDF Worksheet

Tips & Strategies for In-Class & Remote Learning

Review Dr. Shimi Kang’s K.E.Y.S to Success and other tips and suggestions for getting ready for back-to-school!

Click the image to download the PDF!

You asked some great questions during our live webinar with Dr. Kang! We also wanted to give you more tips and suggestions on these questions, so we went to our talented Dolphin Kids instructors to see what they had to say.

Click the image to read some of our instructor’s tips and suggestions!

Mental Wealth with Dr. Shimi Kang

Looking for videos that can start the discussion around COVID-19, anxiety, and mental wealth in your classroom? Check out Dr. Kang’s Mental Wealth videos on YouTube. Great discussion starters for Grades 8-12.

Online Classes, Virtual Workshops, and Seminars

We’re running weekly online classes, free Saturday classes, virtual workshops for educators, and parent seminars!

Stay tuned for program updates by signing up for our newsletter or email info@dolphinkids.ca for more information.

Take a deep breath. YOU GOT THIS!

The 5 Most Important Tech Habits to Teach Children

When it comes to children, we’re always guiding them to develop healthy life skills. Technology is no exception. 

Teaching healthy tech usage to children is easier said than done. For many parents, their kids have a more intuitive understanding of devices than they do. In fact, 40% of parents are learning about technology from their children! If this is the case, how can parents and educators teach children about healthy tech usage?

These are the 5 key ways to start helping your child develop a healthy relationship with technology now. 

1. Make a habit talking about technology experiences.

The most important thing you can do is start the conversation early. Seventy per cent of children between the age of 7 and 18 accidentally find online pornography while doing homework. If your child feels comfortable talking about all that is on the internet, the harmful and the not-harmful, they’ll feel comfortable talking to you if they stumble on something upsetting.

2. Guide them towards online safety habits.

Between 2006 and 2007, there were 464 reported incidents of child luring online in Canada. Many believe predators use tricks and false information. However, they’re generally honest with their intentions and prey on children who need sympathy, affection, and kindness in their lives. Unfortunately, I frequently see many cases of young people starting relationships online that may not meet the criteria of child luring but are very unhealthy..By developing the habit of discussing internet safety with your children, having parental controls, and  and fulfilling their emotional needs, you create a safe space for your children to tell you how their online relationships are developing.  

3. Create a habit of digital empathy and kindness.

Cyberbullying is a serious concern with the expansion of social media and private messaging platforms. Of Canadian students between grades 4 and 11, 37% of them report being bullied online. Bullying can lead to numerous health issues including headaches, stomach problems, depression, and anxiety in those who experience it.

Healthy online behaviour means being empathic and recognizing that you need to treat others the way you want to be treated. If you wouldn’t appreciate the same comment made about you, don’t say it online. Speak to your children about being kindness, healthy conflict resolution, communication skills, and cyberbullying. Explain what cyberbullying it looks like, how they can report it, and tell a parent or guardian if they see it happening or experience it themselves.

4. Focus on screen-quality, not screen-time habits.

Don’t get into the trap of just counting time and not quality of screen use.In my book, The Tech Solution, Ii suggest using the idea of a tech diet to understand what our technology experiences are being metabolized to and how that impacts us. 

Avoid Toxic Tech: Cortisol releasing tech leading to stress like addictive tech (gaming disorder), FOMO, comparisons, perfectionism, multitasking, cyberbullying, poor posture, sleep deprivation.

Limit & Monitor Junk Tech: Dopamine releasing tech like mindless gaming & social media. Watch for addiction!Consume Healthy Tech: “P.O.D” based tech that releases Endorphins through downtime and self-care, Oxytocin through meaningful connection with others, & Serotonin through play & creativity.

5. Stay educated.

Technology is always changing. Parents, guardians, and educators must stay up to date on new apps and risks associated with technology. 

What can you do right now to help children develop healthy relationships with technology?

Now’s a perfect time to get your child involved in healthy uses of technology. With the COVID-19 pandemic still at the forefront of global news, children need ways to engage with their peers and form healthy bonds. Technology can have a dramatically positive impact on children when used healthily. 

Pick up your copy of Dr. Shimi Kang’s new book, The Tech Solution: Creating Health Habits for Kids Growing Up in a Digital World, today or sign up for our new online course The Tech Solution Reset. Learn more about our relationship with technology and the difference between healthy and unhealthy tech usage for children and families.

Why and How to Help Children Develop Strong Empathy Skills

Empathy is one of the most vital Emotional Intelligence (EI) skills you can learn. It’s the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes to understand their motivations, responses, and struggles. 

Why is empathy important, you may wonder? Through empathy, we can connect with others to build strong and healthy relationships in our communities, careers, and personal lives. 

Unfortunately, being empathetic isn’t something we’re born intuitively knowing.  

How do we help our children to develop strong empathy skills? These four tips can get you started. 

1. Model empathetic behaviour.

Your children look to you for many skills. For instance, they learn how to speak by listening to adults converse. Similarly, children learn vital social behaviours and cues by observing how their parents engage with others. 

The best way to teach empathy is by being empathetic towards your children. When children understand how it feels to receive it, they’ll better understand the benefits and the role that empathy skills play in human relationships. 

2. Talk about emotions and feelings. 

Empathy is, at its core, the ability to understand feelings and emotions. If a child feels uncomfortable expressing some emotions themself, they’ll shy away from empathizing with these emotions in others. 

Children can struggle to pick up on crucial feelings based on a lack of understanding of body language and facial cues at an early age. To help, children can try a variety of activities to work on their recognition of facial expressions.

As parents, it can be challenging to watch our children struggle with certain emotions. When they’re sad or angry, we want to fix it. However, we shouldn’t always rush to get rid of these “negative” emotions. By understanding how sadness and anger feel, and that it’s ok to feel them, children will be more comfortable showing empathy towards others when they feel these emotions.

3. Have discussions with your children about other perspectives and experiences.

Talk about empathy in a way your children can understand. For example, phrase things that clearly illustrate the feeling and why the other person may be feeling that way.

“Shawn is upset because you won’t share your toys with him. You know what it feels like to be left out or want to play with toys that other children have, right? Do you think you could pick a few toys to play with and let Shawn play with the ones you’re not using so that he’s not so sad?”

Phrasing things in this way outlines the feelings that Shawn is experiencing. It asks your child to put themselves in the headspace of a time when they may have felt frustrated and sad for the same reason. Finally, it asks your child to find a way to help their friend in a way that works for them.

You can also try our THINK-TAC-TOE empathy tool to create a dialogue with your child about empathy.

4. Read stories and watch videos that discuss empathy.

Media can be a handy tool for teaching empathy. Children can become very attached to characters in their favourite shows and books. There are also many children’s books that discuss feelings. Try some of these:

Why is empathy so important?

In our modern world, empathy is more important than ever before. We’re connected across the globe, which means different religions, cultures, backgrounds, and understandings will interact with one another. 

Without empathy, we would never consider another person’s experiences or feelings, a stumbling block in building healthy relationships in our families, professions, and social circles. Still, a lack of empathy becomes an even more significant issue when it comes to human rights and understanding. Empathy allows us to understand better the struggles and experiences of those who are different from us. 

As we collectively navigate a global pandemic and re-evaluate racial bias and injustice in our communities, it’s essential to recognize the importance of empathy. 

We teach a variety of crucial social and emotional intelligence skills at Dolphin Kids, such as empathy, resilience, and mindfulness. Sign up and get your child involved in one of our virtual or in-person summer camp programs in Vancouver, BC

Top 3 Ways to Help Children Manage Their Stress and Thrive This Summer

As we head into the summer months, children may be feeling the anxiety and pressure that social isolation and being cooped up this winter has caused. Helping your child to develop the skills to manage stress and anxiety in unfavourable conditions is essential for their mental and physical health. 

Every year, children have to adjust to winter months and limits on their activities. With the COVID-19 outbreak, we’re seeing even more restrictions and more uncertainty, which can lead to periods of confusion, stress, and sedentary activities for both adults and children. 

To help children manage their emotions healthily, we’ve outlined three main areas that can aid in healthy physical body and brain function.

A Balanced & Healthy Diet

A healthy and balanced diet is a big part of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. There has been a lot of research done on the effects of diet on anxiety and stress. Many of these studies have found direct correlations between specific vitamins and minerals and a reduction in different forms of anxiety.

We need to supply our bodies with the nutrients they need to repair themselves and function properly. Part of a healthy diet is drinking enough water, which, in turn, helps your body to flush toxins and regulate hormone functions.

Share with your child the benefits of a healthy diet and the risks of an unhealthy diet. Explain which foods are low calorie and nutrient-rich, such as fruits, vegetables, and whole grains. The Dolphin Parent

Physical Activity & Exercise

Adequate physical activity is a vital part of a child’s growth and development as it allows a child to develop essential skills and a stronger sense of self-confidence. However, it’s important to note that a forced or frightening activity can have adverse effects on this development. 

Movement releases brain-derived neurotropic factors (BDNF). Cardiovascular exercise—any form of running around that elevates the baseline heart rate—is as effective as antidepressants for mild symptoms of depression and anxiety. Thirty to sixty minutes of exercise three times a week is beneficial in treating these conditions. (10) – The Dolphin Parent

Studies have proven that low-to-moderate exercise has positive effects on adolescent children’s mental health and their perceived anxiety levels. Not only is exercise important for physical fitness and developing strong muscles and bones, but it’s also a contributing factor in mental strength and health.  

Adequate Sleep

Sleep deprivation can be a symptom of anxiety. However, it’s also an essential part of treating anxiety because sufficient sleep is vital for children’s physical and mental health. Through sleep, our subconscious processes life events, our muscles repair themselves, and we’re able to rest our brains and minds. 

A lack of sleep can cause irritability and unnecessary stress on a child’s emotional responses. A child’s sleep needs will depend on how active they are, the level of stress they’re under, and their age.  

Around the world, we’re seeing a rise in children suffering from stress, anxiety, sleep deprivation, and insomnia. – The Dolphin Parent


Helping your child to remain mentally and physically healthy comes down to balance. When we lack adequate sleep, exercise, or the healthy foods that make us function, we’re more prone to stress. This can make it difficult for children to process their responses to the changes in their world. 

Help your child to develop healthy habits early on, so in times of stress, they’ll have the proper tools to remain balanced, happy, and healthy. 

Another vital part of a healthy and happy life for children is social interaction with peers. If you’re struggling to find a way to engage your child with their peers right now, or looking for engaging activities for your child to join in this summer, take a look at our variety of face-to-face and virtual camp programs! Feel free to contact our team if you have any questions.

Register for a virtual camp program by Monday June 8, and you’ll receive 10% off your purchase!

How it works:

  • Go to our summer camps page on our website
  • Explore and find the camp you want to register for
  • Fill out the registration form and enter the promo code below at check-out!


Productivity Hacks for Kids Learning from Home

Working from home is difficult for adults — so how can children expect to fare? When children suddenly have to complete classwork from their living room, they have to ignore distractions, self-motivate, and learn new technology — all while doing it on their own. Unlike a school atmosphere, there’s no teacher supervision or help from friends. 

How can you help your child be more productive while working and studying from home?

Create a Routine

Firstly, create a routine for studying with your child. Routines provide children with a sense of security and can help guide their behaviour. Your child is used to having this kind of structure at school. It helps them focus, they know when to expect breaks, and they understand how the day is structured and what’s expected of them. 

Create a Workspace

A working adult’s office space is designed for comfort and productivity, so ideally, if you want your child to be productive and comfortable — they need a space, too. This workspace should be free of distractions but have a feeling of fun and approachability. Take a look at your child’s homeschooling space and consider if it promotes learning and creativity for their particular learning style. 

Bonus Tip! Find a space far away from distractions like TVs, busy windows, toys, or the snacks cupboard. Collaborate with your child on where they want their workspace to be. Let your child decorate their “desk” area and make it their own. 

Stay Connected 

Find a way to keep your child connected with their peers. Part of the benefits of school is that it allows children to interact with each other. Staying in touch with peers promotes group work, communication skills, and problem-solving abilities.

Look for online group learning opportunities like the online classes offered at Dolphin Kids or schedule weekly chats with your child’s friends though a video forum. 

Be Flexible

This is an entirely new way of learning for your child, and it’ll come with adjustments, confusion, and sometimes, a bit of frustration. Be flexible and compassionate and help your child to be adaptable and compassionate with themself. Let them know that it’s ok if they’re not learning and studying as they did while in a physical school. Some subjects are going to be more difficult for your child without a teacher in the room to help as questions come up. Help your child learn how to take a break before they get too frustrated and upset and come back to these subjects when they’re in a better headspace.

Get Creative

There are many fun ways to be learning at home that don’t involve textbooks and online learning videos. Look up fun, at-home science experiments to do together, research cool destinations and plan vacations together, and write stories for each other to perform or read out loud. 

Prioritize Play

Your child looks forward to school because they get to play with their friends. Help them adjust to this new normal by scheduling time to play because it’s essential to get children moving. In fact, physical movement is vital to a child’s cognitive development and ability to concentrate. Free play will also help your child to relieve the stress they may be feeling in these uncertain times and from the struggles of homeschooling. 


We’re all adjusting to a new normal, children included. It’s vital to find ways to help children stay on task and productive in this unique blended learning atmosphere. We’re social beings that need adequate exercise, sleep, water, and nutrition to function. When these basics are taken care of, there are other ways to help your child stay productive and on task. 

  • Create a workspace for them to thrive
  • Make a schedule with them
  • Be flexible in the subjects they are studying and how they are learning
  • Make time for interaction with peers
  • Prioritize movement and playtime to help lessen stress and increase concentration

If you can implement all these productivity hacks and tips, your child will thrive in their new learning environment. Join one of our online lessons and programs at Dolphin Kids and help your child succeed with a fun and interactive learning environment surrounded by their peers from the safety of their own homes. 

If your child is struggling to adjust to homeschooling, or you have any questions regarding our programs, get in touch with us today. Our team is here to help. 

We’re grateful for you, Mom.

In our Dolphin Kids classes, we often talk about the power of gratitude and the importance of expressing gratitude to people we care about. One activity I always love guiding children through is writing a letter of gratitude to someone they appreciate. We brainstorm all of the ways this special person has made a positive impact in our lives. We take a mindful moment to think about all of the actions this person has taken to make us feel happy, safe, and loved.

What person do you think most children dedicate their letter of gratitude to? Nine times out of ten, it’s written for their mom.

And, with good reason! I feel my own sense of immense gratitude for my mother. She’s been such an inspiration in my life, and I’ve learned so many invaluable lessons that have influenced who I am today by listening to her.

Mothers often play a significant role in every aspect of their children’s social-emotional growth. In celebration of Mother’s Day, we want to remind all mothers that we’re grateful for you and the resilience, innovation, and adaptability you show us every day.

Mothers are resilient.

“I’m grateful for my mom’s hugs, especially when I’m feeling sad.” – 7-year-old child from Dolphin Kids program

In your children’s eyes, you’re an extraordinary superhero. Yet, mothers carry the burden of the responsibility of caregiving, which includes the struggle of dealing with expectations from themselves and others. Children do not need to grow up in a “perfect” environment, rather they need to experience, understand and learn from how you adapt to problems and deal with your struggles too.

Your resilience shines in your ability to make mistakes and own up to your imperfections with your children. These become memorable moments for your kids, ones they can laugh about and learn from.

Mothers are innovative.

“I love when my mom plays games with me. She is so creative!” – 8-year-old child from Dolphin Kids program

Many mothers have experienced a profound shift in their regular routine over the past two months. Moms are juggling work, homeschool, and finding innovative ways for their children to stay engaged and socially connected to family and friends.

Since your child was a tiny baby, you’ve known intuitively which cries meant it was bottle time and which cries meant it was time for a nappy change. You knew how to position your arm and when to quiet down your voice, without even consciously doing it. A mothers ability to be innovative is deeply connected to their intuition.

A mother’s sense of innovation doesn’t always need to come in the form of a creative product or idea, but it’s intuitively knowing what your children need. It is also giving your children the space to explore their creativity in a safe and nurturing environment. A mother’s innovation can be seen in the form of play, exploration, and providing your child with the opportunities for them to develop their sense of curiosity and wonder about the world.

Engaging in play and innovation with your children is one of the aspects they always tell me about. Even though you may not always find your ideas innovative, your kids do, and they absolutely love playing with you!

Mothers are adaptable.

“I am grateful for my mom teaching me new things!” – 9-year-old from Dolphin Kids program

Research has shown that a mother’s executive functioning (EF), e.g., short-term memory, self-control, and cognitive flexibility contribute to their child’s development of EF.  For example, when a child shows an undesirable behaviour, a mother has to use her EF skills to focus on relevant information, control her response in the presence of her own stress, plan and act as necessary according to situational demands. Rather than having negative or hasty reactions, she has to analyze the various situations through logic and emotions to plan and make decisions.

Mothers are constantly adapting and navigating situations with their children. I often hear children tell me, “My mom helped me with…” or “I’m grateful that my mom knows how to…” The skills you’re demonstrating to your child are everlasting. Role-modelling your ability to adapt, change, and keep a positive mindset despite setbacks is helping your child learn the importance of adaptability.

“My mom makes me feel happy!” – 7-year-old from Dolphin Kids program

Moms, your children are very grateful for you and all of the amazing life lessons you’re instilling in them. I encourage you to write a letter of gratitude with your children. You’ll end up sharing personal stories, memorable moments, and funny memories that you’ve made together. It will release so many positive neurochemicals in your brains, that you can’t help but feel happy, safe, and loved.

Wishing you all a wonderful Mother’s Day!

How to Keep Your Kids Smart, Happy, and Strong During the Pandemic

COVID-19 and being cooped up with your kids at home have created some unique challenges for parents. With school closures, many parents are wondering how to help their kids get through this time with positivity. What about their education? How do you keep your kids engaged and excited about learning when they could be watching movies on the couch? 

Keeping your kids healthy, active, and engaged while at home can seem like an impossible challenge, especially for the parents trying to work from home at the same time! But with a bit of planning, home learning can be just as fun as school — or maybe even more fun!.

Create a Schedule

A schedule is essential when learning or working from home — especially if it’s flexible. That flexibility is crucial to getting your child excited and eager to follow. With some routine, you can more easily keep your child on track, and it doesn’t need to be rigid. A loose plan helps children to stay on task when they know that they have free time coming up. Think about the schedule that they have at school and try to create something similar.

Opt for Interactive Learning

There are many ways to make “boring” school subjects fun. Home is a great place for science, math, and many other subjects. For instance, the kitchen is the perfect spot for some fun science experiments. These can help children to learn about chemistry and biology interactively and engagingly. 

We also recommend coming up with project ideas. In these projects, your child can delve into any topic that interests them through self-directed research. After, they can create a little presentation for sharing what they’ve learned with you. This is a fantastic way to work on presentation and communication skills, as well as research skills and knowledge on the chosen subject. 

 Dolphin Kids™ will be providing live interactive online life skills sessions throughout the COVID-19 pandemic. Our Kids Helping Kids Initiative provides youth with a platform to virtually connect and share their knowledge with children across Canada and around the world! Youth Ambassadors for the initiative have taught classes in public speaking, debate, coding, art, crafts, virtual tours, math skills, Model UN, entrepreneurship, and storytelling, You can find more information regarding these sessions on Facebook or Instagram

Incorporate Group Work Where Possible

Group work is so beneficial for children. Look for a way to keep your children in touch with their friends when they’re home for an extended period. Thankfully, the modern world makes it very easy with things like video chat. Video chats with friends are an excellent example of positive technology use. Another fun activity for children is writing letters to their friends.

“For the young brain, social interaction is a powerful amplifier of reward, and peer group interactions increase dopamine release.” – The Dolphin Parent 

Accept Technology’s Help

Technology can be extremely beneficial to help you keep your child learning. There are many online resources to help parents create fun and informative lessons for their children, such as Khan Academy, a resource for parents to find remote learning programs for children aged 2 to 18.

Many programs also offer fun learning computer games for children. Prodigy is an excellent example of a fun, math specific computer game for kids. Many museums are also offering virtual tours right now for free, and National Geographic has a great kid’s website.  

Embrace Boredom

Sometimes, as parents, we’re so fearful of our children feeling bored that we forget there’s a benefit to boredom. Boredom is a necessary part of development for children. It’s a time when children slow down and puzzle through some of their experiences or find creative ways to entertain themselves. 

“Many parents tell me they keep their children busy because, otherwise, they become bored or anxious. These parents are just setting up their children for a lifetime of needing to be busy to deal with boredom and anxiety, which are normal parts of life. Engaging in hobbies and sports is great, but being so busy that little time is left to engage in life is terrible.” – The Dolphin Parent

We get it, having your kids cooped up at home and getting bored can be a nightmare for parents. “Mom, I’m bored!” “Dad, come play with me.” “Mom, Dad, can we go do (insert fun activity here).”

So to summarize, when going somewhere to do something fun with their friends isn’t an option, the trick to keeping them engaged is to have a basic routine and plan that your child is ready to follow. This should include free time for play as well as blocks of time dedicated to learning. Learning is going to be different at home. There are more distractions, and it doesn’t feel like a space to sit down and study like school is. Try to make learning fun through helpful technology-based resources and hands-on experimental learning. Crafts are also an excellent activity to fill up some time. 
If you’d like to join in on the Dolphin Kids™ live sessions, or Kids Helping Kids Initiative, please get in touch to get the details. We’d love to help you during this confusing and ever-changing time.

Why & How You Can Manage Your Child’s Social Media Use

social media limit

Social media has become a part of the daily routine for many. Because it’s such a big part of our lives as a society, it’s unsurprising that people have started to ask how much is too much and how young is too young for social media. Statistics Canada has reported that 93% of youth between the age of 15 and 30 use social media. And 24% of teenagers claim they’re going online “almost constantly.”

As parents, we see these unhealthy behaviours and immediately wonder about the associated dangers. Although there are clear dangers linked to social media use in children and youth, there are benefits as well. As with many aspects of a child’s life, it’s a parent’s job to teach healthy behaviour and healthy tech use. It’s just another subject that parents have to add to their at-home curriculum in today’s modern age. 

When it comes to the behaviours to watch on social media, there are a few that stand out as harmful and require a social media limit or rule. 

What to Worry About & Look For

Many youths report that they’re sleeping with their phone nearby to hear either notifications or an alarm for school. As parents, we’re not doing much better, according to the same study. 

Cyberbullying is a big concern for parents whose children want to use or already use social media platforms. There’s a warranted fear here, too. We’ve seen an increase in cyberbullying, and it’s been linked to depression as well as suicidal thoughts and behaviours.

“Stranger danger” on social media and online is another fear that keeps many parents up at night. Educate your children on technology that can track and locate where they are. These location pinning apps can tell a viewer where your child is located when they posted to the platform.

Perhaps the toughest issue for parents to create boundaries on is children comparing themselves to their friends’ curated social media lives. Unfortunately, you can’t create a social media limit or rule for the feelings your children may have. We struggle with this one, even as adults. It can be challenging to feel good about your own life when you spend so much time looking at all the exciting parts of everyone else’s. 

What You Can Do

A helpful rule to avoid sleeping with phones is to leave them in another room to charge and to purchase an alarm clock so that your phone isn’t the answer for waking up. 

When it comes to cyberbullying, the best course of action is to have open conversations with your children regarding appropriate online behaviour. If your child is being bullied online, they should be comfortable telling you. It’s also essential that your child understands how their own comments or interactions online can affect other children. 

You should also share with them the importance of sharing information on social media. They should have a good grasp of how much information they should share and how personal information can be used by the wrong people. Make sure that your child has strong privacy settings on their social media, understands the importance of keeping personal data offline, and knows that if you’re not friends offline, you shouldn’t be friends online. 

Be sure to talk with your child about how social media isn’t an accurate portrayal of their friends’ lives. Always comparing themselves to their friends can make a child feel inadequate amongst their peers or like they’re missing out. Having a conversation about the value of stepping away from screens and enjoying life is crucial. Phones actually track the amount of time we spend on social media accounts, so consider setting a daily maximum and turning the apps off for a bit each day. 

Are There Actually Any Benefits?

It may not seem like there are many benefits to social media usage, but when used in moderation, it can be beneficial. All the fears associated with the negative aspects may leave you wanting to shelter your child from ever using social media at all, but your kids are going to find a way to go online. Instead, try setting good examples and creating social media limits for yourself to teach them healthy tech use at a young age. 

Children who struggle in social situations may find it easier to engage with their peers and make meaningful friendships online. Social media is also an excellent way for children to find new hobbies and passions. We, as adults, also love social media for its ability to keep us connected to friends or family who may be far away — your children like that about it, too. 

How Young Is Too Young?

There’s no one set age. Your child isn’t going to turn 12 and immediately be gifted a Facebook account, cell phone, and Instagram password. This is based on your child’s maturity and ability to follow the rules regarding social media use. As a parent, only you can make the decision as to whether or not your child is responsible enough. If they can talk to you about aspects of technology they don’t understand and can follow any family rules related to social media limits, then that may be the right age. 

There are no clear answers and defined social media limits when it comes to raising a child in this digital age. All you can do is to set clear guidelines, keep communications open, and be a positive example of healthy tech use. If you need help setting up a healthy tech diet for you and your child, try our tech diet challenge as a jumping-off point to have these conversations.

6 Essential Tips to Achieving Healthy Parent-Child Communication

healthy communication

As parents, we talk with our children every single day — but the question is are we truly communicating with them? Studies show that communicating with our children right from birth is critical for development. And most of us find that as our children get older, communication becomes more strained. Asking your teenager how their day was and hearing “fine” in return is not a conversation — nor is having only text conversations. And since we tend to be on our devices more than we should, we’re missing out on important opportunities to communicate with our children. Few things are more valuable to your child (of any age) than the chance to talk with one of their parents.

Here are some tips for healthy parent–child communication.

Put Your Devices Down & Listen

Whenever you have a conversation with your child — even if it’s just a casual chat — turn off the TV and other distractions and don’t look at your phone if it goes off. Show your child that you’re giving them your attention and not feel like they’re competing with something or someone else.

Respond in a Sensitive Way

Really listen to what your child has to say and respond in a way that provides them comfort and validates their feelings. If they’ve done something wrong, resist getting angry. Provide some feedback and help them come up with a solution on how to right that wrong and set a fair punishment, if needed. The same goes for if they’re sharing something embarrassing. Instead of laughing or trying to one-up their story, it’s best to first respond by validating their emotions, such as “That does sound embarrassing.” Or “I understand why you’re upset.”

By not resorting to yelling or other insensitive behaviour, your child is much more likely to share their problems with you in the future. Understanding the Dolphin Kids™ K.E.Y.S. is an excellent place to start learning how to put yourself in your kids shoes and empathize more with what they’re going through.

Give Praise

When our children start to walk, talk, read, and write, we tend to shower them with praise. But when our teenagers do something new, we often pass the praise quickly — and sometimes, not at all. Although your teenager may say they don’t care what you think, they do. They like and want to hear that you’re proud of them. Look for opportunities to provide encouragement  (just don’t gush too much) for what they’re doing. They’ll start to want to share their achievements with you more.

Don’t Give Them All the Answers

It’s essential for your kids to feel comfortable enough to come to you with their problems. However, if you always take the reins and solve all their problems, they’ll never learn how to solve problems themselves. Help them come up with solutions and talk ideas through. 

This will give them the skills they need in the future while continuing to come to you as they trust your guidance.

Share Regular Family Meals

Families who dine together on a regular basis typically communicate better. Even if it’s only once or twice a week, make a firm date for the entire family to get together and share a meal where everyone sits at the table and all devices are off. This opens up the lines of communication and provides an opportunity for everyone to share their ups and downs of the week. 

Know the Right Time & Place

As kids get older, they may be more embarrassed and reluctant to share their problems with you by actually sitting down and talking. However, they may be more likely to open up if they don’t feel like they’re being ambushed. A lot of teenagers will communicate more while commuting in the car or helping do the dishes rather than in a face-to-face conversation. Use opportunities like these to start chatting to your teenager.Healthy communication shouldn’t be hard, but it does take some thought to make sure your kids are feeling heard and willing to open up these lines of communication with you. If you’re looking for more ways to communicate and increase your chances of raising healthy, happy, strong, motivated kids, check out the workshops and programs Dolphin Kids has to offer.