I am very proud to have completed my Master's degree in Counselling at the University of Toronto at OISE. I like to keep connected with my Alma Mater and support them whenever I can. Today, would like to share with you a couple of important messages I received from them:
"Hi Jillian, I wanted to share with you an inspiring video and short story that we just published. It is about a group of young girls and an OISE student who created a magazine called Black Girls Magazine. They were driven to create this magazine because they didn't see themselves represented in the media. If suitable for your platforms, we would truly appreciate any help sharing and promoting our post on social media. Thank you so much! Facebook link is here: https://www.facebook.com/OISEUofT/videos/1275761299179260/ …"
"Hi there! I’m writing with important Back to School tips for both teachers and students by OISE’s leading education experts. They include tips particularly important in 2016, such as: creating an inclusive classroom environment and implementing recommendations of the Truth and Reconciliation Commission. We think these tips would be useful for your audiences, so please feel free to share on social media! Our Facebook post is here: https://www.facebook.com/OISEUofT/posts/1101324616622930 …"
This Valentine's Day, I gave each member of my family a coupon--a coupon that was designed to give them something special that they needed from me. And then, I kept one coupon out for the whole family!
We had great fun making these cookies! It was wonderful to spend time talking and deciding on decorations!
The end product was a batch of cookies filled with love!
I am proud to be a University of Waterloo grad ('91)! Here is a nice feature of the Just Enough Series in the recent alumni newsletter written by Dana Ciak:
I have also copied the article below :)
Psychologist Jillian Roberts (BA ’91) helped parents around the world reduce the awkwardness of explaining to children ages 6 to 10, where babies come from with her app, The Facts of Life, which tells the story of how babies are made using a story-telling approach and gentle, familiar imagery. Facts of Life hit Top App status on iTunes in the Educational Category in 2014 and is sold around the world in different languages.
Jillian recently published her latest children’s book, What Makes Us Unique? Our First Talk About Diversity, which promotes pro-diversity and inclusive values in children as part of her children’s book series, Just Enough.
While working on her books and apps, Jillian is also a tenured associate professor of educational psychology at the University of Victoria and a practicing psychologist.
Alumni Relations had the chance to chat with Jillian about her work and life after Waterloo.
Since we last spoke two years ago, you have gone on to publish children’s books as part of your Just Enough series which helps caregivers broach challenging subjects with children. Can you tell us more about these books?
The success of the first Facts of Life app was amazing and the extent of the success was unexpected. It ended up being downloaded over 33,000 times. The success of the app lead me to write the Just Enough Series for Orca Book Publishers. This series is designed to help parents and teachers begin conversations about difficult topics with young children. The books in the series contain just enough information to facilitate a meaningful first conversation, an entry point into the topic that is gentle and accessible. The books in the series include:
Where Do Babies Come From? Our First Talk About Birth
What Happens When a Loved One Dies? Our First Talk About Death
What Makes Us Unique? Our First Talk About Diversity
All three of these books have become best sellers. The next in the series is, Why Do Families Change? Our First Talk About Separation and Divorce, which comes out in Spring 2017. I am now represented by Joelle DelBourgo in New York to write related books for the adult market and working on another app.
What do you see are the latest trends in child development and psychology?
So much of what I learned in graduate school to become a psychologist is no longer relevant. There are significant consequences for children and families as a result of the Internet and the technological explosion that has been happening in our world. New guidelines and new and different kinds of advice are needed for families. I have begun to understand that the changes taking place in the parental landscape are “VUCA” —an acronym which stands for volatile, uncertain, chaotic, and ambiguous. I believe that parents and teachers need new tools to navigate this VUCA world.
This realization set my career onto a different path—a path where I began to think through the consequences of the 21st-century and apply all of my knowledge and skills as a professor and psychologist to help create navigational tools for parents and teachers. The books in the Just Enough series are some of these tools.
When do you think is a good time for parents to start reading these stories with their children?
As early as possible! I believe that parents need to talk to their children about important life topics before their children learn from the varied and unpredictable sources online. When parents talk to their children early, they help to create a pattern of communication which can continue through the developmental course of their children. Early conversations reduce stigma and they strengthen the parent-child bond.
You also have a blog where you tackle some difficult topics and questions from parents. How has the blog helped you reach a wider audience on these important topics?
The blog—and social media in general— have been amazing tools for connecting with people and other professionals who care about these same topics. I have been able to connect with concerned parents and like-minded advocates from around the world. The blog receives about 1000 new readers each week. Consequently, I am able to connect with far more people than I have ever been able to in my clinical office or university theatre alone.
On top of being a successful author, you also teach at the University of Victoria, practice children’s psychology, and are a mother of three. How do you manage so many roles?
It is a challenge! I am lucky to have a devoted partner, a loving family, a loyal group of friends and an inspiring faith community who have been steadfast supports along the way. It is not possible to do this kind of work without a strong support network.
As a successful psychologist, what advice do you have for students or young alumni who want to work in a similar field?
I am tremendously grateful for having chosen my field and profession. I believe that psychology and mental health will be among the most important fields of study in the 21st century. I would encourage each and every student to think carefully about psychology as a major or minor. The career possibilities are endless, as are the opportunities for having a real impact in the community.
This past weekend has seen countless women, children and men raise their voice in protest in dozens of cities around the world. I do not think I have ever seen anything like "The Women's March" in my lifetime!
These peaceful protests remind us of the power of advocacy and activism. When we see something we feel in our bones to be wrong, we cannot just sit there and let it happen. We need to speak up. We need to do something about it.
I have been inspired by all the families who involved their children in these protests. On my Facebook feed, I have seen pictures of former students now living in the US making signs with their daughters and marching in the streets with thousands of others. What a powerful message it teaches our children.
We can extend the message to encourage our children to stick up for other children in our school yards and playgrounds around the world. Let's teach our children to stick up for a classmate who has been told to "go home" because the come from a different part of the world. Let's teach our children to stand alongside of a child who is bullied because they look different in some way or because they have a different level of ability. Let's teach our children to sit beside the child who is made fun of for having two moms.
Let's encourage our children to bring the activism we have inspired inside of them into their daily lives!
Here are some wonderful books that teach children to be activists: goo.gl/wGsEOf
And, here is my book that helps children to celebrate diversity of all kinds!
I had a great start back to the University of Victoria yesterday after a lengthy sabbatical.
I am teaching a graduate class in developmental psychopathology. The course centres around childhood disorders. I have taught courses like this now for nearly 20 years.
One of the challenges I always experience as I prepare to teach these kinds of courses is how can I make the course more than a hyperfocused encounter of all that can go wrong as children grow up. Even when a child experiences a mental, developmental or physical disability, that child is WAY more than simply a sum total of their weaknesses. If all we try to do is remediate the challenges, we miss out on important opportunities to build strength and resilience.
To create the lens through which I want to examine childhood disabilities--to truly enable these amazing graduate students to go out into the world and bring magic and inspiration into the lives of children and families who are struggling in significant ways--I turned to Martin Seligman. Many of you might remember Dr. Seligman from his early work in "learned helplessness." He now has focused his incredible intellect on the pursuit of true happiness.
I am excited to tell you that my new book with Google's Jaime Casap will launch a new Orca Book series called "The World Around Us!"
Where the best-selling "Just Enough" series addressed events that concern children within their immediate circumstances (birth, death, divorce), the books in the "World Around Us" will answers questions that children have when they start to make observations about the world outside of their homes. It is exciting to grow as an author alongside of my growing up little readers!
This new series will introduce school-aged children to complex cultural and social issues in a way that is straightforward and accessible. Just like the "Just Enough" books, these titles will be resources for caregivers and teachers looking to explain difficult topics to children.
Our world is VUCA--variable, uncertain, chaotic and ambiguous. Our goals is to to help introduce school-aged children to complicated global issues and initiating a conversation about subjects that are difficult, or sad or overwhelming, and guiding children through understanding them in a reassuring and hopeful manner. In doing so, we will help foster resilience in a generation of children and help them to better adapt to a VUCA landscape.
In our children, we will find #hope!
Google's Global Education Evangelist Jaime Casap with Dr. Jillian Roberts
The holidays is an ideal time to talk to your children
about things that matter!
Dr. Jillian Roberts' book are designed to help with these discussions
and they are all available at Amazon.com.
Buy your set today!
Where Do Babies Come From? Our First Talk About Birth
What Happens When a Loved One Dies? Our First Talk About Death
What Makes Us Unique? Our First Talk about Diversity
Stay tuned for more exciting projects in 2017!
I received a very important question today from a distraught father:
Hello Dr. Roberts. I just found you by looking up "child psychologist" and was wanting to ask you a general question. We have a 9 yr old that will NOT go to school. He might go 3 days a week and is a straight A student when he's there. He does suffer from anxiety but we are trying Zoloft to help with that. Any suggestions or magic potions? We are LOST (Father)
School refusal is a very common problem, and certainly one of the most common presenting problems in my practice. It causes a great deal of disruption to the child's life and to the family's functioning as a whole. School refusal is often rooted in an underlying clinical anxiety. It is the kind of challenge that really requires professional guidance.
It seems like you are connected with a child psychiatrist (for the prescription of Zoloft), but you really also need a children's therapist/psychologist. The medication will help to relieve the symptoms of anxiety, but it will not help to change any habits that may have developed. If you do not know of any psychologist, try asking your child's school teacher or principal, or ask your physician for a name of a professional they trust.
I would also want to check with your child's teacher if there are any indications of learning challenges or peer trouble. These difficulties may be adding to your child's anxiety.
Finally, below you will find a helpful online resource package on school refusal prepared by Anxiety BC.
I wish you all the best as you sort through this challenging problem. Please let me know how things go for your child.
Dr. Jillian Roberts
At the end of 2015 and in early in January 2016, I was very unwell. My husband Stephen took me to Emergency twice, and on the second trip, I learned from a CAT scan that I had gallbladder disease. An ERCP procedure removed lodged gallstones. Following the procedure, I developed acute pancreatitis. I was hospitalized for two weeks, lost 30 pounds, received the last rites, and near the end of the second week, my gallbladder was removed. When the surgeon removed the gallbladder, he saw a proliferation of tumours in my abdominal cavity and on my pancreas. Stephen and I were both told (and Stephen separately) that in all likelihood I had stage 4 cancer—probably a metastasis of my previous bladder cancer.
Eleven days went by, my sister Kellee flew out to take care of me, we met with a realtor to put the house on the market, the last rites were performed again with members of my religious order (the Sisters of St Anne), and then miraculously, the surgeon called us again. He was wrong. The tumours were something called “pancreatic fat necrosis.” Completely benign! I collapsed in tears on my kitchen floor.
It is difficult to put into words what happened to me psychologically during those eleven days. I feel as though I was given a glimpse of clarity that few have the chance to obtain. I am profoundly grateful for this, and for the miracle of a second chance at life.
I have learned that life is not supposed to be easy. Things have no real meaning if they come too easily. Life is supposed to be hard. You are supposed to work really, really, really hard. You are supposed to fail and be rejected, because you do not truly understand success--or see the beautiful possibility in opportunities--without having failure holding balance in your mind's eye. I believe that it is through grueling life events that life's meaning becomes clear.
I am now creatively exploring these insights. What can I tell--what should I tell--the children I see in my practice? And all the children who listen to me in some other medium? How do I share my insights in a way that they will understand? How do I make the most of this second chance of mine?
Throughout my initial bladder cancer diagnosis and during this most recent event, I have begun a new creative chapter in my life. I am now writing children`s books. There are more things to come. A new App will launch on Valentine`s Day 2017. I am working on related projects, including more and different kids books, an animated project, and an adult non-fiction book. Through all of these channels I hope to share the very best of what I know to be true, and what I believe will be truly helpful.
I am so very thankful to all of you who reached out to support me during my times of illness this part year. And, I feel deep gratitude to all of my creative partners who have helped me find ways to share my voice.
It is a disappointing thing to see new playgrounds developed in city spaces sit there empty each day, or to walk in the park and hear no laughter. What is missing here is not the children per se, but materials and environments that create challenge, imagination, and creativity that make children want to play outdoors. The absence of such play environments is not only influencing the quantity and quality of children’s play, but also affecting children’s health and well-being. As adults, we need to support children in learning to enjoy what free play in the outdoors has to offer. We need to inspire imaginations, creative minds, and capable bodies. To do this, we can look toward two simple things: nature and adventure.
What’s Happening to Children’s Play? Outdoor play is a necessary part of children’s development and is considered essential for children’s play and learning. Playing outdoors provides unique opportunities for learning that the indoor environment cannot offer. For example, children engage in higher levels of creativity, imagination, inventiveness, physical activity, language, and curiosity. Most importantly, they are given the opportunity to play freely. Despite this knowledge, outdoor play has been steadily decreasing for North American children.
When we look at why this disappearance of free play is happening, we realize that there are many factors that contribute to the lack of play. There are increases in structured play activities, an emergence of technology-based play objects, higher concerns related to safety and risk, adult control over children’s play activities, academically oriented schools, and an overall disregard for the value of play. More often than not, we see children engaged in a summer filled with structured sports activities or stuck inside with gaming systems and cell phones. We hear adults saying “don’t pick up the sticks!” “don’t go too far!” and “be careful!”. We know that schools are decreasing recess time or taking it away all together.
Unfortunately, it is all too common that today’s society has an overall disregard for the value of play and how important it is for children of all ages. It is ultimately these factors that are placing a barrier between children and their right to play freely in the outdoors.
The inability to cross over this barrier is affecting children in many areas of development. For example, there are increases in anxiety and depression at younger ages as well as difficulties with emotional regulation and self-control. Increases in physical conditions such as diabetes, obesity, and asthma are becoming more apparent in young children and childhood disorders such as attention deficit hyperactivity disorder and obsessive-compulsive disorder are more frequently diagnosed. Children who do not have access to outdoor play will miss out on the many benefits that free play in the natural environment has to offer toward their growth.
Source: Fix.com Blog