I wanted to share some articles that I have contributed to in the last couple of weeks!
For #International Women's Day:
Earlier this month, on how to best manage when parenting a sick child:
Regarding Valentine's Day:
Managing when the news is terrible:
I hope you enjoyed these articles! I would love any feedback you might have!
As a follow up to my last blog post, I would like to direct your attention to a fantastic article written by Arti Patel of the Huffington Post:
I wrote my PhD dissertation about children and families living with HIV! This was done in the 90s at the University of Calgary and the Hospital for Sick Kids in Toronto. I also have done many studies around other illnesses, like congenital heart disease and epilepsy.
My number one piece of advice, based on my own research in this area, is that it is important that the illness does not become the main "thing" in the family's life. This is really hard to do, especially with a chronic illness or illness that has a long duration. However, if families are able to be a family first, and deal with the illness second, then things stay more balanced in the home. It is important for families to try as much as possible to stick to set rules routines. Find a rythm. And, really important, to do really fun things as a family whenever they can. This is important for the siblings of the child with an illness. These are the times when it is really important to have family games night, movie night, and "let's make pizza" nights.
I would encourage families to celebrate medical milestones. Yeah, that round of chemotherapy is finished! Yeah, that is one less surgery we now need to go through! It can be difficult to keep your spirits up and it is really important to count all the blessings and milestones along the way.
This is really the time to call on support from your family and friends. Ask your network to help with meals and driving to appointments. This is incredibly important and cannot be underestimated.
Finally, cherish each other. Nurture each other. Spell each other off from long nights at the hospital to allow each other to get a good rest. Leave little notes of encouragement in pockets/shoes. Send supportive texts. Get a sitter and allow each other the space to reconnect. Allow each other the space to cry and process emotions. And most of all, give each other big hugs!
Please note that if you are looking to buy one of my earlier works, try: www.abebooks.com!
I was asked an important question today, "How do you increase self-esteem in girls?" Self-esteem is so very important, and there are some psychologically proven ways to foster it.
Here are some of my best ideas. Please do not hesitate to send in other ideas, and I will share them too!
--When providing feedback, be as timely and specific as possible. Instead of saying "great job," try: "I love how you added descriptive words to your writing. I really could imagine the scene you were describing."
--Remember, positive comments go much further towards shaping behaviour than do criticism. Focus on what your child is doing well, and praise/praise/praise!
--If you do have to provide a constructive critique, purposefully find a way in that SAME day to message your child positively many times. Think the 5 to 1 ratio: for every critique, find five things to praise. Doing so, will allow your child to accept the critique in a more positive and receptive manner.
--Go for deep praise, not shallow praise. By all means, if your daughter looks nice in a certain outfit, let her know. However, it is better for her self-esteem to comment on things that reflect her intelligence, work ethic, perseverance, and character.
--We build self-esteem by accomplishing things that were difficult. Help your daughter to stretch herself. Do things alongside her that allow her to grow. Show her how you are trying to grow too. Do Mother/Daughter 5K runs or walks. Sign up for a cooking lesson together, etc.
--Grit is important. That ability to not give up when working toward a goal. To be resilient. To stand up after a defeat, brush yourself off, and try again. When these opportunities arise out of a set back, frame the set back as such. Praise the grit over critiquing the setback.
--Talk to your daughter about the woman she wants to become. All the parts of that woman. Dream about that woman. Then work backwards, what will you need to do together, as a team, to help her become her best self. Prioritize these efforts. Show her that it matters!
This is a photo of my daughters, Lauren & Ally. I regularly take them with me when I speak at conferences. Traveling together, and being a confident traveler, is another great way to build self-esteem!
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