Me in a Tree

Archive for February, 2014


Me in a Tree

During adolescence, it is common for a teenager for confide in his friends more than his parents. Parents can often take the teen’s assertion of independence as a way of distancing himself from them. However, if the relationship is effectively managed and communication is kept open, parents can retain their positive influence in their teen’s lives. There are ways to manage this effectively and ineffectively. Here are the dos and don’ts of communicating with teenagers.

Do listen actively. Hear what they are saying, understand it, and repeat it back to them in your own words. You build mutual respect and trust without judgement or blame.

Don’t decide for them. Involve your teenager in the decision making process. Get them to set their own consequences for their behaviour. This will give them a sense of ownership and responsibility for their actions.

Do give clear messages. You must model the behaviours that you want your teenager to have. Be careful of your nonverbal cues, and ensure that you are not sending out mixed signals. State your values and expectations, and then live them.

Don’t give unsolicited advice. You want your teenager to be able to come to you when they need advice, not ignore your lecture disguised as advice.

Do spend time together. Whether you are going shopping or playing sports, spending time together is an important part of establishing a relationship and finding that connection.

Don’t criticize. Sometimes, your teenager will do things that upset you or that you disagree with; however, criticizing their every mistake will only decrease their self-esteem. Instead, let them learn from their mistakes.

Do admit your mistakes. When you make a mistake, admit it. It strengthens your credibility and builds trust with your teen.

Don’t talk too much. To avoid letting your advice on deaf ears, avoid repeating lectures, constant questions or other types of communication. State your rules and expectations and do set consequences for your teen’s behaviour.

Do tell them that you love them. Even if they roll their eyes at you, it is important to verbally express your love for them. Say it often.


emotion 3

The adolescent years are extremely important to the healthy development of your child, and they are also the most vulnerable years. During this period, your teenager is on a rollercoaster ride where they discover their identity apart from their parents, start to assert their independence, and express their personal autonomy. As a parent, you need to understand your teen’s need for independence. As a result, you need to adjust your communication style to respect that need and effectively maintain a relationship with your teenager.

Be Level-Headed

Stress, anger and frustration can make it hard to communicate as emotions such as these prevent you from thinking rationally. Emotions often cloud judgement, and you need to ensure that your emotions are in check, especially during times of conflict, to effectively communicate.

Listen Actively

Active listening is a skill that is hard to develop and master. It involves hearing what the other person is saying, understanding their point of view, and communicating their feelings back to them. When your teen is telling you how she feels, you respond by saying something like “You are saying that you were upset when I said you couldn’t go out with your friends, is that correct?” This shows that you are not only listening to her, but also respecting her point of view. You avoid misconception, judgement, and blame, and you incite respect and open communication.

Be flexible

Understand that as your teen develops her sense of identity and independence apart from you, the parent, you need to be flexible when communicating. Your teen may not always agree with you, but it is important to respect those differences. When you appreciate her feelings, she will open up in the future.

Advise Carefully

Unsolicited advice is, well, unwanted. It serves to undermine the other person’s opinion. There will be times where you need to give your teen some advice, especially when it concerns safety. However, you don’t want to tell your teen who she should date, but you can advise her on how she gets to and from her date. The less you give your teen unsolicited advice, the more likely she will proactively come to you for advice.


mom and kid talking

All children will challenge limits at one point or another. Strong willed children are a special challenge to set limits with, and parent in general. Strong-willed children, when parented right, turn into strong, independent adults. They tend to want to learn things for themselves, and so they constantly test limits. That said, it is common that power struggles will emerge with strong-willed children. Being firm in the limits you set and persistent in the consequences you set if the limits are challenged with will guide your strong-willed child to become a strong, independent adult. Here are some tips to help you out.

·         Focus on your child’s behaviour, not the child. Avoid causing self-esteem issues by focusing on what the child did, not who they are.

·         Be specific when you set consequences. Give them a time frame to accomplish a task, give them a consequence that is appropriate, and follow through with the consequence if the task is not accomplished.

·         Give your child a choice, but keep choices limited. You want to give your strong-willed child a sense of control by giving them a couple of choices, but too many choices gives them too much power.

·         Try not to lose your temper. Strong-willed children are very challenging, and it can be very easy to externalize your frustration by yelling or otherwise. It is important that if you do lose your temper that you apologize for behaviour that is against what you are trying to teach.

·         Let it go. When your child has dealt with the consequences of his actions, tell him why he was punished, and then let it go. Hug your child to remind them that even when they do something that is wrong, you still love them.

Article courtesy of Eva Macyszyn from Me in a Tree.

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How many times have you wanted to verbally express your frustration with your child? It is nearly impossible to not yell or being angry with your child. Anger, frustration and stress are all natural feelings that humans face, and you will express these feelings at least once as a parent. These are reactive emotions that can create deeper power struggles with your child, if not remedied. Responding, rather than reacting, can help diffuse the situation, and a positive outcome can be made.

Even though our first response as human beings, and as parents, is to react to negative situation; however, we need to choose to respond positively. One way to do that is to look for the good in every situation. Be intentional about looking for the positive aspects of your child’s behaviour – this will work to reduce the anxiety and frustration.

Sometimes, the best thing is to simply remove yourself from the situation for a few moments. Instead of reacting quickly and giving your child a time-out that may be ineffective, you might want to give yourself a time-out. Take five minutes to breathe, gain composure and come back in to the situation with something positive to add.

If you are really struggling to respond instead of react, and find yourself reacting to little things, remember that it is okay to ask for help. Whether you need professional advice or support from family and friends, being able to acknowledge and access that help is very important.

Me in a Tree offers a Parent Forum, where parents who are experiencing  similar issues can support each other. For more information go to



Cheese fondue makes a great family dinner because there are so many steps in which the whole family can get involved. Here are a few ways everyone can pitch in to help prepare for a night of fondue fun.

Kid-friendly fondue night jobs:
•Measure ingredients for cookies.
•Assemble ingredients for cookies.
•Shred cheeses.
•Cut bread.
•Prepare vegetables.
•Cut and arrange pineapple.
•Choose pickles and smoked meats, and arrange them artfully on the pickle plate.

Note: Consider age appropriateness around the kitchen, and avoid giving tasks that involve heat and knives to helpers who are too young.

Cheddar Cheese Fondue From Good Housekeeping

·         2 cups half-and-half, or light cream

·         1 Tbsp Worcestershire

  • 2 tsp dry mustard
  • 1 garlic clove, halved
  • 1-1/2 pounds mild or sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded (about 6 cups)
  • 3 Tbsp all-purpose flour
  • salt
  • Crusty bread, cubed
  • Accompaniments of choice (see below)

How to Make

·         In a medium saucepan over low heat, heat half-and-half, Worcestershire, mustard and garlic, stirring until hot but not boiling. Discard garlic.

·         In a medium bowl, toss the cheese with the flour until well mixed.

·          Gradually stir the cheese into the hot mixture. Cook over low heat, stirring constantly, until cheese is melted and mixture is smooth and bubbling. Add salt to taste. Pour into a warmed fondue pot and keep over low heat on fondue stand. Serve at once.

4- Spear dunkers on fondue forks, dip in cheese sauce.


Extra suggestions for ‘dunkers’:

·         ham, cubed

·         cooked shrimp

·         sausage chunks such as Kolbassa

·         steamed broccoli

·         steamed cauliflower

·         green apple chunks

·         button mushrooms

·         asparagus spears

·         small boiled potatoes




Effectively managing the use of time is an important skill that should be taught early on in life as it precedes many other essential life skills. Effective time management can help your child do better in school and in life, in general. Here are a few tips to help teach your child time management.

·         Get the right start. Every child has different learning styles. Making use of these different styles by providing the proper tools to learn will make it easier to teach time management. For example, if your child is a visual learner, make sure there are visual elements present. If your child learns by doing, have some blocks or other activity ready for them to accomplish. Also, create the space necessary for them to do their work, whether that is removing all distractions or playing soft music.

·         Use time management tools. Get out the watches, calendars, day planners, and other tools. Actively use these tools to make sure that tasks are accomplished in a timely manner.

·         Schedule activities. Set aside time for homework, family, meal s, computer, television, other electronics, and friends. This breaks down time into sizeable bites that allows you to plan much better.

·         After you schedule your activities, be sure to prioritize them. Determine what is the most important and takes up the most time. From there, number your activities according to either their importance or the amount of time the activity takes.

·         Learn to let go. Sometimes – actually, often especially with children – things don’t go according to plan. Learn to be flexible when this happens, and know that’s it okay if not everything gets accomplished.




Let’s make sushi tonight! This is a great hands on dinner project that everyone no matter what age can get involved in!


You need

Each person needs a small bamboo mat called Makisu.
Cooked sticky rice (look at the package, it will say short grain, cal-rose or sushi rice) about 1 1/2 cups per person
Some seasoned rice vinegar
Sheets of toasted nori seaweed cut in half lengthwise
Soy sauce
Some wasabi, (optional)
Picked ginger (optional)

For the sushi fillings, some suggestions are:

Asparagus quickly steamed and cut in half length wise
Cucumbers peeled and cut into long strips
Carrots cut into thin long strips (or grated into strips)
Avocados cut into strips and tossed with lemon
Peppers cut into strips

Fake crab  
Sesame seeds


To Make

Start out by making a big pot of sticky sushi rice, by following the directions on the bag you have. Once the rice is cooked gently toss it with 1 tablespoon seasoned rice vinegar per cup of uncooked rice.

Prepare the vegetables, put the  soy sauce, wasabi and pickled ginger in little bowls on the table. In front of each place-setting put a bamboo mat and a bowl of warm water. Have a roll of wax paper or plastic wrap ready. And let the fun begin!

Gather everyone at the table. Cover a bamboo rolling mat with wax paper or plastic wrap. Lay 1 sheet of nori, shiny side down, on each mat. Now everyone can wet their fingers with water (to prevent the rice from sticking) and gently spread about 2/3 cup of the rice evenly all over the nori, except leaving an inch of the far end of nori bare.

Place a thin row of vegetables across the middle of the rice patch. Sprinkle the rice with sesame seeds. If you like wasabi put a little smear of it along the middle as well.

Grab the edge of the mat closest to you, keeping the fillings in place with your fingers, and roll it into a tight roll, using the mat to shape the cylinder. Pull away the mat. Cut each roll with a serrated knife 6 pieces.

Dip into the soy sauce, add a little wasabi pop it in your mouth!



It can be hard to decide when it is time to take a step back as a parent, and let your child make decisions for himself, take care of his belongings, and learn that there are consequences when mistakes get made. Teaching your child responsibility is one of the greatest investment opportunities in your child’s future.  Here are few tips to help you in this process.

·         Model responsibility. Ask any family expert, and he or she will tell you that all good teaching moments, all life skills must be first modelled by the parents. Children will imitate their parents, so if you take being responsible seriously, so will your children.

·         Start with the small things. Give your children the task of cleaning up their toys, cleaning their rooms, or any other task that is manageable. Make sure that there are consequences in place if the task is not accomplished – this is where responsibility is really learned.

·         Read about it. There is plenty of literature available that will help you teach responsibility. Stories hold attention better, and your child won’t feel like she is being lectured at.

·         Encourage them. When they accomplish the task, praise them for it. Offering both encouragement and consequences is one of the best ways to help your kids understand how to take responsibility for their actions.

·         Show them the bigger picture. Instead of outlining a bunch of appropriate tasks for your children, show them that they are helping the family. This will teach them that their actions have an impact on other people.


dad tea party

Yes, you read that right. Let your children take the lead sometimes. Let’s be fair: I’m not talking about engaging in a major power struggle where you give in to your child’s demands. No, I’m talking about giving your child the freedom to plan and lead family activities.

Spending time as a family is vital to the health and happiness of everyone. Quality spend strengthens the relationship you have with your spouse and your children. However, every once in a while, let your child decide how he or she wants to spend that quality time. If that means daddy-daughter tea time complete with tiaras and teddy bears, let that happen. Or, if it’s 15 minutes of running around outside, let them decide and go with the flow.

This can extend to so many different things as well. Try and let your children plan a meal one night of the week. From finding the recipe, to shopping (with your help, of course) to cooking, encourage your child to get involved with family activities, including the daily tasks.

Once your children are old enough, you may want to be brave and let them plan a weekend outing. Give them a budget, and let them choose the destination, activities and plan the itinerary.

Allowing your child to take the lead sometimes will teach them responsibility, a skill that will vital as the grow up. Keep in mind that the activities you let your child plan should be age appropriate. It’s also okay to set some boundaries.