Fostering Resilient and Creative Minds in Youth with Jas Hundal

Fostering Resilient and Creative Minds in Youth with Jas Hundal

by Chris Tompkins | September 21, 2023

Jas Hundal is passionate about youth mental health. As a Registered Social Worker and Clinical Director of Counselling at Future Ready Minds, Jas helps equip kids with essential life skills that they don’t necessarily learn in school — like innovation, collaboration, and resilience — to help them deal with life transitions and so they can thrive in our new, rapidly evolving world.

Loneliness and perfectionism: symptoms affecting youth

The framework of Future Ready Minds is in place to combat anxiety, loneliness, and perfectionism. While we know that anxiety among young people is at an all-time high, loneliness and perfectionism are less obvious issues affecting our kids. Jas explains that in previous generations, kids would watch cartoons after school and then parents might watch the six o’ clock news, but there wasn’t on-demand programming like there is now.

“A lot of that loneliness is actually coming from when children are spending a lot of time on these various sources of technology and losing social skills, as a result,” Jas says on the Shaping Our World podcast. “They’re not able to function in a social setting with other kids. They’re withdrawn.”

She goes on to explain that perfectionism comes in when those same technologies offer up TikTok videos and reels that kids consume without realizing all the behind-the-scenes work that went into them and that filters are being used, etc. When the videos don’t transfer into the kids’ lived experiences, behavioural issues can arise. She explains that a lot of social media results in kids having really unrealistic expectations of themselves.

“[Kids are] putting a lot of time and effort from a young age to [make videos and act like influencers], as opposed to going outside and playing or learning a practical skill where it’s okay for them to fail … all they’re seeing all the time is the end product,” Jas says.

The three things kids need to succeed and practical ways to achieve them

Jas explains that in developing Future Ready Minds, they looked at the things kids need to succeed — both academically and in their personal lives.

Resilience

Jas stresses that it’s important to give children an arsenal of resilience-building tools that they can pull out in various situations, like:

  • Getting enough sleep
  • Doing a mindfulness activity like deep breathing
  • Cultivating gratitude

“Whenever we do an activity that involves resilience, it releases endorphins,” Jas says.

Collaboration

Another thing a child absolutely needs is to have a collaborative relationship with their parents and Jas points to her colleague and Future Ready Minds Founder, Dr. Shimi Kang’s, book, The Dolphin Parent: A Guide to Raising Healthy, Happy, and Self-Motivated Kids, in which she posits a new parenting style modelled after “the intelligent, strong, joyful, and highly social dolphin.” Dolphin parents focus on maintaining balance in their children’s lives to compassionately, yet authoritatively guide them. Jas explains that collaboration releases the feel-good chemical, oxytocin, and it also nurtures optimism and empathy in our kids.

Innovation

Finally, our kids need innovation, which is accomplished by learning through play.

“We learn through trying new things,” Jas says. “We learn through trial and error.”

She elaborates on the importance of learning to innovate, explaining that being adaptable and approaching tasks with a sense of playfulness and curiosity instead of rigidity and structure, is key to getting children ready for the future. The goal of Future Ready Minds is to optimize children for the future and give them a set of skills that can be applied to any field they choose to pursue.

For more on what Jas has to say about getting our kids future-ready, listen to the full episode at the top of this post.

Visit our website to discover a variety of other guests that we’ve had on the show. Shaping Our World episodes are also available wherever you get podcasts.

Transcript

[00:00:12.960] – Speaker 1
Hey, I’m Chris Tompkins, and welcome to the Shaping Our World podcast. If you’re just joining us, or maybe if you’ve been listening for a while, I want to remind you of what this podcast is all about. Our goal is to invite you into a conversation that will leave you more confident in understanding and inspiring the young people in your life. Each episode, we talk with a leading expert and offer relevant resources to dive deeper into the world of our youth today. Today, we have Jas Hundal on the show. Jess is a registered social worker and the clinical director of counselling at Future Ready Minds. She has her Masters of Social Work from the University of Victoria and her certificate in Advanced Facilitation and Consultation from the Justice Institute of British Columbia. In her career, Jas has worked with South Asian men and women to provide essential services in the Punjabi language. She is trained in a range of therapeutic modalities and has worked diligently in the field of mental health and addiction since 2006. Jess is passionate about helping members of her community learn ways to improve their mental health by using holistic and strength-based practices.

[00:01:24.600] – Speaker 1
In this episode, you’re going to hear a lot about Future Ready Minds as we delve into pressing concerns like anxiety, loneliness, and perfectionism among you. And we’ll discover how Jas advocates equipping kids with essential life skills like innovation, collaboration, and resilience. You may even hear us talk about how these skills are good for us as adults as well. Innovation, collaboration, and resilience as we tackle anxiety, loneliness, and perfectionism. It’s a great conversation, and I can’t wait for you to hear it. So let’s dive into our conversation with Jas Hundal. Welcome, Jas.

[00:02:14.990] – Speaker 3
Hi.

[00:02:15.280] – Speaker 2
Chris.

[00:02:15.650] – Speaker 1
How are you doing? Great. It’s great to have you with us today. Looking forward to this conversation. Yeah, so am I. So let’s dive into it. Our listeners probably know, at shaping our world, we always want to get into what’s shaping the world of our guests. So when you were young, growing up teenager child, what were some of the biggest influences? What shaped your world growing up?

[00:02:34.840] – Speaker 3
I think for me, when I’m reflecting on this, my biggest influences were probably my immigrant parents. My parents immigrated to Canada in the 1980s, pretty much with just the clothes on their back. A land of opportunity here in Canada, there was a lot of jobs at that time. I was born a year after they immigrated. My parents would often leave me with like, relatives or family, friends in the first couple of years. But one thing that they really stressed was an education. We had a very strict household, but a very fair household. So it ran definitely got the physical discipline at times. We definitely had a lot of growing Western society as well as a South Asian society. There’s a lot of stepping.

[00:03:28.990] – Speaker 2
Into two different.

[00:03:30.190] – Speaker 3
Influences at school. My siblings and I definitely had that Western influence. And at home, there was definitely speaking Punjabi, speaking the language. But I think one thing that sticks out from my parents was the ethic of hard work and being able to seize all the opportunities that Canada had to offer for us as well.

[00:03:51.000] – Speaker 1
I’m sure that has shaped a lot of your perspective on your education and all that stuff, and then also even to how you navigate life today. That’s fascinating. Tell us a bit about your world today. What’s shaping you? What are you interested in? Help us get to know Jas a little bit better.

[00:04:08.390] – Speaker 2
My world today is largely.

[00:04:10.170] – Speaker 3
Shaped by, I think, my two children, because life just revolves around them. So my family, I’ve got two kids, six and four. And for me, I’m always just trying to keep up with, as a mom, trying to keep up with everything, what’s changing in their world so I can be available to them, my friends, my clients, I learn a lot from the people that I get to work with that share their stories with me. I get to learn a lot from my colleagues as well in this field about the newest trends, but also the newest ways to help people. My day-to-day life is getting up, getting the kids ready. We’ve been a little bit off schedule here for the summer, but a lot of it is making sure I tend to myself care. Going to the gym is a priority for me. Five days a week I’m definitely there. That’s something I do for my own mental health. Then I’m busy with client appointments while my kids are at daycare or Montessori. Then it’s back to mom-life for a couple of hours, dinner, drawers, laundry, all that stuff, sitting with them, making sure I’m doing their play time and downtime with them.

[00:05:25.460] – Speaker 3
Then it’s a couple of evening clients, and then that’s it. Then getting ready for the next day.

[00:05:31.110] – Speaker 1
Yeah, well, there’s a lot in there. As any of us with kids know, it’s impossible for that part of our world to not be shaped as we’re keeping up at all different ages. I tell people my daughter’s finally got her G2 license here in Ontario, which means she can drive on her own for those of you who aren’t here. But leading up to that, it was like I felt like I was an Uber driver most of the time as I was trying to get her to band, and the gym, and friends, and all the fun stuff. I know what that’s like to manage all of that stuff and appreciate some of the personal stuff you do as well. You mentioned a little bit about seeing clients and your work. Tell us what you’re doing now to shape the world of people and particularly young people. Tell us about what you do and how you work with the youth of today.

[00:06:22.330] – Speaker 3
Yeah. One of my roles with the Future Ready Minds is I’m the Director of Clinical Counseling. We’ve got a team of counselors as well as coaches, and we do services worldwide. What we work with is a lot of children and teens that have problems with anxiety or depression or just are getting stuck in those transitions from either high school to university or university to the job force. A lot of our work that we do involves getting kids ready for that next step in their life, so that transition. Getting them future-ready means giving them the practical skills, skills that are going to help boost their self-confidence, teaching them grounding skills, downtime, and how to manage life through stress relief techniques. When kids go to school, they usually learn the history, the sociology, the geography, but a lot of times they’re missing those key life skills. That’s where our coaches and our counselors come in to provide a well-rounded approach.

[00:07:26.400] – Speaker 3
If a child is struggling with anxiety where it’s affecting their day-to-day functioning. That’s where our counselors get involved in terms of a mental health perspective. When we have a child that just needs a little bit of a boost or needs to fine-tune their skills, that’s where our coaches come in and they provide more of a hands-on direct approach and work with the kids.

[00:07:48.370] – Speaker 1
Wow, that’s awesome work. I’m looking forward to diving deeper into that. For our listeners, Future Ready Minds was developed, as you mentioned, to counteract anxiety, loneliness, perfectionism among young people by helping them to develop three future ready skills: innovation, collaboration, and resilience. And so we’ve talked a lot on this podcast about the overwhelming numbers when it comes to anxiety, but I’m interested to dive into loneliness and perfectionism because it’s weaved through that, but you clearly call that out in some of the stuff that you do. So can you tell us a little bit about where you see that showing up? How are kids struggling with that today? We all know anxiety is a big deal, but I don’t know if loneliness and perfectionism is on the list in the same intensity. So yeah, tell us a little bit about that.

[00:08:40.080] – Speaker 3
So with the two things that you mentioned, loneliness is we’re having a lot of kids spending time on their own being supervised by technology or TV. So in my age growing up, you would.

[00:08:54.450] – Speaker 2
Have the three.

[00:08:55.300] – Speaker 3
O’clock cartoons that would be aired for about an hour, and then that was it. Then it was the six o’clock news my parents would watch, and there wasn’t this TV on-demand and Netflix and apps with all these cartoons and games and whatnot. So a lot of that loneliness is actually coming from when children are spending a lot of time on these various sources of technology, they’re losing those social skills. They’re not able to function in a social setting with other kids. They’re withdrawn. They’ve got social anxiety. They would rather be on their tablets or devices for a few hours a day while the parents are tending to the day-to-day needs of whatever they need to do. That’s where we see a lot of perfectionism as well. That instinct and gratification that you get from being on your device, And if I don’t want to watch this show, I can watch this show. If I don’t want like this, I can change it. It’s like those quick, very quick hits of dopamine are causing kids to then, when they transfer over to doing something else, if they don’t get what they want, there is that behavioral…

[00:10:04.780] – Speaker 3
Sometimes it comes out in tantrum, sometimes it comes out in just not wanting to do it altogether. But we do see those things coming out in children in terms of perfectionism.

[00:10:15.940] – Speaker 1
Yeah. Is it fair to say, Jess, that with loneliness, and I think we’re all tired of talking about the pandemic, but it was such a seismic impact on particularly kids who were at home not doing the same activities, many and really formational times in their life. Do you think that has led into loneliness? And then on the perfectionism piece, too, the general anecdotal feel I have is that as our society progresses, the need to get into university and the pressure to get the right job and to make it in our North American cultural perspective is driving kids to do more and to Excel early and find their thing and develop their resume at such early ages. Can you speak to both of those? Am I off base there? Do you think that has some impact on these two things?

[00:11:13.950] – Speaker 3
No, absolutely. One of the things that we saw with COVID, when we were sticking to our bubbles and decreasing our social circles down to less than 10 people at times, for almost over 18 months, we had a very various parts, depending on where you were in the world, lockdowns, that really impacted the socialization skills that children have. Depending on where they were, if they were graduating from high school or if they were transitioning to university, they missed out on a lot of.

[00:11:43.880] – Speaker 2
That as well.

[00:11:44.780] – Speaker 3
So we’re looking at that. When we talk about loneliness, we also need to bring up depression. So a lot of us saw that as clinicians, as kids coming up with a low mood and a lot of, unfortunately, self-harm or thought-lots of very dark, intrusive thoughts come up, which is not typical to this population, especially the younger than 10 population. And when we talk about COVID, I mean, that’s all we were seeing on TV. We were seeing images of people passing away, the numbers of how many deaths and whatnot. We’re seeing the effects of COVID now from a mental health standpoint, because now is the time we’re actually recuperating.

[00:12:26.780] – Speaker 1
Yeah, I can remember my daughter was grade eight when the pandemic started, and then into high school early on when they were online and at home. Then when they would get back to class, she was like, so many of the kids didn’t really know how to talk to each other anymore. They would go to class, they’d be masked up, they’d be in their cohorts. But she’s like, We just went and left. People didn’t really interact either. Then their home, and as she started high school, she didn’t have the typical entry into high school perspective. I feel like kids who are maybe even on the other end of diving into devices and pulling themselves away a little bit socially can just accentuate that even more.

[00:13:07.080] – Speaker 3
Absolutely. And then the perfectionism piece that you brought up, when you have kids, we have to look at.

[00:13:14.170] – Speaker 2
What are they being on when.

[00:13:16.110] – Speaker 3
They’re on their devices? A lot of that is TikTok. A lot of it for them is the Snapchat, the YouTube, the making the short reels, the making the clips. This is new to some of us in the older generation because kids are being shown, in essence, how to be an influencer or how to get likes or get followers. They’re putting a lot of time and effort from a young age to do these things, as opposed to going outside and playing, as a co-post to learning a practical skill where it’s okay for them to fail because all they’re seeing is the end product. They’re just seeing this one reel that’s got a million shares or a million likes, but they’re not seeing all the behind-the-scenes work of how many reels it took, and what was edited, what was fake, what was not.

[00:14:04.780] – Speaker 1
Yeah, so true. Can I ask just another question on that? I’m wondering, if we’re a parent, and you earlier articulated how that might show up, like behavioral things that there might be a root of loneliness or perfectionism below, what other things could parents look to to go, Oh, maybe my child is lonely or they’re struggling with perfectionism. I think anxiety we have more of language around. I think kids even more today are able to say, I’m feeling really anxious, or I’m struggling with anxiety, or I’ve even heard young kids saying, I’m depressed. I think they have that language. But I don’t often hear them say, I’m really lonely, or I’m struggling to be perfect. So as parents, what can we look for to go, Oh, maybe there’s something below there.

[00:14:53.090] – Speaker 2
Yeah. So when we’re looking at loneliness, are they having play dates? Are kids coming over to the house? Are they interacting with family, friends, relatives? Observing them in their own circle and to say, What is my child actually doing? Are they just walking away and everybody’s on their phones? I’ve seen it as well in local restaurants where the kids are all just on their tablets. They’re at the dinner table, but they’re all out there on their tablets. I’ve seen less and less children at playgrounds now after COVID as well, where there’s this almost like still there’s that sense of stay in your bubble or stay, you don’t know, there’s germs here and whatnot. How do they actually interact? And how is that different from how you were interacting? Because if your child who was, you leave the house in the morning and your parents are expecting you to pay a play all day, ride your bike and whatnot. Is your child doing those things.

[00:15:52.420] – Speaker 3
Age-appropriate.

[00:15:53.600] – Speaker 2
In terms of play? With perfectionism, it might not be that your child wants those straight As. It might be that they have really unrealistic expectations for themselves. They’re easily frustrated when they make a mistake. It’s like, I’m not doing this anymore. I don’t want to do this game, or I don’t want to do this activity. Avoidance is another one where they may avoid or put off things and procrastination.

[00:16:22.280] – Speaker 2
Sometimes it’s like, Oh, why aren’t you doing it? Well, they’re not doing it because they’re redoing it over and over again because they don’t know where to start and they want it to be.

[00:16:31.700] – Speaker 1
Absolutely perfect. Or they’re afraid to fail in it, right?

[00:16:35.330] – Speaker 2
Absolutely. That’s self-conscious. What is that self-talk for that child? What are they saying to themselves about their own achievements? Do they have those early indicators of low self-esteem.

[00:16:47.760] – Speaker 1
That’s really helpful. I want to talk about some of the skills that you talk about to equip kids and maybe to counteract some of that. It’s a two-part question. You talk about the skills of innovation and collaboration and resilience. How do those skills continue to a future-ready mind? And maybe before that, what does a future-ready mind mean? I’m compelled by even that phrase, right? What does it mean to be future-ready and why is that important? And then how does innovation, collaboration, and resilience feed into that?

[00:17:22.070] – Speaker 2
So being and having a future-ready mind is literally having that mindset and that perspective, but also those internal values. One of the things that we looked at, and this was born out of our pod philosophy, which is going to be talked about a little bit later, but it’s like, what are the things that children need to succeed? Not only academically, but also personally in their relationships, in their social circles. What are those three things? When Dr. Kang, who’s the inventor of the pod mythology as well as resiliency, connection, collaboration—she speaks about it in her books, The Dolphin Parent, as well as Tech Solution—we’re looking at what are the actual things that children need, and we’ve divided it into resilience, the first one, because whenever we do an activity that involves resilience, it releases endorphins. These are those categories of making sure your child gets enough sleep, making sure that they’re doing some mindfulness activity.

[00:18:33.370] – Speaker 1
Making.

[00:18:33.780] – Speaker 2
Sure they’re doing things that cultivate gratitude. Deep breathing exercises for children work phenomenally well. They’re very quick learners. They find a tool, they use it, and they carry it with them. These are the things that when we’re talking about resiliency, which is the ability to bounce back from a situation, whatever they’re facing, they can step into this zone and say, Okay, did I get my full sleep? Can I do some breathing exercises today? What can I do instead of watching TV to actually be present with my family at this time? Collaboration is those things is what releases oxytocin. This is that happy chemical. This is that empathy, that optimism. We want to be able to have what’s called a Dolphins style, which is talked about in Dr. Kang’s first book. That’s that interpersonal style where we’re being firm but flexible. We’re collaborating with kids, we’re positive, and we have a warm approach. Dolphins is one of those mammals that do that. They teach through healing and communication with one another, they travel in those pods. When we come from a place of collaboration and interaction, that’s when human beings thrive.

[00:19:56.990] – Speaker 1
I love that.

[00:19:57.920] – Speaker 2
Yeah. The last one is that when we’re talking about innovation, so we learn through play. We learn through trying new things. We learn through trial and error. For a lot of people, we have different learning styles, so being able to be innovated in my own way is going to be getting me ready for the future. If I’m adaptable, if I’m approaching new tasks with a sense of playfulness and curiosity instead of rigidness and firm structure, I’ll be a lot better as a leader as well. We’re taking these skills and saying, Okay, how can you be optimized in whatever field you go to? Whether it’s sciences, whether it’s math, whether it’s English literature, how can we give you these skills that you can apply to any career or anything that you do in your life?

[00:20:47.510] – Speaker 1
Yeah, I love that. Am I right to look at this and say while these three topics are broad in a sense of helping young people develop the assets they need to thrive, they also directly correlate to those other three that we talked about, like resilience can work against anxiety and collaboration is the antidote to loneliness and innovation can help work through perfectionism. They’re there’s a connection in that, right? Absolutely. That may be actually part of the program. I don’t know. No, it is. It makes sense to me that those linked to I think that’s really great. So yeah, that was really helpful. I really like the emphasis on creativity, problem-solving. Working at camp, that’s something that camp and nature and brings out. I know it’s one of the five essential skills delineated in the Consciousness Quotient, which CQ. I love this because I feel like creativity hasn’t traditionally been a skill that we value in terms of helping us in life other than maybe outlets for stress, right? So it’s like if you feel overwhelmed, you can paint or listen to music or some things that we think about creativity. So how do you look at creativity and how does this translate into helping kids deal with the world around them?

[00:22:13.430] – Speaker 1
Why is it such an important thing?

[00:22:16.190] – Speaker 2
So creativity is really important because when we’re talking about the three skills, creativity falls under innovation, okay? Yeah. So this is where we’re looking at through exploration, through learning, through trial and error, children will get a sense of curiosity and playfulness. When you look at Montessori programs or when you look at a lot of early education, it is all based through play. There’s not that rigidness, that strict routine. We know that’s how children will thrive. The child will grow, their brain will grow the most from ages zero to five. That’s the most as human beings we will all grow, and that’s the fastest. So when we’re looking at, Well, what do we do with kids at that age? We do have a lot of things where we get them to explore and be creative and give them those tactile tools, give them the Play-Doh, give them the softballs, give them things with texture. So as human beings, we will foster growth and development when we’re not afraid to make mistakes. When we’re able to try new things, we will develop what’s called a growth mindset, and that’s born through creativity. It’s pushing your boundaries, and that’s going to help overcome that fear, reduce anxiety, and build that resiliency.

[00:23:37.290] – Speaker 1
I can just hear parents saying, Okay, that’s great, but my kids, they’re just stuck in their devices. Sometimes it feels so overwhelming, right? When you talk about play and creativity, and long gone are the days where you just said, Go outside and play in the backyard, or, Go across the street to the park. But I think there is some of that that’s true. How do we start small? What are some things that you found helpful for parents that are like, How do I get my kids to take on some of that playfulness and creativity that feeds into innovation? What are some tools or techniques or tips you can give us around that?

[00:24:15.510] – Speaker 2
One of the things that for this summer, even with my six-year-old, I struggled because I was like, Okay, I need to do work while she’s at home. But I also don’t want her on the iPad the whole time. I had to balance that need for technology because there was that time where it’s like, Okay, these are the games that you can play on the iPad that is that good tech. I don’t want to say to parents like, You have to remove all the technology altogether, but there has to be even some games or some apps on there. We’ve got an app called Get Sparky, which teaches kids breathing skills. It teaches them downtime. It helps them to journal. It gives them those kinds of activities, which is like, Hey, you want to play your game? Well, you got to do this.

[00:24:59.540] – Speaker 1
Activity.

[00:25:00.290] – Speaker 2
First. Now, when we’re looking at what are the actual tools, like giving them things like glue, construction paper, depending on what age they are, Hey, I want you to write about your day, or I want you to write a story, whatever it is, let their mind, let their imagination go. So if they’re wanting to do that on the iPad, great. Hey, can you draw me a picture? Can you open up? If you don’t have pencil crayons or crayons or any of those things, and all you do have is a technology device, there’s apps on there called Paint and whatnot. It’s like, Okay, can you paint me a picture? Can you do something that’s a little bit more using your imagination as opposed to just mindlessly watching something?

[00:25:46.740] – Speaker 1
Well, and I think innovation, and again, forgive me if I’m leading down paths that aren’t really there, but innovation and collaboration do connect too, because it’s easier for kids to play and be imaginative with other kids as well, right? Yeah. And not just on their own. And so the more people can have those social connections, the more likely it is that they can… I think when you send all the siblings out in the backyard to figure it out themselves, just go play. They more easily come up with something than if it’s just one child figuring it out on their own. And so I can see their connection. We’ve heard it, and I hear it around camp, right? I think as a parent, this is where we get reactionary. It’s like, I’m bored. And you’re like, What do you mean you’re bored? And we’re at camp here. There’s nature and water slides and tenant. Please, go do something. How are you bored? And so it’s one thing to just react, but it’s another thing to help kids see past that, right? That if there isn’t this stimulus provided for them, how can they create it on themselves?

[00:26:54.490] – Speaker 1
How do they use their imagination and play and go explore and try things like you’re talking about that they’ve never tried before and be adventurous? And I think some small steps, like you said, we did a podcast recording where we were talking about what does it mean to be bored in a line nowadays and not just pick up your phone and default to scrolling social media for teenagers? How can you be bored? What are you missing by just not looking up and being introspective? That connects then to mindfulness, which is part of the resilience stuff. I can see how these are all tying in together.

[00:27:29.940] – Speaker 2
Yeah. One thing I will say is like, What’s wrong with being bored?

[00:27:34.620] – Speaker 1
Yeah, exactly. Why is that a problem?

[00:27:37.150] – Speaker 2
Why is that even a problem? With my kids, you’ve got numerous toys, you have in numerous ways. That’s an opportunity for them to be creative. Oh, you’re bored? Well, what is it that you want to do?

[00:27:50.640] – Speaker 1
What.

[00:27:51.020] – Speaker 2
Can you do with your time? Give them back that power to say, Hey, you’re coming to me, and I’m not going to be offering you the solution because we do tend to over-stimulate our kids with numerous activities.

[00:28:05.250] – Speaker 1
Yeah, we over-program, right?

[00:28:06.990] – Speaker 2
We over-program them. This is your free play time. If you’re bored, you get to do whatever you want if you get to make that decision, and I’m speaking with my kids, it’s like, Hey, I can give you the activities, or you can create one and come tell me about it.

[00:28:23.980] – Speaker 1
And for.

[00:28:24.460] – Speaker 2
Them, they’ll take their Lego and they’ll make something completely different than the kit that they get these days, and every single time is something new and something creative.

[00:28:34.610] – Speaker 1
Yeah. I’m just thinking back to… And maybe it’s just me, Jas. Maybe other parents aren’t like that. But I feel like in the pandemic for our family, there was just a lot of this pressure because you were home. I feel like we were way more creative and imaginative. We only have one child. I remember doing themed dinner nights on Friday, and she had to come up with the menu and the cost- Yeah. She suggested what we would eat and dress up, and she’d make a menu out for us and try to be creative in that, because we were so conscious of filling this time and making sure that it was done well. And then again, my daughter is a bit older now. But I’m just reminded her of being like, oh, man, there hasn’t been that pressure or it feels like it to be more creative. And maybe we did lose something that was gained in that that maybe we need to remember back and capture some of that where we were feeling the weight of it. And then we’re going, okay, let’s be more creative. Let’s find really innovative ways to do things when we were locked down or inside.

[00:29:41.370] – Speaker 1
And maybe we’ve lost some of that that we need to capture back.

[00:29:44.730] – Speaker 2
Yeah, and you just mentioned with that one activity of planning the menus, you’ve got planning in there, you’ve got problem-solving in there. If you don’t have an ingredient, what are we going to do? You’ve got that flexibility in there. You’ve got creativity in there. So when we look at being bored, it can actually be a good thing. So even for all of us during the pandemic, yes, there was a lot of anxiety, there was a lot of mental health that came up. But for a lot of us, it gave us a chance to actually slow down. It gave a lot of us the opportunity to sit down, reflect and say, Hey, wait a minute. I can actually take a break. I could actually sit down. I don’t have to be in that hustle and grind. For a lot of us, we got to spend really valuable time with our kids that we normally wouldn’t have gotten.

[00:30:32.640] – Speaker 1
Yeah, and I’m not sure about you, but I know even for myself, more time to be introspective and to think through some of the stuff, the mindfulness practices that we’re even talking about are good for all of us, for particularly young people. I think that’s back to the over-programmed, right? Sometimes when you’re bored, it isn’t just about using your creativity and imagination. It’s also time to think about how are you feeling? Where are you at? What’s happening in your life and world? That’s where some of those mindful practices, gratitude, slowing down in silence and quiet and just not having to be stimulated all the time. I think in our modern world, that’s one of the disadvantages is there’s not enough time just being in quiet and stillness and outdoors and actually at any age, just reflecting on who you are, what’s going on in your life, how are you feeling? I think that can be an advantage from actually being bored sometimes, is it gives you a chance to really think on a different level. We all know, as even as parents, the more we’re going, going, going, we’re actually not really thinking through and assessing how we’re feeling or what’s going on.

[00:31:41.780] – Speaker 1
So yeah, I think that’s another part of it, too. I wanted to switch gears and dive a bit more into, like you had mentioned, your colleague Dr. Kang, the creator of Future Ready Minds, there’s this pod methodology. Can you tell us what that? You mentioned it. What is that? Tell us about that.

[00:31:59.820] – Speaker 2
Resilience, collaboration, and innovation is the next step of pod. So pod was the first acronym, and it stands for play, which is that cognitive flexibility. Others, which are social skills, which is that collaboration. And downtime, that’s our resiliency. We’ve got play with the innovation, so we’ve modernized it a little bit now, but each represents that fundamental building block: positive and innovative social, emotional, and cognitive skills.

[00:32:28.010] – Speaker 1
Yeah, okay, that makes a lot of sense. I’m assuming, and you mentioned that it was connected back to a book or something about Dolphins, because that’s where the pod comes into, because don’t dolphins go in pods. Is that right? Am I getting that right?

[00:32:42.450] – Speaker 2
Yes, exactly. Yes, absolutely. This is a collaborative style of dolphins, and the Dolphins balances rules and expectations with autonomy and choice. When we look at different parenting style, the authoritative style versus the dolphin style, versus the dolphin style. There’s the jellyfish, there’s the dolphin, there’s a shark that’s mentioned in the book. We want to be giving kids those skills where they’re self-motivated, they’re adaptive. Their mental health doesn’t take a hit anytime they get a bad grade or their friend stops talking to them. They’re able to perform to the best of their ability on those exams or in those plays or within the sports.

[00:33:28.160] – Speaker 1
I know you said it in passing, but we’re get to resources in a little bit. But was that in a book?

[00:33:33.360] – Speaker 2
Yeah. That was the first book. The Dolphins Parent was the first book by Dr. Shimmy Kang. The second book is called The Tech Solution. That focuses a lot on healthy tech and how can we put in strategies for children when they’ve got all these devices and phones and everything that they now have accessible not only at home, but also in schools.

[00:34:00.520] – Speaker 1
Because.

[00:34:01.190] – Speaker 2
For a lot of kids, they need to come to school with a tablet these days.

[00:34:04.750] – Speaker 1
Well, yeah. This is such an intriguing conversation that I’m like, Oh, I want to read more about the pod methodology. That tech stuff, I think, is fantastic. Our listeners can look that up and get those resources and dive more into what we’re talking about. I wanted to also then shift, because you mentioned earlier about a growth mindset, and I know part of the programming offered through Future Ready Minds is something called Mindset Master and Entrepreneurial Mindsets. Thinking about mindsets and having that like positive I can do it attitude is important for all of us, but I can see why learning it at such an age would be so invaluable. What are some of the positive outcomes of these programs and of having a can-do mindset for kids in general? Do you think most of us are predisposed to having more of a closed mindset? How does our mindset fit into some of these things that we’ve been talking about?

[00:34:59.720] – Speaker 2
When we’re looking at for children, them developing their own identity, okay? For a lot of young kids, it’s like, Well, what do the parents want? A lot of the clients that Dr. Kang had worked with, it was like, Well, we want our kid to be a doctor. We want our kid to be a lawyer. It was almost predetermined what path they were going to take. There was no autonomy. There was no choices like, Well, this is what we’re going to do. With Mindset Masters, that attitude and why it’s so important for kids is it allows them to use their imagination, their creativity, and their skills to actually go to an area where they find it’s beneficial. There’s parts of it which include cognitive restructuring. There’s parts of it that include mindfulness, there’s those positive mental health attitudes such as gratitude and optimism. What are they saying to themselves? What is their self-talk actually look like? If it is negative or if it is mimicking what their teachers or parents are saying, how can they change that so it’s a little bit more optimistic as opposed to pessimistic?

[00:36:09.560] – Speaker 1
Yeah, that’s really great. We’ve talked a little bit about all the stuff that you’ve worked in with Future Ready Minds, and the listeners can go find out more information about it. It’s literally at futurereadyminds. Com, correct? Yeah, that’s correct. There’s all the information on the stuff in. But in your background as a counselor and all the work you’ve done, we’ve talked specifically about some of the programming. When we’re thinking about talking to parents, is there anything else that you, as you navigate families and working with young people that we haven’t covered that you thought, Oh, man, if I was a parent, I’d love to know a bit more about this? Is there anything that you’ve experienced working with young people and kids beyond some of the stuff that we talked about today that you’re like, Man, this would be really helpful for families or parents to know about?

[00:37:00.720] – Speaker 2
We’re moving at a really fast paced right now. I remember when I had my daughter, I was looking up stuff on the internet hours and hours and time that I was spending researching. I never knew what was credible, what was a good review, what was a paid review or whatnot. One of the things that I found that was really, really helpful was going to an actual counselor while I was pregnant. For me, I’m already in this role, so you don’t need a lot to push me into it. But I was just so overwhelmed. I think one of the things is when we put our kids into sports, they’ve got coaches. When we put them into school, their schoolcounselors there. I honestly think whenever there’s an issue growing up, whether it’s time, whether it’s issues within the home, go speak to a professional. It’s not therapy in the sense that you’re dealing with your traumas or what happened to you as a child, but it’s how can we break that cycle? Because if we’re carrying on what our parents taught us or what our grandparents taught us, that might not be the best method. One thing is counselors will always have the latest, the newest tools at their disposal that will help parents.

[00:38:19.550] – Speaker 2
There’s not going to be that trial and error. It’s going to be, let’s come together. For a lot of our clients, we do the sessions with the kids, but we also involve the parents. This is what we did. This is what we need. It’s not just, Hey, fix my child. I’m dropping them off at the door. I’ll be back in 40 minutes. It’s like, No, no, no, you’re coming in. We’re doing this together. That’s great, yeah. This is how we’re going to teach and train and guide parents and to help them be supportive adults in their children’s lives that whenever the child is going through something, they can say, Hey, mom. Hey, dad. Hey, Auntie. This is what I’m going through.

[00:38:58.720] – Speaker 1
Yeah, that’s so great. One of the things I think that’s interesting, even with that, because you talked about seeing counselling, I think as parents, sometimes the anxiety of getting it right as well, too, can well up. And then that impacts how we respond. And so I’ve even learned through my own therapy, sometimes one time there was just something that I texted my therapist because I’ve had a lot of years with her. And I was like, I just need five minutes. This is going on. I don’t want to overreact in my house. Help me. And her advice was brilliant, and it was great. She said, Give me five minutes, and we talked. But she said, This is about your own anxiety. She didn’t even go to the issue I was worried about. She just went right to my own anxiety. And she’s like, Let’s deal with you, because helping you show up is more important than the issue that you’re talking about. And that stuck with me because I was like, Oh, my goodness. Yeah, I can go and I can go to counseling and talk to professionals and we can get all the tools. But half of it is just calming myself down a little bit about…

[00:40:13.440] – Speaker 1
Because it is a big deal to be a parent. We do care about our kids. We want to get it right. But sometimes that can actually work against us as the anxiety and stress comes up. And then we’re not at our best selves because we’re worrying about the outcome of all this stuff and how we show up isn’t great as well. I just remember thinking through that too. That’s another advantage of talking to someone isn’t just the great tools, but you actually can become better versions of yourself too.

[00:40:41.010] – Speaker 2
Absolutely. And that’s why the pod method and the resiliency connection, our collaboration and innovation tools are not just for kids, right? They’re for adults as well. When we look at downtime, What am I doing for my downtime? What’s my coping skill? I’ll be quite honest. September next week, I’ve got anxiety. Because first thing, I’ve got to get two kids ready, make their lunches. I’m thinking, How can I be more effective? How can I be more efficient? I’m just like, No, you just got to breathe. You just got toevery morning is going to be another opportunity, and whatever comes your way, you’re going to handle it. But even for me, I was just like, There’s going to be this period where September is going to be a big rush in our household because it’s the time management skills. I’ve got two young kids and I’m not going to get it right every day and it’s okay for me to make a mistake. Some days I am going to forget the fork in their lunch bag, but they’ll still be okay. It’s reducing that pressure on yourself as parents as well. I feel like over the years, I’ve stopped googling stuff because Google and me don’t have a good relationship, where I look up something, a symptom that they have where it goes from a very large spectrum very quickly, and I’m panicking.

[00:42:05.380] – Speaker 2
It’s like, Okay, I’m going to trust my intuition, and I’m going to go to those resources that I have, whether it’s family or friends, and I’m going to lean on my own expertise as a parent. Because as parents, we always want to do the right thing. But sometimes it’s like, What’s the best thing that we can do at this moment?

[00:42:24.580] – Speaker 1
Yeah. Well, I’m just putting this all together, too, because for parents, if you take what we’ve talked about earlier today around innovation, collaboration, and resilience, that’s just as important for us as parents, or teachers, or youth workers, whoever we are when we work with young people, how are we building resilience for our… Finding those times to get off of technology and to practice gratitude and mindfulness and collaboration. I think sometimes as parents, we get so into doing what we do, we forget about our own friendships and the relationships that we have that are so good for us. And even around innovation, we can just get stuck in our own thing and go, How are we being creative? And again, not just practicing it as a model for kids, but so that we keep becoming the future-ready minds ourselves and the better version of ourselves to combat our own parents. Being a parent can be a lonely, anxious, and you want to talk about perfectionism with social media. Now the pressure to be the right parent and to have the right snacks for kids and to do all the TikToks that all the everybody else is doing, that can rise too for us as well.

[00:43:40.610] – Speaker 1
Absolutely. I think these are great tools for us as parents as well. Can you do you maybe speak more? Because that was just me talking. Can you see that too? Is it a gift for parents in the midst of this?

[00:43:53.180] – Speaker 2
Oh, absolutely. We do have many clients that are moms that are like, I’m just anxious. I’m so anxious because it’s the pressures from other moms or with the dads. It’s like, Well, I got to get my kids. I’ve got to be able to afford this and the newest technology, the newest games and whatnot. There is a lot of pressure on parents. When we’re talking about any of these skills, you want to be that role model for your kids. It’s not like giving them the skills and say, Hey, go do your downtime skills, or go have a check-in with yourself and see how you’re feeling. We have to do that as well.

[00:44:29.860] – Speaker 1
Yeah, it’s so true. Well, Jas, we’ve had some great conversations. Just maybe as we’re wrapping up a couple of things, what are some resources, opportunities? We’ve talked about future ready minds. You’ve given us a couple of books. Any other resources or things? You talked about going to experts and places like that. Anything you can think of that you could suggest to parents who are wanting to engage more on these topics that we talked about?

[00:44:59.590] – Speaker 2
Yeah. We’ve got a list of resources. We’ve got a newsletter as well that comes up. We won’t spam you. We only do it a couple of times a year, but with links and webinars, and we constantly share webinars. That’s the beauty of living in this globalized world where we can attend a webinar in another province now via Zoom. We have a shortlist of resources on our website available that are completely free. You can click and download that have the tools as to, well, what is healthy tech and what are some of these skills? We’ve got our GetSparky app, which have some of the downtime tools on it as well as the deep breathing. One of the things that I would suggest for people is looking at your local resources in your community as well. Depending on where you live in the world, what is already being done in that area? And if it is an educator or somebody that’s a counselor or works in the school district, we’ve got a lot of resources for teachers as well that we’d be happy to share with them.

[00:46:05.110] – Speaker 1
That’s awesome. Thanks for sharing that. Maybe just in wrapping up, I’m wondering if you have any final thoughts, words of encouragement of parents who are listening and going, Okay, this is all great, but you don’t know where I’m at. I’m in over my head, or This is really challenging, or just parents who are doing really well. Any words of encouragement or final thoughts you want to share with our listeners as we wrap up?

[00:46:29.180] – Speaker 2
I think for parents just to be patient and compassionate with themselves, that’s one thing that that stress and that pressure, a lot of it is our own high expectations that we put on ourselves. Really look and reevaluate some of your values and say, Okay, what is the worst-case scenario? What is the worst thing that could happen? But what’s the best thing that can happen out of this situation as well? Because a lot of the times when we’re stressed, we’re wanting to meet the multiple demands, but if we’re putting too many demands on ourselves, then our problem, solving a problem is going to be very unrealistic. Taking a good look at, do you practice some of these skills? Are you patient with yourself? Are you compassionate with yourself? Do you express gratitude? A lot of the times it’s looking within to see, like your therapist says, is it the kid’s problem or is it more your problem? One of the things that I always say to parents, it’s okay to make a mistake. I think that’s really stuck with me. I’m not going to get this right, but I’m going to always try my best to continuously learn.

[00:47:37.390] – Speaker 2
It’s okay if I make mistakes. I have my kid’s best interest at heart, but I’m not always going to be that top mom that has it all together with the bento lunch boxes and the DIYs all ready for fall already. I’m okay with that.

[00:47:55.590] – Speaker 1
That’s awesome. Thank you for sharing that. I know even as parents are listening, they’re like, What? To box this for lunch. How come I didn’t think of that?

[00:48:02.110] – Speaker 2
I know.

[00:48:03.430] – Speaker 1
Don’t google it. Yeah, don’t. Well, there’s some lot of helpful things you’ve shared, Jas, but not googling things is a good one for sure. But thank you so much. Look, I love what you’re doing and the work that you’ve done and really appreciate the insight that you’ve provided today. I’m so thankful for that and for the conversation. I was scribbling notes down beside me and I know there’s stuff that I’m going to think particularly around resilience and collaboration and innovation. I thank you so much for the time you’ve given us and the insights and all the best in your continued work as you make a difference in the lives of families and young people.

[00:48:42.000] – Speaker 2
Thank you so much. It was great chatting with you today, Chris.

About the Author

Chris Tompkins is the CEO of Muskoka Woods. He holds a degree in Kinesiology from the University of Guelph, a teacher’s college degree from the University of Toronto and a Master’s degree in Youth Development from Clemson University. His experience leading in local community, school, church and camp settings has spanned over 20 years. His current role and expertise generates a demand for him to speak with teens and consult with youth leaders. Chris hosts the Muskoka Woods podcast, Shaping Our World where he speaks with youth development experts. He is an avid sports fan who enjoys an afternoon with a big cup of coffee and a good book. Chris resides in Stouffville, Ontario with his wife and daughter.
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