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Is School a Choice?

By: Mary Leadem Ticiu, Assistant Principal District 834, Guest Author


School has begun and questions arise related to “What should I wear, who will be my friends, how many notebooks do I need, who will they assign as my teacher, and why do I really need to go to school?” These questions reflect excitement and, for some, anxiety. The experiences of the child’s past often lead them to question what the school year will bring. Questions pose a wonderful opportunity for parents and guardians to talk about the choices we all make. I would like to consider what it means when students choose – or rather “refuse” – to go to school. If this happens, families and friends have the responsibility to listen, explain ramifications in a meaningful way, and support what is the underlying unmet need in a non-punitive manner.

As an assistant principal, you may think I am crazy letting a school-age child have an open dialogue about choosing attendance. However, there can be no choice without consequences. School is an educational pathway, like a golden ticket of greater value than a trip to Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. If we allow for the discussion of choice then we can hear what is intended by the child’s questioning, resistance, and outright refusal to attend.

Research provides us with reams of evidence of the need to attend school, learn for life and project a positive trajectory into a career of military service, mission work, technical school or college. Attendance is an early indicator of invaluable soft skills and the traits of success in the workplace. Choosing not to be a student will have a severe cause and effect in short term and long-term goals. The choice, in this case, may have negative consequences.

Why then do kids balk, refuse, resist and feel a compelling urge to skip or even quit? They know it is wrong, against the rules, not in their best interest and illegal. I believe many students simply want to make their own choices. And we as adults are obligated to get in the way of their potential failure and help them succeed. We must remember our own imperfections and trials and then lead them to a good place where they choose school each and every day.

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13 Things Parents Should Know About 13 Reasons Why

By: Rochelle Kruszka, M.A., LAMFT
Youth & Family Therapist, YSB

13 Reasons Why is a new, popular series on Netflix based on the Jay Asher novel by the same name. The series is centered around a high school student, Hannah Baker, who dies by suicide. Hannah leaves cassette tapes behind to let others know what were her “reasons” why she chose suicide, and what the individuals did to contribute to her death. There are some positive aspects of this show, but I also have many concerns about how suicide is depicted in this series.

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10 Tips to Prevent Teen Chemical Use

As parents, we want our children to lead healthy, happy, and productive lives. We know that alcohol and other drug use can be a barrier to children transitioning successfully into adulthood.

So what can we do to prevent our kids from using drugs?

Obviously there is no sure-fire way to ensure our kids will never touch a drug in their teen years – or even in their lifetime. However, here are 10 things parents and caregivers CAN do that have been shown to minimize that worrisome possibility:

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Adolescent Mental Health: 14 Ways to Support Your Teen

I received a phone call this past winter from a parent who had attended one of my workshops a few weeks before.

“Dr. Walsh, I definitely feel like I know a lot more about what is going on inside my daughter’s brain after your workshop. But I have to say that it feels like my daughter is a lot more extreme.

“What do you mean? Can you give me some examples?” I responded.

“Oh all kinds of things. She just doesn’t seem like herself. I get it that all teens are tired and grumpy sometimes, but my daughter never wants to get out of bed anymore. For anything! She seems so down, isn’t eating well, and doesn’t want to see any of her friends. This started at the beginning of the school year and that was two months ago! I am getting nervous that this isn’t just normal teenage stuff.”

“You are right that the adolescent brain is subject to rapid mood shifts and bouts of the blues.” I said. “But I am glad that you called. A sad mood that descends and never lifts is a sign that something else might be going on.”

Here are tips to: distinguish the “normal” from the “abnormal”, stamp out stigma, and take the next steps:

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Help your family THRIVE through the holidays!

The holidays are fast approaching; and with them the joy and the stress they bring. mistletoe

Some years it seems the joy diminishes and the stress increases as the busy-ness of the times get in the way of the family fun.

Here are some thoughts on increasing the joy and decreasing the stress.

Focus on Connection. Not Perfection.

While it’s fun to show off our cooking skills, our wrapping skills, our decorating skills, etc., the effort we put into achieving perfection can result in less time and energy for connecting with those we love. And really, isn’t the connection what matters?

One way to make the connection front and center is to have family discussions. Sit with your whole family (especially children and teens) and talk about the upcoming holidays. Have the first discussion at the beginning of the school break before things get really busy. Ask your children what makes the holidays the most fun. If your family isn’t practiced at this type of question it might be uncomfortable to ask your kids about what they like best about the family time, and it may seems down-right weird to them to be asked. That’s why as parents we need to have the patience to sit with our kids as they come up with any answer or non-answer to get us to go away. Stick with them. They do have opinions on this.

Once you know what truly matters to your whole family focus on that. If needed, decide as a family what extras can be eliminated to give a more relaxed pace to the whole school vacation schedule. Say “no” to one event? Buy a pie instead of making one? Skip the holiday cards this year? Focus on the stressors you can control. The more rested and relaxed the family feels, the better you all will be able to deal with the stressors out of your control.

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Bullying: What it is and What You Can Do

By: Crystal Gentry, LSC, District Homeless Liaison, South Washington County School District
(as shared through Washington County’s CONNECT Collaborative)

As we start the month of October, the topic of bullying comes up (especially in schools), as October is National Bullying Prevention Month. One of the most common and complicated aspects regarding bullying is what exactly is bullying? As a school counselor, I hear the word “bully” get used a lot, but it is important to recognize the difference between bullying and conflict. Conflict is a normal part of life, and learning how to handle conflict appropriately will help give students the proper tools they need to be successful.

Normal Peer Conflict Bullying
Equal power; friends Imbalance of power; not friends
Happens occasionally Repeated negative actions
Accidental On Purpose
Not Serious Serious with threat of physical or emotional harm
Equal emotional reaction Strong emotional reaction from victim, and little or no emotional reaction from bully
Not seeking power or attention Seeking power, control, or material things
Not trying to get something Attempt to gain material things or power
Remorse – will take responsibility No remorse – blames victim
Effort to solve the problem No effort to solve the problem

 

What to Do if Your Child is Being Bullied

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3 Ways to Keep Kids Safe (and Kind) Online

As part of its Internet & American Life Project, in 2011 the Screen shot 2016-05-24 at 4.21.17 PMPew Research Center conducted a survey on teens’ experiences of online cruelty. The survey revealed some interesting information about how teens and parents are communicating about online experiences.

According to the survey:
  • 58% of teen Internet and cell phone users say their parents have been the biggest influence on what they think is appropriate or inappropriate when using the Internet or a cell phone.
  • Of the teens that reported witnessing or experiencing online cruelty, only 36% sought advice from parents for how to handle it, whereas 53% reached out to a peer. Younger teen girls (ages 12-13) were more likely to rely on friends and peers for advice than older girls.
  • While most parents do talk with their teens about safe and risky online behavior, only about half of parents utilize parental controls to manage their child’s online experiences, and only 34% use parental controls to restrict cell phone usage. (94% have talked with their teens about what should and should not be shared online; 93% have talked about internet and cell phone safety; 87% have talked with their child about what he or she does on the internet.)

So what can parents do to help keep their kids safe (and kind) online?

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E-Cigarettes and the FDA

On Thursday, May 5, the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) finalized a rule that will extend its authority to all tobacco products – including e-cigarettes. What does this mean? First of all, there will now be FEDERAL laws prohibiting retailers from selling e-cigarettes to people under 18. Before this ruling, each state had its own rules (in Minnesota, the age requirement was still 18).

Secigs2econd of all, the FDA will now be able to prevent misleading claims about e-cigarettes by evaluating their ingredients and how they are made. The FDA will also share the potential risks of e-cigarettes and tobacco products.

In the coming months, all e-cigarette manufacturers will be required to show that their products “meet the applicable health standards” set by the FDA – this includes revealing their ingredients, product design, health risks, and appeal to youth and non-users.

More research needs to be done on e-cigarettes, but the research that has been done shows that e-cigarettes may contain a mix of harmful chemicals that can lead to short- and long-term health effects, and that many e-cigarettes contain varying levels of nicotine (even if they claim to be nicotine-free). These new FDA regulations hope to protect us from these and other potential dangers of e-cigarettes.

Although the rule goes into effect in 90 days, the FDA expects that it may take up to 2 years for all manufacturers to submit their products for approval, during which time they will continue to sell. In the meantime, parents – we encourage you to continue to have discussions with your kids about the harmful effects of e-cigarettes.

For more information, visit http://www.fda.gov/NewsEvents/Newsroom/PressAnnouncements/ucm499234.htm

13 Tips for Parenting Your Teen

13 Tips for Parenting Your Teen
By: Elinor Robin, PhD

This article originally appeared on http://www.huffingtonpost.com/elinor-robin-phd/13-tips-for-parenting-you_b_8677476.html?utm_hp_ref=parents-teens

Teenager-s-Problem-14104My mother would say that being a parent is the hardest job on the planet. Certainly it’s the only job you can’t quit or get fired from. And, there’s no pay — at least not in actual money. Instead, the way parenting works is that you, the parent, pour yourself into the universe surrounding this little being for about twenty years. Slowly, he or she hatches out of the environment you created, and goes on to do things his or her own way. If you see his way as a rejection or diminishing of what you believe is best and true, parenting may become your most frustrating life experience. On the other hand, parenting can be a very rewarding experience if you accept (even when you don’t agree with) your child and her decisions. This acceptance can be especially difficult during your child’s teenage years. Here are thirteen tips to make it easier to parent your teen.

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