color-border

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.

Read More

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.

Read More

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:

Read More

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:

Read More

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.

Read More

Suicide Prevention: We All Play a Role

By: Emily Johnson, Youth and Family Therapist, & Sarah Holmboe, Parent Education Coordinator, at Youth Service Bureau

 

Screen shot 2016-04-19 at 11.45.24 AM

September is Suicide Prevention Month and a great time to review the risk factors for suicide and what we can all do to help. While having a mental illness (such as depression or anxiety) can be a risk factor for death by suicide, suicides typically happen in moments of crisis. A suicide attempt is often an impulsive decision that young people turn to when they feel a breakdown in their ability to deal with their stress, mood, or perceived hopelessness.

According to the World Health Organization, over 800,000 people die due to suicide every year, and is the second leading cause of death among 15-29-year-olds. Fortunately, all of us can play a role in preventing suicide. Here are some things we can do to help prevent suicide and offer hope and support to those suffering:

Read More

Myth vs. Fact: Underage Drinking

beer image
By: Sarah Holmboe, M.A., YSB Parent Education Coordinator
and Michael Huntley, M.A., LP, YSB Youth and Family Therapist

With the growing popularity of drugs such as marijuana and e-cigarettes, underage alcohol consumption in Washington County tends to be overlooked. However, it’s still very much a problem. According to 2013 Minnesota Student Survey data, 15{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} of 11th-grade males and 15{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} of 11th-grade females in Washington County reported consuming an alcoholic beverage one or two days out of the month.

Part of the solution to this problem is educating both youth and parents about the risks of underage drinking. In YSB’s Chemical Awareness Programs, we discuss a variety of perspectives from youth and parents regarding chemical use- including underage alcohol consumption. These are important conversations, especially as we find many decisions are made based on myths, versus facts.

So how many do you know? Here are some myths some parents may believe about underage drinking, along with some facts about what’s happening in Minnesota.

Read More

Pokémon Go: What Parents Need to Know

You may have been hearing a lot about a new game/app called Pokémon Go. Based on the popular trading card, video game, and television series, this app allows users to find, capture, train, and battle Pokémon around their very own neighborhoods!

Pokemon Go 2Pokemon Go 1Pokemon Go Screenshot

How does it work? It’s a free mobile app download for both Apple and Android devices. The game uses both your phone’s GPS and augmented reality (where images are superimposed onto your view of the real world, through your device) to allow users to “see” Pokémon around their real-world location. Here are some examples of what the game looks like.

Throughout the game, as users find and catch more Pokémon, they can visit real-world “PokéStops” and Gyms where you can find items for your Pokémon and train them for battle with other users. These locations could be parks, landmarks, libraries, or even street signs!

Even though the game has only been around for a few weeks, it’s already extremely popular with young adults and youth alike.

Should you be worried if your child is suddenly addicted to Pokémon Go? Here are some pros and cons to keep in mind:

Read More

YSB Helps Parents Protect Youth on Social Media

Washington County youth are increasingly exposed to victimization from adult sex offenders, both in person and online.

social mediaYou may have read a recent Woodbury Bulletin article which highlighted this issue. Most recently, a Stillwater Junior High student was the target of an online sex offender. Even though they never met in person, the offender victimized the student over the phone and online over the course of many months.

The County Attorney’s office is working hard through a major crimes unit to find and bring perpetrators to justice, but this alone will not ebb the “supply and demand” situation they face.

For forty years, Youth Service Bureau has stayed true to its mission: to help youth and families learn the skills they need to be more successful at home, in school and throughout the community.

And in the age of Social Media, YSB strives to ensure youth and parents have access to the knowledge and tools needed to protect against those who would exploit vulnerable youth.

Through our Parent Education program, YSB professionals build skills and awareness, providing parents the tools to:

  • Proactively talk to their teens about online safety, such as making safe choices and taking a cautious approach in online interactions
  • Gain knowledge which leads to action, such as knowing when to seek mental health support for their child, or reporting suspicious activity to local authorities
  • Strengthen relationships with their children and open lines of communication so youth feel safe discussing difficult topics with their parents, from chemical use to mental health, and coming forward when they have been the victim of psychological, emotional or physical abuse

YSB’s Parent Education Program offers reliable, up-to-date resources on a wide range of topics, including our Social Media webinar series, eNewsletter, and online resources with articles from YSB staff.

Through YSB Speakers Bureau events, our professional staff engage parents, caregivers, and school staff in small and large group settings, panel presentations, and even Lunch and Learns at local businesses to provide parents with direct learning opportunities, as well as the ability to get straightforward answers and support for the increasingly difficult challenges families face in our digital age.

Your support ensures YSB’s focused resources will reach families and impact a truly critical issue in our community.

Find out how to schedule or sponsor Speakers Bureau events here:

Speakers Bureau

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{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} 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{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} sought advice from parents for how to handle it, whereas 53{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} 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{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} use parental controls to restrict cell phone usage. (94{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} have talked with their teens about what should and should not be shared online; 93{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} have talked about internet and cell phone safety; 87{a64e5c7e062cd1e4e2f9421eef92c66acc8bb07332f04d4f529edfa6a926861d} 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?

Read More