Resource Corner

September/October 2021

Resources and info to help your family navigate the tricky world of technology. Click the arrows below to learn about each topic. 

The school counseling team knows firsthand how challenging it is to navigate the world of technology with our youth.  We know that in order to guide our youth effectively, we must partner with all adults who are monitoring and modeling appropriate technology use.  We often break it down by asking students these three questions:  How is it helpful?  How is it hurtful? How are we going to handle it?  These questions can also be applied to our own self-reflection regarding technology and social media. Are we modeling appropriate limits?  Are we practicing the pause before pressing send or post?  Are we being intentional with connecting to our kiddos and being truly present with them?  Are we getting curious with our kids on what it is like for them to handle this world that we did not have to navigate at their age?  In this ever-changing world of technology we are connected to people, places and things by the click/touch of a few things.  This has led us to be disconnected in so many other ways.  Unfortunately, we see how this plays out in a negative way with the youth and families we serve.  Here are a few resources that you might find helpful, as you continue to educate yourself on how to handle this world of technology.  Please know you are not alone in these efforts.  The school counseling team appreciates an open dialogue with caregivers on how we can partner together.  It is time to get curious on what this means for our youth and how we can help guide them in a healthy manner.  We are in this together and need each other to take on this challenge.  Please connect with the school counselor that supports your school for questions, concerns or ideas.  We appreciate you!  

Get device reviews, app reviews, the latest on parental controls, informative best practices, and family guides to help keep your family on track for success in the digital arena

Digital Training – Wait Until 8th

Get reviews for what your kids are into (before they get into it.) Common Sense Media creates aged-based reviews with families in mind. 

Common Sense Media

 

 

Child. Sex. Trafficking. These three words should never be used in the same sentence, much less be a reality for many of the world’s most vulnerable. This video, and the resources found at love146.org/caregivers will help you understand the realities of human trafficking, spot vulnerabilities, and help support your own child’s safety. This conversation is to helping children feel empowered to protect themselves and open up about their fears, vulnerabilities, and experiences of abuse and exploitation. Our children need to know we’re listening and that we care. As a caregiver, your voice and understanding in this process is irreplaceable. 

Watch “Love Listens- Parents Can Help Prevent Child Trafficking”

JULY/AUGUST 2021

Resources and info to help your kid/s and family adjust to new routines as we head into a new school year! Click the arrows below to learn about each topic. 

Being apart from caregivers can be tough on kids, but it doesn’t necessarily mean it is a bad thing. Check out this infographic from Dr. Deborah McNamara with suggestions to help “hold the distance”.

When Saying Goodbye is Hard – 20 Ways to Bridge the Daytime Separation

“All learning begins with connection! Connections on the outside (with other people) actually create and strengthen neural connections within the brain.” Learn more with this helpful guide from  Conscious Discipline!

Four Elements of Connection

 

It is likely there might be a variety of emotions and levels of excitement about the new school year launching.  Here are some basic tips to make it a little smoother, no matter how “groovy” school is for your child(ren).  If you have any questions or would like further information, please reach out to Michelle Frossard at mfrossard@stecharities.org

A routine lets a child know what to expect.

A routine provides them with a sense that life is predictable.

A routine is calming, providing a child with a sense of security.

 

MAPing Routines – Creating a map for your kids

  • Model
  • Add Visuals
  • PracticePage Content

Every family needs routines. They help to organize life and keep it from becoming too chaotic. Children do best when routines are regular, predictable, and consistent.  One of a family’s greatest challenges is to establish comfortable, effective routines.

While having routines and structure are wonderful, this does not mean that they have to be rigid and inflexible. Routines work best when you have flexibility built in. Life is often unpredictable, sometimes life just gets in the way of life!

The best way however to help children adjust to an occasional bump in the road is to stay relaxed about it yourself. Your children are watching everything you do and say, you are modeling for them (whether you realize it or not) how to handle change and deal with stress. If you are comfortable with the occasional bump in the road, your children will be as well!

So relax and go with the flow!

Change takes time, effort and consistency. Remember to praise effort, not results (as in your child making the effort to get themselves dressed, never mind that the clothing may be on backwards and inside out!).

Keep your focus on what is going well in your routine, not what isn’t. Be sure to bring attention to your children when they make an effort and you will boost their self-esteem and inspire them to try even harder. 

As a parent, review the routines in your household to ensure that they accomplish what you want. Here are some tips from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP). 

Weekday Mornings:

 

To make the household function well in the morning, everyone needs to know what has to be done to get ready for the day. Try the following:

  • Put as many things in order as possible the night before.
  • Keep wake-up routines calm and not emotionally charged. A chaotic start to the day often carries with them into school.  Please don’t hesitate to reach out to your school counselor if your student(s) may benefit from a check and connect, if the morning has been rough.
  • Be sure your child eats breakfast, even if he or she is not hungry in the morning. See breakfast ideas below.
  • Finally, have a goodbye routine. A simple hug and a wave as he or she heads out the door or slides out of the car are extremely important. They will give your child a positive feeling with which to begin the day’s activities. 

Breakfast-Made-Easier Tips for Parents

 

Whether you opt for a simple breakfast or a more elaborate one, any effort to make it nutritious is better than no breakfast at all.

  • Schedule accordingly.While sitting down and sharing family meals is beneficial, sitting down to a leisurely breakfast with your kids each morning simply isn’t realistic for most of you. What is realistic, however, is making sure you carve out enough time to allow your child to eat without pressure.
  • Fix breakfast before bedtime. In other words, plan ahead. As with just about all other aspects of feeding your child, a little advance planning can go a long way toward having a wider range of healthy foods on hand. Simple examples such as hard-boiling eggs ahead of time or having your child’s favorite cold cereal dished out the night before to pair with some pre-sliced fresh fruit can mean the difference between time for a balanced breakfast and running out the door without it (or, as is often the case, with some commercially packaged and far less nutritious alternative in hand).
  • Grab-and-go breakfasts. If the reality of your schedule is such that you and your kids routinely run out the door with no time to spare in the morning, then try stocking up on a variety of nutritious foods that you can prepare and prepackage for healthier grab-and-go convenience. In addition to hard-boiled eggs, consider other fast favorites like sliced apples, yogurt, homemade muffins, or a bagel with low-fat cream cheese.
  • Make sure sleep is on the menu. Applying the age-old adage, make sure your child is early enough to bed that she rises early enough to allow time for breakfast. No matter what their age, tired kids tend to be cranky, and cranky kids are far less likely to sit down for a well-balanced breakfast. Not only that, but sleep has proven itself to be a crucial ingredient in children’s overall health.
  • Broaden your horizons. You’ll certainly want to keep safety in mind when figuring out what’s age-appropriate to offer your child for breakfast, but don’t let yourself be constrained by artificially imposed labels to determine what is good to serve for a morning meal. Think protein, think fruits and vegetables, and think outside the box when it comes to expanding your breakfast horizons beyond just breakfast cereals and milk. Many breakfast choices contain high sugar, which can add to difficulties with focus and attention. 

Afterschool

  • Consider basic needs when your child gets home. Fuel for the body, possibly some movement opportunties and a moment of connection are important. 
  • Reinforce independence by determining what your child is capable of doing on their own. Visual checklist help students as they are learning organizational and time management skills.
  • “First Things First” mentality is recommended. School work is priority over extracurricular, but talk with your older children about ideas.  (Ex:  Student who performs better in the early morning may do better waking up early versus staying up late).
  • Week at a glance and then one day at a time.
  • Use of planner and other organizational tools are encouraged. You are helping to develop these skills when you discuss your own ways you stay organized and able to meet deadlines. 

 

 

Healthy Sleep Hygiene

The process of going to sleep is highly dependent upon behaviors, and disruptions in your bedtime routine may lead to difficulty falling asleep, insomnia. Children and adults alike need to mentally prepare to go to sleep with ritualized behaviors. By engaging in specific activities, we can better make this transition and improve our rest. Discover some of the best sleep rituals and bedtime routines that will help you to sleep, including reading, listening to music, or taking a bath.

Sleep Is a Behavior

Sleep is certainly a physiological process—a chance for rest that conserves energy and an opportunity to process memories and improve learning—but it is also a behavior. In a very real sense, our bodies can ​learn to sleep well, and we can also learn to sleep poorly. Our body follows a natural circadian rhythm, and by keeping a consistent sleep schedule, we can reinforce this. As part of better sleep guidelines, we can make other choices—including establishing a bedtime routine—that likewise improve our sleep patterns.

How We Benefit From Bedtime Routines

Sleep rituals prior to going to bed allow for us to unwind and mentally prepare for going to sleep. Sleep is a quiet, relaxing activity, so it doesn’t make much sense to try to transition to that directly from something that is quite the opposite. Our bodies don’t do well with abrupt changes. Quiet sleep rituals help ease this transition, preparing us mentally and physically for sleep.

Recommended Sleep Rituals

Sleep rituals should include quiet activities in the brief period before bedtime. How much time you spend unwinding may vary.  If your kiddos fall asleep immediately on most nights, you may not need much time to transition. However, if your children struggle with falling asleep, a longer period of sleep ritual might be helpful.  In general 30 minutes is sufficient, but as you transition to your new routine you can anticipate more time needed.

What sleep rituals should be part of your kiddos bedtime routine? These will vary and depend largely on personal preference.  Overly stimulating activities, such as aerobic exercise, doing work, using a computer, playing video games, or watching stimulating television may disrupt their sleep habits.  It is recommended that overstimulating activities should be avoided 30 to 60 minutes before bedtime.  For kiddos with electronic devices, consider having a docking station outside of their bedrooms.  Some relaxing options before bed would include reading, warm bath or shower, listening to relaxing music, prayer/reflection, journaling etc. Check out sleep recommendations by age group and other helpful information by visiting the National Sleep Foundation website .

Please know we are here to support and brainstorm additional ideas with you and your family.  These are general tips, but does not encompass all that you might desire to put into place to have a “groovy” year! 

You are not alone, we are here.

Your St. Elizabeth Catholic Charities School Counseling Team

Tips for Caregivers

One of our children’s most basic needs is a stable connection to their caregivers. Critical to their emotional health is this feeling of connectedness to us, which enables them to feel loved, understood and wanted.

Here are three important moments in our children’s days that can be used to make a huge investment in our relationships with them, the payoff of which is emotionally healthy children and strong family relationships.

Upon Waking

When your children wake each day it is your first opportunity for connection. It is at this time that our children are going through their first transition of the day – from sleeping to awake and all the business of the day. Five minutes of connection at this time of day can transform your morning! By starting the day with connection, our children are so much more likely to be co-operative and able to connect with others. This time of day can be a difficult time for many families and present as a chaotic time of the day.  It takes a lot of conscious effort on the caregivers’ part to make it a calm moment of connection opportunity. 

Here are some ideas for connecting in the morning:

  • Make eye contact first thing. Look your child in the eye, and let them know they are important to you.
  • Use their name. Greet your child warmly, “Good morning, Mary! How did you sleep?”
  • Hug. Start the day with physical contact! Brain research shows that after 20 seconds of a full embrace through a hug, your body begins to secrete oxytocin. This is the powerful love hormone that helps us feel bonded to others.  So, offering a 30 second hug to your child every morning can do wonders for connection.  Brain research also shows benefits to receiving 8-12 servings of hugs a day. 

 

At the end of their school day or your work day and/or dinner time

Being excited to see your child at the end of their school day can do wonders for connection.  Be intentional with this moment and use it has an opportunity to reconnect after a busy day.  It is very easy to finish a work call or be preoccupied with other areas of life when you connect back with you child and lose this opportunity to connect.  Be mindful that they notice this and show them you are crazy about them.  This shows them they are your priority.  Your nonverbal cues showing care and concern do wonders.  Speaking of wonders…wonder a bit.  Explore with them their day from a place of curiosity.  Even if it was a tough day for them it is ok to ask “I wonder what that was like for you.”  Being a curious parent is recommended for all ages of children.  Try to avoid a lot of closed ended questions and using the word why.  Be curious and give them space to share. 

Meal Times

Meal times can be a great time to have a positive connection.  It is recommended to not use this time to discuss any areas of concern.  Keeping it positive and a time to reconnect is advised.  Individual conversations might be needed at another time if there are areas of concern that need to be addressed.  The Columbia study identified that three meals in a week shared by a family shows a positive trend in a child’s nutritional and emotional health.  It also suggests that 5-7 meals (breakfast, lunch or dinner) a week has the greatest benefit in teen and family health. 

 

Bedtime

Wrapping up the day with a moment of connection with your child(ren) is very meaningful.  You might even find that laying shoulder to shoulder with the lights out helps your teenager open up about life (you might find this true with car rides and walks one on one with your teen as well).  You might also find that a bedtime ritual that is positive and allows for a moment of connection leads to less frustration at bedtime.  This 10 minute investment of your time can provide them a safe time to express their emotions, share a story together, say a prayer or anything else that will allow for the end of their day to be one of connectedness and feelings of love.  Ending the day with a hug is not a bad idea, since we need 8-12 servings of hugs a day. 

 

If you have any questions about anything above or would like more information, please contact Michelle Frossard at mfrossard@stecharities.org