Protecting Teens Online & The Apps that Help You Do It!

Hello,

I believe a helpful discussion for this month involves keeping our students safe online. It’s no surprise that our kids are plugged in to so much these days. It seems week to week I’m hearing about a new social network or app. It can be very hard as a parent to monitor our children’s behaviors online, but there are applications for phones that help you do just that. Below is an article that provides helpful statistics (for example: did you know that 90% of children have seen cyber-bullying in the past year, according to an 2011 study?? I wonder if that statistics are higher now that more and more children are gaining online access…) as well as information about free/cost-effective apps for monitoring your child.

http://www.ksl.com/?sid=27523504

Take good care,

Brittany Montgomery, LMSW

Form your Goals, Create a Vision

Since we are on the topic of forming goals in a “S.M.A.R.T.” way, let’s also talk about creating a vision. Visions are future oriented. We are striving to see ourselves in a particular light with a long-view. Something that I encourage my students to create from time to time is a Vision Board. Not only is it a fun activity, but it gives the student the opportunity to piece together their dreams and goals themselves. Vision boards also help as a daily self-reminder about what you’re reaching toward academically, socially, or in any area of life. Below is an article from You Matter, a non-profit organization promoting awareness of positive self-care. Let me know your thoughts!

 

How to Make a Vision Board: The Coolest Way to Turn Your Vision into Reality

My Vision BoardVision boards are everywhere, in offices, workshops and countless Pinterest groups dedicated to them but what exactly is a vision board and how does it work? When I decided to put my own board together I ran into these questions and more. A vision board is basically a visual representation of goals you want to accomplish for yourself.  My board is filled with photos and phrases of things I’d like to work on doing this year (like writing a book) including the intangibles like being more positive, represented by a picture of a woman simply laughing. While each one differs from person to person a vision board helps to organize and sketch out individual goals in a creative way. To make my board I grabbed a stack of old magazines, (newspapers work fine too)and cut out all the photos that symbolize things I want. For my goal to be more organized I found a photo of a neat, clutter free closet and for my goal to do more traveling I found pictures of places I want to visit. And now I have everything I need to accomplish my goals, right?

“Vision without action is a dream. Action without vision is simply passing time. Action with vision is making a positive difference.”- Joel Barker

In other words, we need more than just a vision to make our dreams a reality. Pictures may be worth a thousand words but it’s the actions that count. I like my vision board a lot— it’s me in picture. But how do you translate your vision into action?

When I started researching vision boards I came across many with great ideas for putting one together but few on how to execute them. That’s where the “action” portion of the board begins! From my experience creating a board I came up with these four tips to make sure your board doesn’t become just another photo collage:Be realistic.

While you might have tons of goals in mind life my have other unexpected plans in mind. Do you have a plan to buy your first car, is the price reasonable? Do you have second choice just in case?

Focus

FocusIt can be exciting to pick photos of the things you want but it can also make it hard to decide which to choose, leading to a board with too many photos and clutter. There’s no set number of pictures when making your board but you should include enough that it effectively displays your goals and dreams without confusion.

 

 

 

Write it down

Write it downI recommend using a small tablet for jotting down steps for accomplishing each goal from start to finish. Remember your board is merely a reminder, it’s more effective to plot out goals in bite-size steps to be successful.

 

 

 

 

Have fun

Have FunIt’s your dreams and goals and that means you control how they unfold! Be sure to place your vision board in someplace visible that you visit often and put those steps you create into action.

– See more at: http://www.youmatter.suicidepreventionlifeline.org/2014/02/25/how-to-make-a-vision-board-the-coolest-way-to-turn-your-vision-into-reality/#sthash.UGfHsY3Y.dpuf

Reach Your SMART Goals this School Year!

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SMART GOALS

 

Welcome to a new school year, everyone! I hope every student is off to a great start. I thought it would be appropriate to write about setting goals and achieving them by using simple steps since we are beginning a new year. Here are some tips that your student might find helpful in succeeding their academic and/or personal goals using “SMART” Format. By using each letter of the SMART Format (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound), you are creating the path to meeting your goal.

1) Be Specific! –  Make your goal well-defined. For example, don’t just say “I want to make good grades”. Be more clear in your goal. A more specific statement might be “I want to pass all my classes and make at least 2 A’s “. See the difference? Very specific goals help you and others to know what direction you plan to go.

2) Measurable- How will you know when your goal has been achieved?: Making your goals “measurable” means measuring progress towards your goal. This can be a bit difficult because academic goals are often measured using report cards and progress reports. However, you can measure academic progress in home too.  For example, if a student’s goal is to “Pass all classes and make at least 2 A’s by end of the Semester”, you may want to start a log of them studying at home each night for 30 minutes or attending tutoring each week.  

**Links to some organizational tools and goal sheets are at the bottom of this post**

3) Attainable- Is this goal a realistic option for you?: I believe every student can succeed in their goals and I place a big emphasis on building upon strengths. Nevertheless, it is important to know if the goal you are setting is something that can be achieved within the time given. For example, it would not be too realistic for someone to say “I want to become a famous basketball player by the end of the year”. A more realistic and easier goal may be, “I want to join the basketball team this year and work toward playing in the NBA in the future”. Another example of an “Attainable” goal might read: (I.e. “I want to pass all my classes and make at least 2 A’s and I know I can achieve this by studying each night“).

4) Relevant: Will meeting this goal be helpful for you overall? I love art, but having a goal of “Make 5 oil paintings by 6 PM tonight” probably wouldn’t do much toward helping me grow as a person.  It is important for you and your student to see if the goal in mind is helpful in some area of life: mentally, socially, academically, etc. An example of making sure your goal is relevant may read like this: “I want to pass all my classes and make at least 2 A’s and I can achieve that in the amount of time I have. I’m setting this goal because I need to pass the 6th grade”).

5) Time-Bound: How much time do you have to achieve this goal? This is a very important step to forming a goal. Having an end date in mind will help you stay motivated to achieve your goal, since you only have a certain amount of time to do it. An example of incorporating time into your goal may look like: “I want to pass all my classes and make at least 2 A’s by the end of each semester”.

Goal Sheets and Logs:

Tracking healthy eating, hygiene, and fitness logs: http://www.nourishinteractive.com/nutrition-education-printables/category/44-printable-tracker-food-diaries-kids-healthy-goals-tracking-sheets-new

Goal Printables with ideas for goals: http://www.livinglocurto.com/2014/01/write-down-goals-free-printable/#sthash.Jyij3nV2.dpbs

Student Goal Sheets: http://www.bakingcraftingteaching.blogspot.com/2012/07/student-portfolio-freebie.html

 

Comment with some goals you and your students have created for this school year! 🙂

 

Brittany Montgomery, LMSW

School-based counselor

 

 

 

Teen-Teen Relationships

Tips for Teens to Seek Healthy Relationships

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By: Victoria DeLira

teenWhen entering puberty and their teenage years, many teens begin to consider relationships. Often they may have friends who are already in or have been in relationships. Although some teens may be convinced they have found “the one,” having even a healthy relationship can cause stress. When entering a relationship, it is important to consider the time, energy, and commitment a relationship requires. It is also important to enter a relationship only if there is respect between the two partners. The age at which teens begin to have their first relationships varies for everyone. Sometimes, a teen may see that their friends are already having relationships and they may feel that they also need to be in a relationship so that they can be on the same boat as everyone else. These friends, whether they mean to or not, are pressuring the single teen(s) to enter a relationship…

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Why Is My Kid SOOOO Angry?!

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Raising a teen can be a struggle even for the most experienced parent.  Exhaustion and frustration begin to set in when your child back talks and baulks on a more frequent basis. You may even feel like you don’t know the child that is living in your house because of their sudden change in behaviors and moods. There are personal reasons a child may be acting out (i.e. negative peer relationships, family divorce, etc.). However, here are some common and general reasons your child may be angry as well as some suggestions on how to handle it.

Not Feeling Heard/Understood

Anger is a secondary emotion. if you think back on times you’ve been angry and dig deep you may recall instances you’ve shown anger but there was an emotion that came before that anger. Maybe fear, sadness, or disappointment. The same is true for children and teens. They may push you away, slam the door, yell, or back-talk, but they are still trying to communicate a message or concern in the way that feels comfortable to them.

Parent Tip: As hard as it may be, take a step back and examine as an outsider to the family would. What seems to be the triggers to the angry behaviors? When did it start? What does your child need to feel heard? What could be a new approach to connecting with your teen? What has worked in the past? Once you have a better grasp on the situation, you can try communicating understanding to your teens current stresses and needs. Teens need to feel heard more than we often realize.

Biology

Sometimes it truly is just the nature of things. During the pre-adolescence and adolescence phases, their bodies are working in overdrive. Puberty usually starts between the ages of 7 and 13 for girls and between 9 and 15 for boys (KidsHealth.org). The teen brain is still “under construction” so to speak, as the impulse-control and emotion-regulation areas of the brain are not fully developed until early adulthood. Teens will be able to tell you what they should do, but when it comes to making a judgment decision in the moment, they often go for the thrills and adventure.  And don’t forget the hormones! Many hormones are pouring into the adolescent body and trying to regulate themselves, influencing brain development. Brain development influences behavior. See the connection? My point being that trying to reason with a teen can feel like brushing your teeth while eating Oreos (haha). It can very well feel like an impossible task!

Parent Tip: When communication approaches have been forgone or deemed impossible, find a healthy way of coping to avoid power struggles. Walk away. Take deep breaths. Talk to a friend. Power struggles involve both parent and child becoming increasingly angry with one another, often making the situation more negative and further away from a resolution. Modeling calm behavior is the best way to teach it to your child.

Stress

Again, this will take some examining and communicating with your child to determine the triggers to their stress. For many middle school students, the transition from elementary school where kids are often hand-held to complete tasks and accountability is shared to middle school, where kids are in more responsible roles of staying organized, using lockers, moving from class to class can all be quite scary. There are also standardized tests, new peer groups, and harder classes to partake in. Kids get stressed just like adults, but it often looks very different. It is more likely to hear “I’m mad” than “I’m stressed” from a teen.

Parent Tip: Have a heart to heart with you child. You may find that both you and your child are stressed about similar circumstances (i.e. financial concerns within the family, a family move, etc.). Empathize when concerned: (i.e. “I can imagine you’re stressed about the CRCT coming up, it’s a big test and it’s normal to feel this way. Let’s work together to find some ways to help you calm yourself and also feel prepared”). I truly believe that respectful communication is the most vital tool to a healthy relationship.

Test out these tips and let me know your thoughts!

Some great resources regarding talking with your teen and the biology of teen development:

http://www.health.harvard.edu/blog-extra/the-adolescent-brain-beyond-raging-hormones

http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2013/02/11/171466505/how-parents-can-learn-to-tame-a-testy-teenager

Self-Awareness + Self-Acceptance = Self-Esteem

Have you ever gone through a fun house at a carnival and passed by the distorted mirrors? You stand in front of one and the reflection is a teeny tiny upper body and huge lower half. The next one makes you have bug eyes but super small lips. You likely laugh and enjoy the silliness because you know that is not how you really look. That is not your true reflection.

 

Girls with a lack of confidence are looking in a distorted ‘mirror’, so to speak. One that shows only their flaws, faults, and failures. Perhaps they are actually looking in a mirror and picking apart their body features. Maybe it is their own negative thinking towards themselves that leads to feelings of worthlessness and doubt. There are many factors that  may contribute to low self-esteem: negative self-talk, media messages, perceived lack of connection, and bullying are a few known ones.

 

For the purpose of this post I want to offer some ideas to foster positive self-esteem for your daughter or a girl you know. 

Self-Esteem Boosters for Adolescent Girls:

(extracted from No Body’s Perfect by Kimberly Kirberger, 2003).

 

1) Get to Know Yourself: What is important to you? What makes you happy? What do you and don’t you like? Sure, you may have some flaws. Everyone Does. What positive qualities do you have that outweigh any flaws?

 

2) Stay True to Yourself: Now that you’ve thought about your positive qualities and have done some self-reflection, can you think of ways that you’ve let others influence you in a bad way? How can you tell what is real from fake? Staying true to yourself involves knowing who you are and staying away from the crowd, especially if the crowd is making bad decisions.

 

3) Be Responsible for Your Happiness: There is something I tell many of my students:You can’t change how people act, but you have complete control over your decisions. You can only change yourself. This involves being honest with yourself whether your decisions are leading to happiness or negativity.

 

4) Don’t Worry About What Others Think: It’s very difficult to let go of worrying, especially if you think someone thinks bad or has said something bad about you. But remember, you can only control yourself. It’s impossible to know what someone is thinking of you, so you might as well be the one to think the best about yourself!

 

5) Let Others Love You!:  Have you noticed yourself pushing love away? For example, a friend may give you a compliment and you don’t pay attention. When someone offers you their time by listening, checking in with you, spending time with you, and showing you RESPECT (very important, girls) – they are trying to show you love. Let them love you!

 

 

Parenting Teens (& Staying Sane!): A Developmental Framework

An excellent article that breaks down the developmental and biological reasons why teens behave in the ways they do. I encourage all parents to read!

Sidebar: A huge thank you to all parents reading this, you have no idea how much of a vital role you play in your child’s life. Your efforts have not gone unnoticed. 🙂

Parenting Teens (& Staying Sane!): A Developmental Framework