As you wake from your winter hibernation and enjoy all that spring brings, please take a minute to review some important dates from the counseling department. Also, check out these two articles geared to help you manage your family time and reduce your children’s stress during these busy weeks ahead. Happy Spring!
Rising 6th Graders:
5/15 - HE and UE 5th grade Visitation Day to Patton
5/17 - PE and CF 5th grade Visitation Day to Patton
5/8-5/10 In-class Career Guidance Lessons
4/16, 5/4 or or 6/4 - In class Career Guidance Lessons: Career Key / Career Cluster
4/21 - Community Day @ CC Technical College High School
4/26-5/3 - Students will complete Academic/Career Plans in Naviance
5/31 - ECA Summer Online Orientation, 1:30 pm at UHS (Mandatory for those enrolled)
6/1 - SHOC Day at UHS
6/8 - 8th Grade Celebration
6/14 - Last Student Day!
8/7 - Summer Transition Camp (for all new students)
With tight schedules, calendars bursting with scheduled activities, and technology competing for our “real life” face-to-face connections, it’s easy for families to feel fragmented, and the bonds to loosen. Here are some tips to help strengthen those bonds and foster family identity, togetherness and a solid sense of belonging.
Eat family meals together—without the TV, phones or other distractions. Whether it’s breakfast, lunch or dinner, sharing meals opens the channels of communication, providing a chance for everyone to discuss life, school, and other family concerns. Plus, studies show that kids whose families eat together have better nutritional habits, a better sense of well-being, earn higher grades, are more motivated in school, and have reduced chances of substance abuse.
Hold family meetings. It’s a great opportunity to share what’s going on with the family and allow every member to air any grievances openly, such as how they feel about family chores, for example. Gathering once a week where everyone listens respectfully to one another can foster positive problem-solving and a strong sense of “we’re all on the same team.”
Share appreciation. Make it a habit of letting each family member know they are accepted and respected for who they are, offer praise when praise is due, and express gratitude for one another. Make it a habit to celebrate your family members’ accomplishments.
Express emotions in a respectful manner. Stress, change and setbacks can trigger strong emotions, sparking angry outbursts or hurtful remarks that can tear a family apart. Give kids the skills to manage reactions to distress (and modeling your own positive reactions). Foster an optimistic outlook when things go wrong. These behaviors can help family members withstand and rebound from challenges and knit everyone together.
Carve out one-on-one time. Rushing to make meals or shuttling between activities can squeeze out time to connect meaningfully with loved ones. Some suggestions: Where possible, dedicate the first fifteen minutes after arriving home to check in with your children. Share one good thing and one bad thing that happened during your day, and support each other when needed. Mark the calendar when you will spend private time with each child. Dedicate an hour after dinner or after your children go to sleep to spend time alone with your spouse.
Plan a monthly or weekly game night. Whether your family enjoys board games or playing catch, sharing games promotes levity, teamwork, friendly competition, and could be the highlight of everyone’s month! Why not double the fun and invite another family to join you?
Go on regular adventures. It does not have to be an extravagant vacation. Simply visiting a nature exhibit in a new town, exploring a new trail, or even signing up for a local fun run offers shared delight, bringing members of all ages together in new and different ways.
Serve your community together. No matter if you help stock a food bank, volunteer at a clothing drive or participate in a walk-a-thon, helping those less fortunate helps everyone feel more compassionate, empathetic and connected to other people–including to members of their own family.
“Strengthening Families.” Health Advocate, Mar. 18AD.
Helping Kids To Stress Less
Stress isn’t reserved for grown-ups. Relationships, school pressures and even problems experienced in the family or community at large can be troubling and overwhelming to kids of all ages. You may not know what’s bothering them, but it’s important to reach out and help them develop healthy ways to cope with their troubles and solve everyday problems. Here are some tips to try.
Tell your child you notice something is bothering them. Express it as a casual observation. You might say something like, “it seems as though you’re still mad about what happened at the playground the other day.” Show them you care, want to understand, and will listen.
Try to get the whole story. Allow time for your child to fully express concerns and be heard. You might try some gentle prompting questions such as, “And then what happened?” Avoid any urge to judge, blame or lecture your child.
Label the feelings. If your child seems angry or frustrated, putting those feelings into the descriptive words can help children learn how to recognize emotions and communicate feelings instead of acting out when their feelings boil over.
Brainstorm about a solution for a specific problem that’s causing stress. Having your child participate builds confidence. For example, you might say, “What can you do when Jerry calls you names?” Support your child’s good ideas and add to them as needed.
Collaborate on what would make them feel better. Sometimes just talking and listening is enough to melt a child’s frustration. Then, it’s time to move on. Ask what would make them feel happier and more relaxed. They may come up with a visit to the park or making a call to chat with Grandma, for example.
Limit stress where possible. Is there something you can change to take the pressure off your child? One suggestion: cutting back on multiple organized after-school activities. This can leave much needed time to play, unwind, and focus on homework, too.
Initiate something you can do together. Kids don’t always feel like talking about what’s bothering them. Sometimes they just need you to be there. Taking a walk together, baking cookies, or shooting hoops can be reassuring.
Introduce calming activities. If stress seems to make your child anxious or withdrawn, consider scheduling outdoor time in nature. Teach your child that sitting quietly and staring at the trees, sky, or babbling brook, for instance, can be relaxing and soothing when they feel overwhelmed.
Resist the urge to fix every problem. Instead, focus on helping your child, slowly but surely, grow into a good problem-solver–someone who knows how to roll with life’s ups and downs, put feelings into words, calm down when needed, and bounce back to try again.
“Helping Kids Stress Less.” Health Advocate , Mar. 18AD.