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Why the Surge in Vaping Marijuana?

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WHAT CAN I DO TO HELP MY CHILD WHO IS BEING BULLIED? » Understanding and Addressing Anxiety » The Sleep Hygiene Quiz

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3365 U.S. Highway 12 East • Helena, MT 59601 • 406-442-6310


INSIDE DECEMBER 2020

FEATURES

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What Can I Do to Help My Child Who is Being Bullied?

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Understanding and Addressing Anxiety

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The Sleep Hygiene Quiz: How Do You Rate?

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Listen to Hear and Not Respond

Why the Surge in Vaping Marijuana? IN EVERY ISSUE

2 From the Director 5 The Kitchen Table 10 Faces in the Crowd 11 40 Developmental Assets 12 Assets in Action 18 Q&A / By the Numbers BROUGHT TO YOU BY

PARTNER AGENCY

PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH

TO ADVERTISE OR CONTRIBUTE Coleen Smith: (406) 324-1032 coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org COVER PHOTO BY Wandering Albatross Photography

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ON THE COVER

Donevin is a freshman at East Helena High School. He is a tenacious young man who enjoys the outdoors and spending time with his family. In his spare time, Donevin likes to go and explore nature and all of its hidden treasures. He is looking forward to following his dream of becoming an automotive mechanic and learning new skills for this trade. Donevin would like people to know that you can always change your life around for the better.

ABOUT YOUTH CONNECTIONS

Youth Connections is a coalition of over 1100 community members representing parents, educators, churches, youthserving organizations, businesses, and more who want to make Helena a healthy and supportive place for kids and families. Youth Connections recognizes the need to reduce negative behaviors including substance use and violence while also working to increase positive opportunities and mental wellness for all our local kids. So how do we do that? We know there is no silver bullet to making communities great, and so we do LOTS of things that we know make communities better. We support agencies and businesses who offer youth activities because we know kids who are involved in positive activities aren’t involved in negative ones. We support student mentoring relationships because research shows it helps kids stay in school and be successful. We also know that when kids know better, they do better, so we support classroom education in the areas of bullying prevention and substance use prevention. Youth Connections also understands we must support the adults in kids’ lives and therefore we provide training, education, networks, and collaborative opportunities for parents and professionals to connect with others who care about kids. Youth Connections is well known for its quarterly publication, YC Magazine, a resource for parents and the entire community. These are just some of the projects we’re working on to serve our mission of engaging our community to create environments where youth thrive and succeed. For a comprehensive list of activities, services, and ways you can get involved, please visit our website at www.youthconnectionscoalition.org.

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Director A FROM THE

s we approach the end of 2020 – thank goodness – and are still in the throngs of everything covid including increased anxiety, loneliness, and isolation, the magazine committee felt it was important to share tools to help kids and families power through. December is normally a time of increased anxiety and depression for youth, but with everything going on COLEEN in the world, it’s been magnified. We SMITH hope the information and resources assembled in this issue bring some peace of mind. According to the CDC, about 1 in 5 high school students were bullied at school and 1 in 6 were bullied electronically in the last year. We are thankful that Dr. Lantz has some very hands-on, easy-to-use tools to help kids who may be struggling with being bullied. Just like talking to your kids about how to avoid drugs and alcohol, practice is key. We love the very specific words to use to shut bullies down. With all the extra screen time, cyber bullying is a real threat. In the hustle of everyday life, especially during the holidays, we often listen to our kids only focusing on how to respond, not to truly listen to what they’re saying. Kelly has once again given us some great advice on how to do that to build stronger relationships with our kids. We, as parents, often want to jump in to fix everything when kids just sometimes need to be heard. With the added stresses of everything covid-related, we felt it was extremely important to focus on ways to help ourselves and our kids deal with the issues and provide tools to set us up for success. That is why our two articles on sleep hygiene and tools to address anxiety are important keys to dealing with everyday stressors. Lastly, we know that volunteering can help kids and families feel good about themselves. It’s also a great tradition to start for the holidays – helping others. It is truly a win-win. Here’s to a healthy and happy holiday season and New Year! CAN’T GET ENOUGH GREAT RESOURCES? FOLLOW US: Twitter: @Youthconx Facebook (for parents): Youth Connections Facebook (for kids): Find Your Spot Instagram: @Youthconx

COLEEN SMITH, YC DIRECTOR Phone: (406) 324-1032 coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org


Looking for the perfect gift for family, friends, or teachers this winter?

Get them a Downtown Helena Nugget, the perfect way to support local downtown businesses. Instead of relying on a gift card with an unknown balance, Downtown Helena Nuggets are a cash for cash transaction. They not only make a great gift but ensure that money is used to support our downtown businesses. Your support is crucial during these times and purchasing a Nugget (or a few!) shows that you care about our downtown area. Nuggets are cash for cash at participating businesses. Try spending the whole bill at these businesses to better ensure that downtown Helena will continue to thrive and expand. To learn more, please visit DowntownHelena.com/nuggets. Nuggets can be purchased downtown at 330 N. Jackson Street. We accept cash or check for purchases.

406-447-1535 | 330 N. Jackson Street

Think construction isn’t for him? Think again. $52,969 - that’s the annual median wage for construction jobs in Montana. With over 30,000 Montanans working in construction, chances are we have a career ready for him.

build-montana.org Build Montana is a workforce development initiative of the Montana Contractors’ Association youthconnectionscoalition.org

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Hours: Mon - Fri | 8am - 5pm Hours may vary. Check MT WILD’s website or FB page for updated hours. Call 406-444-9944 for more information

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CONFESSIONS FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE

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e asked a high school senior to tell us what would help your teen navigate this year as smoothly as possible. Senior year is hard. Granted, I’ve only been at school for about 15 days as I write this, but I stand by my ruling. I kind of expected the year to be a breeze, but early reports show that will most definitely not be the case. Not only do my classmates and I face the regular challenges of class, homework, tests, online learning, but now there are applications to fill out, letters of recommendation to organize, scholarships to research. What is a FAFSA and why do I need to finish it so quickly? Any time anyone mentions college or future plans, the room experiences a collective shutdown as students rapidly try to repress the surge of deadlines and uncertainty that rises with the topic. From what I’ve gathered, most of my peers feel this universal sort of panic. So what can you as parents do to help? ANSWER QUESTIONS AND OFFER ADVICE That may seem like an obvious one, as I don’t know any parent that would refuse to answer their child’s question, but hear me out. Speaking from personal experience and reflecting the feelings of my peers: we don’t know a whole lot about college. What kind of bachelor’s degree do I get, and how does it correlate with my master’s? What if I have no idea what courses I want to study? These questions seem relatively rhetorical in their simplicity, but can not be dismissed. Don’t assume that we know or understand the college process, because chances are, we don’t - at least, not completely. Having a sit-down talk about the different courses of action once in college can be a big stress reliever; understanding greatly reduces anxiety. In essence, offer suggestions that you would have liked to have known, and make sure your child understands the system he or she is getting in to. MAKE A TIMELINE This time of year is arguably one of the busiest of our lives, and it’s easy to forget about deadlines and due dates as others continue to pour in. Some schools do provide students with charts that

designate when things (such as applications, scholarships, or letters of recommendation) need to be completed, but such charts are very generalized, and don’t include specifics relevant to each student. My solution, and the one that has worked well for my peers, is write out a personalized timeline that includes due dates and when to work on college or scholarship applications. The structure is not only reassuring, but prevents the anxiety of forgetting a deadline, and simultaneously ensures completing work in a timely manner. Instead of rushing to get everything done shortly before it’s due, I break it up and work on it gradually, checking off every day I complete a task. For me, this structure allows me to visualize my progress and conceptualize the amount of work I still have left to do, greatly relieving the burden of unknown due dates. BE THERE FOR IT ALL Again, a relatively obvious one, but expressing interest in your child’s schedule and events makes a big difference. There is so much going on, and it can feel like we’re kind of alone in our struggle. A simple question like: “how is your ___ application going,” or “what is your schedule like this week,” really conveys support, while being an offer of your services as well. Just checking up on us every once in a while is very reassuring. Being involved and interested in the process helps with the stress students tend to feel when faced with this mountain of work ahead of them. So yeah. Senior year definitely is hard. For me and my peers, and our parents as well. Not only do they have to deal with a stressed out teen facing the biggest change of their life so far, but they also are left with the fact that this year is the last year we’ll be dependent on them, living under the same roof. I can only imagine how daunting that prospect is. These few pointers help parents and students alike limit stress and maximize efficiency, allowing families to make the most of their last few months together. As we prepare for the biggest adventure of our life, parents are preparing as well, and being involved in the process can be mutually beneficial in ensuring senior year is a smooth transition into adulthood. ■

YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR STORY AT: coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org For many of us the kitchen table represents the typical family experience. We have laughed while having family game night. We have cried over our children’s choices. We have blown out the candles on many cakes. We have argued our way out of doing the dishes. We have struggled through those “three more bites.” We have learned hard lessons and celebrated many deserved successes. One thing is for sure though—if our kitchen tables could talk, there would be plenty of stories! So often it is in relating to others’ stories that we realize there isn’t always one answer, or even a right answer. Parenting is hard work! If you have a story of lessons learned, we invite you to share it with our readers. Sometimes, knowing we aren’t the only ones struggling to find the answer is all the help we need.

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what can I do to help m

WHO IS BEING

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It is tough being a kid and it can be scary being a parent, especially if you find out that your child is being bullied. There are a number of different strategies for dealing with bullies, but I would like to share just one that can make all the difference in the world.

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s parents, we often give our kids advice, but the advice does not teach them skills for dealing with life. Our kids need to practice learning skills and you can be the teacher of those skills with this 3-step strategy. Actually, it’s just a game that can be a lot of fun. THE BULLY GAME Now, remember, this is a game. If your first thought is, “Isn’t there a therapist or someone who can teach this to my child?”, then my answer is, “Just give it a try!” Chances are, both you and your child can learn something playing this game. Once you try it a few times, it will make sense. Relax. It’s just playing around. It will be a learning opportunity for both you and your child and it can be a lot of fun. Really, the hardest part is not to smile or laugh when you are doing it. There are only a few rules while performing the game: face your bully directly, don’t smile, laugh or yell (but do project your voice). Why can’t we laugh or yell when dealing with a bully? Losing control of your emotions is what a bully wants. Smiling or laughing sends the wrong signal to the bully because dealing with a bully is not fun. Here are some examples of the 3 steps:

my child

BULLIED? By LEN LANTZ, MD

A bully walks up to you and slams shut your open locker. Turn your body to squarely face the bully and look them in the eye. 1. Say, “Please don’t close my locker door.” (You are nicely telling the person to stop a specific behavior.) 2. You open the locker and the bully slams shut the locker door again. Say, “Stop closing my locker door.” (Notice that the “please” was dropped. This is not asking – it is bluntly telling the person to stop.) continued on page 9

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Computer skills training

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Guidance and advocacy

To qualify, individuals must meet income guidelines and have an additional challenge to employment or educational success. CTI serves Broadwater, Jefferson, and Lewis & Clark counties. Call (406) 443-0800 for more information.

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continued from page 7

3. You open the locker and the bully slams shut the locker door again. Say, “You’re not listening. I’m leaving.” Turn and walk away. A BULLY WALKS UP AND TOUCHES YOUR HAIR. Turn your body to squarely face the bully and look them in the eye. 1. Say, “Please stop touching my hair.” 2. Bully continues to touch your hair. Say, “Stop touching my hair.” (If the bully has not stopped touching your hair, grab the wrist of the hand they are using and remove their hand from your hair.) 3. Bully continues to touch your hair. Grab the wrist of the hand they are using and remove their hand from your hair. Say, “You’re not listening. I’m leaving.” Turn and walk away. A BULLY WALKS UP TO YOU AND SAYS, “HEY, CRY BABY.” Turn your body to squarely face the bully and look them in the eye. 1. Say, “Please don’t call me a cry baby.” 2. The bully calls you “cry baby” again. Say, “Stop calling me a cry baby.” 3. The bully again calls you “cry baby” again. Say, “You’re not listening. I’m leaving.” Turn and walk away. DO YOU SEE A PATTERN IN THE ABOVE EXAMPLES? Why do you turn your body to squarely face a bully and look them in the eye? It shows that you are strong. Why do you not laugh? It shows that you are serious. Why would you turn and walk away (if needed)? It shows the bully that you are confident and decisive and that you will not put up with their crap. What if the bully then physically attacks your child? We will get to that near the bottom of this article. What if it doesn’t work? That’s okay. Give your child a hug, see if they know why it didn’t work and ask them what they would like to practice to prepare for future encounters. TIPS FOR THE GAME: • Don’t worry about following the steps perfectly. • In real life, you only move on to the next step if the bully persists with negative behavior. • Squarely facing a bully means turning your whole body and making your shoulders parallel to the shoulders of the bully. You do not want to move to a new location. You just need to pivot your feet in your current location to face them and look them in the eye. • Help your child practice speaking clearly and loudly so that their voice projects around you both (projecting their voice may bring them some help). • Take turns being the bully but let your child play the bully first. • Take notes – especially when your kid shows you how hard it is. • Prepare for your child to come back to you at some point and say, “it doesn’t work” and be ready to practice some alternative solutions through role play. • Use the game to determine if it is appropriate for you to take direct action right now with the facility/school where the bullying is occurring or with the bully’s parents (for example if the bullying is extreme or pervasive). The idea behind the above game is that you play it or practice it with your child over and over again until they feel confident doing it. You and your child alternate playing the bully role or playing them. Try roleplaying in different situations that they have witnessed or experienced. Let them play the bully the first few times until they are ready for you to

play the bully. Why? Your child needs you to experience what they are going through, and it will be less threatening for your child to play the bully first. This can also give your child a chance to feel what it is like for a bully to be denied. IF MY CHILD HAS TO TURN AND WALK AWAY, WHERE SHOULD THEY GO? The bully game can give you an opportunity to learn more about your child and talk about what comes after step 3. For example, you could say to your child, “Okay. So, you got to step 3. Where are you going to go?” You can talk about the pros and cons of where they plan to go. They may want some privacy if they feel tearful after the episode, but going somewhere alone is not a good choice. A school library at a table near school staff, a classroom full of other students, a trusted teacher-advisor or the school office are reasonable choices. Going into a bathroom or empty stairwell would not be safe choices. NOT JUST FOR BULLIES Hopefully, you and your child found it fun taking turns being the bully and being themselves in the 3-step bully game. Once you and your child have switched roles a few times and they feel comfortable, then you can expand the game to role-play other situations they are dealing with. If they are having difficulty with a teacher or someone else in their lives, they can try out a dialogue with you. If the dialogue turns abusive, then they can whip out the 3-step bully strategy. Again, it usually works best if your child starts out as the other person and you first play the role of your child. Remember, try not to be awesome at the game. Role play is fun for parents if you are willing to be bad at it. WHEN IT’S OKAY TO FIGHT BACK Let your child know when it is okay to fight back physically. If your child is being assaulted, give them your permission to physically fight back. You should also let them know when to back off in a fight, such as when the bully has stopped attacking them or has become disabled. Review with your child what usually happens when there is a fight at school. Even if they were acting in self-defense, they likely will be punished along with the bully. Let them know that you will have a serious expression and nod your head to the vice principal of the school as you, the parent, ask for details about the details of the fight and why it is school policy that your child is about to be punished at their school for physically defending themselves when there was no adult staff member present to supervise the children and protect your kid. Let your child know that after the meeting with the vice-principal (when you have some privacy), you will let them know how proud you are that they did their best to protect themselves when a bully was trying to physically hurt them. I’m not kidding when I tell you that if it were my child, and they did their best to stop a bully, I probably would take them out for ice cream. THIS IS AN OPPORTUNITY FOR YOU TO SHINE AS A PARENT When you are willing to take the time and let down your guard in front of your child as you play the above game, they will appreciate you. You aren’t just telling them that you love them and care about their life, you are showing them. You are communicating to them that you are willing to learn with and from them. You are helping them learn life skills. Won’t it feel good to teach your child to be strong, confident and decisive when facing a bully, rather than being a victim? Imagine your child feeling more comfortable dealing with issues on their own, knowing when to get an adult involved and knowing when they need to fight back to defend themselves. It is an opportunity for you to get closer to your child, learn more about their lives and determine when it is appropriate for you to intervene. ■ youthconnectionscoalition.org

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Check out who’s standing out in our community. IS THERE SOMEONE YOU’D LIKE TO NOMINATE? Please email coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org and tell us why this individual has stood out in your crowd.

Hailey Carpenter

CAPITAL HIGH SCHOOL, 12TH GRADE

Hailey is the first female Eagle Scout in Montana. Typically, Eagle Scout is earned over a 10-year scouting career, having until their 18th birthday to accrue 21 merit badges and complete a major service project (earned by only 4% of Scouts). She completed 36 merit badges in 18 months. For her service project, she led a team of 10 volunteers to build an equipment shed at the East Helena softball fields. She completed the entire project during the uncertainty of COVID. Hailey has won numerous oratory events sponsored by the American Legion. She is also a 3.87 GPA student who had earned the necessary credits for graduation, but stuck around to earn dual and AP college credits.

Sammie McCutcheon

CR ANDERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL, 7TH GRADE

Sammie lives each day joyfully and kindly, sharing her many gifts with the world. Sammie has performed in numerous Grandstreet Christmas shows, including last year’s production of Frozen. She is a talented ukulele player and is learning guitar. During the warmer months in Montana, Sammie keeps active with tennis, golf, and waterskiing. When winter comes, she loves to hit the ski slopes. Sammie loves school, especially English class. She enjoys reading Harry Potter and Greek mythology and writing her own stories. She is abundantly kind to everyone around her and enjoys spending time with her siblings, cousins, and puppy, Reggie.

Parker Dailey

MONTANA CITY SCHOOL, 5TH GRADE

Four years ago, when Parker Dailey found out that not all kids in our community have an abundance of food, he was heartbroken. For his birthday that year, he decided to raise money for Helena Food Share instead of asking his friends for presents. Now in 5th grade, Parker continues to raise money for the community through his birthday parties and other charitable acts. He is a loving son and brother, a friend to many, and takes excellent care of his dog and two cats. Thank you, Parker, for being such a great role model and caring about everyone in our community!

Deb Sargent, BSN, RN

HELENA HIGH SCHOOL

As a school nurse, Deb is responsible for many aspects of wellness - chronic/acute illness, nutrition, and preventative health. She ensures these needs are met so being unwell doesn’t get in the way of learning, like working one-on-one with students to reach their highest potential. Deb partners with parents, teachers, counselors, and resource teachers to modify the classroom environment, administer medication, provide resources, or do whatever is needed to keep students healthy, safe, and successful. Deb loves the varied challenges of working in the school setting and enjoys fostering relationships with students and seeing their growth. Deb gives credit to the amazing team of Helena school nurses who work together to maintain the health of youth.

Lewis & Clark Library

COMMUNITY PARTNER

Even during COVID, the library hasn’t stopped offering programs for youth. Teen Services is offering virtual programs for fun and recreation, as well as supporting students at PAL. They are also offering Teen Craft at Home. Participants register online, pick up an activity kit, and then join their virtual show and tell to share what they’ve made! Crafts include book pillows, decorative gourds, and pet portraits. Teen & Tween Read Aloud is a different kind of book club! Folks pop in with their favorite snack as they read a chapter of a book out loud together. It’s a great way to encourage reading for pleasure and have fun with peers. For more info visit: https://www.lclibrary.org/101/Kids-and-Teens.

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Call or text My Life, My Quit, a free, confidential hotline for youth who want to stop using nicotine.

1-855-891-9989

Text: ‘Start My Quit’

www.LewisAndClarkHealth.org

• Be Active • Eat Right • Get Screened • Be Sunwise • Be Tobacco Free •

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40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

Wanna Walk Away from Vaping?

40 Developmental Assets are essential qualities of life that help young people thrive, do well in school, and avoid risky behavior. Youth Connections utilizes the 40 Developmental Assets Framework to guide the work we do in promoting positive youth development. The 40 Assets model was developed by the Minneapolis-based Search Institute based on extensive research. Just as we are coached to diversify our financial assets so that all our eggs are not in one basket, the strength that the 40 Assets model can build in our youth comes through diversity. In a nutshell, the more of the 40 Assets youth possess, the more likely they are to exhibit positive behaviors and attitudes (such as good health and school success) and the less likely they are to exhibit risky behaviors (such as drug use and promiscuity). It’s that simple: if we want to empower and protect our children, building the 40 Assets in our youth is a great way to start. Look over the list of Assets on the following page and think about what Assets may be lacking in our community and what Assets you can help build in our young people. Do what you can do with the knowledge that even through helping build one asset in one child, you are increasing the chances that child will grow up safe and successful. Through our combined efforts, we will continue to be a place where Great Kids Make Great Communities.

Turn the page to learn more!

The 40 Developmental Assets® may be reproduced for educational, noncommercial uses only. Copyright © 1997 Search Institute®, 615 First Avenue NE, Suite 125, Minneapolis, MN 55413; 800-888-7828; www.search-institute.org. All rights reserved.

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assets in action

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

14 SUPPORT

Peter and Isaiah enjoying cooking together

1. Family support: Family life provides high levels of love and support. 2. Positive family communication: Young person and her or his parent(s) communicate positively, and young person is willing to seek advice and counsel from parent(s). 3. Other adult relationships: Young person receives support from three or more nonparent adults. 4. Caring neighborhood: Young person experiences caring neighbors. 5. Caring school climate: School provides a caring, encouraging environment. 6. Parent involvement in school: Parent(s) are actively involved in helping young person succeed in school.

EMPOWERMENT

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7. Community values youth: Young person perceives that adults in the community value youth. 8. Youth as resources: Young people are given useful roles in the community. 9. Service to others: Young person serves in the community one hour or more per week. 10. Safety: Young person feels safe at home, at school, and in the neighborhood.

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BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS Kessler students being safe at school Holter’s After School Teen Arts Council painting the street

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11. Family boundaries: Family has clear rules and consequences and monitors the young person’s whereabouts. 12. School boundaries: School provides clear rules and consequences. 13. Neighborhood boundaries: Neighbors take responsibility for monitoring young people’s behavior. 14. Adult role models: Parent(s) and other adults model positive, responsible behavior. 15. Positive peer influence: Young person’s best friends model responsible behavior. 16. High expectations: Both parent(s) and teachers encourage the young person to do well.

CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF TIME

Music students participate in Ironhorse Youth Music Summer Program

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17. Creative activities: Young person spends three or more hours per week in lessons or practice in music, theater, or other arts. 18. Youth programs: Young person spends three or more hours per week in sports, clubs, or organizations at school and/or in the community. 19. Religious community: Young person spends one or more hours per week in activities in a religious institution. 20. Time at home: Young person is out with friends “with nothing special to do” two or fewer nights per week.


If you or your child would like to submit a picture that represents one of the 40 Developmental Assets, please email coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org with a picture and the number of the asset the picture represents.

Not all pictures are guaranteed publication.

25 COMMITMENT TO LEARNING

21. Achievement motivation: Young person is motivated to do well in school. 22. School engagement: Young person is actively engaged in learning. 23. Homework: Young person reports doing at least one hour of homework every school day. 24. Bonding to school: Young person cares about her or his school. 25. Reading for pleasure: Young person reads for pleasure three or more hours per week.

POSITIVE VALUES

26. Caring: Young person places high value on helping other people. 27. Equality and social justice: Young person places high value on promoting equality and reducing hunger and poverty. 28. Integrity: Young person acts on convictions and stands up for her or his beliefs. 29. Honesty: Young person “tells the truth even when it is not easy.” 30. Responsibility: Young person accepts and takes personal responsibility. 31. Restraint: Young person believes it is important not to be sexually active or to use alcohol or other drugs.

SOCIAL COMPETENCIES

32. Planning and decision making: Young person knows how to plan ahead and make choices. 33. Interpersonal competence: Young person has empathy, sensitivity, and friendship skills. 34. Cultural competence: Young person has knowledge of and comfort with people of different cultural/racial/ethnic backgrounds. 35. Resistance skills: Young person can resist negative peer pressure and dangerous situations. 36. Peaceful conflict resolution: Young person seeks to resolve conflict nonviolently.

Devyn getting a book from the neighborhood little library

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Sophie shared inspiring messages throughout her neighborhood

Helping a neighbor by volunteering to rake leaves

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POSITIVE IDENTITY

37. Personal power: Young person feels he or she has control over “things that happen to me.” 38. Self-esteem: Young person reports having a high self-esteem. 39. Sense of purpose: Young person reports that “my life has a purpose.” 40. Positive view of personal future: Young person is optimistic about her or his personal future.

Students getting help with searching for colleges

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understanding and addressing

ANXIETY By KRISTINA DUKART, LCSW, Intermountain Child & Family Therapist

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ave you ever ridden a rollercoaster? Maybe you get excited standing in line, feeling the butterflies in your stomach before feeling a little tug in your chest as you sit down and buckle in. As the ride starts maybe you panic a bit, holding your breath as the car climbs higher. Then, as you plummet toward the ground, your breath comes out in a whoosh as you scream, in terror or delight. As the ride slows, so does your heart rate. As you unbuckle, your breath becomes steady and you find safety back on solid ground. If this scenario resonates, you have officially experienced anxiety. According to the Anxiety and Depression Association of America (ADAA), anxiety impacts roughly 40 million Americans a year. What you might not know is, our brains develop to have anxiety. That’s right! Anxiety is natural and is meant to keep us safe. WE ALL EXPERIENCE ANXIETY For early humans, constant vigilance was a must for dangerous surroundings – to escape threatening situations and to provide food and shelter. Because of this, our brains have learned to scan our surroundings for real or imagined threats to our physical and emotional safety. This has created a nervous system primed to keep us safe. HOW ANXIETY IS HELPFUL When experiencing a stressful event, our brain signals our body to fight, flight, or freeze. This response system is one of the first to develop while we are in the womb and helps us hit the brakes to avoid danger in our car or gives us an adrenaline boost to run from physical threats. When our brains never take a break - when they constantly perceive threats without allowing our thoughts or our body to relax, anxiety becomes an issue. WHEN ANXIETY BECOMES AN ISSUE If you or your family hadn’t experienced heightened anxiety before this year, it is likely you are experiencing it now. But how do you know if what you, your child, or a loved one is feeling, is anxiety? And if it is anxiety, how do you know when to seek help?

When our brains never take a break – when they constantly perceive threats without allowing our thoughts or our body to relax, anxiety becomes an issue.

Balancing home and work may have increased irritability, difficulty concentrating, rapid heartbeats and fear. In children you may see increased anger, avoidance of specific tasks, difficulty focusing, and increased fears or nightmares. If allowed to grow, these life changes can increase anxiety to unhealthy levels. So, before you get there… HOW TO MANAGE ANXIETY One of the first steps to managing anxiety is naming it. Dan Siegel, Ph.D., co-author of The Whole Brain Child, calls this, “Name It to Tame It.” Emotions might be confusing for those whose brains and language skills have not developed enough to fully understand or express what they are experiencing. IN CHILDREN Helping your child, make sense of their emotions by assigning words to their feelings, while also trying to figure out what might have triggered those feelings, can help them to control their anxiety. IN YOURSELF Recognize your own emotions and call them out too. Model for your child how to name your feelings, out loud, and having a conversation with these feelings. This can further help your child understand their own experiences and give you both a sense of control over anxiety.

IN GENERAL If naming feelings out loud isn’t decreasing the anxiety, it might be a good time to practice some controlled breathing. Your brain needs oxygen to function and the physical manifestations of anxiety can inhibit oxygen flow to your brain and body. BOX BREATHING A great technique for controlled breathing is “box breathing.” Grab a pen and paper and draw a square box. If you don’t have a pen or paper just trace an imaginary box on a hard surface. Slowly counting to the number four along each line, trace the entire box with the pointer finger of your dominant hand. Once you have this movement and pacing down, add inhaling to the count of four while you trace one edge followed by holding your breath down the next. Breath out again on the next line and lastly, hold your breath for the count of four as you return to the corner where you started. 5-4-3-2-1 An evidenced based technique to slowing down rapid breathing or thoughts is 5-4-32-1. Use your sense of sight to notice 5 things around you. Then touch 4 things around you. How’s your breathing? Can you slow it a little while you listen for 3 sounds? Take a nice slow inhale through your nose to smell 2 things near you. Finally, notice 1 thing you can taste. Is it toothpaste or coffee? This strategy is great for calming anxiety to help you or your child stay grounded in the present. Engaging all five senses might be tough for younger children, so I modify this tool to 3-2-1. Ask them to identify 3 things they see, 2 things they hear, and 1 thing they can touch. WHEN ANXIETY NEEDS HELP If these strategies can’t dull racing thoughts, or if they only help for a few minutes, it might be time to schedule an appointment with a licensed therapist. A licensed therapist can help you discover what might be triggering continued anxiety while supporting you with additional tools to manage those triggers. ■

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THE SLEEP HYGIENE QUIZ:

how do you rate? By EMILY C.T. HANKINS

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e teach our kids to brush their teeth, comb their hair, and change their underwear. This is basic hygiene, after all. And hopefully these habits are ingrained in their brain by the time they hit kindergarten. But is there another kind of hygiene we are forgetting? Taking care of sleep is important, too. Like all hygiene practices, good sleep habits start young and affect all areas of our lives and wellbeing. However, 90% of families are pressed for adequate sleep during the school week. Is your family achieving stellar sleep hygiene? Take the quiz to find out.

1. AN HOUR BEFORE BED WE ARE:

5. AT BEDTIME, I HEAR ________

A) Starting to wind down.

B) “Can I just finish this last thing?”

B) Eating dinner.

A) “Ok. Goodnight.” C) “No way! It’s too early.”

C) Still at practice.

6. MY CHILDREN WAKE UP:

2. BEDTIMES ARE:

A) Well rested and ready to take on the day.

A) Set in stone. B) Usually around the same time, but is subject to change. C) Whenever we crash. 3. THE KIDS ARE: A) Very active and exercise often. B) Get out and play a bit. C) More likely to choose stationary activities. 4. WHILE WAITING TO FALL ASLEEP MY KIDS USUALLY: A) Read a book.

B) Tired, but it always comes together. C) Grouchy as can be. Getting everyone up is stressful. 7. WHEN IT COMES TO THE WEEKEND: A) Our bedtime routines are basically the same as on weekdays. B) This is our time to catch up on sleep. C) We stay up late, and everyone sleeps in late. 8. IN OUR HOME: A) Bedtime routines are sacred.

B) Watch TV. C) Check their social media.

B) Bedtime routines are flexible. C) What bedtime routines?

Emily C.T. Hankins is the Founder and Chief Consultant at ECT Education and the co-author of The Summer Before Kindergarten

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MOSTLY AS You and your family have your sleep hygiene down! By championing great sleep habits like having a schedule and minimizing distractions at bedtime, you are supporting the natural circadian rhythms (natural sleep cycles) that children need to be happy, healthy, and rested. Your kids get the full nine hours of recommended sleep and it shows. Keep in mind that high school students are at the highest risk for poor sleep habits due to academic pressure, busy social lives, social media usage, and changes in their circadian rhythms. Be sure to offer extra support to your pre-teens and teens as they grow. MOSTLY BS You know sleep is important, but life gets in the way. Take heart, you are not alone! Nine out of ten families struggle to get enough sleep on school nights. Unrested children are more prone to anxiety, academic struggles, obesity, depression, and even suicide. There are ways to combat this. Aim for your elementary age students to hit the hay by 7:00 or 8:00, middle schoolers to be in bed by 8:00 or 9:00, and high school students should be asleep by 10:00 or 11:00. As a family, discuss ways you can work together to simplify activity schedules and to keep evenings calm. Continue to implement helpful strategies like limiting screen time, especially in the evenings. MOSTLY CS You know your family’s sleep is important – or you wouldn’t be taking this quiz – but you find yourselves struggling when it comes to sleep hygiene. As a family, discuss what new sleep routines would be helpful and realistic. Start with little changes that will make a big difference, like charging tech overnight in the kitchen to keep screens out of bedrooms. Reflect on how you can make sleep spaces more relaxing and conducive to good sleep. Are bedrooms too light? Too noisy? Too hot? Caffeine and other stimulants can interfere with a good night’s rest, too. Identify what keeps you and your family from restful sleep and go from there.


What can my kids/family do to volunteer during COVID that is safe? Great question! We want to help neighbors in need but don’t want to put others at risk. We know that kids who are involved in community service activities have a sense of community, a sense of purpose, and feel useful thereby increasing selfconfidence. Research also shows that kids who volunteer increase their empathy for others. In addition, with the holidays upon us, many families like to find ways to give back and it’s a way to change children’s focus from “I want this, I want that” to “what can I do to help others?” We have developed a list of ideas and reached out to partners who provide opportunities and encourage their communities to volunteer. • Send cards to deployed military members or people who are homebound. • Rake leaves/shovel snow for a neighbor. • Bake cookies and leave on neighbor’s front door. • Become an online reading buddy. • Pick up trash on playgrounds or trails. • Write positive messages on sidewalks with chalk or paint on rocks and leave around the neighborhood. • Leave a positive message for delivery person or mailman/woman. • Donate food or items for those in need. • Set up a little library in your neighborhood. • Set up a little pantry outside your home and fill it with toilet paper and non-perishables. • Donate at the food bank, homeless shelter, or animal shelter. • Teens can volunteer to help younger students with schoolwork. • Offer to do shopping or run errands for elderly neighbors. • Help a single parent by watching his/her child(ren) while he/she runs errands. • Organize a neighborhood food drive. • Encourage children to clean out their toys and donate ones in good condition. • Make a thank you note for a teacher. • Assemble personal care kits for homeless shelters. • Offer to clean your house of worship. • Donate gently used board games to a domestic abuse shelter or senior center. • Walk an elderly neighbor’s dog. • Check with a long-term care facility on ways to help – can you set up virtual scrabble or card games? • Teachers are really struggling trying to teach in person and virtually, basically doing double duty, ask if you can help.

HAVE A QUESTION?

coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org We cannot guarantee all questions will be published; however, we will do our best to respond to all questions submitted.

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NUMBERS 421

The number of words Scotland has for the word “snow.”

189,819

The number of letters in the longest English word.

56,000

The number of eggs an octopus lays at one time.

25

The percentage of the Sahara Desert that is sandy.

5

The percentage of cats who are allergic to humans.

1500

The average number of PB&J sandwiches a child will eat before graduating from high school.


ParentingMontana.org. Tools to raise kids to be confident, respectful, and make healthy choices.

TOOLS FOR YOUR CHILD’S SUCCESS Brought to you by the Offices of Child Care, SAMHSA, and Montana DPHHS. The views and opinions contained in the publication do not necessarily reflect those of SAMHSA or the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and should not be construed as such.


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listen to hear

AND NOT RESPOND By KELLY ACKERMAN, LCPC

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o be seen, heard, and understood is at the heart of feeling secure, the essence of being loved, the core of being accepted, and the foundation of trust. Though there are many aspects to this foundation, so often the struggle within a relationship is the missing art of listening. Desperately, parents seek to have their kids listen to them. It is a battle shared by a large majority. And yet we learn, as children, to listen by witnessing the adults around us. Often the lesson learned is to be heard or the last to speak. We learn by watching that to listen means we need to have a reaction, an answer, an anecdote, a comparison, a correction. And while we are busy reacting to what our children are attempting to communicate with their limited words and their mixed-up emotions, they receive a message that they have not been heard. So many children (spouses, employees, students, etc.) cry out “YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME!” Let’s stop to consider that they just may be right. To teach a child to listen benefits us by helping us learn the fine art of listening, practicing it, and employing it consistently first. As we do, a level of trust develops, and though not all problems are solved, we find ourselves well on our way to deep, meaningful connection. Though many books have been written on this topic, I challenge you to consider one simple question: What is your motive? Many people would consider themselves good listeners. However, only an estimated 10% of people are good listeners, which means the vast majority fall outside of that definition. Since we have learned from those before and around us, we likely have acquired the importance of a good response. So much of the time someone is talking, we are preoccupied with our own response that we do not dedicate the attention and focus to what is being said because our brain is busy working on the response. The Greek

And while we are busy reacting to what our children are attempting to communicate with their limited words and their mixed-up emotions, they receive a message that they have not been heard. So many children (spouses, employees, students, etc.) cry out “YOU ARE NOT LISTENING TO ME!” Let’s stop to consider that they just may be right. philosopher Epictetus so obviously stated, “We have two ears and one mouth so that we can listen twice as much as we speak,” and still centuries later, we are practicing the art of speaking by preparing our response. We work so hard at this that we send the message to those we love that we do not hear them, or that their message is not worth hearing because what we have to say is more important. In doing this, we break relationship and trust. To listen to understand requires mindfulness, a slowing down and considering what our intention really is. As we challenge ourselves to listen, we can take in the whole message that consists of emotion, tone of voice, facial expression, body language, and allow it to settle. Our

ears capture words, but our attention captures the meaning sometimes hidden in the words. When a girl returns from school with her eyes downcast, shoulders slumped and responds slightly muffled to your question, “How was your day?” with, “It was OK… [long pause]…my friends hid my lunch box at school and I couldn’t find it. They thought it was funny.” Responding could be, “Well that’s a crappy thing to do. I hope you told them off. When I was a kid and my friends were mean to me, I just found new friends!” And then the opportunity to connect to her hurt, embarrassment, and loneliness is missed and she begins to stop talking, slowly turning inward and adopting an internal voice that says she is not good enough. Listening to your son who comes home with a fierce entrance, rapidly and loudly yelling, “My boss sucks! He always blames me for things going wrong. I QUIT,” might require a, “Whoa, that sounds like a terrible experience!” rather than an equally charged, “You better not quit because you have car insurance to pay for and quitting is not responsible.” The second comes from an immediate need to respond to your own emotional trigger and will likely increase the chances that you become a target of the anger and a full-blown argument ensues. The art of listening takes time, practice, and an intentional approach to be aware of your own feelings that are triggered, while focusing on the message being presented and aligning with the person talking. As soon as we lose that alignment, we have lost the art and the connection that creates security. Of course, there is much more to learn about listening, but I challenge you to begin with asking yourself these two questions: Am I a good listener? Is my intention to understand or to be understood? With time and practice, you can find yourself in a connected, secure relationship in the top 10%. ■

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VAPING MARIJUANA? By YOUTH CONNECTIONS STAFF

L

ocal therapists report seeing a rise in teens vaping marijuana. According to DrugAbuse.gov regarding the 2019 Monitoring the Future survey of youth nationwide, “Past year vaping of marijuana, which has more than doubled in the past two years, was reported at 20.8% among 12th graders, with 10th graders not far behind at 19.4% and eighth graders at 7.0%. Past month marijuana vaping among 12th graders nearly doubled in a single year to 14% from 7.5%– the second largest one-year jump ever tracked for any substance in the history of the survey.” WHY THE SURGE? 1) The number one reason youth state they vape marijuana is because they want to experiment. 2) The number two reason is they like the flavors, which are developed to target kids. Flavors like birthday cake, tutti frutti, and bubble gum attract young users. 3) The third reason, which explains the concerning increase in use, is because they’re hooked to them. Often youth will say they want to quit, but they can’t. 4) Parents and teachers can’t identify use by the pungent odor. There is no marijuana smell when vaping marijuana/THC. It’s very easy

to use without getting caught. 5) Vape pens can look like USB drives, pens, markers, and now there is even clothing to hide use. Hoodies look like a normal piece of clothing but the vape device is concealed in the drawstrings. They are easy to carry and to hide. 6) Media has normalized and glamorized e-cigarette use. Challenges posted on social media encourage kids to post videos, like getting a teacher to unknowingly charge their vape device or vape in class undetected. According to JAMA, “Marijuana vaping produces significantly greater physiological and psychological effects compared with traditional smoking methods at the same tetrahydrocannabinol (THC) levels, raising concerns about potential health effects…including lung injury when using black market products.” Dr. Nora Volkow, the Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse stated, “there is a big concern that through the use of this vaping devices teenagers may be modifying their brain. What we yet do not know is what are the consequences that maybe for more subtle effects, that may take years to emerge, which may relate to the fact that you are delivering very high temperature vapor into your lung, that with repeated use and regular use and frequent use, may lead to harm.” ■ youthconnectionscoalition.org

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YC Magazine, Helena - December 2020