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ALSO

The Harmful Effects of Teen Binge Drinking

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THE MAGIC WISH GAME:

Granting Wishes When Your Pockets are Empty » An Introduction to Coping Skills » Is Your Child Dealing with Loneliness? Three Ways to Know

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» Childhood Fear and Anxiety: What is Normal and When We Should Take Action


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INSIDE JUNE 2020

FEATURES

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The Magic Wish Game: Granting Wishes When Your Pockets are Empty

14 16

An Introduction to Coping Skills

Is Your Child Dealing with Loneliness? Three Ways to Know

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Childhood Fear and Anxiety: What is Normal and When We Should Take Action

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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

When the Party is Over: The Harmful Effects of Teen Binge Drinking

PARTNER AGENCY

PRODUCED IN CONJUNCTION WITH

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

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ON THE COVER

Kadyn Craigle is a senior at Capital High School. In addition to excelling academically, he also excels athletically. Kadyn is a leader on the football field, as well as the baseball diamond. Kadyn enjoys many of the outdoor activities Montana has to offer, including backpacking, skiing, hunting, and boating. He has also had some awesome experiences, from coaching flag football, getting involved with Eagle Mount Bozeman, and participating in Montana American Legion Boys State. Kadyn is very excited for the next chapter in his life, which is attending the United States Air Force Academy, located in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He wants to study engineering, and eventually become a pilot and fly fighter jets. He is also interested in law school. For Kadyn, the sky’s the limit!

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 W FROM THE

ell this has been a once-ina-lifetime (hopefully) last few months, and not one that I want to relive anytime soon (and I don’t have kids at home!). That being said, there have been some positives to come out of being quarantined: more time with immediate family; having the time to do puzzles, play games, or color; watch/listen to podcasts that we’ve only talked about COLEEN doing; enjoying just being able to go SMITH outside. We’ve also seen an increase in appreciation for the little things and the heroes that are normally overlooked – healthcare providers, grocery store employees, food service workers. I hope that all continues. Having kiddos home all the time can be an added stress. The magazine committee met (remotely) and came up with a slate of articles to address many issues that parents were dealing with during shelter in place, but may continue after lifted. Our feature article was submitted by Dr. Leonard Lantz, and gives parents real-life tools for dealing with a child who may be acting out because of not getting what he/she wants. It addresses something every parent has dealt with at some point. Our other articles give parents tools in identifying and helping kids with fear. This has been an unprecedented time that was filled with a lot of fear and anxiety for many people, children included. In conjunction with that is an article to help parents identify if their child is dealing with loneliness. Being away from friends, school, and after-school activities is very isolating for kids. My brother, who is a 3rd grade teacher, held a Zoom call and the kids were so excited just to see each other. We also wanted to give parents some ideas for positive coping skills. Again, this is something that we can all use at any time. It can be a slippery slope making unhealthy choices to deal with the stresses of the “new normal”. It is important as parents to model positive coping skills. Here’s to hoping you all have a great summer – and don’t forget to continue the positive activities honed during quarantine. 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


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CONFESSIONS FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE A local youth minister shares the benefits for youth to belong to a faith community. While her experiences are Christian-based, any faith community can be a benefit.

I

left the church for many years. As a teenager, I had experienced some difficult times. I did not ask questions and decided God either did not exist or was not good and I turned away from Him. However, when my children were toddlers, I wanted them to attend Sunday school. Why? Because I had positive memories of Sunday school and I wanted my kids to learn about God. After returning to church, I started reading the Bible and God showed me He is there during tough times and He has a plan. He showed me Romans 5:3-5: “not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.” He may allow us to go through a trial, but we must hold on to His promises and persevere. The Bible makes it clear that faith in Christ does not guarantee a good life, but a perfect eternity. Now I work in youth ministry and get to hang out with teenagers who are going through their own trials, including the Covid epidemic. I am blessed with the support of an amazing team of volunteers. Each one has different life experiences, is gifted in different ways and all have a heart for teens. Benefits I have experienced and witnessed with being connected to a faith community include: CONNECTION: We are made to be in community with others. Youth group gives

teens an environment that offers nonjudgmental, trustworthy, and safe social engagements—such as eating and worshiping together, playing games, listening to a lesson and discussing those lessons, and life, in smaller groups. Each of us have different gifts, we need each other and are more effective together. Proverbs 27:17 says, as iron sharpens iron, so one person sharpens another. SERVING: We come together as a group to serve people in our community. Whether it is making blankets to support kids going through a tough time, playing Bingo at a housing facility for seniors and disabled people, or assembling boxes for Operation Christmas Child, together we make a difference. Hebrews 13:16 says, and do not forget to do good and to share with others, for with such sacrifices God is pleased. LEADERSHIP: Teens on the youth group leadership team learn leadership skills by attending monthly meetings and an annual retreat. They put these skills into practice by assisting in leading youth group. At youth group they pray, greet, lead games, teach lessons and plan events. They also greet and read at church and serve in Awana and Kid’s church. Timothy 4:12 tells young people, let no one despise you for your youth, but set the believers an example in speech, in conduct, in love, in faith, in purity.

KNOWLEDGE OF FORGIVENESS: Teens grow in their knowledge of the Bible and forgiveness. They learn how they and others can have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ; how Jesus died for the forgiveness of our sins, was buried and rose from the dead, and; how to take God’s Word and apply it to their lives through the receiving and practicing of forgiveness. People make mistakes that impact us and there are even people who purposefully hurt us. Although this is often out of our control, responding positively is not always easy, but with God’s help we can forgive. Lewis B. Smedes: “to forgive is to set a prisoner free and discover that the prisoner was you.” Ephesians 4:32 says, be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you. PURPOSE: Teens find purpose in knowing that as followers of Christ, they will have eternal life after death. 2 Corinthians 5:21 “For God made Christ, who never sinned, to be the offering for our sin, so that we could be made right with God through Christ.” While non-faith communities may have many of the same benefits, by being able to openly speak about our faith, we are able to express to the teens exactly where our joy, peace, kindness and strength comes from. I invite you to connect with your local church youth groups and other faith organizations like Fellowship of Christian Athletes and Young Life. ■

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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the magic

WISH GA

Granting Wishes When Your P 6

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WHY POSITIVE PARENTING? Many parents believe that strategies like discipline, saying no, and tough love are the best ways to raise cooperative children. The problem is that these techniques often backfire. Ignoring negative behavior and drawing kids into something positive through creativity and imagination is a challenge, yet very gratifying when it works. Sometimes one of the hardest things to do as a parent is to say no to your child, either because you simply are unable to fulfill their wishes or because doing so would be bad for them. Other times it is very easy to say no, but saying no abruptly is likely to result in your child having a meltdown. Parents can feel incredibly stuck when this happens, however, you can fulfill your child’s wishes in fantasy when you can’t or shouldn’t in reality. THE MAGIC WISH GAME IS ABOUT USING FANTASY TO SAY YES WHEN REALITY SAYS NO Here is an example dialogue between a father and his 4-year-old son, who are stuck in traffic on their way home in the evening. The child, known for anger outbursts, shouts, “I want soda!” If the dad says, “No, I don’t have any soda and besides, it’s too late in the day for sweets,” he is pretty certain his son will flip out. Instead, the father decides to try the Magic Wish Game.

c

AME

Pockets are Empty

Little Boy (upset) I want soda! Father (calm) Hey, buddy. You want soda. Little Boy (calmer) Yeah. Right now. Father You want soda right now. Why, buddy? Little Boy I’m thirsty! Father You’re thirsty. Do you know what I wish? I wish I could give you a soda right now. If I had soda right now what flavor would you want? Little Boy Strawberry! Father I wish I could give you a huge strawberry soda right now. Would you want ice in it? Little Boy Nope. Father You’d want a straw, right? Little Boy (smiling) Oh, yeah. Father Wouldn’t it be wild if we had a soda fountain right in our car? If I had a magic wand right now …poof!...there is a soda machine with strawberry soda right there in the back seat! Little Boy Now I can have soda anytime I want! Father Oh yeah, and we could have snacks and a fridge back there too. What other things should we put in this amazing car? Little Boy A popcorn maker! Father (cringing inside at the thought) Wow! A popcorn maker in the backseat of our car. We sure would have an interesting car! continued on page 9

By DR. LEN LANTZ YC MAGAZINE

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continued from page 7

Little Boy You bet! Father Hey. You know. The traffic’s starting to move and I think we’re going to be able to get out of here and home soon. You’re thirsty. Since we’re almost home and it’s getting late, what do you normally get to drink around this time? Little Boy Strawberry soda! Father What!? Little Boy Milk! Father Okay. Let’s get you a glass of milk the second we get home! In the story above, the father could not fulfill his child’s wish because they were stuck in traffic and he did not have soda. Besides this, his son’s wish was inappropriate because he was not allowed to have soda near the end of the day. However, when the father started to fulfill the boy’s wish in fantasy and engaged the child in playing the Magic Wish Game, he was able to learn more about his son’s demand, communicate he was aware of the child’s thirst, and validate his son’s feelings. HOW THE MAGIC WISH GAME WORKS 1. Spot the problem before it’s a crisis. If your child is already exploding, don’t play the Magic Wish Game. 2. Be calm, friendly and inquisitive without saying yes or no. 3. Begin by using reflective language to validate your child’s feelings, buy time and get more information. 4. When you use reflective language, say what they said back to them and use a tone of voice that makes your child’s words sound reasonable. Do not copy their tone of voice or mock your child in any way. 5. Once you understand the situation, you can begin the Magic Wish Game through one of the following openers: 6. Younger kids: If I had a magic wand right now, do you know I’d do? I’d ________ . 7. Older kids: You know what I wish? • I wish I had _____ [the item or an awesome way to get you the item] • I wish I had _____ [the circumstance to say yes and give you what you want and more] • I wish ___________ [unfortunate reality] wasn’t happening. • I wish ____________ [positive situation] was happening right now, because then __________ [positive outcome]. 8. Stay calm and positive. Try to get your child less fixated on what they don’t have by encouraging them to imagine having it. See if you can get them to top your wish with a bigger wish and picture a positive or fun outcome. 9. There is no need to actually say, “No.” Responding, “I wish…” clearly indicates you aren’t planning to fulfill the child’s wish, but states this in a more understanding and positive way. HOW DOES THE MAGIC WISH GAME WORK WITH OLDER KIDS? Consider the situation of shopping for clothes with a teenager. Kids often do not understand or care about your budget. In the following dialogue, a mother is shopping for school clothes with her teenage daughter at an inexpensive store. Do you see anything you want to try on? (frustrated) No. These clothes suck! I want to go to American Eagle. (calm) You want to go to American Eagle. What do you like about American Eagle? Well, Emily found a super cute dress there. And it’s where Jess buys her jeans. The clothes just look so much better there. Mother So, the clothes are better at American Eagle and it’s where your friends shop. Teen Girl Yeah.

Mother Teen Girl Mother Teen Girl

Mother Well, I wish that we weren’t on such a tight budget and that we could go to American Eagle right now. I wish I had $1000 cash right now so we could go to America Eagle and you could get exactly what you wanted for school. You wouldn’t even have to check the price tag! Teen Girl (shrugs shoulders) That would be nice… Mother So, if we weren’t on a budget, would you still go to American Eagle? Or is there a store you like even more? Teen Girl I guess I’d go to Buckle. Mother You’d go to Buckle. Is that here in the mall? Teen Girl No. We don’t even have one in Springfield! The closest one is in Shelbyville. Mother Is Buckle expensive? Teen Girl Not much more than American Eagle… Mother Perfect. I’m changing my wish now. I wish that I had $1000 cash right now and we had a whole day in Shelbyville so you could buy anything you wanted for school at Buckle. Teen Girl (smiling) Yeah. If we hit the sales at Buckle, we could use the extra money to rent a limo to drive us around Shelbyville. Mother This is starting to sound really nice! I like your idea! Why not just take a limo from Springfield to Shelbyville for a day of shopping? Teen Girl Mm-hmm... Mother Well, we have to head out soon so we can make it to the grocery store before dinner. Do you think we should just skip looking for clothes today and go get a snack? Teen Girl No, I need something for school. I’ll try on that sweater. It doesn’t look too horrible. In the dialogue above, the mother used reflective language that was pretty close to what the girl said to get more information. She didn’t threaten or belittle her daughter. She didn’t even have to say no. There was no guilt-tripping. She was able to acknowledge her daughter’s desire to buy stylish clothes like her friends had. The mother even learned where her daughter would prefer to shop and if the clothes there were affordable. WHAT ELSE DOES THE MAGIC WISH GAME COMMUNICATE TO A CHILD? This game allows you to communicate with your child on a deeper level. People not only communicate through their actual words but through subtext, which can be far more important than the literal statement. This subtext – the “message behind the message” – can be far more important than the original statement. In the example between the mother and daughter, the subtext of what the mother was communicating to her daughter was powerful: “You matter to me. I would love to splurge on you.” WHEN TO USE THE MAGIC WISH GAME + Your child wants an item and you don’t have the money + Your child wants something impossible (or inappropriate) + Your child wants to do or avoid an activity and it just won’t work • Staying up late • Going to a birthday party • Skipping school RAISING YOUR KIDS USING POSITIVE STRATEGIES Parents are acutely aware of the difference between their child’s wants and needs. Using the Magic Wish Game can free you up to have fun dreaming big dreams with your kids or help you out of a jam when you really need it. While the Magic Wish Game does not work for all kids and situations, it is a strategy for practicing positive parenting and you can do it for free! ■

Dr. Len Lantz is a child and adolescent psychiatrist at Big Sky Psychiatry in Helena, Montana, and he is the publisher of Kung Fu Psychiatry (www.kungfupsychiatry.com)

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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.

Sophie Flynn

HAWTHORNE ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 4TH GRADE

Sophie is a student who loves to help others. She is hardworking, compassionate, and intelligent. During the recent time spent at home, she has been keeping busy by making cards for friends and relatives, delivering gifts, decorating rocks to put around her neighborhood, and making some fantastic chalk art creations on the sidewalks with inspirational messages. During her spare time, she enjoys Irish Dancing with the Tiernan Irish Dancers, crafting, and spending time with her dog. Sophie’s hard work, kind heart, and sense of humor make her a dependable friend and productive member of our community. Thanks, Sophie, for being a positive role model.

Dawson Oclander

MONTANA CITY MIDDLE SCHOOL, 6TH GRADE

Dawson really enjoys Scouting with Troop 214 and has done a few things recently with his troop to help the community during the COVID-19 pandemic. He has helped sort and group meals for delivery to students who receive breakfasts and lunches through the school district. He also helped deliver masks to members of the community who have compromised immunity or pre-existing conditions. He always really enjoys having conversations with the people he meets during these activities and is even a good sport when people assume he is a Girl Scout because of his long hair! Thanks, Dawson, for your service to our community members!

Claire Downing

HELENA HIGH SCHOOL, JUNIOR

Claire is not only an honor student at Helena High School, but an all-around outstanding young lady. She has been active in cross-country, is a member of the 7-7-77 Club, is very active in 4-H, and has done numerous community service projects in the Helena area. Claire is a Lewis & Clark County 4-H Ambassador, and she is a member of the County 4-H Foundation and the Montana 4-H Council. She is someone who is thoughtful of others, as represented by her community service projects of providing dinner for the Helena Police Department and organizing a book drive for military families. Claire is a great example of what is good in our community.

Taylore Dinsdale

PREVENTION SPECIALIST

Taylore was born in Germany and spent her younger years in Arizona and Alaska while her dad was active in the Air Force before moving to Townsend. She attended Carroll College and earned a Bachelor’s in Health Science and Public Health. During school she went on two volunteer trips to Ecuador to help under-privileged and disabled children in small villages. After graduation she ran the Substance Abuse Program for the Montana Army National Guard. She is currently the prevention specialist for Lewis & Clark County. She likes to spend time with family and her dogs, go bow fishing, refs volleyball, and enjoys pretty much anything outdoors. Thanks, Taylore, for your work in helping keep local families safe and healthy.

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40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

KNOWLEDGE GROWS MONEY

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!

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www.LewisAndClarkHealth.org

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

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

9 SUPPORT

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.

Blake helping deliver items during quarantine

EMPOWERMENT

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 Learning how to play hockey Spending quality time and learning how to bake

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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

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.

Enjoying a beautiful day with family

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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.

33 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.

Students sharing their love for their schools

POSITIVE VALUES

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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.

Matthew missing shop class, so learning at home

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.

Boy Scouts out delivering masks

40

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.

High school senior reports she’s choosing MSU

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an introduction to COPING SKILLS By KELLY ACKERMAN, LCPC

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s a therapist, I am often approached by clients or parents who identify coping skills as their primary goal for counseling. This makes sense and is very practical. The term coping skills has become a popular “buzz” word in our culture, thus understanding and building a coping skills toolbox is helpful to most people. However, it is important to understand the definition of a coping skill, the purpose of using these tools, the goal of the tools, and an increased self-awareness to know what tools will work best. A coping skill is a strategy used to maintain emotional and behavioral control within a given moment, and when used effectively allows us to experience a full range of emotion without damaging relationships with others or ourselves. This requires self-awareness as emotions begin to rise, often first being noticed in the body. What happens when we get nervous, embarrassed, angry, jealous, or sad? Some people experience heat rising to their face during anger, butterflies in their stomach when they are nervous, heaviness in their chest when they are jealous, or a strong desire to run when they are embarrassed. These emotions manifest differently for everyone and only we can become the expert. Tuning in to our body gives us an advantage to knowing what we’re feeling and allows us to access our coping skills to effectively manage these feelings in the moment. Therefore, becoming curious about oneself is one of the first steps in using coping skills effectively. As we gain awareness about the first indications that emotions are becoming “big,” we can use short-term coping skills to keep our prefrontal cortex (i.e. the logical, thinking brain) to remain engaged rather than allowing the big feelings to access the impulsive responses that often result in getting in trouble, causing stress within relationships, or acting out in socially unacceptable ways and eventually leaving one with feelings of guilt, shame and beliefs of worthlessness. As we identify that hot sensation in our face, we can take some deep breaths, count to 10, get a drink of water, or go for a short walk. This allows

Practicing self-care basics is the daily act of loving ourselves. Basic self-care includes the daily activities of adequate sleep, personal hygiene, hydration, proper nutrition, exercise, and a spiritual or mindfulness practice in which our brains can rest. space to exist between the event that triggered the feeling, giving us time to problem solve and make a decision about how to handle a difficult situation that will be right for us and others who may be involved. The good news is, its likely these coping skills have been engaged to help us in this process. If we have ever walked away, taken a drive, gone for a jog ,or snuggled a pet, we have engaged in a coping skill. It is not difficult to find lists of coping skills on the internet ranging from blowing bubbles to meditation. The next step is evaluating what works for us individually and whether we are using active coping skills or avoidant coping skills. Active coping skills are those tools used to get an emotion under control. When we use active coping skills effectively, it is important to return to the stressor and make decisions about the next step such as how to problem solve, talk about the emotional experience, or use a journal to express our feelings and thoughts. Too often, people can use coping skills and end up avoiding the pattern of emotional experiences they are having which eventually results in

“blowing up” or acting in ways that are out of proportion to the situation. Additionally, people regularly use avoidant coping skills that allow suppression of the emotional experience because it is so uncomfortable. Avoidant coping skills include alcohol and substance use, tuning out through use of tv, games, or even books, withdrawal and isolation, or risky behaviors such as fast driving or engaging in thoughtless sex. These coping mechanisms not only help avoid the challenging emotions but often give a temporary positive experience which is why they are so effective. However, they further result in damage to relationships, both with others and ourselves, leaving the challenge even bigger than it was originally. Finally, attending to basic self-care needs on a daily basis is also an essential skill. So often self-care is considered culturally as “pampering” ourselves with a facial, massage or a night out with our buddies. While these types of self-care have their benefit, their effect is short-lived. Practicing self-care basics is the daily act of loving ourselves. When we love ourselves, we begin to have enough self-worth to use active coping skills to grow, mature and enhance our relationships with others. Basic self-care includes the daily activities of adequate sleep, personal hygiene, hydration, proper nutrition, exercise, and a spiritual or mindfulness practice in which our brains can rest. When these basic self-care needs are our primary coping skills, accessing shortterm coping skills is much easier. For this reason, I challenge everyone to keep a basic self-care daily report card, and to make a list of adaptive and active coping skills (as soon as you are done reading this article). Note: It is important to recognize when coping skills are not working for us, when we are not meeting our basic self-care needs, when we do not have safe relationships in which to share our thoughts and feelings, or when avoidant coping is our primary experience. It may be time to activate enough strength and courage to reach out for help to a licensed counselor. That is using an active coping skill. ■

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IS YOUR CHILD DEALING WITH LONELINESS?

three ways to know By DR. TIM ELMORE

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hen both of my kids were young, they had no problem expressing what they wanted or needed. My wife and I would’ve sworn they were both extroverts, as they (like millions of other Millennials) let us know if they were hungry, thirsty, in need of a toy, or desiring a friend. Then they became high school students and, later, college students. Eventually, the situation changed around our house. Turns out our daughter is, indeed, an extrovert and is energized by her time with people. (Don’t believe it? Just ask her). My son, however, is an introvert and has a difficult time expressing his deepest feelings or desires, even when they’re merely social. He is intelligent, college-educated, and actually quite articulate. (He’s a writer.) But he has an easier time sharing what he thinks than how he feels, just like his dad. WHAT ARE COMMON SITUATIONS WHERE KIDS FEEL LONELY? Every young person needs time alone, even the most social one. However, time alone can lead to a feeling of loneliness or sadness. Introverts typically love time alone but may eventually begin feeling lonely. Note some common situations: 1. Times of Transition and Change Kids are especially vulnerable to feeling lonely when they move to a new school, (elementary school through college). Transition points bring change and a sense of unsettlement. They can be emotionally paralyzed and become lonely. 2. Periods of Grief or Loss Often, kids don’t know what to do emotionally when they lose a pet or a family

member or when they grieve a personal situation. Instead of connecting, they isolate themselves. Their withdrawal can lead to loneliness.

we all need and can learn to appreciate. While loneliness is not a sign of mental illness, it can foster mental health problems in kids. So, how can we spot it?

3. Connecting Through Screens more than Face-to-Face Believe it or not, while social media allows us to connect with others, it’s virtual and often doesn’t satisfy our human need for social intimacy. Screens can lead to a melancholy state of loneliness.

1. They are unable to talk about their friends. In normal social situations, even a student who isn’t articulate can express how they feel about friends or about a social situation. Lonely kids can feel unable to do this. My son’s best friend moved out of state in fifth grade, and we noticed he stopped talking about any friends at all. His temporary loneliness fostered a silent 10-year-old in our home for a while.

4. When Being Bullied An obvious context sparking loneliness is when a student is being bullied or cyberbullied by peers. Smartphones have enabled bullying to expand beyond school hours, and kids can be manipulated into isolation and feel unworthy of friends. WE LIVE WITH AN IRONY It’s ironic that as a society we’ve never been more connected, yet we experience a growing sense of loneliness. Statistics report that people have never felt so lonely. Teresa May announced a new position in England, a loneliness minister, to address the trend. Australia organized a Coalition to End Loneliness. One in five Americans reports rarely or never feeling close to others. And a recent study of over 20,000 people found that nearly half of respondents sometimes or always felt lonely. I believe our portable devices designed to connect us have actually isolated us. THREE WAYS TO SPOT A KID WHO MAY BE LONELY The fact is we can be with a crowd of people and still feel alone. And we can be alone and not feel lonely at all. Solitude is something

2. They begin to look sad and withdraw. During that same year, we noticed our son begin to withdraw from his routines, and he looked sad much of the time. When we inquired, we discovered that he wandered around the playground at recess alone or sat alone. This was unlike him. 3. They lose their appetite for the food they like or lose interest in fun activities. A natural outgrowth of the previous symptom, kids can lose their appetite at mealtimes, and even lose their appetite for the usually attractive activities they previously enjoyed. Lack of motivation is a prime symptom of loneliness and can be associated with depression. Editor’s Note: If you feel your child may be experiencing these symptoms, contact their physician or schedule an appointment with a mental health counselor for an assessment. ■

About The Author: Tim Elmore is an international speaker and best-selling author of more than 30 books, including Generation iY: The Secrets to Connecting With Teens & Young Adults in the Digital Age, Artificial Maturity: Helping Kids Meet the Challenges of Becoming Authentic Adults, the Habitudes® series, and 12 Huge Mistakes Parents Can Avoid. He is founder and president of Growing Leaders, an organization equipping today’s young people to become the leaders of tomorrow. Sign up to receive Tim’s blog at www.growingleaders.com/blog and get more information on Growing Leaders at www.GrowingLeaders.com and @GrowingLeaders @TimElmore. Used with permission. All content contained within this article is the property of Growing Leaders, Inc. and is protected by international copyright laws, and may not be reproduced, republished, distributed, transmitted, displayed, broadcast or otherwise exploited in any manner without the express prior written permission of Growing Leaders. Growing Leaders, Inc. names and logos and all related trademarks, tradenames, and other intellectual property are the property of Growing Leaders and cannot be used without its express prior written permission.

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NUMBERS What do you wish parents knew? (Asked of a teen.) As a child of a parent who tends to ask a lot of questions, there are a couple questions I believe all parents should be asking their children. One of my favorite questions happens as soon as your child gets in the car when you pick them up: “How was your day?” This is a question that may seem as though it gets repetitive, but it shows that you are interested in what happened that day. Some days are boring, and your child will just respond with “fine.” If we are having a bad day, I would want my parents to ask me how they could make it better. On the days that crazy things happen, we want to tell someone about it and it may even spark an entire conversation. Those days when we are struggling, we want parents to acknowledge that. For instance, just a simple “are you okay?” or “how are you doing” can let us know that you care about our feelings and well being. If we are struggling, sometimes it’s hard for us to get out of bed and do our favorite things. For me personally, it’s working out. Everyone close to me knows that working out makes me happy and relieves a lot of stress that may be occurring in my life. On those days that I don’t want to work out, I want my parents to ask me if I have worked out that day. Parents should be asking their child if they have participated in things that they enjoy doing. You should also ask your child what makes them happy. There are obvious things that make people happy including friends, family, pets, etc. But there are also random small things that can make them happy. Especially during my teenage years, being social and hanging out with friends is a very important life stage. Kids tend to feel the safest when they are loved, so you should ask your child “What makes you feel loved?” Coming from a teenager’s perspective these are just some questions you can ask your child. What I hope you can take away from this article is to just ask caring questions and talk to your child. Not only will it allow you to understand your child more, but it will also make your relationship stronger.

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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The percentage of time a cat sleeps in their life.

167

The fastest speed recorded on a bicycle in miles per hour.

10

The percentage of Icelanders who become a published author. (Most in the world.)

40

The number of minutes a sloth can hold his breath.

50

The percentage of adults in the world who have never drunk alcohol.

100

The number of good bacteria living in your body, in trillions.


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CHILDHOOD FEAR AND ANXIETY:

what is normal and when we should take action By ANDREA HOLMES, Director of Strategic Growth and Programs, Florence Crittenton

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arents often wonder if their children’s fears and anxieties are a normal part of development. Much like adults, children experience a variety of emotions, albeit uncomfortable at times, which allow them to navigate their world in a meaningful way. Childhood itself can be an anxious experience. Young people are tasked with learning many new skills, meeting everyday challenges, overcoming fears, all while interacting in a world that is ever-changing and that doesn’t always make sense. However, healthy fears and anxieties serve as a temperature gauge to maneuver through situations that may be dangerous or require them to slow down and assess whether to engage or seek out help. Most importantly dealing with anxiety and fear are necessary in preparing young people to handle life’s experiences and challenges that come their way. Whether healthy or unhealthy, child development happens quickly and varies from child to child, so distinguishing normal emotions from those that require special attention may require caregivers to slow down and take note. NORMAL FEAR AND ANXIETY + Babies experience stranger anxiety, clinging to parents when confronted by people they don’t recognize. They will also be startled by loud noises and have a fear response to falling. + Toddlers may experience separation anxiety, becoming emotionally distressed when one or both parents leave; fear of strangers or new things. + Kids ages 4 through 6 may also have anxiety about separating from their caregiver or being around strangers; they may also be afraid of animals, blood, heights, dark places or things that aren’t based in reality, such as fears of monsters and ghosts. + Kids ages 7 through 12 often have fears that reflect real circumstances that may happen to them or their loved ones, such as bodily injuries, death and events in the news such as terrorist attacks or virus pandemics. Adolescents may also have a healthy dose of sexual and social anxieties. Most childhood fears are a normative part of development, temporary or eventually outgrown, but research has shown that anxiety disorders are the most common psychiatric diagnosis in childhood. Approximately one in eight children have an anxiety disorder, but the majority of the children who qualify for a diagnosis are not getting the treatment they need. Not treating anxiety leaves children at risk of decreasing performance in school, poor social skills, poor emotional regulation skills, and the use of negative coping strategies (e.g. substances). Anxiety diagnosis in adulthood can be traced back to underpinnings of anxiety in childhood. Therefore, prevention and intervention around signs of childhood anxiety is important.

Sometimes kids’ fears or stressors prove too much to handle and can take a toll on a child’s sense of well-being. If the comfort, support and reassurance from a healthy parent to mitigate these everyday stressors is not enough, it may be time to take action. As much as caregivers hope a child will grow out of it, the anxiety becomes greater, more prevalent and the opposite may occur without proper help. But the good news is that unless the anxiety hinders the young persons everyday ability to function, the child most likely won’t need extensive treatment by a mental health professional. WARNING SIGNS OF ABNORMAL FEAR AND ANXIETY + Becoming clingy, impulsive or easily distracted + Avoidance or withdrawal + Nervous movements or twitching + Problems getting to sleep and/or staying asleep + Sweaty hands or body parts + Accelerated heart rate or breathing + Nausea, headaches or stomach aches Parents know their children best and can usually tell when a child is feeling excessively stressed, anxious, or uneasy about something. Simply being there for the child and allowing them to feel what they feel in the moment, without judgment, can be a healthy way for a child to feel comforted and move towards emotional regulation and safety. IMPORTANT FACTORS TO KEEP IN MIND + If the child’s fear is related to a developmental stage or age of the child, there is a strong probability their anxiety or fear will resolve before it becomes a concern. However, if they continue to experience trouble getting past the anxiety or fear with support, intervention may have to be more extensive. + Try to identify the specific symptoms the child is experiencing and how/if it is affecting their personal, social, or academic functioning. If anxiety is a response to the child’s everyday activities (e.g., sports, school, extracurricular) adjustments can be made to alleviate some stress they are experiencing. + If a child’s fear seems disproportionate to the event/s or situation, this may be a sign to seek outside help from a professional. Also take note of any patterns of anxiety that are persistent and pervasive and take action, or the anxiety is likely to continue to affect the child. Fear and anxiety are inevitable, but parents often feel helpless when they see their children experiencing intense fear or worry. For questions or concerns as to whether a child’s fear and anxiety is normal, seek out advice from a mental health professional. ■

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In Montana, parents want what’s best for their kids.

ParentingMontana.org has information

and tools for parents of children at every age.

TOOLS FOR YOUR CHILD’S SUCCESS This product was supported [in part] by CFDA 93.959 from the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA). The content of this publication does not necessarily reflect the views or policies of SAMHSA or Health and Human Services.


when the party is over:

THE HARMFUL EFFECTS OF TEEN BINGE DRINKING By SKY COVA, MA, NCC, PCLC, Intermountain Psychotherapist - OP - Candidate

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ow many times have we seen a movie with the following storyline - parents out of town, house filled with underage drinkers, red solo cups filled with beer, and kegs supplied by a best friend’s-brother’s-girlfriend’s cousin. In movies like these, there is also a common background chant of “CHUG CHUG CHUG.” SOUND FAMILIAR? While these movies may seem entertaining, they also depict a seriously harmful kind of drinking – binge drinking. Binge drinking, defined as drinking 3+ drinks in a short amount of time (1-2 hours), may seem cool to teens, but the long-term implications of consuming alcohol this way may be worse than they realize. To help paint a binge drinking picture, the National Institute on Alcohol Abuse and Alcoholism (NIAAA) compiles statistics surrounding this form of substance abuse among teens. Alarmingly, they have found teens consume 11% of all alcohol consumed in the US. WHY IS THIS A BIG PROBLEM? According to NIAAA, studies have shown youth who start drinking before the age of 15 are four times more likely to meet the criteria for alcohol dependence. Unfortunately, they also found young people consume more than 90% of their alcohol by binge drinking. This kind of drinking to excess is associated with many health and

responsibility risks, including increased incidence of accidents, death, assault, and long-term consequences including increased incidence of alcohol abuse. DON’T DESPAIR, PREVENTION IS POSSIBLE! Teaching teens abstinence or drinking small amounts with responsible adults to mark celebratory events is likely to assist them in developing a responsible relationship with alcohol. With all the development complexities occurring between childhood and adulthood, it is important for teens to form a responsible attitude toward not only alcohol, but also socializing, driving, navigating the internet, gambling, psychoactive substances, and physical risk taking. The NIAAA also encourages parents to talk openly about values and drinking, model a responsible relationship with alcohol, supervise gatherings, and encourage activities which don’t involve alcohol. These interventions may seem small, but they can assist in creating and maintaining responsible relationships with alcohol. While binge drinking is something many teens will have to navigate, clear guidance from parents can help provide more clarity and safety. If drinking is already a problem for your teen, seeking help from an addiction professional may be recommended. ■ youthconnectionscoalition.org

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E A R LY INTERVENTION PROGRAM

Early childhood specialists can help provide information through developmental screening and consultation with parents. If you have questions about a child’s

All Services are Provided FREE of Charge! FAMILY OUTREACH Child and Family Services: 1212 Helena Avenue Helena, Montana 59601 (406) 443-7370 FamilyOutreach.org

development, an evaluation can be accessed at any time to determine whether the child may benefit from the services offered through Family Outreach.

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Youth Connections 1025 N Rodney Helena, MT 59601

FITNESS AND FUN FROM HOME The health and well-being of the kids in our community is more important than ever. That’s why St. Peter’s Health is proud to help the Helena YMCA offer the Brand X Method ™ Program. Specifically designed to help kids get moving, stay active and have fun, Brand X classes are now available for free online. Explore the free online classes at helenaymca.org/youth-fitness.

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YC Mag, Helena - June 2020  

YC Mag, Helena - June 2020