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ALSO

MDMA/Ecstasy: Why It’s Popular – and Dangerous

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GUIDING CHILDREN WITH TOOLS FOR SUCCESS PARENTING WITH SOCIAL AND EMOTIONAL LEARNING » How to Talk To Your Kids » Emotional Turmoil: Basic Survival Skills for Parents

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» Helping a Special Student at the Start of School


CARING FOR EVERY AGE, EVERY STAGE Bill Batey, MD North Clinic

At St. Peter’s Health, we believe in the power of primary care—to both keep you healthy and help you get better. Our Family Medicine physicians and caregivers are compassionate clinicians dedicated to understanding your unique health needs. With a focus on preventative care for all ages, we help patients manage their health to live their best lives.

Mikael Bedell, MD North Clinic

MEDICAL GROUP FAMILY MEDICINE

Bill Batey, MD Family medicine physician and threetime “Best Doctor” in The Independent Record’s “Best of Helena” poll

Emily Hedum, DO North Clinic

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Mike Strekall, MD North Clinic

BROADWAY CLINIC 2550 BROADWAY

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SEPTEMBER 2018

FEATURES

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Guiding Children with Tools for Success: Parenting with Social and Emotional Learning

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How to Talk to Your Kids

Emotional Turmoil: Basic Survival Skills for Parents

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Helping a Special Student at the Start of School

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IN EVERY ISSUE

MDMA/Ecstasy: Why It’s Popular – and Dangerous

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 Floating Leaf Studios

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ON THE COVER

Director FROM THE

Colter Petre will be an eighth grader this fall at Helena Middle School. He is involved in Student Council, church youth group, and is a WEB leader, where he helps mentor younger students. His favorite classes are math, science, and art. He participates in sports of all kinds – his favorites are football, basketball, and soccer. He lives on a ranch in the Helena Valley where he helps raise cattle and loves to ride horses! He is also involved in 4-H and loves learning about and being around livestock. Colter enjoys being outside and participates in many outdoor activities such as skiing, hiking, camping, and fishing. He especially loves to hunt with his family.

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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ow – summer is over and it’s back to school time again. Where does the time go? The magazine committee worked hard to assemble a slate of articles that will hopefully help the transition back to school be easier – at least for the parents. We are thrilled to have a national author helping us out with a series surrounding Social Emotional Learning. This first issue COLEEN will have an overview of the practice SMITH and subsequent issues will dive further in to the specifics. Stay tuned! It’s fascinating stuff that is proven to help kids and families. There are lots of individual tidbits throughout this issue to help everyone transition back into school. We are thrilled to have Kelly and Tina both contributing, as well as a therapist from Intermountain. Their insight is so valuable in helping us navigate the stress-infested waters called parenting. We are excited to say we’ll be keeping our VISTA, Rachel, for one more year. She will be focusing on engaging the faith community in substance use prevention. Their support throughout the prevention, therapy, and recovery stages is critical in people’s success. We’d like to welcome the new superintendent, Tyler Ream, and the new assistant superintendent, Josh McKay, and look forward to working with them to partner in efforts to keep kids drug/alcohol free so all students can reach their full potential. If you are interested in helping with our efforts to keep kids substance free, we’d love to have you join us! Coalition meetings are the third Thursday at noon, and the Rx Drug Task Force meets the second Tuesday at noon. Send me an email, and I’ll add you to the list. If you’re interested in receiving a monthly email with helpful parenting tips, emerging drug trends to look out for, and a tasty/heathy recipe, email me. (We never sell email addresses, and you can opt out at any time.) Here’s to a successful school year for all those involved! 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


Back-to-School Rule No 9

Reminder!

date nights Relax together. Laugh together. And make a Lucca’s date night a priority.

By law, use of tobacco products is not allowed on school property. Set the example: Be tobacco free!

Named Montana’s Best Restaurant by Business Insider magazine

457-8900 • LewisAndClarkHealth.org Be Active • Eat Smart • Get Screened • Be Sunwise • Be Tobacco Free

Whether you’re seeking a degree, workplace credentials or updated job skills, Helena College has courses and programs to help you get there. First time in college? Switching careers? Need a few credits to complete your degree? We’re here for you. We have excellent student support systems in place. You support your family’s needs. We’ll support yours. Call us. We want to talk to you about your next step.

406-447-6904 • helenacollege.edu

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Building Positive Kids

• Gymnastics classes for ages 2 and up • Cheerleading program for ages 5-18 • Ninja training class for all aspects and levels of athleticism

SELF-CONFIDENCE | COURAGE | STRONG WORK ETHIC

• Birthday Parties, Open Gym, and Parents’ Night Out

(406) 442-6782

3340 McHugh Ln

See more details, class registration, and online party booking at hacmt.com

Every Family Sometimes Needs to Ask an Expert. . . Meet Emily & Jody. We are currently accepting referrals for psychiatric medication management for children & youth ages 5-18. Please call 442-7920 for more information. Emily Michalski-Weber, Psychiatric Mental Health Nurse Practitioner

Jody Mack, Physician’s Assistant - Certified

3240 Dredge Drive • Helena, MT (406) 442-7920

www.intermountain.org

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CONFESSIONS FROM THE KITCHEN TABLE P.S. I’m a lesbian.” She wrote it on the bottom of a card, a fluffy white kitten with a rainbow unicorn adorning the cover, and handed it to us right before dinner. There she was, standing across the table at the age of 14, brave enough to tell us something that’s torn so many families apart. The anticipation of our response hung in her rich, brown eyes, and all I could think was to say something to normalize the topic. Never could I imagine looking at my daughter’s face and responding to something so fragile with rejection. “OK, do you still want dinner?” In hindsight, I realize I’d played it a tad too casual and inadvertently hurt her feelings. I remember telling her that she was still getting to know herself and shouldn’t be surprised if she’s not only attracted to women in the future and that she could still have children. It was an awkward attempt to comfort her that I now realize was more to pacify myself, but despite our flaws as parents she knew before handing us that card that we were safe for her to come out to. I loved her before I ever saw her face; it didn’t matter if her eyes were hazel like mine or brown like my sister’s – I loved her. She didn’t need to have the same fashion sense as me or like pineapple on her pizza.

There wasn’t any detail about this beautiful gift that I’m lucky enough to call my daughter that I wasn’t fully prepared to love before I ever laid eyes on her. I knew before I heard her heart beat that I didn’t need anything from her other than the trust that no matter what, we would love each other despite how difficult the world around us could be. She came out right after Pride week. I remember being sad that we’d have to wait a full year to participate. When the morning of the parade was finally here, we woke up to steady rain. Both of us were excited and anxious – we were doing this together no matter what! We grabbed an umbrella and made our way downtown. We were nervous – we’d never participated in any of the LGBTQ+ events, but a sweet friend of mine is active in our local PFLAG group, so we were comfortable enough to not only attend the parade but to walk with their group. The energy in the air was buzzing as all of these people gathered together to celebrate love and acceptance. It was absolutely electrifying! At the end of the parade, there was a rally with people and booths and music and hand clapping. All of a sudden, I found my normally reclusive daughter immersed in

a group, all of them talking and laughing – including her! That was my cue – I faded into the background to allow her to just enjoy this experience. My husband and I were both raised in very religious households, and without going into religion or politics, let me just say the intended message at rallies such as this should never be of fear, discontent, or hate. Most of us have no idea what it requires for some people to not only accept who they are but to publicly declare either themselves or their support of others. Looking into our future as a family, I’m not afraid or disappointed. She’ll finish high school and go to college if she chooses. She’ll date and have both good and bad experiences like everyone else. Someday she might marry and we’ll celebrate no differently than any other parents. She might have children. All we care about is that she seeks happy, healthy, nourishing relationships. We’re just like every other mom and dad – our love for her isn’t conditional; she just happens to like girls. ■ (Next issue we’ll get a perspective from the child’s side and what might be helpful for parents to know to be supportive of their child, before they may encounter a similar situation.)

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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guiding children w TOOLS FOR

Parenting with Social and Emotion

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with SUCCESS

nal Learning

By JENNIFER MILLER, M.ED.

“What was that noise?” I asked my ten-year-old son. Grandparents, aunts, uncles, and I had all heard the heavy clunk, thud, thud, clunk that seemed to make its way from the second story all the way down to the basement. “We were throwing clothes down the laundry shoot. But then, we threw a toy,” explained my son. “See if you can find it in the basement,” I replied. hen my son and his younger cousin sheepishly appeared with a wooden doll house bed in their hands, the headboard was in one hand, the rest in the other, clearly broken. “Oh, that’s no problem,” said his kind grandma. The younger cousin and my son were squirming, clearly uncomfortable. “Thanks, Grammy,” I said. I know she would have been comfortable with simply throwing it in the trash, but this was an opportunity to teach responsible decisionmaking skills. My son had made a poor decision. And he’s likely to make many more in his young developing years. After all, mistakes are a critical part of learning. But I could guide him to fix what he had broken. And that fixing extended to relationships and feelings, as well as an object. My goal was to prompt his careful consideration rather than tell him what to do. So, E and I walked out of the room to a private space, and I asked, “How do you think you can make up for this?” He said he would apologize to Grammy. And he offered, “Papa can fix anything?” So, we went together to ask if E’s grandpa might work with him to show him how to fix the toy bed. I suspect Grandpa enjoyed showing E how to properly sand down the wood, apply the glue, and clamp it together. These are the roots of responsibility. This is what it takes to parent in an intentional way that develops social and emotional skills within children. According to the NBC State of Parenting Survey, parents said they most want to promote their children’s social and communication skills even above getting good grades or understanding technology. continued on page 9

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ER • SOCC S M A R PROG ESSONS L O O ES SCH WIM L ESS CLASS S • AFTER M N IM TEA re info UP FIT JR. SW BALL • GRO .9622 for mo Y r 442 VOLLE .org o ymca helena


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Parents recognize that their children need to learn to collaborate if they are to tackle class projects or survive and thrive in the modern workplace. Parents realize that children have to learn to manage the feelings they experience, whether its anxiety, anger, or frustration, in order to achieve their goals. And parents are also keenly aware that their children will only be successful in relationships with others if they can think and feel with empathy for others and make compassionate choices with consequences in mind. All of these are critical social and emotional skills. In fact, nationwide, schools are increasingly making these skills a top priority. They are using evidence-based curricula at each grade level, pre-K through college, to teach self-awareness, selfmanagement, social awareness, relationship skills, and responsible decision-making, as defined by the Collaborative for Academic, Social and Emotional Learning (2016). Though referred to, at times, as “soft skills,” these can be the toughest – as in, helping kids build resilience, manage stress positively, and add to their inner strength – and also, the most critical, giving our children the tools they need to be successful in their academics today and workplaces and family lives in their future. Research shows that this focus will yield higher academic performance. A metaanalysis, conducted by Joseph Durlak and Roger Weissberg (et al, 2011), of 213 studies showed that students who had social and emotional learning as a part of their academic curriculum scored 11% higher on high stakes achievement tests than those who did not. We, as parents, know that this is just as much our job as it is our school’s responsibility. The good news is that learning about what our children are working on at each age and stage can offer us empathy. Through that newfound understanding, we can discover teachable moments that support their growth each step of the way. Here are some examples. 3 TO 5-YEAR-OLDS Work on helping your child develop a feelings vocabulary. “Name it to tame it” is a common expression and it works! Talk about what body symptoms your child might experience, raising her self-awareness. “Does your face get red when you’re angry? Do you feel hot? Does your heart beat faster?”

Practice naming the feelings when they occur. “Addy, it looks like you are frustrated because Sam took your toy. Is that right?” Always check in to see if your feelings label is accurate. This simple practice will help alleviate some of a preschooler’s frustrations as she learns to better communicate her feelings. This will enhance her self-control. 5 TO 8-YEAR-OLDS Practice coping strategies. There are numerous firsts in a child’s academic career at these ages, including sitting at a desk with less movement, reading for the first time, and being introduced to new academic subjects. Children feel all the pressures that go along with expectations for their performance. Help them cope with those stressors by thinking through options for calming down. Talk about them and make a list. “What can we do when we’re feeling anxious and tired?” Start with a few suggestions like hugging a teddy bear, cuddling with a blanket, or hearing a story; but allow the child to create ideas as well. Post the list or keep it handy. Use it after school to proactively practice coping strategies. After a high protein snack, ask, “Which one do we want to practice today to help us feel better?” Rest assured, this is preparing the child with invaluable self-management skills that they’ll take right back to school with them. 7 TO 10-YEAR-OLDS Collaborate on household responsibilities. This age group is undergoing a whole new level of social awareness as they become sensitive to fairness, can examine larger social issues, and enjoy collaborating in groups. Build on these emerging themes by talking about household responsibilities as a family. List out the many possible ways of contributing and engage the child in identifying what she can do with competence. Be sure and model or work closely together on new tasks the first time so the child understands how to do it. Then, allow the child to take responsibility for a task and complete it herself. Don’t go behind and fix it if we feel it’s not up to our standards. Allow her the satisfaction of completing a task. And if there are a number of tasks, make a checklist so that the child can check them off when completed. Designating a family work time so that all feel like they are contributing to the care of the home working as a team will add motivation. Turn on some kid-friendly, high-

energy music and get jobs accomplished to the beat, taking pride in the care of the family’s home. 9 TO 11-YEAR-OLDS Exercise relationship skills through problem-solving dialogue. This age group is influenced by their peers and may come for help with friendship challenges. The tween years are a perfect time to use coaching skills to help increase children’s relationship skills. In coaching, trust that the child can find a good solution to a problem with some careful consideration. Instead of responding to the complaint, “Susie keeps grabbing my game. Tell her to stop!” by intervening, prompt the child’s thinking. Begin by reflecting back the child’s feelings: “Sounds like Susie’s annoying you. Why do you think she’s grabbing your toy? What you’re doing isn’t working, so what could you do to get Susie to stop?” Challenging the child’s thinking and asking how they might change their approach can prompt creative solutions. And when Charlie is successful with his own idea, he learns that he can competently manage his own relationships. 12 TO 14-YEAR-OLDS Practice responsible decision-making skills in the early teen years. In fact, teens will undergo a major brain reconstruction, moving their focus from learning through play toward the logical, rational thinking that will be required in their adult years. And it is a process that requires time, practice, and mistakes. How can parents and teens reflect together on social situations where there was a negative outcome? “Tim cheated on his math exam and got caught. Now he has detention. Why do you think Tim made that choice? If he didn’t study, what other options could he have taken instead? What could have happened as a result?” These kinds of conversations help teens make the connection between the action and the consequence. These simple conversations can lead a teen to become a more responsible thinker and, in turn, a more responsible decision-maker. Learning more about a child’s social and emotional development as they rapidly grow and change adds to confidence in our parenting. We can become our own best problem-solvers as we meet their learning challenges with practical tools for their success today and for their future. ■

About The Author: Jennifer Miller, M.Ed., author of the popular site Confident Parents, Confident Kids, has twenty years of experience helping adults become more effective with children through social and emotional learning. She serves as lead writer, in partnership with the Center for Health and Safety Culture, for Parenting Montana: Tools for Your Child’s Success, a statewide effort to bolster engagement by those in a parenting role in developing the social and emotional skills of their children.

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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.

Jack Thunstrom

FACES IN THE CROWD

SMITH ELEMENTARY SCHOOL, 3RD GRADE

Jack has been in the YMCA’s Summer Literacy Academy for the last two years and has grown so much! This year since he is older, he helps kids throughout the day when they are sad, when they have a problem, or when they need a friend. His confidence has skyrocketed since being in the program, and he is excelling in his academics. Jack’s favorite things about school are recess and math. When he’s not at school, he likes playing hockey and riding mountain bikes. He helps his grandpa with car repairs and wants to be a mechanic when he grows up. He’s obsessed with trucks so has really enjoyed the construction at Bryant this summer.

Malena Onespot Danforth

HELENA MIDDLE SCHOOL, 7TH GRADE

Malena always keeps a positive attitude in class, the hallways, and with other students. She works hard to get her homework done and gets the answers correct. She is a very kind person and always inspires others to work harder. She never tries to put herself above others or put others below her. She also praises others for what they have done and never gloats about her own achievements. Thank you, Malena, for being a good classmate and role model for not just students, but the adults in your life!

Matthew Richards

CAPITAL HIGH SCHOOL, 11TH GRADE

Matthew is an honor student at Capital High School. His favorite subjects are welding and machining. Matthew has been actively involved in the Boy Scouts of America since third grade and is currently a Life Scout working on his Eagle Scout Project. This project has to be approved by a committee and must benefit the community in some way. Matthew’s project is to build two fire rings and nine benches for a new amphitheater at YMCA Camp Child this fall. Matthew is also a youth leader at Our Redeemer’s Lutheran Church. During services, Matthew often runs the sound board. In his spare time, he likes to ride four wheelers, listen to music, camp, and work on electronics.

Meredith Antonietti

TEACHER

Meredith, aka “Memo,” is in her third summer working for the Helena YMCA. She has been a day camp counselor for two years, and this year she is the director. This year she handmade each day-camper a pin that represented the week’s focus: law enforcement badge, Montana, a dinosaur, and an owl reading a book. Considering there are 80 kids each week, that’s a lot of pins! Meredith also works in the Y’s EVMS after-school program. She is always upbeat and can handle the best of kids who are having the most challenging times. She also has an alter ego, Lola the clown. Whatever Meredith does, she is always helping kids enjoy life.

National Guard

COMMUNITY PARTNER

We’d like to highlight the National Guard and the fine men and women who serve. They provided the climbing wall and two inflatables for the Last Day Bash so teens would have a safe and fun place to go on the last day of school. Their Counter Drug unit has been an integral part of the Rx Drug Task Force, providing information and analysis of data, and helping with the Drug Take Back events. Guard members and their families are such an important part of our community. Thank you for all you do for Helena, our state, and our country!

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• 406 Checking w/ Free Visa Check Card • Free Online & Mobile Banking Proud to support Helena youth and Youth Connections!

3094 N Sanders Street | 5 W Lyndale Avenue Helena: 447-9000 $100 minimum opening deposit with no minimum balance/service charge.

©2018 Stockman Bank | Member FDIC

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STONETREE CLIMBING CENTER Beginner, Intermediate, and Advanced Climbing Teams After School Drop-in Programs on Mondays

Birthday Parties

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

Begin your financial journey with us!

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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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

3 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.

VISTA helps girls climb at Camp Child

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 Community provides fun event for last day of school

Teammates celebrate at end of the season BBQ

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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

Students participate in weightlifting competition

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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.

39 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.

YouthBuild students learning skills and building homes

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.

Mother/daughter team volunteers with Habitat for Humanity

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.

Reading during YMCA’s Summer Literacy Academy

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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.

Our Redeemer’s youth helping at a homeless shelter

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how to talk TO YOUR KIDS

After having had two kids with two completely different personalities, I knew I had to tailor my approach according to the child I was talking with. By TINA EBLEN, Mom

y oldest is now of the age where she is starting to selective hear what she wants to hear from the conversation. For example, a couple of years ago she and I were talking about dating. She was entering the 9th grade. We had been talking about dating for a couple of years and decided that it was best if she waits until she is more mature. Well, there was a boy who was interested in her. She posed the question, “Mom, do you think I can start dating?” I asked her a couple of questions and then asked, “What happens if he wants to kiss you?” Her response was priceless, “I’ll just fill my purse with Hershey’s Kisses.” I then proceeded to say, “Well, I don’t know that you are really ready to date.” Well, the next day she came back to me and said she has her first boyfriend. Needless to say, I was a bit shocked, yet I learned some valuable lessons when talking to my kids. Talking to our kids can be daunting and overwhelming at times, but the more we do it, the easier it becomes. Plus, the more our children feel they can talk to us about the little things, the more likely they will be to open up about the bigger issues later on. I think of four things when I have to talk to my kids: location, delivery of the topic, mood, and listening. LOCATION I have found that depending on the topic, location is the key. When I need to talk about something important but difficult to address, I will have the conversation in the car. It is the best place for a captive audience. I find that there also is not the pressure of having to have direct eye contact which can sometimes make kids feel uncomfortable. When there is a subject that I want the kids to feel at ease talking

about, I bring it up at the kitchen table. DELIVERY OF THE TOPIC I don’t know about you, but I don’t appreciate having someone preach to me. Kids don’t either. In the past I have tried the preaching method, but that has never seemed to work. Yelling doesn’t work either. I’ve learned that lesson a time or two. I have found that the delivery of the topic is very important. Depending on the topic, I tailor how and what I’m going to talk about. Using a soft voice and relaxed body position

I sometimes use the aid of fun discussion questions to start the conversation. I ask questions like, “What’s your favorite thing to do?” or “How would you describe a perfect day for you?” or “If you could change anything about school, what would it be?”

can help kids feel at ease and allow them to open up freely. I also remind myself of four themes when talking to my kids: am I being bigger, stronger, wiser, and kind. I sometimes use the aid of fun discussion questions to start the conversation. I ask questions like, “What’s your favorite thing to do?” or “How would you describe a

perfect day for you?” or “If you could change anything about school, what would it be?” MOOD This is probably the most important thing to think about when talking to kids. It is not just their mood I have to keep in mind. I also have to think about what mood I’m in and how it will impact the discussion. If I’m tired or stressed, I find that I have a harder time standing my ground, and it’s easier to trigger anger. I try to find a time when I’m in a good mood and I am open-minded to a discussion. Now, the mood of my children is very important to take into account. I really try to see what mood my child is in. Are they irritable? Are they mad or dysregulated? Are they happy? I found that talking to my child about major issues is best done when he or she is in a good mood. Otherwise it could end up in disaster or not achieving the goal. LISTENING Talking to kids requires becoming a good listener. I have learned to listen to my kids. In turn, they feel at ease talking to me. Listening to my kids also allows me to truly understand their perception of the conversation. Make sure all distractions are put aside. Everyone’s phone should be put out of sight and the focus should be put on them. Sometimes, if I am preoccupied with doing something else like cooking or working, I will ask that they wait until I have the time to focus on them. Also, it is important to listen then repeat back what they said. Repeating back what they said is a way to reassure them that you are paying attention to what they are saying. Kids just want an opportunity to voice their opinions and ideas. Just remember that the more we talk to our kids, the easier it becomes. ■

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EMOTIONAL TURMOIL:

basic survival skills for parents By KELLY ACKERMAN, LCPCC

hen raising kids, emotions run high, both for the child and the parent. Regardless of the age of a child, emotions are an indisputable fact. When children have strong emotions, it often triggers a parent’s emotional response which is the perfect recipe for an emotional storm that leaves damage much like a tornado. Being prepared for emotional turmoil and struggle can strengthen the parent-child relationship. STAY OUT OF ARGUMENTS Many strong emotions from children come from limits that are set and enforced. One of the hardest and most valuable skills parents can possess is the ability to establish firm, necessary boundaries and to lovingly uphold those boundaries no matter what emotional temper-tantrum ensues. When limits are weak or missing, children live in fear, and both negative behaviors and emotions increase. Arguing has the same effect. As arguments erupt, there is a battle for power, and often hurtful words are thrown like daggers, causing the relationship to break down. A firm and kind response is, “I value our relationship too much to argue with you. I will continue to talk to you when you are not trying to argue with me.” It is important to follow through and quit responding to any further attempts to engage us, which we should expect. ASK DIRECTLY AND AFFIRM THE FEELING Emotional reactions often appear as behaviors for children. Few will state, “I am feeling really angry right now.” Instead, they slam doors, become irritable, or isolate themselves. Sad children may also become irritable, shut themselves away, or become slow or unresponsive to parental requests. Parents typically get upset with the behavior and want it to change without

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asking what the emotional state of the child is. Instead of reacting, parents can build resiliency, awareness, and independence in their children by asking them to identify how they are feeling. Limit the emotional vocabulary to the four core emotions of mad, sad, happy, or afraid. A direct question may be, “Please help me understand how you are feeling right now: mad, sad, happy, or afraid.” It may take a child by surprise the first time it is asked so attempting to name the feeling may be helpful. For instance, “I noticed you exploded at your sister which makes me believe you are feeling mad. Is that correct?” The idea for naming the emotion is not to excuse behavior; it is to increase awareness within the child and for the parent to steer away from assuming that the child is just choosing to be difficult. Finally, affirm the behavior for the child. Nobody needs to justify their feelings because feelings are indisputable truths. Repeating it back allows a child to feel accepted for who they are and creates safety in the relationship. CHECK OUR EMOTIONS At the first sign of strong emotions or difficult behaviors, parents generally have internal emotional reactions which is normal because parents have emotions too. To stay out of arguing and to stay in a place of strength and support, we should name our own emotion to increase the likelihood that we will not respond back from our emotional state. When a child slams a door, we may feel our blood boiling. Taking a moment to acknowledge that we are angry is a good first step in recognizing the emotion and choosing not to let it dictate our response. After connecting with the child and allowing them to express their emotions, respond with, “I hear that you are really angry, and I am glad you have shared that

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with me. It is not okay to slam the door in my face and take your anger out on me.” This allows the parent to address the behavior while upholding the expectation for respect and controlled behavior in the child. SUPPORT PROBLEM SOLVING While affirming the child’s emotions and staying aware of our own emotional state, there is typically a strong response to either rescue a child from their emotions or dismiss them completely. Rescuing may result in an attempt to give advice, offer comfort in the form of food or video games, or take control of the conversation to focus on good things in order to make challenging emotions disappear. Telling a child there is no reason to feel a certain way or to bring up reasons they should not feel that way are attempts to dismiss an emotion. Instead ask, “How important is it for you to solve this problem?” and “What will you do now?” This allows the child to take responsibility and avoids advice giving. If they are stumped, ask if they would like some options. Finish by reflecting belief in them to handle the problem and to share how it turns out. SELF-CARE Modeling self-care to children allows them to witness that no matter what happens, there are ways to take care of ourselves. We must make time for ourselves, stay in touch with our own emotions, acknowledge them and handle them in a responsible way, and maintain healthy friendships in our own lives. What we do for ourselves will speak louder than what we tell our children to do. It will also allow us to remain more in control as the parent, keeping us feeling refreshed and energized for our child’s needs for support and connection. After all, as a parent, we have the same basic needs for care and connection that our children do. ■


NUMBERS Help! My child doesn’t like his teacher. What should I do? There are several things you can do. First, figure out why your child doesn’t like the teacher. Did he hear rumors from other students that the teacher was “mean”? Perhaps he is having trouble relating to his teacher. Maybe he’s struggling getting used to the new routine. If the new teacher does things differently than he’s accustomed to it can lead to distress and anxiety, which may come across as not liking the teacher. If he feels the teacher doesn’t like him ask for specifics like, “What exactly did she say? What was going on in class at the time?” Perhaps “mean” means that she makes him do his work. Second, many teachers start the school year out very strict. Explain to your child that that’s how the teacher sets the expectations and rules for the year. Help your child focus on the teacher’s positive qualities. Ask him what he does like about the new teacher. It also may help for your child to see that you’re working together with the teacher. It’s a good way to foster a good relationship between your child and their teacher. Also when a child sees the teacher and the parent working in concert, they are more likely to respect that teacher. Third, it never hurts to have your child see it from the teacher’s perspective. They have a room full of new students that they need to get used to and the teacher needs to learn how each student is different to make sure everyone has a successful year. Depending on the class, that may take longer than previous years. Encourage your child to be patient, but be there to listen to concerns. You can also brainstorm ideas together to make adjusting easier. If the situation doesn’t improve, don’t hesitate to reach out to the teacher and share your child’s concerns. Teachers can share what’s going on in the classroom and parents can give insight into issues at home. It’s important to let your child know you’re going to talk to the teacher to find out why he feels this way, not to blame the teacher. Children need to know you’re not going to demand things get fixed, but to figure out a solution together. Working together to create a solution will help everyone feel as they’ve had a say.

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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165

The number of words the average dog knows.

13

The percentage of the US population who consumes pizza on any given day.

3 MILLION

The approximate number of shipwrecks at the bottom of the ocean.

3000

The number of different types of bacteria on a dollar bill.

1500

The amount of food in pounds an average person eats in a year.

30

The number of years a coin will survive in circulation.


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HELPING A SPECIAL STUDENT at the start of school By MARVIN WILLIAMS, MA, Intermountain Director of Education

hen a child begins a transition back to school from a long summer break most parents can find this to be a difficult time. But for parents of a child with a disability the experience brings even greater stressors. Once school begins the stressors don’t automatically go away, so here are some tips to help alleviate those experiences. There are three key phrases to remember that help your child’s school experience be positive: stay informed, maintain a positive attitude and be realistic. Find out what communication system your school utilizes for parents. Take advantage of the school newsletter and communications sent home by the classroom teacher. Most schools use a Student Management system for the children’s demographic, attendance, homework information as well as a parent portal for communication. If this is true of your school make an appointment to visit the school counselor or case manager to become familiar with the program. This will provide you with up-to-date information on your child. Once you know your child’s teacher and support staff make an opportunity to meet with them. Meeting the staff will support the child and help relieve your own anxiety. It is a great way to get to know your child’s teacher(s) and work out a communication plan that is effective for both of you. A meeting will provide an opportunity to discuss the classroom routine and structure which if practiced and/or discussed at home demonstrates that the school and parent are on the same page. Some strategies for consistent communication are person to-

person, phone or email. Familiarize yourself with the other school professionals such as the special education teacher, school psychologist, counselor, social worker and (CSCT) team. Once school begins, it is critical to continue your attentiveness to the small things as they matter to children. It helps to clear your schedule in order to be free to help your child acclimate to the school routine. Get in the habit of making their lunches the night before and involve your child, if possible. Assure your child is dressed and groomed appropriately so that they don’t draw attention to themselves. Set alarm clocks and leave plenty of extra time to ensure sufficient time to complete their morning routine. Reducing anxiety for your child is vital to their school success. Show you care about education and share your enthusiasm for learning. Model optimism and confidence for your child. Send notes in their lunches. At the end of day, take time to review with your child how the day went and try to react with supportive language. Help your child deal with and resolve “typical” school problems. Natural consequences are those that occur naturally every day due to our choices so help your child understand this concept. If you have questions, contact the school for clarification but do this outside the presence of your child. Again you want to model hopefulness for your child. As a parent part of your responsibility is to monitor their social interactions. This is difficult but most schools have an established process that can help with this

such as a peer buddy system, etc. If your child is on an Individual Education Plan (IEP) then meeting with the special education team is an important step in relationship and trust building with the school staff. Come to IEP meetings prepared to share your comments and concerns about your child and be willing to listen to the staff concerns as well. Teaching strategies, instructional approaches and interventions that have been successful in the past are helpful as well as sharing their likes and dislikes and treatment needs. If you have relevant information and or documents that could be helpful, be sure to bring a copy to the meeting. It is important to remember that accommodations are supports designed to give a student with a disability an equal opportunity to participate and benefit from school. They are intended to reduce or even eliminate the effect of a student’s disability and NOT to reduce learning expectations. Therefore, be realistic about the accommodations as they need to be designed with the child’s needs in mind and serve as an educational benefit to their overall academic, emotional and behavioral success. Ask questions when you don’t understand or have concerns regarding your child’s education and be open to the school staff suggestions regarding your child’s learning needs, challenges and accommodations. Most of all, remember that being present shows the child you care about their education and in turn the child feels cared about. ■

About The Author: Marvin Williams, MA, has been the Director of Education at Intermountain for 7 years. He holds a Master of Art in Education from Montana State–Billings and a BA from Eastern Montana College. Marvin has extended experience as an educator for children with special needs and served as the Special Education Director in the Helena School District previous to coming to Intermountain School.

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When life gets you down and seems harder than it should

#LetsTalk

Download the #LetsTalk app on any iPhone or Android phone. The #LetsTalk app provides youth with useful and relatable information about mental health and suicide prevention...all at their finger tips. This information is brought to you by Mountain-Pacific Quality Health. Partners include the Office of Public Instruction, Alliance for Youth and Speaking Socially.

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MDMA/ ECSTASY

why it’s popular – and dangerous By KIMBERLY GARDNER, LCSW, LAC

DMA is a synthetic psychoactive drug made in labs and acts as a stimulant and a hallucinogen. Ecstasy’s stimulant properties will provide a boost of energy and alertness while the hallucinogenic effects will trigger sensations of distorted reality. It is primarily abused by teens and young adults and is used at clubs or music festivals. “Molly,” as it’s well-known by, is also referred to as disco biscuit, E, lover’s speed, STP, and X. It is mostly ingested in pill form, and it’s rarely taken alone. Signs of use for parents to look out for are glow sticks, baby pacifiers, any type of rainbows or unicorns, hard suckers, and candy necklaces. Because of the hallucinogenic properties, anything that is bright colored enhances the user’s experience. The side effect of clenched jaw muscles is helped by chewing on pacifiers or suckers. The colorful pills are often hidden among colorful candies. These pills often have imprints of cartoon characters or product logos, like the Mercedes auto logo. Unfortunately, many times other drugs like bath salts and meth are laced in the pills.

A sign of ecstasy use could be if a young person comes home after an all-night party and seems excited and energetic, but perhaps a little confused. They may also be sweating in combination with chills and nausea. Their muscles may be tense and they could be overly alert for the circumstances. Ecstasy increases motor activity, alertness, heart rate, and blood pressure. It also increases the body temperature which can lead to liver, kidney, cardiovascular failure, and death. Other ways it affects the body are teeth clenching, nausea, euphoria, confusion, and severe dehydration. Clinical studies suggest that MDMA may increase the risk of long-term, perhaps permanent, problems with memory and learning. MDMA causes changes in perception, including euphoria, increased sensitivity to touch, energy, sensual, and sexual arousal, a need to be touched, and a need for stimulation. When ecstasy is used, the increased levels of serotonin triggers increased levels of the hormones that generate the desire for closeness, love, trust, and sexual arousal, which explains the symptoms of its use. ■

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Breast Cancer Screening Do It For You, Do It For Them

Breast cancer is the 2nd leading cause of death for Montana women. Talk to your doctor about getting screened. If you can’t afford a mammogram, call

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YC Mag, Helena - September 2018  

YC Mag, Helena - September 2018