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Marijuana Legalization and Kids

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HOW TO PREVENT BECOMING A

SNOWPLOW PARENT » Grappling with Grief » Seven Simple Steps to Support Online Learning

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INSIDE SEPTEMBER 2020

FEATURES

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How to Prevent Becoming a Snowplow Parent

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Grappling with Grief: Coming Alongside Children as They Navigate Loss

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Seven Simple Steps to Support Online Learning

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Scripting a Harmonious Home

Marijuana Legalization and Kids 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

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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

Madi Moe is a senior at Capital High School. While in high school she has been involved in many activities. She is currently on the cross-country team and plans to run track in the Spring. She is on the honor roll, is a member of National Honor Society, and has been a recipient of the Rachel Kromkowski award. She has been a camp counselor for children attending a local Speech Therapy camp, Link leader for incoming freshman, and a volunteer in the local NAMI walk. She works a part-time job, but still finds time to enjoy snowboarding with friends, camping with her family, visiting her brother who attends MSU, and walking her new puppy. She plans on attending Gonzaga University to pursue a career in the medical field.

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 I FROM THE

t’s hard to believe it’s already back to school time…whether that means in person or in front of a screen, or a combination. It’s been a rough few months for kids and parents. The magazine committee was very mindful in determining content this issue. We know there have been struggles, but we also know there have been some positive things that have come out of being quarantined COLEEN – more family meals together, board SMITH games, learning new things. Those are highlighted in our Confessions of the Kitchen Table. In an effort to help parents navigate this “new normal,” we recruited a teacher who was willing to share some pointers on how to help kids learn virtually. We know unless a parent has a teaching degree, it can be a challenge. As always, on the ParentingMontana.org website, there are amazing resources to help with all sorts of behaviors. Kelly Ackerman, a local therapist, is sharing her awesome knowledge on how to have a harmonious home. Homes should be safe and fun places for kids, and she gives some easy things to do make sure kids of all ages have that opportunity. We’re blessed again to be able to have a national writer contribute, this time about avoiding being a snowplow parent. So often we think we’re helping our kids by stepping in, but what we’re really doing is stifling their growth to be independent thinkers and members of society. Lastly, the recreational marijuana issue is on the ballot in Montana. There are so many dangerous effects about this for kids and families. Unfortunately, the truth is hard to get out through all the pro-pot noise. I hope you will take the time to research the facts. If you have questions, please don’t hesitate to reach out! I hope this school year is the best ever for you and your children. I know everyone wants to get back to some semblance of normal, kids included! 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

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COVID SILVER LININGS

hen COVID and, ultimately, quarantines hit, everyone’s world was turned upside down. However, as in everything, we have found pockets of silver linings. Most people found that before COVID, we were running ourselves ragged. Now we’re enjoying new things, or old things differently. Below are examples of how some local families are seeing the bright side of things. Before the pandemic, my son had tried lots of different sports but never found one he really liked. With the physical distancing directive, I told him the only way he could see his friends was to go for a bike ride. This led to daily bike rides with friends, which have increasingly gotten longer and longer and now include building their own trails and jumps and, generally, having adventures with friends. He has even joined a local mountain biking club! I’m so thankful he has found something he is passionate about – getting exercise and fresh air. Before Covid hit, I wanted to be anywhere but here. I had even contracted to take a leave of absence so that I could travel the world. When the borders closed and we were “stuck” in our home state, I was devastated. Because of Covid, life slowed down enough that I had to stop and look around. And in looking, I began to see and remember the vast beauty of my own backyard. So, with my family, we have been rediscovering the natural beauty and wonder that was always right outside our door. Socially distant, safe, and discovering with each other. I have found that our family has spent way more time outdoors since quarantine than we usually do, and we are already an outdoors family. We have searched to find new public lands. They’re free and usually have bathrooms, picnic tables, and garbage containers. They often include walking and biking trails, nature preserves, and fishing accesses. We’ve also packed a picnic and got some exercise. We have a camper, and we have camped more, as well. There are websites that list out public lands, fishing accesses, and campgrounds. It’s a way to socially distance and be together out of the house.

One silver lining has been around my ability to spend more virtual time with my siblings in a weekly virtual sibling game night. Geographically, we are spread over the whole country and are rarely able to all be together. As our world turned virtual and time at home increased, doors opened for more interaction in a meaningful way! If it were not for the crazy change we have all faced, we likely would not have created this space for each other. Before COVID, our family was so busy! Always running to different practices, etc. Now we’ve had way more family time and time with the kids. We’ve done puzzles, played games, and done crafts. We also are enjoying home-cooked meals with the family at the table. We’re eating healthier and saving more money by not eating out as much. It has helped us slow down and learn to enjoy each other and simpler things. When the quarantine started, I was bound and determined not to end up with a bunch of couch potatoes at the end of it. I didn’t want the kids spending the whole day in front of the TV. They were already now having to “attend” school in front of a screen. We started either going for a walk or a bike ride every day. My son would read all day if I let him, so it was important to get him outside for some fresh air and exercise. As the weather warmed up, the kids would go out and ride their scooters in the neighborhood. If we hadn’t been forced to get out and make our own fun, they’d still be sitting in the house. For Easter, since our family from across the state (and deployed overseas) couldn’t get together, we held a Zoom virtual brunch. While it wasn’t the same as being together, we were able to see each other, catch up, and even see our deployed son-in-law, which wouldn’t have happened otherwise. We don’t know how much longer we’ll be forced to social distance, but there have been silver linings in the quarantine. Some have even said it will be hard to go back to “normal.” The most important thing to remember is to keep what worked, and get rid of things that didn’t. ■

YOU CAN SUBMIT YOUR STORY AT: coleen@youthconnectionscoalition.org

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how to prevent becom

SNOWPLOW By DR. TIM ELMORE

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On my drive to work each day, I pass by several bus stops where children wait to be picked up. They are not alone. Parents are there, too. Lots of them. Once I stopped to count the number of adults waiting with several 8to 11-year-old students. There were more parents waiting at the bus stop than students.

I

also drive on crowded roads where the number of cars doubles when school is in session. Why? Moms and dads drive their kids to school, or they purchase a car for their kids to drive themselves. It’s now the norm in many school districts. This is a picture of a new normal.

ming a

PARENT

THE PROS AND CONS OF TODAY’S PARENTING STYLE I have mixed emotions about all of this. On the one hand, I love the fact that parents today want to be present with their children. These intentional parents spend time and money on tutors, travel sports teams, and other activities that give their children an advantage in life. For example, parents now spend more money raising their children than any previous generation did, according to Consumer Expenditure Survey data analyzed by the sociologists Sabino Kornrich and Frank Furstenberg. Furthermore, “according to time-use data analyzed by Melissa A. Milkie, a sociologist at the University of Toronto, today’s working mothers spend as much time doing hands-on activities with their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s.” Whether it’s out of fear for their safety or to bolster their self-esteem, moms and dads now find time to lobby for their children’s success. One teen identified her mom as her “agent.” These parents are more than “helicopters” who hover over their kids. They’ve gone from monitoring kid’s lives to manipulating them. They are downright intrusive, all in name continued on page 9

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of their child’s progress and success. Even parents with college-age children: • Have been known to bring their children home because they didn’t like their roommates • Are known to pay sororities/fraternities to improve their children’s applications. • Have written papers and essays for their children when classes became too hard. • Have been known to bribe college admissions staff for entrance into schools. Journalists Claire Cain Miller and Jonah Engel Bromwich wrote, “Helicopter parenting, the practice of hovering anxiously near one’s children, monitoring their every activity, is so 20th century. Some affluent mothers and fathers now are more like snowplows: machines chugging ahead, clearing any obstacles in their child’s path to success, so they don’t have to encounter failure, frustration, or lost opportunities.” It’s not just affluent parents either. Recent studies suggest that parents across lines of class and race are embracing the idea of intensive parenting, whether or not they can afford it. Think about it. If children never face obstacles, what happens when they get into the real world? “They flounder,” says Julie Lythcott-Haims, former dean of freshmen at Stanford and the author of How to Raise an Adult: Break Free of the Overparenting Trap and Prepare Your Kid for Success. We are the ones who created the “snowflake” generation. SNOWPLOW PARENTS TEND TO RAISE SNOWFLAKE KIDS The snowflake generation is a term that was coined in the late 2010s to describe the population of kids raised by parents who never let them fall down, skin their knees, or fail at anything. As you might imagine, these kids grew up (and are still growing up) a bit fragile—like a snowflake. They are unready for the rigors of university life. They need adults to make places emotionally safe when the only danger is a speaker they might disagree with on campus, and they can’t navigate a tough class or negotiate with a professor to raise their grades through extra work. These are adult tasks, and they are not yet adults emotionally. So, here is the one phrase I want to reinforce with you as a parent: Snowplow parents tend to raise snowflake kids. FOUR STEPS TO STOP SNOWPLOWING AND RAISE SELF-SUFFICIENT KIDS 1. Ease them toward independence while they are still living with you. The safest time for kids to learn independence is when they’re in a safe place called Mom and Dad’s house. It’s like a simulator. When my two kids were in high school, my wife had them begin doing their own laundry. We had them pay for half of their car, and we taught them to resolve any conflicts they had as siblings by age 12. Why? This is all part of growing up. The best part of this was they knew how to do it when they left for college.

“...today’s working mothers spend as much time doing hands-on activities with their children as stay-at-home mothers did in the 1970s.” 2. Combine autonomy with responsibility, and increase these traits as they age. The two ingredients that indicate maturity are the readiness for autonomy (I can do this on my own) and responsibility (I will own this task as if it were my own). When our kids wanted more autonomy, I always tried to combine that freedom with a corresponding responsibility, a sense of ownership. If they borrowed the family car, I had them pay for the gas in the tank. If they wanted the right to stay out later than curfew at night, we made sure they could meet the deadline for their current curfew first. 3. Don’t do for them what they should do for themselves. Some student affairs staff members tell me that their students’ parents call them consistently about topics the students should figure out by college. For instance, moms will call and ask what items are in the dining hall salad bar so they can choose what their kid should eat for lunch. Parents call or text to make sure their children wake up and don’t miss class. Another parent intervened via video chat to resolve a conflict her child had with a roommate over a stolen peanut butter jar. These are normal tasks that teens should perform on their own. We delay their maturation when we do them. 4. Always ask yourself: Does helping them now hurt them in the long run? This is a great accountability question for parents. When you find yourself intruding in your teen’s life, ask yourself if helping him or her is really going to help him down the road? Is helping your child actually hurting him? Does your help disable him from learning hard lessons he’ll thank you for later? Remember this phrase: The further I can see into the future, the better the decision I make today for my child. “In a new poll by The New York Times and Morning Consult of a nationally representative group of parents of children ages 18 to 28, three-quarters had made appointments for their adult children, like for doctor visits or haircuts, and the same share had reminded them of deadlines for school,” according to an NYT column. “Eleven percent said they would contact their child’s employer if their child had an issue. Sixteen percent of those with children in college had texted or called them to wake them up so they didn’t sleep through a class or test. Eight percent had contacted a college professor or administrator about their child’s grades or a problem they were having.” If we are snowplows, we will likely create snowflakes. ■

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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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.

Cade Duran HELENA HIGH SCHOOL, 12TH GRADE

Cade Duran is a very community-minded young man. He works hard to make changes for the good where he can. Cade is very involved in student council and 4-H at the local level, but he is also a Montana Student Council Officer, as well as a Montana 4-H Ambassador Officer. Cade is willing to “go against the grain” if he believes it to be the right thing to do. Cade is a great motivational speaker, helping both young and old learn how to “do what is right.” Cade is not only a nice person, but an outstanding young man. Thank you, Cade, for being a great role model by exhibiting integrity for not only your peers, but younger youth, as well!

Teagan Clement

CR ANDERSON MIDDLE SCHOOL, 8TH GRADE

Teagan plays flute and piccolo, and he has dynamic vocal skills. In his last year at CR, he is excited to participate in five musical groups: youth orchestra, Voices of Tomorrow choir, jazz band, band class, and concert band. Teagan has loved volleyball from a young age. Despite limited options for boys’ volleyball, he finds ways to enjoy the game through camps and refereeing. Teagan’s standing as a Life Scout with the Boy Scouts of America shows his character, dedication, and diverse skill set. He is a true renaissance man. He looks forward to playing more volleyball and is interested in studying anthrozoology.

Rylee Stewart

HAWTHORNE ELEMENTARY, 4TH GRADE

Rylee enjoys seeing the joy on the faces of the senior living residents when her Tiernan Irish Dance group and guitar program travel there. She is proud to represent Helena through soccer and traveling basketball. She serves on the Hawthorne Student Council and commits time to keeping the school grounds tidy. With all of the uncertainty of the structure of the next academic year, Rylee and her neighborhood friends are making it a priority to dedicate themselves to regular community service as part of their flexible academic schedules. Rylee says, “I want to always give back to my neighborhood because others who are older have done that for me.” Thanks, Rylee, for being a great role model.

Jess Hegstrom

SUICIDE PREVENTION

Since arriving in the Helena in 2017, Jess has strived to protect local youth and families from suicide through awareness and education. Starting as an AmeriCorps VISTA, Jess now oversees suicide prevention efforts with Lewis & Clark Public Health. One strategy she uses is to offer free mental health and suicide prevention training to the public. She also forged a partnership with the Awareness Network to provide $5 gift cards to parents who participate. The Helena nonprofit also awards scholarships for youth mental health services to area youth. When not advocating for mental health in the community, Jess plays board games with her husband, Rob, and cuddles her cat children, Mack and Tiabean. Learn more about parent training at https://lcsuicideprevention.org/parents/

Our Local Law Enforcement Partners

Youth Connections would like to highlight our law enforcement partners: Helena Police Department, Lewis & Clark Sheriff’s Office, East Helena Police Department, and Montana Highway Patrol. Without them, substance use prevention would not be possible. Not only do our SROs do great work in the school by building relationships with youth and helping keep everyone safe, but law enforcement members serve on our coalition, working drug take backs, providing valuable information during presentations, and providing alcohol compliance checks to reduce underage access. They also arrest individuals driving under the influence in order to keep our community safe. Thank you for your service to our kids, families, and community!

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40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

GO AFTER WHAT YOU WANT...

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

Turn the page to learn more!

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

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assets in action

40 DEVELOPMENTAL ASSETS

1 SUPPORT

Family enjoying a hike together

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

EMPOWERMENT

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

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BOUNDARIES & EXPECTATIONS Sisters delivering flowers with “g”love Grandstreet camp participant showing her project

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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.

Dylan with his 4-H pig, Cassius

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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.

25 COMMITMENT TO LEARNING

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

Brothers enjoying reading together

POSITIVE VALUES

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.

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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. Youth assembling personal care kits

Lily showing off her pie for the fair

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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.

YMCA campers learning about Ghana

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GRAPPLING WITH GRIEF: coming alongside children as they navigate loss By CRYSTAL AMUNDSON, MS, LCPC, RPT-S

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our months ago, I had a conversation with my child about cancelling her birthday plans. She cried for 10 minutes, then immediately began planning the make-up celebration. She still has not gotten to do that celebration and when I spoke with her recently about cancelling summer camp, her reaction was bigger. Much bigger. She has recognized there is no end date for the growing list of things she has lost to this pandemic: playdates, family reunions, crowded cafeterias, collaborative classrooms, and junior theatre productions. It is no secret that this pandemic has been hard on kids. A significant number of the emotional reactions I’ve witnessed from children, both in my home and my counseling practice, stem from grief. Our culture has a difficult time with grief and adding a global pandemic does not make the subject any simpler. I describe pandemic grief as, “recalling pre-COVID versions of life, followed by an immediate sense of loss and longing.” Grief is most often understood as loss and longing for a significant relationship. But a sense of loss and longing can also occur for an identity or experience. Grief is an overwhelming experience at any age, but children are particularly vulnerable to the ache. The areas of the brain responsible for assigning words to emotions, experiencing empathy, and problem-solving are still developing in children, so it is scientific that a child’s experience of grief is often non-verbal, socially unacceptable, and a jumbled mess. It can look like sadness, but it can also look like anger. Children experiencing grief may scrounge for control anywhere they can get it (inflexibility with routines, intense power struggles), or they may be paralyzed by a lack of control (overwhelmed by simple decisions, clingy to caregivers). So, what is a concerned caregiver to do? First, recognize your own grief. While you have neurological resources that your child does not, this is still difficult. Routines you built have been shattered. Coping skills you relied on, like an exercise class or night at the movies, have disappeared. Pandemic grief as a parent is a constant tug of first my loss and longing, then my child’s. First my longing for classrooms to open, then my child’s. First my loss of summer plans, then my child’s. By

The areas of the brain responsible for assigning words to emotions, experiencing empathy, and problem-solving are still developing in children, so it is scientific that a child’s experience of grief is often non-verbal, socially unacceptable, and a jumbled mess. recognizing your own grief, you are able to get in touch with the experience and be more authentic in a compassionate response to your child. Second, follow the advice of Dr. Dan Siegel: “Name it to tame it.” When humans experience an overwhelming emotion like grief, their limbic system is activated. The limbic system dumps stress hormones and prepares our system for a threat response. Rewinding to the summer camp example, my child was overwhelmed by anger and sadness, her limbic system dumped some cortisol, giving her the fuel to scream, stomp, and slam her door. By naming the overwhelming experience, we bring the verbal part of her (and my) brain into the situation. The frontal lobe is able to make sense of the anger and sadness as a logical concept, then call off the alarmed limbic system. Me (sitting on the other side of her door): You’re really sad that you can’t go to camp. Child (screaming): No, I am not sad! Do I sound sad? Camp is stupid and COVID is stupid. Me: You are really mad that you can’t go to camp. Child (still screaming): COVID ruined

everything. It ruined everything in March, and it’s still ruining everything. Me: You are so right. Of course you’re mad. “Name it to tame it” is not a fancy or complicated technique, but it is science and it does work. While there is a cultural pressure to focus on the positive, that can actually exacerbate difficult feelings. Consider the snooze button on an alarm clock. Hitting it does not cancel the reality that you have to wake up. It only postpones and prolongs the alarming process. Similarly, the limbic system registers unaddressed feelings as unaddressed threats. Pretending everything is fine risks prolonging emotional distress. Finally, work hard to avoid comparative suffering. Comparative suffering is when a difficulty is minimized by focusing on a difficulty that is perceived as worse. Comparative suffering often contains an “at least” and children are frequently the targets. “Cancelled summer camp is a bummer, but at least your family is healthy.” “You are stuck at home for two weeks, but at least you have your own room.” Comparative suffering takes a painful situation and dumps a dose of shame on top. Shame robs us of our ability to connect with others, so comparative suffering leaves us pained, ashamed, and alone. While this is a human experience, it is particularly painful for children. My daughter’s cancelled summer camp may seem like nothing compared to decisions I am forced to make about my small business. However, as Dr. Brené Brown explains, “Perspective is a function of experience.” At ten years old, exactly 10% of my child’s birthdays have been ruined by a pandemic. At many-more years old, approximately 3% of my birthdays have been ruined by a pandemic. Replacing comparative suffering with compassion allows us to honor our child’s grief while maintaining connection. Through consistent connection and compassion, children are able to develop a more empowered awareness of grief that will serve them beyond this pandemic and into adulthood. ■

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seven simple steps TO SUPPORT ONLINE LEARNING By EMILY HANKINS & ASHLIE BURESH, Teachers

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his time of year usually brings anticipation of new school supplies and old friends. This school year anticipation is replaced with apprehension. While it is impossible to know exactly what the school year might entail, we do know that technology and online learning will play a bigger role in education than ever before. So how can we, the parents (with limited tech skills), help our children (the digital natives)? STEP 1 – OWN YOUR FLAWS Do not pretend to know everything about technology, because chances are you don’t. If your kiddo asks you something you don’t know, admit it and then work to find the answer. STEP 2 – BE OPEN TO LEARNING You are your child’s best advocate and teacher, and you are not alone. Open communication with your child’s teacher(s) is key. If you have a question, ask them. Often, a technology question that might take you and your child a day to figure out could be answered by the teacher in a quick email or two-minute phone call. Some schools are planning ways to teach parents how to use the technology needed for digital learning. If you feel unsure about your technology skills, take advantage of these opportunities. STEP 3 – STAY POSITIVE Online learning may not be all fun and games, but try to stay positive, especially in front of the kids. They will mimic your attitude. If they get grumpy about online learning, everyone’s life is going to be harder. STEP 4 – DISCUSS TECHNOLOGY ETIQUETTE Remind your student to mind their manners while attending online class or when in a digital meeting. For example, they can show they are paying attention by making “eye contact” with others on the screen. Remembering not to do things like texting or eating while on screen goes a long way to show respect. Younger students may need a reminder that zoom is not show and tell time.

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We like to compare the internet to a big city. Visiting an educational website is like going to a park. If you leave the park you could get lost or end up in an unsafe neighborhood. Younger students need to stay in the park and require more supervision, while older students should be allowed a bit more freedom to explore. While on a digital meeting, sitting with their back to the wall helps the student insure that others in the home stay off the screen. Don’t forget about sound; train your child click “mute” anytime they are not talking. Make sure everyone in your household knows when an online meeting is happening, so they can help to limit distractions. Feel free to listen in, but if you have a question for the teacher, save it for later. Class time is for kids. STEP 5 - TAKE SAFETY SERIOUSLY We like to compare the internet to a big city. Visiting an educational website is like going to a park. If you leave the park you could get lost or end up in an unsafe neighborhood. Younger students need to stay in the park and require more supervision, while older students should be allowed a bit more freedom to explore. No matter how old they are, it is a good idea to check in with your child often about their online activity.

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If you have questions about the appropriateness of a website, or other media, one of our favorite resources is CommonSenseMedia.com. STEP 6 – KINDNESS COUNTS When it comes to online communication, kindness counts. Because students can’t see each other’s faces and reactions, it is easy for them to forget that there are real people with real feelings on the other side of chats, emails, and social media conversations. Because of this, cyber bullying is a BIG problem. Talk to them about using kind language just as they would in person, and to report cyber bullying if they see it. Here are the three steps to handle unkind online behavior: 1. Document it – print it or screen shot it. 2. Delete it – from the original source so no one else can see it. 3. Report it – to a trusted adult. STEP 7 – KEEP A SCHOOL SCHEDULE Set up a schedule and be consistent. This will help everyone keep their sanity and will make routines of going to bed and waking up in the morning easier when school is back in session. Make sure your child is taking screen breaks and spending time moving. Build outdoor “recess” into your day. It is amazing how refreshing 15 minutes away from the computer feels. If you find your child is becoming irritated or frustrated take a short walk to set the “reset” button. If your student finishes their assigned work ahead of schedule, ask their teacher(s) for ways to supplement their learning, or let them “play” on education websites. Your school librarian is a great source for digital learning resources. Digital learning will not be perfect, but these steps can help. Parents, caregivers, students, and teachers are in this together and, despite the apprehension, we will learn and grow from the experience. ■ About The Authors: Emily Hankins and Ashlie Buresh are veteran teachers and the authors of The Summer Before Kindergarten


NUMBERS Do I have an addiction? The current Coronavirus situation has triggered stress and anxiety in many of us and with that the need to self sooth. Some are wondering if they are going to need weight watchers or AA or both at the end of this pandemic. Joking aside, what are the indicators that you may have a problem that needs addressing? The Diagnostic Criteria for Substance Use Disorder (SUD) asks the following questions:

20

Crayola Crayons are one of the top 20 recognizable scents to American adults.

1. Is the substance being taken in larger amounts and/or over

a longer period of time than intended?

2. Have there been attempts or unsuccessful efforts made to

cut down or control substance use?

3. Is there a significant amount of time spent in activities to

obtain or use the substance, and/or recover from the effects of the substance? 4. Are you craving or having a strong desire to use substances? 5. Are you continuing to use substances resulting in a failure to fulfill major roles/expectations in school, work, or at home? 6. Are you continuing substance use despite persistent or reoccurring social and/or personal problems? 7. Have important activities been given up or reduced because of substance use? 8. Are you using substances even when it’s physically hazardous? 9. Is your substance use continued despite having physical or psychological issues as a result of substance use? 10. Do you experience either increased or decreased tolerance for substance use? 11. Have you experienced either withdrawal symptoms and/or continue to use substances to avoid withdrawal symptoms? If you answered yes to 2–3 questions, you are experiencing mild SUD, 4–5 is moderate and 6+ equates to a severe disorder. It’s critical to keep in mind that substance use disorder ia a disease that affects a person’s brain and behavior and leads to an inability to control the use of a drug or medication. When you’re addicted, you may continue using the drug despite the harm it causes. If you are struggling with addictions, it’s important to seek help. Licensed Addictions Counselors offer individual, group and family therapy. There are daily AA meetings in most towns and parenting classes like Nurturing Parenting that are specifically designed for parents struggling with substance use. The bravest thing you can do is to ask for help. Many people struggling with addictions feel guilt, loneliness and hopelessness. You are not alone, so make that first step today towards your journey to recovery.

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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3 million

The number of shipwrecks on the ocean floor, worth billions in value and treasure.

7

The time, in seconds, it takes food to get from your mouth to your stomach

12.6

The number of miles a typist’s fingers travel in a typical workday

100

The number of years an alligator lives.

31

The speed a domestic cat can sprint, in mph.


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.


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scripting

A HARMONIOUS HOME By KELLY ACKERMAN, LCPC

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magine, just for a moment, coming home to someone’s smiling face warmly telling you they are glad to see you home and offering you a hug. As you begin to tend to the mail and dinner, another family member comments, “When you return home after a long day at work and continue on to do laundry and get the bills paid, it shows me how committed you are to us and to our happiness. Your meals are thoughtful, and even though you are tired, I notice the energy you continue to give to us.” The smiles of this family are contagious. The youngest one is attempting to set the table, reaching high to get a glass from the counter, only to find it falling and breaking on the ground. “Oh, dang, those glasses are slippery,” someone comments with a smile and little laugh. “Here, just hold the dustpan while I sweep. It will be cleaned up in no time,” Dad says while engaging the child in a rendition of Snow White’s Whistle While You Work. Yes, this home is like a 30-minute sitcom on TV in which there is harmony, and pleasantry is the norm with each family member feeling valued even when there are hard lessons to learn. This is fiction, a fantasy home of course…or is it really? Although not all of life’s problems can be fixed in 30 minutes, and although we are complex humans with a full range of real emotions, home life can indeed embody love, acceptance, and accord while promoting the worth and value of each member of the clan. The catch is this: changing the atmosphere of the home begins with the adults in it. This transition takes intention and intensity, but in adapting a positive mindset you can begin to direct a home script resembling a TV script that pays off in your peace of mind and children who know their self-worth. Achieving harmony is not done overnight. The intention that should be required is a dedication to begin seeing with a set of lenses that magnify what the kids (and their friends) are doing right. In our society,

There is not a team of set managers making your home look picture perfect. However, when you step into the frame of mind of being a director of your home, you can choose to set a positive, playful, and accepting ambiance that over time will look to outsiders like a well-cast TV series. we are programmed to look for the flaws in need of correction. Those little flaws become magnified to parents, and it is through lecture and correction that we try our darndest to mold and shape kids who just want to be unconditionally accepted and loved…perhaps in the same way we want to be unconditionally accepted and loved. The change comes with intention of communicating the good behaviors, contributions, efforts and character traits that likely far outweigh the negative aspects. Using specific language to “notice” and “name the characteristics” may sound a bit forced at first, but in time, it begins to pay off. I work with families on a daily basis to find the positive aspects and intentionally recognize at least 10 great moments each day out loud sounding something like, “When

you get up and brush your teeth without needing reminders, you show me that you have self-respect and are responsible.” It may also be simply noticing, “When I got home this evening, I noticed that your backpack and shoes were not on the couch, but put away.” There is no “good job,” or “thanks” in these statements, they are specific and give direct positive affirmation to the inner voice of whomever receives the message leaving you both feeling great. Additionally, promoting a positive home atmosphere requires intensity. Typically we spend a great deal of energy responding to negative behaviors through lecturing, scolding, punishing and reprimanding. We may spend 15 minutes or more lecturing on why the garbage is everyone’s job and leaving it is a sign of laziness. Yet, when is the last time you gave the same positive intensity when the garbage was taken out? It is far less draining to give excitement and momentum to that which is going right. The facial affect of someone who is angry is full of power and clearly communicates hostility without words. The facial affect of someone who is delighted can have the same power if we focus on “lighting up” like a firework on the Fourth of July. For just a moment, consider going to work. When you arrive, how do you want to be greeted? How do you want your boss to recognize you: for your mistakes or your contributions? How do you feel around people who notice your flaws versus those who notice your positive qualities? It is the intentional recognition with great intensity that changes the atmosphere of a home. The books may be dusty, the crumbs are still on the floor, and the grass is growing long. There is not a team of set managers making your home look picture perfect. However, when you step into the frame of mind of being a director of your home, you can choose to set a positive, playful, and accepting ambiance that over time will look to outsiders like a well-cast TV series. ■

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MARIJUANA

legalization and kids By YOUTH CONNECTIONS STAFF

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here is so much false information about marijuana, it’s important to get the facts from sources who don’t benefit financially based on its legalization. With several states legalizing “medical” or recreational marijuana, there’s data to prove it does not benefit kids. Here’s what science and research know to be true: MARIJUANA IS ADDICTING Twenty to twenty-five percent of youth who start using regularly in their teenage years will become addicted. Long-term marijuana users who try to quit report withdrawal symptoms, including irritability, sleeplessness, decreased appetite, anxiety, and drug craving, all of which can make it difficult to stay off the drug. MARIJUANA AND MENTAL HEALTH Recent research suggests that smoking high-potency marijuana every day could increase the chances of developing psychosis by nearly five times compared to people who have never used marijuana. (Psychosis is a condition where one loses touch with reality and may hear, see, or believe things that aren’t real.) Marijuana use has also been linked to other mental health problems, such as depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts among teens. Colorado toxicology reports show

the percentage of adolescent suicide victims testing positive for marijuana has increased. MARIJUANA AND THE DEVELOPING BRAIN A recent study found a permanent reduction of eight IQ points in youth who are regular users. When teens begin using marijuana, the drug may impair thinking, memory, and learning functions and affect how the brain builds connections between the areas necessary for these functions. Marijuana use is linked to a higher likelihood of dropping out of school, decreased initiative, accidents, and injuries. MARIJUANA AND FAMILIES While legalization is supposed to be for adults, a recent study showed that parental use increases a child’s risk of substance use and other psychiatric problems. No matter how you feel about it personally, one thing is clear – it is not good for kids. Legalization increases access and reduces risk of harm – factors for increased use by youth. The number one reason a child chooses not to use is the expectations of their parents. Talk early, talk often, stick to the facts. For resources on what to say, visit: drugabuse.gov and search “Marijuana: Facts Parents Need to Know.” Let’s help our kids reach their full potential by helping them be substance free. ■

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The T h      THC Levels Marijuana in the 70s/80s had 2-3% THC (the psychoactive ingredient) Today the norm is 25+%. Concentrates have over 95% Marijuana is Genetically Modified

NOT Medicine It's the same pot as in pot shops/on the street Not prescribed by a medical doctor What "medicine" is taken when, as much, and however you want? Budtenders are not pharmacists or doctors and require no education

Side Effects Decreased motivation Increased depression/anxiety Suicidal ideation Slowed reactions Poor planning/judgement

What's the Danger? Marijuana is addictive No long-term studies on these high dosages It can cause psychotic episodes Regular use in teens permanently reduces IQ

What's The Risk? Youth think medicine is safe; increased use It's not regulated, so there's no way to know what's in it or how much THC is ingested (legalization does not change this) Marijuana interacts with real medicine

What's the Reslt? Increased risk of drop outs Increased risk of homelessness Increased car crashes/fatalities Increased risky behavior - other drugs Increased impulsive behaviors

What are the acts? (From other states that have legalized)

Marijuana is marketed to kids with products like "Pot Tarts", "Fruity Loopys", "Orange Kush" soda No regulation - products can be produced in basements/garages Growers use pesticides, herbicides, and fungicides - it's NOT "all natural" High taxes result in a booming Black Market, benefitting Mexican Cartels Coloradans pay 4 times what is collected in taxes to cover increased social services required from legalization

For more information about the dangers of marijuana, visit:

YouthConnectionsCoalition.org/marijuana


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YC Magazine - Helena, Sept 2020  

YC Magazine - Helena, Sept 2020