Why attending school is still so important.

Our world is changing.  How many times a week do we hear that?  How many times a day might one hear it.  Over the years, and even while my own boys were growing up and in school, I started noticing that kids are more and more staying out of school for things I would have never got away with as a child.  I can remember my parents were stern believers of being in school and unless we had high fevers or injured we were going to school.  There was no room for argument with my parents.   It’s just how it was when I was younger.  School was important and it came first.  And if you actually were sick enough to stay out of school, you stayed in your room all day.  If you didn’t go to school you didn’t get to do anything. That meant no sports, no friends, nothing.

I recently read a report regarding the effects of staying out of school has on students.  According the report put out by the Robert Woods Johnson foundation (http://www.rwjf.org/en/library/research/2016/09/the-relationship-between-school-attendance-and-health.html)  chronic absenteeism is becoming a major concern.  This report defines chronic absenteeism is defined as missing 15 days or more of school.   I couldn’t locate where they got all of their data but it does list some very good, and important reasons why your child should be getting that end of the school award for 100% attendance.

  According to this report;

  • Chronically absent from GK-1 can cause reading levels to be behind by third grade which results in 4X the HS drop out rate later in school.
  • 10% of Kindergartners are chronically absent
  • Chronically absent students have higher rates of health issues later in adulthood
  • The percentage of chronically absent students is higher among lower income students and minorities.
  • Students who were chronically absent any year between 8th grade and 12th grade are more likely to drop out.
  • On average a college graduate will live 9 years longer than a high school graduate.

What I’m seeing now, and in the past 20 years is for students to be out of school for various reasons.  I’m not writing this to start a debate about why parents should be allowed to take their children out of school if they want too.  You’re the parent.  You do what you feel will benefit your child in the long run.  If your school feels that taking the day off to attend a parade to honor school athletes is Okay, then go with it!  If you feel that taking a few days off for a much needed vacation to Disney is benefiting your child and family, then again, it’s your decision.  You are the parent!   

Some of the reasons the report listed that students are chronically out of school:

  • Physical health; could be student, could be other family member
  • Mental health; could be student, could be other family member
  • Safety concerns. We are lucky to live in a pretty safe community but others are not so lucky
  • Social factors such as hunger, housing, transportation

But, if your child isn’t getting to school because you didn’t feel like getting up in the morning, or you all stayed up too late watching TV the night before, then maybe you might need to read this report.

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How to help your child do their own homework.

Feeling stuck trying to get your child to do their homework?  Many parents face this nightly problem so don’t feel alone.  Sometimes just thinking of those six words “it’s time to do your homework” often cause parents to shutter in anxiety of knowing the struggle of what’s to come.

Let’s face it, for most children, home work isn’t fun. It’s work. ……… “Home WORK”.  It’s a chore for not only the child but the parent.  Of course in a perfect world the only one doing the “work” will be the child.  But let’s face it, we all know the parent has to be the one to set the time, answer questions, and be around to be sure the child does the work.  It’s work for parents too.  You have things you need to be doing such as fixing dinner, or just relaxing after your own stressful day, and of course your child would much rather be (hopefully) outside playing, hanging out with friends, and just doing anything else.

It can quickly become a power struggle between yourself and your child.  Then it becomes a no win situation.  You both become frustrated and then what should have taken 30 minutes becomes a 2 hour “hostage” situation.   

One thing I know that children need is structure and consistency.  Developing a routine is one of the sure fire ways of helping your child feel not only safe and secure, but also helps them develop a sense of mastery as well as helping them develop a positive self esteem.  Learning to put time away for important tasks helps them with their own organization skills.  A good article to read on the importance of routines can be found here at ahaparenting.

Here are some ways to help your week nights go a little smoother:

  • Develop a schedule.  Try to have the child do their homework at the same time every evening.  Have meals and bedtimes at regular times and give the same consideration to homework.  Of course this is easier said than done.  If you know there is practice or a game for one of your child’s sports, or activities, be creative.  Look for 30 minutes before you leave.  The days that you are not headed to a practice of some sort is the days to be sure you have a set time and place to do the work. Let your child help develop this schedule.  Allowing them some say can help encourage participation.   
  • Pick a quiet spot.  A place without distractions such as TV, or other activities is a must.  A place where younger brother or sister doesn’t interfere.  It should be a technology free zone (unless homework involves some type of technology use).  If you have more than one child trying to do homework at the same time and place, if they become distractions to each other you might want to find each of them their own place.  For some children, having someone else with them to also do work helps, for others it creates a distraction.
  • Make sure all material is handy and available before they start.  This eliminates “I don’t have a pencil” and other manipulating techniques to get to get out of work.
  • Establish clear expectations with rewards and consequences.  And I can’t say (write) this enough……. STICK TO IT!!!  Rules such as all homework must be turned in on time, and getting no less than a “C” on all homework are also important expectations to have.  Rewards can be simple but also must be consistent.  Something such as getting all homework done during the evening means an hour of technology at night, or getting “C’s” or above on all homework will get another hour over the weekend.  
  • A word of caution…… bribes don’t work.  You might get them to do their work on an occasion or two with a bribe but in the end what are you teaching them?  That you can be manipulated to give them something they want by doing something they were supposed to do in the first place.  Rewards aren’t the same as bribes.
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One of the best (and easiest) ways of helping ourselves.

Throughout my many years of counseling I have found that, especially over the past 10 years, people are going outside less and less.  There are many reasons for this.   Look at the modern “conveniences” we now have: shopping in our PJs, conversing with friends and relatives online, endless TV and movies available any time of day, all at our fingertips, and more people now work from home, and many, many other reasons.    I couldn’t count the times I’ve worked with a young adult who doesn’t seem to grasp the concept of a “face to face” conversation.  “oh! you mean like video chat!”?  Hum…………no.  But I digress, so I’ll save that soap box for another time.

One of the simplest, and still best ways of helping oneself over come feelings of sadness, and anxiety is to simply…………………..wait for it…………….. GO OUT SIDE!  Put down the cell phone, walk away from your screens and go outside.  

Now, don’t get me wrong.  No, I don’t think that going outside, seeing that great, big, orange, beautiful, ball of energy first thing in the morning is going to completely cure one of all their depression, anxiety and anything else that ails them.  But it will help.  Studies have  proven over and over again that vitamin D is essential for our overall good health.  So why is it so hard these days to get off the couch (or away from the computer and phone screens) to walk outside?  Especially when it can help in so many ways.

Recently, in the December 2017 edition of  Psychology Today I came across an article, once again, describing the benefits of Vitamin D.  Go ahead, click the link and read for yourself.  It’s called the SUNSHINE VITAMIN.  

Benefits of the Sunshine Vitamin include:

  • Essential for central nervous system growth and activity
  • It is essential for normal development of the brain (during pregnancy, a lack of it could possibly contribute to interruptions in early brain development)
  • It helps with immune system.
  • Lack of Vitamin D contributes to fragile bones.
  • Lowers risk of developing certain diseases
  • Boost weight loss
  • Helps alleviate symptoms of depression and anxiety!

Benefits of getting fresh air:  

  • Known to also help with depression and anxiety.
  • It’s good for digestion system, heart, lungs, blood pressure, immune system, etc….
  • Helps the mind be sharper and focused.

Sure, you can get some of the benefits of the vitamin in a pill form.  But combine the benefits of Vitamin D with a change of scenery (from inside to outside), and fresh air, the possibility of helping yourself overcome some of the stresses in your life just increased.

I know for myself, the feeling of the warm sun on my face or arms is a wonderful feeling.  It helps change my mood from negative to positive.

And it’s free!  Yes free.  Will your problems be magically gone during your time outside, or when you return to your “safe place” inside your home or office?  No.  But your mind now has something new to focus on which is another benefit of stepping outside, away from the computer, the phone screen, the TV screen, or anything else you are normally concentrating on.    

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Watch “Get Kids Talking About Anxiety with a Worry Tree” on YouTube

A great activity to help children learn to cope with their anxieties

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On Line Counseling

 

phone

Already there are numerous studies out supporting the benefits of online counseling. Online counseling refers to counseling services through the internet and can include emails, chat rooms and web cameras. This type of counselling goes by so many names such as cyberspace counselling, e-therapy, e-counselling and tele-counselling.  Online counseling isn’t for everyone though.  There are a few exceptions to who and what issues will be beneficial or harmful for someone.  

Online therapy is growing rapidly. The Internet is not just for chatting with friends and relatives anymore.

The benefits of online counseling:

  • It’s often time more convenient.  Many people who would love to have the time to sit and talk to someone qualified about their problems simply don’t have the time to wait in an office, then sit for an hour.  Or they can’t seem to get an appointment at their own available time and is at the mercy of the counselor to work around their busy schedules.  Two people with busy schedules trying to make an appointment to meet is sometimes a chore.
  • It can help those who might not otherwise receive counseling due to their locations.  There may not be enough or qualified and available counselors in their area.    building
  • More economical.  If you are lucky to find a counselor who accepts insurance and this is what you like, then you are a lucky one.  Of course using your insurance comes with it’s own set of issues (click here for why many counselors are no longer accepting insurance).  Normally online counseling is much more affordable than face to face counseling.
  • For those who still feel that counseling has a social stigma attached, it’s more private.  Those who wouldn’t normally go to a counselors office due to feeling that someone they know might see them it is would be a real benefit.  In today’s every changing electrical  world, where many people live there lives through electronic media, this way of counseling also offers them more ways to express themselves.    Expressing oneself through texting, messaging, and video chats is how many of this generation express themselves.

A little about the disadvantages:  

  • Reading tones and body language is gone.  Non verbal and verbal cues can be misread or are non existent. Traditional counseling relies often times on verbal and nonverbal cues as another form of communication as well as to help the counseling gain insight into thoughts and feelings that a client is often unable to express.
  • Like anything else online, confidentiality can not be guaranteed.  Though everything is done to assure complete confidentiality, being online opens oneself up to the possibility of being hacked or security breached.  This too is an unfortunate reality of today’s wired world.
  • Technical difficulties can happen.  Internet can go down, computers do crash, phones stop working.  
  • Not in “real time”.  Many online modes of counseling such as message counseling are not in “real time”.  That means that you may send a message to your counselor and not hear back for several hours and vs versa.
  • Ethical considerations.  Let’s face it, online counseling is new.  Like everything new, there will be problems, and these problems are what lead to change in laws and regulations.  Right now, very few states have laws governing online counseling.  This is changing though.  Is your counseling who they say they are?  Do they have the qualifications to counseling online?  Are they licensed?

 

If you are considering online counseling please do your research about the counselor. Are they knowledgeable and skilled in the area of your problems? Remember that online counseling is not for everyone.  If you are suicidal please contact crisis text line  or 1-800-273-(talk)8255

If you are over the age of 18 and wish to try online counseling with me please click the Better Help link below.  I am currently taking new online clients through this site as I have found it to be secure as reasonably possible and a good way of using online counseling.  They are currently  offering the first week free though this could change at any time.

Work with me on Better Help

Informed Consent Form

 

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You do make a difference

a difference

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Bullying does not just apply to children

drama (1024x793)  It’s my own personal opinion that a counselor should remain unbiased, open minded and tolerant to everyone’s opinions, thoughts, and feelings.  It’s what we do.  It’s one of the reasons why we can help people as we have to be able to meet a client where they are in their own lives,  NOT where the counselor is in life.  For this reason I refrain from talking politics with anyone other than my close personal friends and family.  If a client asks me my opinion I will always defer back to the fact that counseling is not about me but about them and how would knowing my thoughts on something change or affect them.

Are there times I would like to tell the world my own opinions?  You bet I would.  But then that would get me on another sticky topic of social media and let’s not right now.  Because these days, if one takes things personally, much of what is taking place now could be seen as bullying one person/culture/group or another.  (That might be one of my next posts)

Most recently, especially over the past 12 months, there has been so much negativity in our world regarding politics, feelings, equal rights, and just our society in general. Is this new?  No.  Every election brings out some group(s) who feel slighted or angry.   But something over the past few days really struck a nerve with me.  So this post is not about politics.  It’s about bullying and how it appears that we, as adults, sometimes teach our children one thing, but often do something totally different. colors1

The definition of bullying is:  (according to Webster)  a :  a blustering, browbeating person; especially :  one who is habitually cruel, insulting, or threatening to others who are weaker, smaller, or in some way vulnerable <tormented by the neighborhood bully>   Merriam-Webster

My primary mission in life is to help children grow to be happy, healthy people who follow their hearts and their own personal goals.  To help them be the people that I know they can become, the people they want to be.  Among all the issues children and young people have to contend with in our world, bullying continues to be a real issue for many.  Is it the most threatening to them?  No. But it is a problem.   Sure, most of us would agree that it’s wrong, it needs to stop, and society needs to change its views of it.  Do I feel that at times it can go a bit over board too?  Sure.  Everything can.

Most recently I saw where an adult, a member of the entertainment community posted a tweet about a 10 year old boy.  Let me write that out again in case you did not catch it.  An Adult, posted something mean, and hurtful about a 10 year old boy (who, through no fault of his own is a celebrity) and it went viral.  Is this not the very thing that we try to teach our children NOT to do?  To not use social media or any other way, to down grade, humiliate, or pick on anyone?     budha

That just really makes me sad for everyone involved.  The woman who tweeted the insult for feeling that she could use something hurtful about a child to make entertainment for other adults, the company who hired her, the people who continued to agree with her and add to her hurtful comment, the parents of the child, of course the very child, but also our entire society which appeared for a few days condoned such behavior.  These same adults (I hope) are trying to teach their own children, and grandchildren not to bully other’s condoned this one women’s ignorant tweet.  Yes, it was ignorant.

Yes, the child is a celebrity.  But did that make this comment any less hurtful or OK to make?  This is a 10 year old boy and it would not matter who the child’s parents are, this child has friends, goes to school, attends events.  The remark will be repeated and he will have to deal with it until it all dies down.  Hopefully it will and he will be able to look at it in the future and know that he did nothing to deserve it other than to be the brunt of someone’s foolish attempt at making a name for herself.  She did.

At first I wanted to boycott the show who hired her.  That appears to be the going thing these days isn’t it?  Let’s get really, really mad at a company and just boycott their product.  It’s going to hurt them, right?  If I did that every time a company produced something I didn’t like or agree with I might not have many products in my home, or be able to watch very much on TV.  So,  I reminded myself that we are all humans and do stupid things from time to time.  We basically screw up sometimes.  Most actions are normally forgotten or forgiven over time in order to move forward with life.  I read where the company has done its own form of reprimand and she has issued an apology. SNL-apology

So parents, and all of you adults….practice what you preach! p9035823

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When your concerned about your child’s mental health.

p1280281b1-800x694 Sometimes as parents, we don’t always know when our child needs help that as a parent, they may not can give them.  Are you a parent who is concerned that it might be time to seek counseling for a child?

Is your child suddenly declining in the school work?

Do you feel your child may be worrying more than other children (anxiety among children is on a steady incline)

Has your child suddenly started refusing to go to school or join in normal activities they once enjoyed?   backtoschool

Have they started having nightmares?

Has your once well behaved child begun to be more aggressive or disobedient?

Does your child seem sad or depressed?

Does it seem like your teen has suddenly “shut down” or started spending more and more time alone, in their room, avoiding the family?  rustlock1b

Has there been any major changes in your household such as a divorce, separation, major illness of a loved one or even a death in the family?

Children’s mental health problems can occur just as easily as they can in adults and like adults they are treatable.  Some studies have shown that one child in five may have a diagnosable mental health problem which can be helped but nearly two thirds of these children get little to no help and are left to deal with it on their own.

A mental health issue a child is dealing with can disrupt their home and school and often times there is a possible increased risk of school failure, problems with the law, and sometime suicide.  It has been reported that children as young as 5 have attempted suicide.  Some have succeeded.

While many childhood problems go away in time, if you are concerned about your child and feel that there may be something going on more than “normal childhood” problems, then seek out the advice of your local pediatrician or family doctor or a local mental health professional.

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If your in the Andalusia, Alabama area call for a free and confidential consult 334-222-7094

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Where are you now?

beauty

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Never stop dreaming

brokenbird

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