Supporting Your Child through a Divorce

Our counsellor newsletter from Linda Campbell, School Counsellor, School District 57
lcampbell@sd57.bc.ca
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A parent’s guide to supporting your child through a divorce  

 

As a parent, it’s normal to feel uncertain about how to give your children the right support through your divorce or separation. It may be uncharted territory, but you can successfully navigate this unsettling time—and help your kids emerge from it feeling loved, confident, and strong.

 

There are many ways you can help your kids adjust to separation or divorce. Your patience, reassurance, and listening ear can minimize tension as children learn to cope with new circumstances. By providing routines kids can rely on, you remind children they can count on you for stability, structure, and care. And if you can maintain a working relationship with your ex, you can help kids avoid the stress that comes with watching parents in conflict. Such a transitional time can’t be without some measure of hardship, but you can powerfully reduce your children’s pain by making their well-being your top priority.

 

What I need from my mom and dad: A child’s list of wants
  • I need both of you to stay involved in my life. Please write letters, make phone calls, and ask me lots of questions. When you don’t stay involved, I feel like I’m not important and that you don’t really love me.
  •  Please stop fighting and work hard to get along with each other. Try to agree on matters related to me. When you fight about me, I think that I did something wrong and I feel guilty.
  •  I want to love you both and enjoy the time that I spend with each of you. Please support me and the time that I spend with each of you. If you act jealous or upset, I feel like I need to take sides and love one parent more than the other.
  •  Please communicate directly with my other parent so that I don’t have to send messages back and forth.
  •  When talking about my other parent, please say only nice things, or don’t say anything at all. When you say mean, unkind things about my other parent, I feel like you are expecting me to take your side.
  •  Please remember that I want both of you to be a part of my life. I count on my mom and dad to raise me, to teach me what is important, and to help me when I have problem

Boosting Your Child’s Success at School

As a parent, you are your child’s first and most important teacher. When families are involved in their children’s learning, children have better feelings about going to school and do better.  There are many ways that parents can support their children’s learning at home and throughout the school year. Here are some ideas to get you started!
Linda Campbell
School Counsellor, School District 57
lcampbell@sd57.bc.ca

 

Making Time Count

Put specific times on your calendar each week when you will spend time with your children. During that time, focus your love and attention on your child.
Use car time to talk with your children. There is no phone or TV to interfere. No one can get up and leave. And kids know they really have your ear.
Look for things to do together as a family. Get everyone involved in choosing how to spend your time together.

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Reading to Your Child

Try relaxing your family’s bedtime rules once a week on the weekend. Let your child know that he can stay up as late as he wants as long as he ís reading in bed.
Help your child start their own library, paperback books are fine. Encourage your child to swap books with friends. Check used bookstores. Give books as gifts.
Want your children to be good readers? Let them see you read. More students than ever have reported that their homes contained few or no reading materials.
Try holding D-E-A-R times at your house. DEAR stands for Drop Everything And Read. During DEAR time, everyone in the family sits down for some uninterrupted reading time.
With young children,try reading aloud at bath time.
Use the Rule of Thumb to see if a book is on your child’s reading level: Have your child read a page of the book aloud. Have her hold up one finger for each word she does not know. If she holds up four fingers and a thumb before the end of the page, the book is probably too hard for her to read alone. But it might be a great book to read aloud. Continue reading “Boosting Your Child’s Success at School”

Nobody Likes Me!

I remember hurting for my children when they had troubles with friends.  Perhaps there are some ideas here to help!
Linda Campbell
School Counsellor, School District 57
lcampbell@sd57.bc.ca

 

 How to help your child make friends

Your child is in grade school and out to explore the world. But she is a bit of a loner and seems shy or reluctant to make friends, and this has you worried. Other kids your child’s age seem to have no trouble in the social-life department, easily making and keeping pals.  
by Kate Rauch ?You can help, and it’s worthwhile. Playing with friends is an important way for young school-age children to learn social rules such as cooperating, not hurting each other’s feelings, and waiting for their turn.

 

Keep playdates small. Start by inviting only one or two prospective pals over to your house, preferably kids your child already knows who are around her age. Ask your child who she enjoys spending time with at school, and arrange a get-together.

 

Keep playdates short. One or two hours is plenty when kids are just getting to know each other. True, this might mean that the new friend will have to leave just as things are really getting fun, but this is better than having the playdate go on too long and deteriorate into squabbles, leaving a sour taste in everyone’s mouth.?

 

Plan ahead. Orient the playdate around games and activities that your child enjoys and is good at. This will make her more comfortable and keep her feeling good about herself. Let your child pick the activity, but make suggestions.

 

Get involved. Don’t just leave the kids to play by themselves and hope for the best. Your guidance can make children feel more at ease with each other, especially new friends. Oversee art or cooking projects, or suggest a game. If this seems to make your child more self-conscious, though, back off. Do make yourself available in case they run into conflicts, get distracted and stop playing together, or need a change of activity. However, try not to dominate or fill in for your child; the idea is to help break the ice without taking control. “Mom or Dad can help get things going, then hang back once the kids get into the groove.?

Continue reading “Nobody Likes Me!”

Homework Habits

October 2012                    Homework Habits

“Have you done your homework?”  Here’s some tips to help parents and students.  Also are some great community activities, healthy and free!

Linda Campbell
School Counsellor, School District 57
lcampbell@sd57.bc.ca
Homework Habits that Work for Students in Elementary School.

These are important study and homework habits that your child will use for years to come.
About.com Guide

Setting up good homework habits early is important for future school success.  It’s a good idea to get kids into a rhythm of great homework habits as soon as possible. From ways to help your kids get more organized to giving them ways to minimize and eliminate homework stress, here are some great tips for good homework habits that work.

Divide and Conquer
Kids can often feel overwhelmed when they look over their list of assignments for the week. Help your child manage his assignments by planning out his work on a daily planner. (This can be particularly helpful if you are at work when your child gets home from school; having a list like this can help your child and your childcare provider manage his workload when you are not there.)

For example, if all the homework is due on Friday, you can try scheduling several minutes for different subject such as reading, math problems or spelling words. Or you may want to have him spend Monday doing reading and reserve Tuesday for math, and so on.

Writing down what needs to be done can be a great way to manage homework, and crossing off assignments when they are completed and tracking their own progress can be satisfying for kids and help give them motivation to continue their work. Continue reading “Homework Habits”

Talking with Kids about School

September 2012 Talking with Kids about School

I remember this well! “How was your day today?” “O k a y.” “What did you do?” “N o t h i n g.”
Hopefully, the following ideas can help.

Linda Campbell
School Counsellor, School District 57
lcampbell@sd57.bc.ca

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  •  How was Your Day Today?
“Parents can ask ‘how was your day?’ but children often can’t answer. It’s asking kids to boil down every aspect of their day into one response. And that’s hard for kids (and even grown ups) to do! What a child might really want to say is, `My day was so complex, it was jam-packed with classes and social problems that I can’t even begin to tell you. After all, I’m only in second grade!’

 

Why is it so hard to talk about school? Parents often get exasperated with kids’ monosyllabic answers to their simple questions. That one well-intentioned line, “How was school today?” has probably provoked more bad feelings between parents and kids than either party ever intended.

 

Fortunately, some simple strategies can get kids and parents talking and listening. “What was fun? What was the worst part of the day?    Did your teacher explain that math homework?    How did soccer go?”

 

Understanding Each Other
So why don’t our kids want to tell us about their day at school? And why do we think we need to know every detail? And how can we become more effective listeners? To find out, take a look at the situation from your child’s perspective and compare it to your own.

 

“How was school?” and “how are you?” are not really questions — they’re greetings. A problem arises because we expect an answer. But the question is so general that it’s difficult for kids to answer, particularly when they are on overload from a challenging day at school. “What parents are trying to do when they ask ‘how was school?’ is to make contact with their child.” But we don’t realize that the question “how was school” may not be the most effective way to connect.

 

Kids often think adults ask too many questions.
Adults are often just trying to start a conversation and don’t understand that their questions make a child feel put on the spot. Be aware that a question from a big person like you can place demands on a small child, even though you don’t mean it that way.””It’s important to also be clear why you are asking children about school. Is it merely chit chat, are you looking for something more meaningful, and are you communicating in ways that relate to your child’s experience?”

 

School can be hard for kids and that’s why it’s hard for them to talk about it. Every day at school, kids get things wrong and make mistakes. That’s how they learn. But generally, kids don’t want to come home and say, “I was frustrated by my mistakes but I learned from them.” They would rather come home and say, “I got everything right.” Their feelings about meeting the expectations of their teachers, their parents, and themselves can make school a challenging topic to discuss.

 

So — should we stop asking questions? No. But you might ask fewer ones and try not to get crazy when your kids don’t respond the way you want them to. Remember that if your kids don’t want to talk, it’s not a rejection of you. When you do speak, try to find ways to discuss what’s meaningful to both your child and you, because this shows that you care.
Michael Thompson Ph.D.  Author, The Pressured Child

Continue reading “Talking with Kids about School”

Online Computer and Smart Phone Safety

September 2012 Online Computer and Smart Phone Safety

When counselling in our elementary and secondary schools, I met with many students who, with increased access to cell phones and internet, have had to deal with some very challenging situations – harassment, mean words, ongoing bullying, sexting and predators. At times, these students have been participating in this negative and hurtful behaviour. Here are some good sites for parents to take a look at to get tips on how to teach your child to be safe on line whether from a smart phone or a computer. Also, what to do when your child insists at texting at the dinner table and wants to be on her phone all the time! I

I hope you find these resources helpful. If you have thoughts for future newsletters please contact me.

Linda Campbell
lcampbell@sd57.bc.ca

Online Safety

They connect to it. They download from it. They watch on it. They listen to it. They play on it. They surf on it. They converse with it. Do you know how to monitor it? It can be hard to keep up when today’s inventions are tomorrow’s antiques, but we want our kids to be safe online, and with the amount of time kids spend online, it’s crucial that you do what you can to keep them safe.
http://www.parentfurther.com/technology-media/online-safety

Learn more about cell phone safety >Is your child asking for an iPhone or Android device?

Advice parents can view online

A parent advice area, which are rich with guidance for parents on how to manage kids’ use of cell phones and online communication.

Help children use cell phones safely

Is your child counting down the days until he or she is permitted to have a cell phone? Or are you already negotiating minute and text message allowances? Whichever stage you may be in with your child, these tips will help you set rules for safer cell phone use.
http://www.netsmartz.org/Parents

When you think about your children’s online activities, do you consider their cell phones? Children can send and receive images, e-mails, texts, and instant messages from their phones, which many parents and guardians do not monitor. However, you should consider cell phones an extension of the Internet and employ the same safeguards.
http://www.netsmartz.org/CellPhones

Texting: The New Way for Kids to Be Rude

“ My 14 year old daughter is a texting addict! She will even sit and text when our family is at a restaurant. It drives me nuts. If I tell her to stop, she just does it under the table. It’s like this little secret that we can’t be in on, plus it’s just plain rude. It’s as if half of her is here with us, but her brain is somewhere off with her friends. The thing that really annoys me is that she doesn’t take part in family activities any more—it’s like she has to have a special invitation to participate. What should we do?”
http://www.empoweringparents.com/My-Teen-is-Addicted-to-Texting.php#ixzz25Eqa50cX

Parents and kids making a commitment. Try a Family Media Agreement.

The Family Media Agreement is a checklist that parents can use to guide conversations with their kids about media use. It’s designed to help parents establish guidelines and expectations around media use and behavior that are right for their family. Some families are comfortable using it as a signed agreement. Others prefer to use it simply as a checklist to guide conversations. Either way, it’s a great way to help parents and kids get on the same page about media and technology use.
http://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/parent-media-education/family-media-agreements

Early September celebrates:
International Literacy Day. September 8, 2012
Grandparents Day! Sept. 9 2012
Positive Thinking Day. September 13, 2012

Upcoming workshop:

Systematic Training for Effective Parenting (S.T.E.P)
Starting October 2012 (runs for 8 weeks)

For information and Registration Call 250-563-0858 or 250-962-0600

The STEP course runs for eight weeks from 6:30 pm – 8:30 pm on Tuesdays. Location: Pine Street Hadih House Cost: $30.00, includes STEP workbook. (Subsidies are available if you cannot afford the cost- please ask about this when you register)

Childminding available upon request.

STEP offers parents a realistic and practical approach to meeting the challenges of raising children today.
In STEP classes, parents work together in small groups to discuss common concerns, learn specific child-training ideas, and skills.
Supported by the Prince George United Way

Back to School Tips

August 2012        Tips to Ease Back to School Anxiety

Here are some great sites for parents, teens and “kids” for all to read or listen to,  to help with the exciting but sometimes challenging back to school days.

http://kidshealth.org/parent/positive/learning/back_school.html

http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/school/back_to_school.html

http://kidshealth.org/teen/homework/back/back_to_school.html

Linda Campbell
School Counsellor, School District 57

What parents can do to alleviate back to school jitters

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Back-to-school anxiety is normal and understandable. Many kids may feel anxious about going back to school after a long summer break. Others may feel nervous about starting school for the first time. Whichever the case may be, parents can help ease the transition to back to school with these simple strategies.

Organize your home for back to school. A great way to ease some of your child’s anxiety about going back to school is by getting your home ready for the transition. Strategies such as making school lunches the night before or establishing a comfortable homework area can help make kids feel more in control and relieve some of their anxious feelings.
Help your child feel more comfortable about his new school environment. One of the things that can cause back to school anxiety for kids is not knowing what to expect. Help your child become more acclimated to new routines and unfamiliar surroundings by doing the following:

  • Take him for a visit to the school. If your child is starting kindergarten or first grade, he may be uneasy about going into a new building. Older grade-schoolers may be nervous about being in a new classroom or meeting a new teacher. To alleviate some of these concerns, ask your school about arranging a visit to school and meeting the teacher before school begins.
  • Make a couple of drives back and forth from home to school. Whether your child will walk, take a school bus, or be driven to school by mom or dad, helping him become familiar with the route to and from school will make considerably ease back to school anxiety. Even if your child is already familiar with the route to school, making a pre first-day run will remind him where school is, and help him feel more connected to where he will go on the first day back to school.
  • Go over the basics. Where will he hang his jacket? Where will he go to the bathroom? Where will he eat lunch? Knowing the answers to some of these questions will help make your child feel more comfortable in his new classroom.

Highlight the things that make school great. There are lots of attractive factors that can make school very appealing for kids. For starters, there’s the swag — fun new school supplies and clothes. There will also be friends she hasn’t seen and things she may have missed about school — or can look forward to if she’s starting school — such as the playground or making arts and crafts projects.

Arrange some playdates. Help your child re-connect with old friends or make new ones before school starts. Try to get a class list if possible and set up some playdates with familiar pals as well as kids he may not be familiar with. If he is anxious about not being in the same class with old friends, reassure him by letting him know that he can have regular playdates with his friends after school so that they can stay connected.

Remind her that she’s not the only one who may be nervous. Let your child know that the other students are likely to be just as anxious as she is about the first day of school. Reassure her by telling her that the teacher knows that the children are nervous, and will probably spend some time helping the students feel more comfortable as they settle into the classroom.

Try to be home more during back to school time. Right before school starts and during the first days back, try to make it a point to be present at home for your child and support him through this transition back to school. If you work away from home, try to arrange your hours so that you are able to drop your child off at school and are home in time for after school or an early dinner. If you stay at home, try to focus more on your child and put everything else on the back burner. Spend some time talking to your child about his day such as what he liked and what he might have questions about. By giving your child more attention, you will help him feel more secure about his connection to you and home, and help him navigate back to school time.

Make sure she gets enough sleep and eats a balanced diet. Getting adequate sleep and eating a healthy diet — especially a protein-carbohydrate balanced breakfast — is important for brain function, mood and the ability to focus and pay attention in school.

Keep an eye on his school anxiety. You know your child best. If you sense that his back to school anxiety may be rooted in something more serious, such as an anxiety disorder or a problem with a bully, talk with your child, your child’s teacher, and the school counselor.

And remember to try to get yourself relaxed as much as possible. Back to school time can also be a hectic time for parents, so taking care of yourself by eating right and getting enough sleep and exercise is a good idea during this transitional phase back to school.

Try to remind yourself that any anxiety or stress you or your child may be feeling is only temporary. Before you know it, your family will be back in the back to school groove, and you’ll be sailing smoothly into the fall semester.