Some interesting information to pass along to parents. We seem to be learning more and more what sleep health has to do with behavioral health.
A new study published in Pediatrics yesterday, it was reported that symptoms of snoring, mouth breathing, and pauses in breathing during sleep in children as young as 6 months of age were associated with behavioral and emotional difficulties in later childhood. This held true even in children in whom the symptoms subsequently resolved.
One of my projects over spring break was putting together a video and finishing a Prezi for our I’m Going to College curriculum. Our fifth grade will be learning about postsecondary options, including what kind of degrees are needed for different careers, how to pay for college, and what to look for when high school is done. We will end our curriculum with a trip to EOU to speak with college students and find out what life is like in college.
This Prezi and Youtube upload are just the first part in this series. Many thanks to the staff members at our school who were willing to take a few minutes to help me out with this project. One note about Prezi and Youtube: Although it’s cool to be able to embed a Youtube video within Prezi, I’m not sure I like how Prezi manipulates screen space to not take advantage of standard 16:9 resolution. I’m a full-screen, 1080HD kind of guy. In any event, here are both. I’ll post subsequent lessons/videos as we get to them over the next few weeks.
I’m about a week behind the 8-ball on this one, but if you haven’t taken the time to read this, you need to. It gives me a glimpse into the world of some of our most vulnerable students, the children of undocumented families. And, it just reaffirms some things I’ve picked up on in my ten years as a counselor: They have a strong sense of uncertainty, and preparing for something like college is only a distant dream. For many of these kids, there are more immediate, pressing needs. That perspective is best summed up in this passage:
The future is frightening for a student without legal papers. School provides some shelter from our reality, and we know that most of our teachers and counselors have done their best for us. But life gets a lot more challenging, and threatening, once we turn 18 and are out of school. Our family and financial pressures can get a lot more demanding, and the threat of detention and even deportation becomes very real.
We’re taking our fifth grade students on a trip to a local university later this year, and I’d love to be able to look all of them in the eye and tell them that this is a reality for them in the near future. Unless policies change, though, it’s going to be much more difficult for these students to attend college.
I love how this letter ends on such a positive note, encouraging us as educators to keep encouraging them, regardless of their immigration status. That last sentence sums up our imperative as counselors and educators. ”Someday the politicians will figure out what to do with us, and we need to be ready.”
Meaning, we need to get them ready right alongside of their non-undocumented peers.
Damian Bariexca, coming from a school psych perspective, makes an important distinction between praise and positive reinforcement:
Praise is a pretty standard entity framed from the perspective of the giver – the person praising is expressing approval or admiration of something someone else did or said. Positive reinforcement, on the other hand, is framed from the perspective of the receiver.
Then, he proceeds to further elaborate on reinforcers:
What I find reinforcing, you may not. For example: I love dark chocolate, so you may tell me that for every 3 psychological reports I write, I’ll get a big chunk of dark chocolate. Because I really want that dark chocolate, I will be more likely to complete more reports; however, if I make the same deal with you, but you hate the taste of dark chocolate, that will not be a reinforcer for you.
The implications for me as a school counselor come when it’s time to work with students who have difficulties with challenging behaviors. Sometimes we have to keep digging to find the right carrot for them to work for. And sometimes their carrot changes just when we’ve found the right one.
From time to time, we’ve all had parents come into our offices seeking help when their family is going through a divorce. And, I think we all have those lists of resources and guidelines that we routinely refer to on those occasions when we find ourselves sitting down with parents.
But not all of the resources we come across necessarily reflect what we believe are in the best interests of the families we serve. I recently came across such a list written by Dr. Marilyn Wedge in Psychology Today, and I felt it important to take issue with a few points. As a divorced dad and an elementary school counselor, I need to respectfully disagree with some items that Dr. Wedge presented in her post. My purpose here isn’t to call out another professional. My purpose here is to remind you that not everybody’s helpful list is going to work in your situation. Here are the points Dr. Wedge made, and my subsequent reaction to each:
1. Don’t try to recruit your child into siding with one parent against the other.
Agree. The child loses every time. And nobody wins.
2. Do contain your hostility in front of the children. Hearing divorcing parents argue is the most common cause for a child of divorce to have problems.
Agree. See no. 1.
3. Do renegotiate a healthy co-parenting relationship after divorce. You don’t have to be best friends with your ex, but you do need to have a civilized relationship so that your child is not burdened by your ongoing anger.
Agree, to a point. It’s not impossible to still have angry feelings but still be able to have a working relationship, whatever that might look like. And I’d like to know her definition of ‘renegotiate.’ Many times, that’s a process, not a one-time deal.
4. Don’t badmouth your ex in front of your child. In fact, make a point of telling your child a few good things about the other parent.
Yes. As hard as that may be sometimes. And try not to get sucked in to the “But Mom/Dad said you…” routine that comes up from time to time. Don’t dis your ex in front of your kids. It’s just not done.
5. Do get on the same page with your ex about all rules concerning the children–bedtime, homework, amount of screen time, curfew, and so forth.
Mostly disagree. Although it helps if expectations are the same in both households, the reality is that they won’t be. Whether or not they have the same routine expectations at both houses comes in a distant second behind those expectations revolving around basic principals of respect and responsibility. Don’t throw away the family lifestyle you want to instill in your own children just because you have an ex-spouse who wants it a different way. Believe me: Your kids can handle two different bedtimes. They adjust pretty quickly to different ways of life in both places. And sometimes, that’s not a bad thing.
6. Do take a parenting class or attend family therapy with your ex if you are having trouble coming to agreement about rules and consequences for your child. Allow a professional to help you manage your anger at your ex.
Emphasis here is mine. That’s fine if both parties can agree to see a professional to manage those details, but going in to therapy with your ex to “manage your anger at your ex” is not an advisable therapeutic strategy. Talk to somebody on your own, if you need that. However, if you’re divorced, gone are the days of hashing out your negative feelings about each other with both of you in the room.
7. Don’t badmouth your ex’s parents or other family members. Children love their grandparents, aunts, and uncles, and if a parent says negative things about them the child will feel conflicted.
Agree. And don’t triangulate. Those other relatives don’t want to get caught up in your drama, either.
8. Do reassure your child that she did not do anything to cause the divorce. Children often feel guilty when parents get divorced and need to be reassured that the divorce was not their fault.
9. Do tell your child that both parents will continue to love him and spend time with him.
10. Do tell your child that you expect her to continue to do well and be happy.
Agree with the rest of these. Common sense stuff.
So what do you think? Is this a list you would give to a parent who is seeking assistance about how to help their child? Do you agree with my assessments, or is it good as is? Although there are some good, common sensical points to be had, too much of this is not grounded in the realities of divorced family life. Routinely question the wisdom of the information you give out.
My Prezi’s tend to be a work in progress at any given time, but here is the presentation to our advisory board. Note that if information seems to be incomplete, it’s because I mostly use Prezi to prompt what I present verbally. I don’t just simply read what’s on the screen.
Lots of good stuff going on in our building counseling department right now. Our first-ever counseling program advisory board is convening next Tuesday. We’ll go over the nuts and bolts of what a counseling program looks like, and how we’re currently addressing those needs. In May, we’ll look at data that we’ve generated this year and start creating some goals for next year. I’ll post a Prezi as well as some other online resources I’ve created after this meeting.
Next Monday, I’m headed to Portland to attend the Mean Girls Seminar to address relational aggression in our school setting. Thankfully, we haven’t seen a lot of that this year, but the issue does come up from time to time at this level, and I need some tools to educate our kids when it does. Some of this stuff isn’t known to me intuitively, being a guy, and all…
I’ll be sure to blog both events. Also, if I can drag myself out of bed early enough on Monday, I plan on stopping at Multnomah Falls with my camera right at sunrise to catch a few shots there. This place gets literally millions of visitors every year, so it’s nice to stop at a time when it’s completely empty. I haven’t done that for a few years.
I’d like to give a shout-out to Dr. Erin Mason‘s wiki SCOPE: School Counselors Online Professional Exchange. This project actually started out as a blog unto itself, but has recently morphed into a site (wiki) that will ultimately house a variety of resources for the school counseling profession. Already, I’ve found a few blogs that I didn’t know existed before, and I will eventually include our own program site as it takes shape. It looks like there are some recently-added pages to include Prezis, Twitter users (Twits?) and Vimeo, just to name a few. Don’t see your favorite social media/web app listed? Add your own! It’s powered by Wiki Spaces, so signing up costs nothing. The site is just getting off the ground, but like any community-supported project, will grow as momentum builds for the resources it provides. As far as I know, there are no other wikis out there solely devoted to the school counseling profession. This is just what the doctor ordered.
Many times, we can feel isolated in our profession when we have a particular need but don’t have a resource to meet it. SCOPE is a great starting place to connect with other counselors and find those lessons or ideas that help take your program up a notch or two. Thanks to SCOPE, we don’t have to be stuck with nowhere to turn. With 50 active members already, expect this project to only get bigger.