Parenting can be messy.

It is easier with support.

The Parenting Success Network and its partners have a variety of offerings to best meet your family’s unique needs. 

Classes begin next week.  Many classes and services are FREE, or scholarships are available. 

Sign up today!

 

 

Parenting can be messy.

It is easier with support.

The Parenting Success Network and its partners have a variety of offerings to best meet your family’s unique needs. 

Classes begin next week. 

Many classes and services are FREE, or scholarships are available.

Sign up today!

Parenting can be messy. 

It is easier with support.

Fall 2022 classes begin next week. 

The Parenting Success Network and its partners have a variety of offerings to best meet your family’s unique needs. 

Many classes and services are FREE, or scholarships are available. 

Sign up today!

Easing into the school year

Here we are again at the start of a new school year. Equal parts excitement for the growth that will happen over this next school year and wistful wishes that summer could just go on and on.

My youngest starts high school this fall. So for the first time in many years we have just one school calendar on the wall. It’s a little unsettling. That single calendar is lulling me into the expectation that it will be smooth sailing.

But I know there will be bumps in the road, even though we are managing just two kids and one school. 

Getting back into a routine will help us all minimize those bumps.

Having a consistent routine helps kids -and their parents – build healthy habits, establish reasonable expectations, and feel secure knowing what comes next. Here are few ways to help ease into the school routine.

How to make back to school easier

Start off with flexible expectations.

It’s tempting to want to put together a game plan for the new year and expect everyone to hop on board with it immediately. But a new school year comes with lots of changes for your kiddo – new teacher, new classroom, maybe even a different school building. They’ll be working hard all day adjusting to new routines at school and are likely to come home exhausted. They may need time to adjust over the first couple of weeks. Keeping after school simple can go a long way to helping tired kids. Try not to schedule appointments during these early weeks. A few days of just coming home and hanging out might help with over-stimulation.

Do what you can the night before.

Make mornings a little less of a hustle by choosing clothes and packing lunches before bed. With those decisions made, the morning might have a little less chaos as everyone prepares for the day. 

Keep breakfast simple.

It’s ok to find a breakfast menu that works for everyone and use it daily. While you may want to keep some variety in the lunch and dinner menu, providing the same breakfast each day eliminates the need for choices and decisions. The fewer decisions there are to make in the morning, the easier it is going to be to get out the door.

Find a rhythm that works for your family.

Each one of us is unique. Family members all have different interests, attitudes, and responses to shared experiences. What works for one family may not work for another. Within your family, find a rhythm of living and working together that meets the needs of each individual. When individual needs are met it is easier to cooperate, accommodate, and support each other. This goes for kids, too. Arriving home together at dinner time, starving from a long afternoon of activities, some families will jump into dinner prep to get that meal on the table ASAP. Others might find it works better for everyone if there is some snacking as soon as they get home, with dinner served later in the evening at a more leisurely pace. Do what works for the people you live with. 

Benefits of a routine

Whatever you choose, have a routine that is predictable, so that everyone knows what to expect. Knowing what comes next, when things get done, and what is expected of them helps smooth out the bumps of family life. Predictability supports social-emotional well-being and builds self-confidence. Repetition helps children build skills. Do what you can to make each day as predictable as possible. It will reduce stress and anxiety, making for a happier family life.

Here’s to a smooth transition into the school year for all our families!

Getting Ready for Kindergarten

There’s nothing like the first day of kindergarten – for parents and their kiddos. It is the start of the public school journey for many families. It’s a momentous occasion even for students who continue their education in the same school where they’ve experienced a pre-school program. 

Kindergarteners are moving out of their pre-school years and into childhood, where their education will be a  primary focus for many years to come.

As parents, we are excited for them and a little weepy that our little ones are spreading their wings in an environment without us. 

They, too, can be both eager to be a ‘big school kid’ and nervous to be away from the security of home and their previous routine.

Here are a few tips for making the transition to kindergarten easier for everyone.

Six strategies for kindergarten readiness

– 1 Make room for the emotions

Transitioning to kindergarten is a big step for everyone, children and parents alike. It’s ok to be anxious, excited, and emotional. Invite your soon-to-be-kindergartener to share their feelings. Acknowledge those feelings and share a little of your own. Keep the conversation positive and upbeat while letting them know it’s ok to have big feelings. End the conversation on a positive note, reminding them of all the fun things they will do at school (meet new friends, play on the playground, try new things.) 

– 2 Get organized the night before

Make the mornings easier by laying out clothes and packing lunches the night before. Help your child be independent when dressing by providing clothes they can get on and off without your help. It is also a good idea to Include extra clothes in their school backpack, just in case they need a spare during the day..

– 3 Check out the school playground

If you have access, viisit the school playground a few times before school starts. This will help your kindergartener become familiar with the space and feel more comfortable that first week of school.

– 4 Choose lunch containers they can manage alone

Make sure they can open and close containers you send to school with them – their water bottle, lunch box, and food containers. In the days before school starts give them lunch at home in their school lunch containers a few times so they have a chance to practice. If they struggle, find containers that are easier for them to use.

-5 Establish a school day morning routine

Maintain a regular routine on school mornings. Decide whether you’ll eat breakfast or dress first, then make sure you follow the plan. Knowing the order that things will be done and maintaining consistency helps everyone be ready when it’s time to head out the door.

– 6 Encourage independence in toileting at home and in public restrooms

They’ll be expected to independently use the bathroom at school. Let your child practice being independent in the bathroom, both at home and when you’re out and about. When you visit a public restroom, let them go into the stall alone and take care of their own personal needs without your help. 

Kindergarten is designed to help them learn how to be away from home, take direction from other adults, and expand their circle of friends. It’s natural to feel they are too young and inexperienced on that first day of school. But before you know it you’ll be wondering when they got so grown up and experienced.

For more ideas to support kindergarten readiness, check out these Head Start activities.

 

Fostering Resilience in teens

The social isolation we experienced during 2020 and 2021 was hard for everyone. We missed extended family gatherings when we stayed at home with our immediate family members. We did not host or attend parties with our friends. We took to Zoom to ‘visit’ with people who didn’t live with us.  It was isolating and often lonely.

Social isolation is the opposite of what typically happens in adolescence.

Social growth is a major component of the teen years. Teenagers naturally choose to spend more time with peers and adults outside their family as they start to figure out how they fit into the larger community beyond their family. 

Learning who they are and how they want to fit in is an important part of adolescence growth.

Covid protocols stymied this natural growth and development for many adolescents.

Newport Healthcare, a national network of programs for young adults and teens, observed, “Over the last year and a half, the pandemic has exponentially increased the time this age group spends online while limiting their in-person social interaction. The resulting loneliness is exacerbating or catalyzing depression, anxiety, and suicidal thoughts—which in turn leads to more loneliness. That’s because the symptoms of depression and anxiety, such as low self-esteem and low energy, often prevent young people from reaching out to others and engaging in social activities.”

How do we help socially isolated teens? 

But there are ways to help teens overcome the loneliness. 

Newport Healthcare offers these evidence-based ways to reduce loneliness in adolescence and young adulthood, and thus lower the risk of mental health issues. 

  1. Limit social media use. The Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology reports that cutting down on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat use leads to significant reductions in loneliness and depression, in as few as three weeks.
  2. Spend time volunteering. Research shows that doing things for others offers mental and physical health benefits and helps people feel less isolated and alone.
  3. Cultivate authentic connections. Frequent, meaningful in-person interactions are proven to reduce loneliness. Real-life friendships may need a bit more tending to than virtual ones, but the emotional payoff is worth it. 
  4. Adopt a pet. Multiple studies, including one done during the pandemic, show that interaction with household pets reduces isolation and increases feelings of connection.
  5. Exercise. A review study found that physical activity in social settings—like sports or a hiking club—helps people feel more connected and enhances well-being.
  6. Get enough sleep. A 2018 study in the journal Nature found that sleep loss is significantly associated with social withdrawal and loneliness. People with lower sleep quality were less likely to engage with others and more likely to feel lonely.
  7. Visit a therapist. Working with a mental health professional can help teens and young adults pinpoint causes of loneliness, such as social anxiety or lack of self-esteem, and learn strategies for overcoming isolation.

Here in the Willamette Valley, the topic of social isolation and building resilience in youth will be the focus of this year’s Partners in Health Summit. The health summit is free and open to the public. 

Join us on August 19th from 9am – 3pm.  Keynote speaker Dr. Carolyn Aldwin will present “Building Resilience, Well Being and Mental Health”. Additional workshops will focus on youth wellness and resilience and the health impacts of loneliness and social isolation. Click here for details.

Parent Coaching Available for parents in Lincoln, Benton & Linn Counties

What is Parent Coaching?

Parenting is hard and kids don’t come with instructions!  Parenting Success Network understands the difficulty in maneuvering life with your children.  We want to make sure that you have access to the help you need and the Parenting Educators that understand your unique family.

Parent Coaching offers one-on-one assistance to make parenting successful for your family.  See the Parent Coaching Menu and links for more info.

2022 Parent Coaching Menu

Resources for LGBTQ+ youth and their families

Helping our children navigate romantic relationships and sexual identity as they reach adulthood can be hard on parents. Parenting a teen who faces the unique challenges of LGBTQ youth adds another layer of complexity to the mix.

In an article titled Tips for Parents of LGBTQ Youth, Johns Hopkins provides a helpful resource for parents as they support their LGBTQ youth. Among their suggestions: maintain healthy dialogue with your teen and stay connected with their school, because identifying as LGBTQ+ can be isolating for youth.

Recognizing the additional difficulty of rural living, Project Bravery was founded in 2020.

Project Bravery was established to address the isolation, social rejection, and lack of resources available to rural LGBTQIA2S+ youth.

A program of the Olalla Center, a 501(c)3, non-profit organization based in Lincoln County, Oregon, Project Bravery works to create safe spaces, promote visibility and acceptance, build equitable resources, and strengthen the community with courage and compassion.

Says program director Elijah Stucki, “We believe all people are stronger with the support of a caring community, culturally appreciative services, and a connection to the natural world.”

Project Bravery offers a resource center and safe space for LGBTQ+ youth ages 14-24 in Lincoln County, OR.

Regular opportunities to join other LGBTQ+ youth in community building activities are offered. In addition, counseling with a licensed therapist is available to youth and their families.

For over 40 years, Olalla Center has operated on the core philosophy that you cannot have good health without a good community. As such, they focused their efforts not just on individuals and their families, but on the idea of village-building; creating social supports to help ensure life wellness.

Project Bravery is also committed to advancing LGBTQIA2S+ health equity, providing public outreach and education, and building strong collaborative partnerships to address the needs of the LGBTQIA2S+ community in Lincoln County and across the region.

Learn more on the Project Bravery page of the Olalla Center website at Olalla Center Project Bravery.

 

Parenting Success Network community partners offer many classes and workshops throughout Linn, Benton and Lincoln Counties

The Summer Slowdown: the Benefits of boredom

Are you hearing “I’m bored!” from your kids now that school is out and summer stretches before us? How do you respond?

According to an article in Forbes magazine, Neuroscientist Alicia Walf, a researcher in the Department of Cognitive Science at Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, says it’s critical for brain health to let yourself be bored from time to time. 

“Boredom can actually foster creative ideas, refilling your dwindling reservoir, replenishing your work mojo and providing an incubation period for embryonic work ideas to hatch. 

In those moments that might seem boring, empty and needless, strategies and solutions that have been there all along in some embryonic form are given space and come to life. And your brain gets a much needed rest when we’re not working it too hard.”

The Forbes article focuses on the benefits of downtime for adults, but the same is true for children.

We parents are prone to filling up our children’s day with activities and new experiences. We worry that having nothing to do will lead to misbehavior.

Kids who are used to having their days full of outings, camp, and adult-directed activities do need a little time to adjust to “doing nothing”. They may lack experience having periods of time where nothing is planned and their own ingenuity is needed. 

That adjustment period can be tough – on kids and their parents. But given a little bit of time, kids will also discover the gifts of boredom and the creativity that comes from having “nothing” to do.

As parents, we can simultaneously assure their safety by never being far away, while allowing them to develop their creativity by not structuring every minute of the day.  

Well into their elementary years we had what I called ‘rest time’ in the afternoon. Though they no longer napped, they were expected to spend a quiet hour in their rooms. We all recharged during that hour and they spent that time wherever their imaginations took them. 

Psychology Today offers this on the benefits of boredom for children: “The ability to focus and self-regulate is correlated with the ability to handle boredom. Learning to endure boredom at a young age is great preparation for developing self-control skills (regulating one’s thoughts, emotions, and actions).”

In addition to developing self-regulation skills, some other benefits of boredom include:

-Improved mental health

-Increased creativity

-Motivation to seek new ideas

-Motivation to pursue new goals

So next time you hear “I’m bored”, take your time rushing in to fix it – let them experience some of those benefits of a little boredom. Before long their creativity just may kick in.