Categories
Coronavirus Parent Resources PDHP Parents Updates

This One’s For The Kiddos!

cap for graduation class of 2020

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent/Community Outreach Coordinator

Little learners are missing the routines and community of peers that had been nurtured into existence by all the important caring adults in their lives. 

Elementary school students look to no avail for the golden time of the last trimester, filled with celebrations, activities and fun to applaud the learning done, the bonding created within classroom and school community.  There will never be another year like this exact one.

Junior high and high school students feel an absence of a place they have made their own, examining a richer sense of self within classwork, meaningful relationships, extracurriculars that dig deeper.  Each year is a milestone. 

Our Graduates look back on all these years that have passed them by and grieve a loss of all this and more; a precious and fleeting year frozen in time. 

And yet all this heaviness we glimpse at is in only one aspect of their lives. 

What remains?  The love of self, of learning, of family, of “academy/school family” (as some of my Family Fun Nights participants say it so well), of others, of community, of health and wellness, of faith, of universality.  The hope that these hard lessons will not be in vain.  That surrounded in that love and that hope, resiliency prevails.  

This weekend, I silently celebrated the College Graduates from my college as they heralded their commencement in all virtual platforms.  I saw the seniors from my high school parade in their cars around the surrounding streets, horns honking, tears wiped but smiles wide!  I watched graduation signage delivered to 8th graders’ homes.  I added to the cheers given online to friends’ children who were missing their graduations, proms, ring days, parties, senior days, etc. 

One thing is for certain, the Class of 2020 is already famous; forever endeared and unforgettable to all world over. 

Categories
Coronavirus News and Information Parent Resources PDHP Parents

WHAT ARE WE SHOWING OUR KIDS?

father and child washing dishes

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator

We end this week of National Prevention Awareness.  What have we gained?  It will be difficult to say.  In a strange way, this time of remote learning has helped expedite prevention messaging in a way I have not seen previously.  I know there are visuals out there now that can support our digital citizen children – after all they learn digitally.  I know there are prevention counselors, educators, specialists who are continuing the good work they do.  I know there are teachers who will boldly dig into these chapters in their health or science classes or in their morality lessons in religion.  I know October will bring the reminder of Enrique “KiKi” Camarena with red ribbons symbolically placed around communities to recall the DEA Agent’s sacrifice to the war on drugs. 

What about families? Parent, caregiver, the primary caring adults in a child’s life.  Where will you be?  Will you talk about this?  Will you notice behaviors?  Will you tune into your own use?  What are you showing the children in your life?  Is the only way to cope with the monotony and fear of reality to fill up a pint glass and get to it?  Or, get away from it?  Do we grab out Rose all Day cup and start our zoom cocktail hour unburdening all the stresses of remote learning and parenting “these Kids” all day?  Do we wax poetic about the next time we can go to a bar safely?  With prom and other rites of passage at a loss are we loosening up our expectations by opening up the liquor cabinet?  What are we showing our kids?

We – family – are one of the four statutes of protective factors when it comes to fighting against risky behaviors (there is, in fact, a whole science on this).  I can tell a crowd of parents and teachers to clap their hands at a given time.  While watching me through those directives, I clap earlier than I told them and so do they -a whole group!  I admonish but yet, they fail again and again to clap at the directed time.  They clap earlier when they see me do it regardless of what directions I verbalize. They heard what I said but did what they saw.  This is modeling that we hear of often in teaching and parenting. 

“Do what I say…not do what I do”.  What are we showing our kids?

Categories
News and Information Parent Resources

Do Good

teenagers

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator

Thirteen years ago, a dear friend of mine and I were visiting a friend in the hospital who had just given birth.  Walking up the street, I noticed all the local students post dismissal rushing here and there.  I had a quick flash thinking of the students I graduated to those schools and wondered what it would be like to run into them x-amount of years later.  Well, I did not need to wonder any longer.  As luck would have it, I turned the corner right into a group of them!  I locked eyes with the tall teenager who was front & center; we both reacted in surprise, but he found his voice quicker.  “Ms. Sogluizzo, (written incorrectly in Italian language and pronounced ‘So-lou-so’; my maiden name they had known me by), is that really you?!?” 

I spent some time with them and their new high school friends, chatting on the corner.  I loved hearing about their new experiences, reminiscing and asking after their classmates.  Often times, I listened, just quietly nodding as their excitement poured out.  As I walked away, they called after me.  “Hey.  Ms. S!  Just so you know, you did good.  We’re ok.  We don’t do drugs.”  I smiled as I walked into the lobby of the hospital and before I could say anything more, “yes, Cary Anne, you did do good and so did they.  What great kids”, came the voice of my friend next to me.  We continued on silence, satisfied smiles on our faces. 

“We don’t do drugs.” 

I think about this so often in my work in PDHP.  Did you know that most children cite their parents as the biggest influence in deterring them from doing drugs or drinking alcohol?  Did you also know that most of those kids have never heard their parents even mention the words drugs or alcohol?  When I go to our parenting workshops, often I am asked by parents, “but who is talking to our kids about this?”  While, yes, we do have guidance counselors, prevention education specialists, teachers who address these concepts in their subject matter, nothing will ever beat the guiding, loving words of parent.

During this week of National Prevention Awareness, parents, use your power of influence with your children.  Talk with them.  They will hear you more then you realize.  You’ll do good.

Categories
Coronavirus News and Information Parent Resources PDHP Parents

…And the Award Goes To…

holding coffee mug

Simon Holland, a dad in quarantine recently tweeted, “So we don’t go to restaurants, kids aren’t signed up for anything, and we are just staying home during spring break? Sounds like my childhood.”

 This made me think of a conversation that a close friend and I had a while ago about what weekends were like when we were growing up.  “We did what the adults did.  Plain and simple, we went with mom and dad.  We ran errands, went to shops, ran into neighbors, saw extended family and friends.  Maybe we had a friend over or went to call for a friend on the block or played outside, but we followed the adult’s lead.  Now, it seems parents follow what the kids do…plays, sports, activities all rule the family weekend.”  Adrienne is right. 

With what Simon and Adrienne have both pointed out, are we still following our children’s lead?  Are we still living with the dis-ease of busyness with a side order of a culture of complaint?  Many of us wear that as a badge, pridefully boasting of all the things we have to do…between the lines rolling our eyes with of all these constraints.  Are we jumping hoops trying to be parent/teacher/artist/philanthropist/baker/chef/IT support/coach/quarantine specialist of the year?  Sorry, there is no award. 

While yes, our children need guidance and supervision, can we allow them unstructured time?  Quiet time?  Playing on their own, doing a puzzle, reading in their room?  Where is the time to just be and perhaps be – uh oh – you guessed it – a little bit bored for the moment?  Why boredom?  It is in this quiet time, quiet place, the safety of the home you have already put in place that a child can process, can work out thoughts on their own, can imagine, can build capacity, can relax mentally, can manage anxieties.  Or are we filling every moment like a cruise director?  When did it go from fun to a list of have-to’s?

And how about you, exhausted mom, overwhelmed dad, ever-present grandparent?  What are you doing for yourself?  Have you taken the time to sit and enjoy watching an episode of a favorite show?  Stepped away to speak to a close friend?  Sat quietly at the window?  Have you and felt guilty or were made to feel guilty by others in your home?

Try it – fifteen minutes even – for quiet time or time to self for each one.  While there is, again, no award, you may see the reward eventually.   Eyes on the prize, fam!

Categories
Coronavirus Parent Resources PDHP Parents Updates

Parents & The Brain II

parent and child bond

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald. PDHP Parent & Community Outreach Coordinator

When stress occurs, we know we react to these messages our brains supply…now the brain is great but it simply cannot discern between a full-on attack of some sort and the tone of a text received.  It cannot tell us if the information is positive or negative – think excitement over a party versus a test in class.  So, it does what the brain will do- protect.  Messages flow throughout our bodies, activating different functions.  We often know these – I feel tense, my stomach hurts, I am chronically stressed and so I suffer from….  But do we realize what happens to our brain?  The alert has sounded, the ability to reason has gone and our instinct to fight or flight arises.  We tune out when in stress or we turn up.  This may very well illustrate daily communication in our homes during this crisis.  Our brains are in survival mode potentially on a 24/7 basis now. 

Regardless of what stage our children are at, we can influence our child’s brains very positively.  In a recent training, an instructor offered the concept of “mirrored neurons”.  From very young ages, our children replicate what they see – positive and negative.  Children learn to model things the adult does.  In a classroom setting, I would often talk out steps of a lesson or strategy as if I were student.  While it would seem redundant to some, for these children it became learning.  As they grow, we often give them a laundry list of do’s and don’ts but are we abiding by these do’s or don’ts ourselves?  “Do as I say not do as I do”.  Many parents share that they are uncomfortable with “difficult” topics and as our children age, there is bound to be increasing conflict of some sort as it is part of the process. 

Now, we are in a difficult phase of existence.  How do we meet it?  Remember what we can control in this time – our basic, healthful needs.  How do we meet our children’s needs?  Mirror those neurons.  Who do you want to be in this challenging moment?  It is who do you want your child to be.  Be it, be patient, be gentle with yourself.  They will follow your lead. 

Categories
Coronavirus Parent Resources PDHP Parents Updates

Parents and The Brain I

heart and brain connection

By Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent and Community Coordinator

In more recent years, the brain has fascinated me.  As I firmed up my teaching, I reached often to the cognitive processes my students had at their disposal and lined up my lesson plans and my objectives against them, aligning them with their developmental stages and watching them progress.  I even had action words listed in my planbook to assure all learning styles were addressed. 

In the parenting role, I often reflect on this “edu-speak” & how it may escape the radar of a parent who does not have a background in this field.  When we are in our workshops, we break it down together when necessary and I see that recognition come across – a glimmer in an eye, a steady nod, a thoughtful tilt of one’s posture, leaning in and reading as “go on, tell us more”.   Yes, us educators have this access.  But how can a parent use this knowledge?

We know that science is now telling us that brain development reaches its totality around or beyond age 25.  This makes me consider our average teenager who does not have a fully developed sense of reactivity, consequence and ethics.  Now, relate this to children younger and younger living digital lives – some react inappropriately, some post things without thinking of how far or how hard its message will go.  Knowing what is socially & emotionally typical in your child’s development throughout their lives is a great way to begin.  Noting that sometimes, these stages are not pleasant ones, but we can use these to our advantage to moderate this unpleasantness.  It often seems we are so aware of this up until age five and then there seems to be a lack of information.  It may feel overwhelming to add this in to all we do as parents, maybe its not what we grew up with and it is out of our comfort zone.  We may feel shame or guilt because it is something at which we are not adept.  What if we were to consider not the shame, but the gain.  The gain is a better understanding of our children, a stronger connection and a gift of skill.  This is a great time to seek out the professionals in our children’s lives.  Consider the teachers we have rapport with, the guidance counselor who attends to these concepts all the time or the pediatrician who is often checking in on these items.  Know that regardless of at what stage our children are, we can influence their brains very positively. 

For more parenting, follow Cary Anne at https://www.facebook.com/PDHPParents/

Categories
Parent Resources

Mind Full Versus Mindful

by Cary Anne Fitzgerald, PDHP Parent/Community Outreach Coordinator

My alarm ran out of snoozes so I rolled out of bed and went through the motions of preparing for the day.  It was routine, but it was mindless.  I had no connection whatsoever to these necessary actions.  I caught myself and realized I needed a change.  After a few years of fighting to be fully present, I found Mindfulness.  Yes, I say that it was a fight; this kind of attunement is not easily understood by others, “just do what you have to do and that’s it”.  Then a principal posed some questions at a faculty meeting, “do you call the students by name…do you greet people you pass by in the hall…do you even see them…how do those entering into our school feel to be here?” 

This all falls into Mindfulness.  Why do we do the things we do?  Is there purpose?  Is there benefit?  Is there enjoyment?  Is there helpfulness?  Do we judge?  Do we listen to our self-talk- is it positive, is it negative?  Are we dealing with difficult emotions?  Do we wallow in them?  Do we mask them?  Do we revel in positive emotions or do we move on to the next thing?  In our last blog, I posed the questions, who are we now; who will we be after?  I am only sure that mindfulness will be part of my answer.

Mindfulness has benefitted me in work, in parenting and personally.  I understand myself more, meet my emotions better and I hope that I can help others to do the same.  Tune into some mindful practices this week.  Maybe it is simply recognizing the things you feel help you to start your day on the best foot.  Maybe it is also recognizing what is having the opposite effect.  For me, it’s a few stretches, prayer and a mental noting of five things for which I am grateful and it is also repelling the urge to scroll through news feeds & social media as soon as I wake.  In a matter of minutes, I have addressed some physical, spiritual and emotional needs and equipped myself to begin my day and assist my child in beginning her own.  You see, mindfulness trickles down to others. Try to give yourself this opportunity this week and see what you notice.

For more mindfulness and parenting, follow Cary Anne at https://www.facebook.com/PDHPParents/