Prevention for Families
Keep Your Teen Drug-Free ::May '22 Issue
What To Do About All The Anger And Emotions
Does your child often get angry, defiant, or even aggressive? Teens are renowned for experiencing a wide range of extreme emotions. However, anger can also be a sign or symptom of other conditions within your child such as: ADHD, anxiety, trauma, learning problems, sensory processing issues, and autism. Although medication may help manage the anger, working together with your child is key to helping them through the situation. For example:
• Find the triggers. Are there any particular people, places, events, or routines that spark the outburst of anger?
• Plan accordingly. Kids often respond to preparing ahead of time and breaking tasks down into steps. (e.g. If getting to school on time is a daily battle, prepping clothes and food the night before will ease the morning overload)
• Create a list. Hanging a to-do list on the wall can serve as a visual reminder of expectations. (Getting into a consistent routine can create healthy habits that may lessen anger.)
• Communicate before transitions. Transitions are often difficult so letting your child know when changes will happen can make it easier. (e.g. In 15 minutes we’re putting the games away and sitting down for dinner) Check out the incredibly helpful articles in the Parent Resources section for more details. In addition, it’s critical to practice consistency. The parent’s response in a situation impacts the likelihood of future outbursts. Consistency and predictability eases stress. This involves:
• Consistently not giving in to demands
• Staying calm (displaying the behavior you want out of them)
• Validating their feelings
• Actively ignoring minor misbehaviors (too much attention on bad behaviors can fuel the fire and increase their occurrences)
• Genuinely praising good behavior (Being sincere while you’re giving positive reinforcement and really focusing on the specific good behaviors you see can influence future actions)
• Consistent consequences
• Giving them a calm down toolkit
• Waiting to engage and discuss the situation until both you and your kid have calmed down.
What is Prevention?
Prevention for Families is a monthly newsletter designed to give parents tips and ideas for preventing youth substance use. But what is prevention and why is it important?
When we’re talking about substance use, prevention is all the effort we put into stopping (or delaying) someone’s decision to use substances before it happens. Prevention efforts can be a lot of different things–the best efforts are those that promote mental / physical wellness, positive relationships, and pro-social activities. Why put in the effort to stop it before it happens? It’s a lot easier (and less expensive) to prevent substance use than to help someone recover once they are using. Plus, we know kids are happier and healthier when they aren’t using substances.
Stress Awareness Month
April was Stress Awareness Month but stress doesn’t take a vacation For this issue, we want to make sure parents are recognized for the daily stress they accrue through parenting. Raising good humans is one of the hardest jobs on the planet! As a parent, there’s often so much focus on the kids that sometimes a person can forget about their own well-being. Are you finding time in the day for self-care? One of the biggest issues we hear from parents is where to fit de-stressing time into their day. Having a daily planner can help manage your time and effectively find the moments to focus on yourself. Even if you only have 5 minutes, it can serve as a bubble of calm that can give you reprieve from a stressful day. Are you already practicing some techniques to help manage stress? Some common ideas include:
• Healthy diet (nutrition and mood are closely linked)
• Exercise (having about thirty minutes per day of exercise can help lower blood pressure and produces “happy chemicals” in the brain)
• Sufficient sleep (if sleep is difficult, check out the attached worksheet for proven strategies)
• Mindfulness breathing exercises or meditation.
FIESTA Family Group
There is a new family group at Shuksan called, “Fiesta – Families at Shuksan Together.” We are starting with small initiatives to promote a sense of belonging for all families at Shuksan.
We see a need for families to connect, and we are trying to figure out how to do that in a way that meets Shuksan’s needs. This is not your typical PTA Club that may focus on fundraising.
Values and Hopes
- Create low-barrier, inclusive ways for families to meet one another and for students to have unstructured time to connect
- Find ways for families to team up with SMS
- Create even more belonging so even more students will say, “I love going to school!”
- Connect families with the information they want and need and with school resources and staff
Connect with Us
If you would like to be on our mailing list and join our efforts, please email CJ Fisher at CJ.Fisher@bellinghamschools.org (SMS Librarian and SMS Parent)
What are our teens up to?
The latest Healthy Youth Survey (HYS) data is out! Last fall (2021), students across Washington took a survey aimed at gaging the overall health of our youth. This includes mental health, substance use, school climate, risk factors and many more elements that contribute to a person’s well-being. Here are a few highlights for Shuksan MS data comparing 2018 v. 2021!
• Reduced Vaping usage
• Reduced Marijuana usage
• Reduced Alcohol usage
• Reduced Suicidal ideation
Could be improved:
• There is an increase in students feeling that there are no adults to turn to in times of need
• Increased Feelings of hopelessness
• Reduced Openness to discussing problems with parents
· Increased levels of anxiety
• There is a decrease in parental discussion around not using substances. (But hopefully these newsletters encourage increased communication around substance use prevention.)
Due to the pandemic, you may be surprised by this largely positive data around substance use, but it is in line with the trends seen across WA. It is important to remember these stats are a snapshot in time from when they are taken (September 2021). There could be many explanations for the drops in substance use but here are some possible reasons for our results:
• Increased time at home means less access to substances at parties, friends, stores etc.
• The age of consent for tobacco products in WA increased from 18 to 21 in 2020.
• Increased parental presence
• Increased research and data
• Increased positivity with returning to normalcy But, there’s still much work do! If you would like to talk to someone about how to have these conversations with your teen, please reach out to me.
Shuksan Middle School SAP Program
Worried that your teen may be struggling with substance-related issues? The Student Assistance Professional (SAP) Program exists to serve students who may be using substances themselves, are at a higher risk for using substances, or are struggling with family members who use substances. Students can work one-on-one with the Student Assistance Professional or participate in a group with other students with similar experiences. Services are tailored to individual student needs and often include learning coping skills, teaching refusal skills, and learning about the risks of substance use. All referrals and conversations are confidential, and students will not get in trouble for disclosing information to the Student Assistance Professional. (Limitations to confidentiality are suicide plans, reports of abuse, or information about the injury of another person). Referrals can be made by phone or email to Mr. Giles.