Wellness Newsletter

Hello FRA Families,

We are excited to share the latest edition of our monthly Wellness Newsletter. Our goal is to support this community on and off campus, and one of those ways is to regularly provide you with helpful tidbits for every age and stage. We hope that you find these articles useful and relevant, aiding you with some of the guidance necessary to wade through the trials of doing life together. As always, we would love to hear how we can support you further, what topics you would like to learn more about, and any concerns you may have. We are here for you!


Your FRA Counseling Team

4 Ways to Encourage a Child Who’s Hard on Themselves

Some children are happy with how they do in school, on the playing field, or how they get along with their friends, teachers, or parents.

Others may beat themselves up, sure they always make mistakes or should be doing better than they are.

Being self-critical (hard on yourself) isn’t a problem if it does not happen all the time. Children who notice ways that they can improve in some areas of life are able to motivate themselves to succeed or master new skills. The problem happens when children who are too self-critical and want to be perfect. They may have a harder time noticing their strengths or successes, leading to trouble enjoying life and lower self-esteem.

Your child’s behaviors and ways of thinking are shaped by genetics, their experiences, and their environment. With your help and practice, they can learn how to talk back to critical thoughts and focus on their strengths.

Here are four ways to encourage a child who is hard on themselves:

Seven Ways to Have a Healthier Relationship With Stress

Are you suffering from chronic stress? Many of us are—whether we’re stressed out by our jobs, complicated relationships, caregiving responsibilities, or the general state of the world.

That’s where Elissa Epel’s new book, The Stress Prescription, comes in. A health psychologist and director of the Aging, Metabolism, and Emotions Center at the University of California, San Francisco, Epel explains how stress affects our bodies and minds—including our health, happiness, and longevity—and how to manage it in the best way possible.

Too many of us are in a constant state of alertness, she argues, which makes us ill-prepared to navigate the everyday stressors and bigger upsets that occur when living a full life. We may think we’re relaxed, but we’re actually maintaining a low-level vigilance that’s hard on our bodies. Constant physiological strain can shorten our telomeres (the caps at the ends of our DNA that protect it from aging)—a process she wrote about in her bestselling book, The Telomere Effect.

Epel emphasizes that not all stress is inherently bad—and that we shouldn’t aim for a stress-free life. We need our physiological stress response to survive, as it can come in handy when we’re gearing up to perform or facing an actual life-or-death threat.

Anything worth doing will have aspects of stress woven through: challenge, discomfort, risk. We can’t change that. But what we can change is our response,” she says.If we can learn how to handle stress better and build up stress resilience, we’re more likely to thrive, she argues. To do that, she recommends seven guidelines and offers specific practices to get us there.

6 reasons children need to play outside

Here’s something really simple you can do to improve your child’s chance of future health and success: make sure he spends plenty of time playing outside.

There are many ways in which this generation’s childhood is different from that of the last generation, but one of the most abrupt contrasts is the degree to which it is being spent indoors. There are lots of reasons, including the marked increase in time spent interacting with electronic devices, the emphasis on scheduled activities and achievements, concerns about sun exposure — and, for many families, the lack of safe outdoor places to play. It’s not just children; adults are spending less time outdoors as well.

Here are six crucial ways playing outside helps children.

Dear Parents of Teens: In the End, the Ordinary Moments Matter the Most

The other day, I was in one of my “I need to organize my life” moods (which, by the way, doesn’t happen very often these days), and I stumbled upon a few photo albums of my kids when they were babies and toddlers.

As I sat on my bed Indian-style rummaging through the now slightly tattered pages of the albums, I was struck by the vast amount of photographs my husband and I had taken of our kids doing… well, everything.

We captured the big moments like when my oldest daughter was learning how to walk when my son finally got the hang of picking up Cheerios with his tiny fingers and that day my middle daughter realized that when she pushed off with her feet, she could make the walker move which gave her a whole new world to explore on her own. Continue Reading

How To Support a Child With Test Anxiety

It's normal for students to feel nervous before or during a test. But when test time consistently brings symptoms like a headache, shortness of breath or difficulty concentrating, it may indicate something more serious: test anxiety.

Researchers have defined test anxiety as "a physiological condition in which people experience extreme stress, anxiety, and discomfort during or before taking a test." Children with test anxiety often have an irrational fear of failing their exams, experts say, but they may not share those worries with their parents.

“Often, parents can be pretty in the dark – teachers may see it well before a parent is aware,” says Kate Sheehan, managing director of the UCLA Child Anxiety Resilience Education and Support Center. But parents may notice signs of anxiety in their children – like a headache or upset stomach – on the day or night before a test.

Test anxiety is fairly common, with researchers estimating that somewhere between 25% and 40% of students in the U.S. experience it. And certain tests can be more anxiety-inducing than others – one study found that elementary school students experienced higher levels of test anxiety during standardized tests compared to regular classroom assessments.

If you suspect that your child is one of the many struggling with test anxiety, here are some important things to keep in mind to help manage it.

The Best Way Parents Can Protect Their Teens Against Drinking Alcohol

You may think it’s a battle that’s lost before it begins. It’s easy to watch TV or movies and get the idea that every high school kid is drinking, and it’s impossible to keep your teen away from it. While it’s true that about half of U.S. teens have used alcohol by their senior year of high school, there’s another way to think about it — half of U.S. teens have not.

If you buy into the stereotype that all adolescents experiment with alcohol, you’re shortchanging your teen. We used to think the young brain was exceptionally resilient and could recover from damage more easily than an adult’s. We now know that’s not true. Even small amounts of alcohol can have detrimental effects on the developing brain, impair judgment, promote risky and violent behavior, and slow down reaction time. Continue Reading

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