Good Monday morning to all! Below, please find a guest post, written by Amy Williams, a journalist based in Southern California. As a mother of two, Amy hopes to use her experiences as a parent to help other parents raise their children to be the best they can be.
As parents, we are faced with decisions on a daily basis. Many of these dilemmas are minimal in the grand scheme of life, because we ultimately understand that in ten years from now it won’t matter if we served green beans or asparagus for dinner. In the same breath, however, we are frequently faced with choices that ultimately affect our sons’ and daughters’ safety and well-being.
Some of these questions are obvious topics we need to consider. Whether we are debating rear facing car seats or vaccinations, many of us sit down and weigh the pros and cons of each choice. We don’t take lightly our children’s well-being. After all, the decisions we make today can affect our kids for years to come. Recently, millions of parents came face to face with a dilemma that can directly influence our kids’ safety.
This epic question: should we let our children play Pokémon GO?
Pokémon GO and Our Children: Safety First
At first glance, we simply notice Pokémon GO is a free app that is getting our children outside and exercising. However, upon closer inspection, parents, experts, and authorities are starting to see a trend of hazards popping up around Pokémon GO players. Lately, there have been numerous incidents where drivers are distracted by trying to “catch em all” leading to accidents. And pedestrians are also at risk, because the distractability of the game has caused countless trips and falls resulting in trips to the emergency room. If those aren’t cause enough for concern, police are worried criminals and pedophiles are locating potential targets by using this app.
After reading about the serious pitfalls facing players of Pokémon GO, we need to examine the benefits this app offers the 21 million plus users who have already downloaded it onto their devices. In a remarkable twist, this video game is improving our children’s health and social skills. As they navigate our neighborhoods in search of elusive pocket monsters and gear, they are walking away calories and meeting people. This social aspect of the app is unifying players as they develop a sense of camaraderie. Stories are surfacing about the unique ways the game is helping people’s mental health, especially those who suffer from depression, anxiety, PTSD, and autism at the macular level.
Eight Strategies For Playing Pokémon GO Safely
As our kids unplug their Xboxes and PlayStations in favor of Pokémon GO, they may encounter frightening scenarios they don’t have the necessary skills to handle these situations. Making it essential we empower our children with the know-how to safely play Pokémon GO and reap the multiple benefits this game offers. If you decide your child can handle this trending app, consider following these tips for kids to safely play Pokémon GO:
Only play with friends or family members. Stress the importance of the buddy system and never play alone.
Always be polite. Avoid confrontations and dangerous situations by following rules, being nice, and respecting others.
Avoid the dark. Dress children in bright colors and outerwear to help them be seen easily by drivers. Also, consider setting curfews before the sun sets to reduce the dangers associated with walking at dusk.
Map out defined areas a child can or cannot go to help keep children in safer locales near home.
Have children check in and keep us informed regarding their whereabouts. For parents of teens, this is critical, because it makes locating them easier if a situation would arise. To help make this connectivity a reality, consider arming them with an emergency charger in case their device’s battery would die.
Carry devices in a pocket so they can feel the device vibrate when a Pokémon is nearby. This will allow our sons and daughters to pay attention to their whereabouts and movements without hyperfocusing on their devices.
Avoid secluded areas. Only play in public, well lit areas and make sure someone knows a teen’s whereabouts.
And finally, NEVER operate a moving vehicle while playing Pokémon GO. Encourage children to walk or park cars in a safe location before turning on the game.
Will you allow your son or daughter to get in the action and play Pokémon GO? Why or why not?
Words matter. The words we use and the warmth we choose to show to young people can make all the difference in their feelings about school, about adults, about classmates, and even about themselves. Choose kindness always when it comes to our littles! Check out this video featured on the Huffington Post to see warmth and kindness in action at school:
What a joy it was earlier this week to travel to New Orleans (my old graduate school stomping grounds) to work with this smart, sharp, dedicated, compassionate, insightful group of educators, social workers, coaches, counselors, and leadership from the Journey Program at Sci Academy and GW Carver High School.
We are just starting to offer a 2-day version of the LSCI certification, called LSCI Essentials. In this course, we teach the foundations of LSCI, including the Conflict Cycle paradigm, Listening Skills, and De-escalation strategies along with teaching the Red Flag and Reality Rub interventions. For more information on this course, please email me or visit www.lsci.org to learn more about our full certification.
I saw this image today on a friend’s Facebook page and had to post it as a classic example of passive aggressive behavior in the workplace! For more information on recognizing and responding effectively to passive aggression visit the LSCI Institute online at www.lsci.org and check out our book, The Angry Smile, as well as our online and live training opportunities!
This morning, both of my kids are being challenged to do something outside of their comfort zone. The Mama bear in me wants to rush in and rescue them to save them from feeling fear. The loving Mama in me knows that these challenges are well within my girls’ abilities and will equip them with important life skills–including the confidence that they can face challenges head on. Breathe, Mama, breathe.
While I soak in as much Summer as I can before the 2016-17 school year begins, I am thinking about my own mantras of School Counseling—the most important things I can offer my students to make them each feel heard, understood, safe, and valued. What follows are my Bullying Prevention mantras (along with their slightly longer explanations.)
In One Word: EMPATHIZE
Bullying is a purposeful act of cruelty. Kids who bully show a lack empathy for the feelings and experiences of their targets. Parents and professionals play a key role in cultivating empathy in all kids, especially those who are most likely to get caught up in moments of social whack-a-mole, knocking others down just to pull themselves up the school social ladder.
In Two Words: WORDS MATTER
Okay, I already previewed this one, didn’t I? At my elementary school, many of the students call me Queen Signe. Some of them do it because they like to be silly and others do it just for fun but most of the kiddos I work with use this term because our comprehensive, Every Action/Every Day Bullying Prevention strategy means that we are always talking about the fact that words matter. The way we speak to each other, including the names we use and the words we choose, all have a huge impact on how we feel about ourselves and how we enjoy our time at school.
Important point: The same applies to how we communicate through technology. Teach kids that the words they text, tweet, send, and post should be used with the same amount of care as the words that they say to someone in person.
For the rest of my mantras, please check out my article on Psychology Today:
“At Lincoln, the teachers and staff follow a few deceptively simple rules: Don’t take anything the student says personally and don’t mirror their behavior with an outburst of your own. The teachers give students time to calm down, often in the principal’s office or a special “quiet room.” Later, they inquire about what might be bothering them and ask if they want to talk about it.
Such seemingly straightforward techniques are actually based on hard science. In contrast to the fight-or-flight response triggered by perceived threats, seemingly minor acts of kindness, such as a few caring words from a teacher or a quick hug, can activate a cascade of Oxytocin, sometimes called the “love hormone.” In highly traumatized kids, such simple acts can have an outsized impact.
Kelsey says she was “shocked” when, after precipitating a violent fight with another girl during her freshman year, she wasn’t immediately arrested and kicked out of school. Instead, she went to the principal’s office to cool off. “I was given a bottle of water, a gentle pat on the back and time to reflect on my behavior,” recalled Kelsey. “Even the school cop talked to me calmly and helped me discuss what I had done.”
There were consequences: Kelsey was suspended for three days and charged with assault. But she never got into a fight again. “I saw that there were people in the building who cared about me and realized I could have gone to any of them to resolve the issue without a fight,” she said.”
Read on for more of this incredible article from The Atlantic. THIS is what LSCI practitioners have been doing for decades–allowing kids to Drain Off their intense emotions first, THEN using specific strategies to help them talk about their problems and learn new behaviors. THIS is the work that drives me and the reason I am so proud to be affiliated with the LSCI Institute!
To learn more, email me or visit www.lsci.org today to get certified in the skills of LSCI before the new school year begins!