healthy relationships

A Heart In Pieces

Written by Tammy Hopper, Chief Strategic Initiatives Officer, National Safe Place Network

I was in a local grocery store recently. As I entered the store, I was bombarded with signs that Valentine’s Day is once again upon us. Red roses with white bows. Balloons reaching for the sky. Bouquets of candy bars. Sweets for the sweet. As I wandered about the aisles, my mind drifted toward the hearts that will be broken on this day when love is celebrated.

Somewhere there is a young boy who will be taunted and shamed by other boys who notice the small valentine he has clutched in his mittens for the teacher. They will grab the delicate card he worked hard to make and they will stomp it into the snow as they call him names. He won’t shed a tear – at least not now. He has learned not to cry. He knows that showing he has a heart will only make things worse. The older boys will get bored and move on to other targets. He will pick up the pieces and carry on.

Somewhere there is a young girl who has loved being daddy’s secret valentine until the day his touches made her scared. They made her uncomfortable. They made her confused. Now, when daddy says “I love you”, she nods her head and prays that he will not want to come to her when mommy goes to work. On this day, she will think God must have been too busy and as her father leaves her room she cries her heart out – and then she will pick up the pieces and carry on.

Somewhere there is a young mother who has worked all afternoon to make sure the right meal is on the table. Her husband will come home and she will know the drinking began before he ever left work. Her efforts will be buried under criticisms of how the food tastes, how the house looks, how she has changed, and how she disappoints him. She has long ago stopped hoping for a card or a rose. She nods in agreement to every word with the hope that her gift on this day will not involve touches filled with rage and disgust. As she looks in the mirror that night, she thinks about how she will cover the new bruise. She will pick up the broken pieces of the mirror and carry on.

Somewhere there is a father who will lose his job today. He has been saving every penny to pay bills that have filled his mailbox since his heart attack last year. The company can no longer afford to insure him so it found other reasons to let him go. He sits in his truck in the parking lot and takes out the handful of singles in his wallet to see if he has enough to take his wife a small gift for Valentine’s Day. He knows he must have gas in the tank to look for new work so he heads home and knows the woman who sat by his side while he recovered will stand by his side through this new challenge. She has his heart and together, they will celebrate the gift of life and carry on.

Somewhere there is a family surrounding a young family member in a hospital bed. Each member of the family prays for a miracle that is getting harder and harder to believe in. Their hearts are breaking and they ask the questions – Why him? Why now? Why? If he passes on this day their memories will be forever connected to their love for him and the pieces of their spirits that will travel with him on his journey. They cannot imagine or trust in the strength they have to pick up the pieces and carry on.

Our world is full of people who celebrate Valentine’s Day as a day of love, romance and endless possibilities. Our world is also full of people who see every day, including this one, as another day of heartbreak, fear, worry, and loneliness. Youth care workers, domestic violence counselors, workforce advocates, and hospital personnel are just some of the many hearts that do important work every day. They commit themselves to helping lift up others in times of need. On this day of love, please take a moment to thank someone for the gifts they share with others and know that the heart they lift up may someday be yours.

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Biking with Ninja Turtles: Exploring Boundaries with Kids

Written by: Lisa Tobe, Executive Director, Wildflower Consulting

I lost my six-year-old son Mateo under a yellow helmet with a face-cover. I could see his little hands and knee knobs stick out from what looked like black Kevlar body armor. My friend, Thea, stood beside him explaining the gears, throttle and brakes on the blue four-wheeler their seven-year-old son Trey rides. Mateo nodded gravely. I watched the side of his helmet bob up and down in slow, short movements. She had his rapt attention, but I wondered if he’d absorbed the directions. I hadn’t.

Instead, I thought, “Oh crap, am I really going to let him ride that four-wheeler by himself?” I’d been flooded with panic about the idea of broken bones, concussions and spinal injuries. Up until then Mateo had only ridden a bike attached to mine, a three-wheeled Green Machine that could do a wicked skid at the bottom of a hill or a red, battery-powered, plastic race car that barely moved across our gravel driveway.

Thea lives outside Nucla, a rough and tumble Colorado outpost with a great view of the LaSal Mountain Range. Kids run around outside unsupervised starting at a young age, the outdoors their only playmate when not in school. Unlike their urban/suburban counter-parts, these children have hayfields instead of soccer leagues and ponds instead of spray parks. When we first arrived, Mateo did not want to ride the four-wheeler period, so Trey proudly walked him around his family’s 22-acre ranch. We told them to be back before dark. By then, Mateo and I were several days into our cross-country trip to Quincy, California, a small town I lived in for almost a decade before returning home to Kentucky. Thea and I hadn’t seen each other since before we became moms. We sat on their porch catching up while the boys explored.

I’m a parent-in-training. I had Mateo when I was forty-one. I have been reading books about parenting since before he was born; books that told me how to be pregnant, how to give birth and how to raise him. They talked about attachment, strong-willed children and the whole-brain approach. The authors provided advice about how I could make Mateo happy, smart and compassionate, among other things. I read these books in what we in the south call ‘fits and starts’ whenever I got overwhelmed with his behavior. I thought if I followed their guidance, Mateo would be this perfect, happy child that turned into an amazing man. But I’m learning that parenting is as individualized as our DNA.

Mateo helmet
Mateo wearing his bike helmet. Photo credit: Melissa Simmons

I raise my son in a little village of helpers, which includes my parents. My dad has much more patience with Mateo than he ever did with his kids and perhaps counter-intuitively seems more afraid of bad things happening to Mateo than he did with us. My brother, Artie, and I grew up in the relative freedom like most children raised in the seventies. We scuttled up trees and scurried around the streets and woods in our neighborhood with impunity. We had few rules:

  • Tell our parents where we were going;
  • Stay within a one-mile radius; and,
  • Return home for dinner, when it got dark or when dad whistled.

My parents warned us about cars but never about people. We biked over a mile to school alone as young as seven, and by eight we were allowed to go on solo hikes around our cabin in Western Kentucky. During these excursions, I imagined being an Indian Princess hunting for food or a race car driver flying around the speedway. I felt fearless.

While my parents follow my lead, we have complex generational and personal differences about raising children. They placed a television in Mateo’s room at their house and give him desert after every dinner, often consisting of ice cream with multiple toppings. Both are remnants of my childhood.

Both my parents and I want Mateo to be independent. We know that everyone thrives in the I-can-do-it moments when Mateo learns sometime new. It’s just that we have differing opinions of independent, which have become increasingly divergent as Mateo gets older.

My parents worry about losing Mateo. They asked me to nail Mateo’s first-floor bedroom windows shut. I let Dad drill holes, but kept the nails on the window sill. I wanted Mateo to feel the breeze moving through his room.

As young as two, I took Mateo traipsing through the creeks by my parent’s house. He loved playing in the water and chasing elusive creatures that squirted past his chubby legs. At first I held his hand, afraid he might drown in the 6 inches of tepid water that made up our latest playground. But eventually I let go, following closely behind as he rambled and fell among the brown and green algae covered rocks. The water splashed around him before soaking through his blue shorts. Mateo cried at first. But when I extended my hand, he let me pull him up and tumbled uncertainly forward trying to offset his waterlogged diaper. When Mom saw our appearance, worry lines deepened around her mouth.

Before our trip, I had started giving Mateo a little more room. I exercised during his swim lessons or went biking during his soccer practices. I’d let him go to public restrooms without supervision. At first I hovered outside the door. Eventually, I had him meet me back on a certain aisle or rejoin me at a restaurant table. I admit that each time I saw him walking back, I felt relieved. I also started feeling less trapped by the crushing public perception that a child always has to be supervised.

Mateo and I have never had a long conversation about physical boundaries, just to stay away from the street and ponds. He also has some natural fears that keep him in our yard. I work at home and can often see him from my office window, where a collection of ramshackle fences border our acre in Louisville. Gaps have begun to emerge in the black wooden fence that folds around the side and back of our yard. Several poles lean in or out pulled off center by time and weather. Some slats, held in place by a stubborn nail or two, scatter at odd angles. A wire fence runs half way up the other side of our yard, separating us from a pond and horses. Cars and trucks rush past on a busy street in front of our house, parents running errands or construction workers expanding a subdivision that used to be woods. I’m told that our eighty-year-old house used to be a school and that the fields that surround it were filled with trees before a new owner decided they would get in the way and cut them down.

I mow about 1/3 of our yard. Tall grasses and wild plants grow in the rest. My mom calls them weeds. Mateo pretends they are a rain forest, although I have to admit he’s hardly ever in that part of the yard. Mostly, he stays around his play set and trampoline, beside the house where the grass is cut. I don’t worry too much when he roams out of sight. Like my outdoor cats, I figure he’s not far.

I could only imagine what my mom would do if she’d been standing there when Mateo got on the four-wheeler. After giving him directions, Thea threw her legs over the seat behind Mateo holding onto the steering wheel. She gently coached him. Then she let him drive alone at the top of her driveway where he hopscotched across the gravel as he got used to the engine and the brakes. After about three wide circles, Mateo stopped in front of us, his learning energy depleted. He wanted Trey to take him on a ride. They headed off in dust covered cloud energy. He came back sweaty and ecstatic.

“Mama, mama,” he said tumbling in the house.
“Yep.”
“I’m going to ask Santa for a four-wheeler.”
“Oh?” I grinned. “You’d better tell him to bring 22-acres with him too. There’s nowhere to ride a four-wheeler at our house.”
“OK, I’ll ask.”
“I don’t think it will fit in his bag.”
“But Mama? Maybe Santa can have someone else drop it [the land] off, and then he can bring the four-wheeler.”
“You can always ask.”

More and more lately, I have noticed that Mateo wants both me and his independence, a complex need that we have been sorting out in increments. Still there’s this complicated mix of teaching Mateo to ask for help and letting him just go for it. When we stopped at my friend’s place just off Donner Pass in the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Mateo made himself home in the wood-covered lot. He scrunched himself up the house-sized granite boulders.

“Do you think I can get down that way?” Mateo pointed down what appeared to be the equivalent of a straight-edged cliff.
“I think you might. If you miss, it will hurt. It’s your choice.” This is standard refrain when I’m unsure.

Mateo peered over the granite face before heading back down the same way he’d come up. I never know what he’ll decide. Thus far his biggest injuries have been scratches and bruises. It probably works this way because of two reasons, he actually does have a pretty good handle on his limits and I won’t let him do anything that seems like sure death. I really like this natural check-in process he has developed. I feel safer because of it, so I continually push all our boundaries, the adult comfort and the child’s will. He has done these new things alternating between wild abandon and mild trepidation.

I watched for a few minutes. “Don’t kill yourself,” I told him before I walked into Seth’s house to sort our laundry.

After two weeks, we finally reached Quincy, a town of 6,000. My neighbor offered him the use of any of their bikes, a balance-bike without petals, one with training wheels or a two-wheeled bike. To my surprise, Mateo picked the big-boy bike.

Last year, he’d tried to learn to bike on our gravel driveway in Kentucky. It had been a hot late spring day. Neither of us had any idea what we were doing, me teaching him to learn to ride without training wheels or him learning. I only vaguely remember learning how to do this. I might have been five or six, no helmet, no knee or elbow pads, just a pile of dusty skin and determination. I’m sure my brain had been flooded with all those confusing chemicals that told me to be excited and afraid.  I’m sure there was blood and Band-Aides before the triumph. Mateo wore full riot gear including wrist guards. When he pushed down on the petal, Mateo lurched sideways and threw out his leg to try to catch himself. He missed. I missed. The red bike landed on Mateo. He wailed. I pulled him up.

“Let’s try again.”
“I can’t.” A small sweat droplet slid down the back of his jaw where one day he’ll sprout facial hair.

I’m not sure what had changed since last year, but now Mateo gets up when he crashes. He still blames me for the falls, but I see that as progress. He told me that I’d held on too long or not enough or … Truth be told, I didn’t’ mind, because his words guided me as I tried to help him find his balance.

“You’re pulling me,” Mateo said in a soft, frustrated voice. I had been running beside him in a sports bra, holding onto his bike with one hand and the shirt I’d stripped out of earlier with the other. At the end of the day, I found myself covered in a dust bath and Mateo able to ride a bike. By the second day, he was a pro.

In many ways, this little rite of passage opened up both our worlds. He wanted to ride to the end of our road, so I let him alone. When Mateo came back, Eli, a six-year-old from the corner, tagged behind him riding an oversized pink bike, his fresh crew cut covered by a bright yellow dirt bike helmet. Book-ended by two single mom’s, who live down the street from each other, these two boys disappear for hours now, somewhere in the expanse between our house and Eli’s. My neighbor’s two grandkids, both boys, have recently joined the fray. As I wrote this, I could hear them urgently creating story lines where their bikes become race cars, horses and Ninja Turtle dirt bikes.

Kids do not have as much freedom to roam today, for a number of reasons. Some families live in areas with high crime rates; schools are farther away; traffic seems more congested and quite frankly our society’s perception of risk does not align with reality. A  University of New Hampshire research center report published in JAMA Pediatrics showed that the rate of crimes against children dropped between 2003 and 2011.[i] As cited in a 2007 Pediatrics’[ii] article, several studies has shown that unsupervised and child-driven play enhances imagination, resiliency and confidence, as well as teaches negotiation and decision making skills.  I can see these things in Mateo. Somehow we have negotiated the boundaries that feel safe to both of us, and this has allowed him to center himself more in this world and himself.

The night Mateo learned to ride his bike, I typed as he related the story to me. He described his fear and new-found confidence.

“I had trouble. Sometimes I couldn’t really start myself. Then my mama helped me, so I thought I could do it and I did. Mama held the back of my seat. Then when I said I was ready, she let go, and I could do it.”

Mateo Bike
Mateo riding his bike.
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[i] JAMA Pediatrics. April 2011.Trends in Children’s Exposure to Violence, 2003 to 2011 David Finkelhor, PhD; Anne Shattuck, MA; Heather A. Turner, PhD; Sherry L. Hamby, PhD

[ii] Pediatrics January 2007, VOLUME 119 / ISSUE 1 The Importance of Play in Promoting Healthy Child Development and Maintaining Strong Parent-Child Bonds. Kenneth R. Ginsburg. http://pediatrics.aappublications.org/content/119/1/182

Live Life Unfiltered

Written by: Elizabeth Smith Miller, Communications Coordinator, National Safe Place Network

It’s no doubt technology has made life more…let’s say convenient. Technology has provided increased accessibility for education, safety, healthcare, and entertainment. It has also paved a new way to build “social connections”. But, with these new “social connections” – are we really connecting? Technology enables increased efficiency and productivity; however, it has disabled true conversation, connection, and togetherness. Take a moment and watch a powerful video authored by Prince Ea. In this video, he shares a simple message to encourage you to be balanced, mindful, and present. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRl8EIhrQjQ

Some have argued that technology has strengthened communication; however, I believe technology has made communication faster and shorter – not stronger. In fact, I believe communication is strongest when no form of technology is involved at all.

I have found technology – as wonderful as it is – often times interrupts, rather than improves our lives.  Look around; you’ll begin to notice how society is starting to live through technology instead of taking the brilliant science behind it to meet certain needs. So many moments are being lost because they are being experienced through a (screen) filter. I want to shout – “LIVE IN THE MOMENT!” I mean, don’t you want to experience something you enjoy first hand and not through a screen? I was at a concert one evening and I was recording the song I had been waiting for all day. About half-way through, I realized I was watching it through my screen. With excitement, I had been waiting for that very moment and almost missed the entire thing. I wasn’t allowing myself to experience something joyful. I was watching it with a filter, which I could have just as easily watched on screen from home. It was that moment that I realized the value of just enjoying the in-person experience. When you have a better connection with your phone than a person, you are living life through technology. It’s time to make some changes. Live life unfiltered; live in the moment.

Here are five ways you can start living life unfiltered:

  • Adjust your morning routine.
    • Put your phone out of reach.  Many of us sleep with the phone right beside us and the first thing we do in the morning is check our emails or social media accounts.  Try starting the day off with a nice stretch or meditation instead.
  • Leave home without it.
    • That’s right…leave your phone at home.  Plan a day with the family or by yourself and leave the technology at home.  If you’re concerned about an emergency, let others know where you’ll be and what time you expect to get home.  If there is an actual emergency, they will do what they did before cell phones… they will find you.
  • Eat and be merry.
    • Make your time at the table, chair, or couch technology free.  Simply enjoy your meal and savor each bite.  Not only is it the healthiest option, it’s also a way to actually connect with others – or yourself if you choose to have a bite alone.
  • Don’t drop one piece of technology for another.
    • While smart phones have become a one-stop-shop for all things, technology doesn’t begin and end there.  If you truly want to disconnect for a while – turn the television off too.  Instead, go outside and plant a flower or tree, pull out the big tub of photos (you know – the ones you had to go and get developed to see them.)  Sit down around a table and relive the memories or share those memories with those who weren’t there – especially those who don’t know what life is like without the technology of today.
  • Don’t allow over-stimulation to control your life.

Here’s a fun life-hack where you can make a quick change to help you avoid over-stimulation and potentially reduce the urge to constantly check your smart phone: http://www.theatlantic.com/video/index/480240/adventures-in-grayscale/?utm_source=SFTwitter

NSPN’s “Together we can” Networking Tips

One of the key elements of business events, including conferences and other training sessions, is networking. Networking is essential to youth and family service providers as it connects peers to information and resources. Networking is a core component of NSPN and drives the “Your needs. Your network. Together we can!” motto.

Because networking is critical, we’ve provided ten networking tips below. If you’d like to discuss more ways to network with others, connect with us at info@nspnetwork.org.

  1. Be authentic.  Sometimes individuals use networking as a means to develop business connections.  NSPN believes networking should be about developing relationships. Relationships are deeper connections you create when you actually care about the success of each other and not just using each other as a “business connection.”
  2. Know who you are. When someone asks about your organization, do you know how to answer this question – quickly? Work with your supervisor or marketing team to learn your organization’s elevator pitch. This pitch offers cues to individuals and encourages them to invest their time in you.
  3. Re-connect. Sometimes, it’s easier to start connecting by re-connecting. If you see a familiar face or someone you know and haven’t seen since last year – say hi. Get caught up with what you’ve both been up to.  Make sure to jot their number down and check in from time to time.
  4. Own your awkwardness.  If you’re awkward, own it. You’re not the only one that can sense you’re uncomfortable. Say it out loud, “I’m sorry, I’m so awkward at this! But I really want to connect with you because we have this in common – do you have a second?” Owning your awkwardness lightens the conversation early so everyone can focus on what’s actually important. Chances are – they’re uncomfortable with networking too and you both will be relieved.
  5. Small talk is OK. Sometimes, it’s easier to have some conversation starters ready. It’s as easy as just saying hello, talking about the weather, or offering a compliment. Asking for advice opens the door for great conversation as well.
  6. Communicate.  “Is that your final answer?” There’s a ton of information out there! Don’t accept yes or no as a final answer. Ask open-ended questions. By doing so, someone has the opportunity to share new information you may find useful. Keep in mind; it’s important to be able to quickly articulate what information you’re interested in.
  7. Share and Receive.  Networking is a two-way street. Working together by sharing and listening will result in more effective conversations and results.
  8. Don’t leave empty-handed. When you meet someone, ask for their business card or contact information. Make a note on the back about the person you met so you can use it to build your relationship. Don’t forget to ask for their social media handle! Social networking is an easy way to keep in touch.
  9. Plan for the future. Don’t just say “nice knowing you.” Identify some ways you can help each other and plan a call or an email in the future to follow-through on supporting each other.
  10. Thank you. Showing appreciation for someone’s time and discussion goes a long way.  Relationships are built on support and respect.
NSPN-Together-We-Can-Networking-Tips

Women’s History Month Recognition: Celebrating Strength, Courage and Positive Self-Esteem

On Thursday, March 12, 2015, the NSPN Communications Team (Elizabeth Smith Miller and Hillary Ladig) hosted RHYTTAC’s weekly-scheduled Talk it Out Thursday call. This week’s topic was, “Women’s History Month Recognition: Celebrating Strength, Courage and Positive Self-Esteem.” Many girls (and boys, for that matter) will enter your program having survived events that can tear anyone’s esteem down. It’s important to recognize low self-esteem and identify what factors that may be causing it. There are many types of issues and many reasons that cause them. There are also many ways to help boost esteem, build courage, and encourage strength.

We have compiled a list of resources related to this topic that we hope you find to be helpful.

Learning About and Teaching Women’s History

TeachingHistory.org’s Women’s History Resources: This is a one-stop shop for diving deep into Women’s History Month. Here, educators will find learning resources, lesson plans, and a long list of quizzes and printables for the classroom. http://teachinghistory.org/spotlight/womens-history

EDSITEment Women’s History Resources: Produced by the National Endowment for the Humanities, these resources include featured lesson plans and teaching resources that cover women in politics, the arts, and military and civilian service. The comprehensive plans highlight time required and subjects covered, and they include worksheets and links to required reading and resources. http://edsitement.neh.gov/feature/womens-history-month

Women’s History Resources for Teachers: These resources from the Library of Congress encourage teachers and students “to put primary resources to work in the classroom.” Featuring packaged lesson plans, this is a great resource. There are also wonderful audio and video resources, thorough primary source collections, and a number of timeless photo projects.http://womenshistorymonth.gov/teachers.html

Women’s History Month: You may also want to check out the Library’s official Women’s History Month page at: http://womenshistorymonth.gov/.

Science NetLinks Women’s History Collection: This Science NetLinks collection complements this year’s WHM theme well, which looks at women in STEM fields. This page features science lesson plans and teaching resources for all students of all ages. Teachers can filter results by grade level, and there is also a great list of science-specific outside links to lesson plans. http://sciencenetlinks.com/collections/womens-history-month/

ReadWriteThink’s Women’s History: Here, educators will find thoughtful lesson plans, a list of links to online women’s history resources, as well as after-school ideas for teaching women’s history for parents. There are teacher-written lesson plans available for grades 3-12. http://www.readwritethink.org/classroom-resources/calendar-activities/march-national-women-history-20452.html

Zinn Education Project’s Women’s History Resources: These lesson plans incorporate Howard Zinn’s “A People’s History of the United States,” and they encourage classrooms to delve into American history by looking at our collective past through the eyes of everyday people. Instead of just highlighting iconic historical figures, these lessons look at history through the eyes of common women. (Note: access requires free registration.) http://zinnedproject.org/teaching-materials/%20-%20themes-womens-history

Reading Lists and Additional Collections for Students about Women’s History

There are so many great women’s history reads and resources online, and it’s hard to select just a few for youth. But, hopefully, these reading lists and additional resource collections will help spark curiosity in your programs.

A Collection of Teaching Resources for WHM, Scholastic Teachers: http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collection/womens-history-month-collection-teaching-resources

The Origins of Women’s History Month, HISTORY: http://www.history.com/topics/holidays/womens-history-month

The Best History Websites for WHM, EdTechTeacher: http://www.besthistorysites.net/index.php/american-history/women

WHM Videos, Articles, and Multimedia, Biography.com: http://www.biography.com/search/Women’s%20History

Women’s History Month Reading Resources, TIME for Kids: http://www.timeforkids.com/minisite/womens-history-month

Women’s History Month Reading List, Reading Rockets: http://www.timeforkids.com/minisite/womens-history-month

Celebrate Women’s History, The New York Times’ The Learning Network: http://learning.blogs.nytimes.com/teaching-topics/celebrate-womens-history-month/?_r=0

Women’s History and Children’s Books, Carol Hurst’s Children’s Literature Site: http://www.carolhurst.com/subjects/history/women.html

http://www.scholastic.com/teachers/collection/womens-history-month-collection-teaching-resources

http://womenshistorymonth.gov/teachers.html

Want to Learn More About Self-Esteem?

What is Self-Esteem? http://psychology.about.com/od/sindex/f/what-is-self-esteem.htm

Low Self-Esteem: This article shares information on the curvilinear model of self-esteem, empirical research, and low self-esteem in children and teens. http://www.simplypsychology.org/self-esteem.html

Low Self-esteem Signs and Symptoms: http://www.self-help-and-self-development.com/low-self-esteem-signs.html

5 Possible Causes of Low Self-esteem: http://www.self-help-and-self-development.com/causes-of-low-self-esteem.html

10 Sources of Low Self-esteem: https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/me-we/201312/10-sources-low-self-esteem

The Story of Self Esteem: This article provides helpful ways to explain what self-esteem is to younger children. http://kidshealth.org/kid/feeling/emotion/self_esteem.html

Teenage Girls’ Self Esteem – Your Inner Sparkle: BeingGirl.com is a helpful site dedicated to teenage girls.  Girls can visit this site to obtain information on confidence, Self esteem, Sex & Intimacy, Stress, Depression, Anxiety, Substance Abuse, Eating Disorders, Cyber Safety, and social life/work/school. http://www.beinggirl.com/article/teenage-girls-self-esteem/

TeenBreaks.com is a neat site that offers information to teens about self-esteem and other topics. http://www.teenbreaks.com/confidence/selfesteem.cfm

Want to Learn More About How to Boost Self-Esteem?

Girls with Low Self-esteem: How to Raise Girls with Healthy Self-Esteem: This article shares information such as “when and why” self-esteem drops, the sexualization of girls and mental health problems, and more. http://www.education.com/reference/article/Ref_Mirror_Mirror_Wall/

Help Children Develop a Positive Self-esteem: http://childdevelopmentinfo.com/child-psychology/self-esteem/

Helping Teens Develop a Healthy Body Image: http://www.webmd.com/parenting/raising-fit-kids/mood/healthy-body-image

Livestrong.com offers a site with self-esteem resources including “activities to promote self-esteem in girls”. http://www.livestrong.com/article/131858-activities-promote-self-esteem-girls/

Youth Communication Program (click “For Agencies” & “For Teens” tabs): http://youthcomm.org/who_we_are/publish.html

Self-Esteem Boosting Worksheets

Therapistaid.com offers many great tools for boosting self-esteem. http://www.therapistaid.com/therapy-worksheets/selfesteem/adolescents

http://activitiesforchildrenandteens.blogspot.com/2012/02/self-esteem-boosting-worksheets.html

View-Worthy Videos

Always #LikeAGirl: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

A Dove Film: A girl’s self esteem: https://youtu.be/4ytjTNX9cg0

We invite you to join us every Thursday at 1pm ET. No need to sign up!  Just call us at 1-605-475-5950 and enter passcode 4560151# when prompted. Be sure to check your weekly TIOT email for the topic. Check out rhyttac.net to learn more about Talk It Out Thursday. Feel free to connect with us at info@rhyttac.net to share your ideas or learn more about NSPN, Safe Place, RHYTTAC, and HTR3!

It’s Time to Protect Young Victims Where Protections Don’t Exist

By: Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates

Imagine a kindergartner being fearful at home because he’s afraid his mom’s ex-boyfriend is going to show up at the door and hurt his mom like he said he would. Imagine a senior in high school who is a victim of stalking by her former boyfriend and doesn’t feel safe leaving a friend’s house to go home. Right now in Kentucky, these victims cannot seek immediate protections through protective orders.

Current Kentucky statute only allows protective orders for those who have been married to, lived with, or had a child with the offender. This leaves many people, including many teens without one of the most effective forms of protection from being exposed to or experiencing violence – protective orders. Research from the University of Kentucky shows protective orders work – victims that received a protective order reported a significant reduction in violence and fear of future harm.

This issue is among the legislative priorities of the 2015 Blueprint for Kentucky’s Children and supported by Kentucky Youth Advocates because of the protections it would offer to Kentucky children. Children who witness domestic violence are at increased risk for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, anxiety, higher levels of aggression, and poor school performance. We can protect children from these negative experiences by keeping their parents safe.

Additionally, teens who experience dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking cannot currently seek protective orders. This is true despite a recent survey of Kentucky high school students finding nearly one in ten had experienced physical dating violence within the past year, and one in ten experienced sexual dating violence.

New data from the Kentucky Health Issues Poll by the Foundation for a Healthy Kentucky shows 80 percent of voters support extending protective orders to people in dating relationships. Men and women; Democrats, Republicans, and Independents; and voters in all regions of the state support allowing dating partners to get protective orders.

House Bill 8 sponsored by Representatives John Tilley and Joni Jenkins aims to close this gap by extending protective orders to victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. The bill passed the Kentucky House on February 12 with a vote of 98-0 and will now be considered by the Senate.

Although there have been bills filed in previous years, we believe this year, with the strong support among voters and the bipartisan support that has emerged on the issue from policymakers, is the year for the bill to pass. Representative Tilley has worked over the last several months with Senator Whitney Westerfield – the Republican chair of the Senate Judiciary committee – to ensure the proposal can be supported by both chambers this session. Governor Steve Beshear, First Lady Jane Beshear, Senate President Robert Stivers, and House Speaker Greg Stumbo have all weighed in on the issue and expect a bipartisan bill can pass this session on these important protections.

Protective orders offer a cost-effective too for victims of dating violence, sexual assault, and stalking. Thanks to Kentucky’s political leaders for recognizing the need to close this gap in Kentucky law. Kentucky’s children and teens will benefit from extended protections.

We encourage you to find out where your state ranks and what steps are being take to address the issue. Please share what you find.

Dear Valentine – Beware the Love Bug’s Sting!

It’s February – that magical time of year when love is in the air, or at least on every commercial and greeting card. With the onslaught of hearts and flowers come the not-often talked about negative consequences of love: heartbreak, mistrust, despair, and no one’s favorite, emergency clinic appointments. As we think about how love, sex, romance, and intimacy permeate the minds of our youth during Teen Dating Violence Prevention Month, here are some strategies to support our young people as they navigate the waters of interpersonal relationships:

  • Model what you want to see. One of the first ways in which we all learn is by observing and mimicking what we see. Young people pay attention to how the adults in their lives handle relationship stress, conflict, and communication in difficult situations. Be mindful of what you project that your young people can see/hear.
  • Building the all-importance self-esteem. We ask our youth to be brave in many situations, and to advocate for themselves in difficult situations. What we must not forget is to instill in our young people the skills and confidence it takes to be your own advocate, stand up for yourself, and know that your voice – in ANY relationship – is important.
  • Expertise is not necessaryAre you stumped as to which STIs are bacterial and which are viral? Not well versed in the four steps of decision-making? Don’t be discouraged. You don’t have to be an expert in sex & healthy relationships to be a caring, trusted, and genuine support to a young person. Unconditional positive regard goes a long way. Still nervous about finding information? You’re in luck; there’s this thing called the internet. See some of the resources below.
  • Teach what love isn’t – Love = respect. Relationships are not easy. They take commitment, patience, conflict skills, and trust. Youth – and adults for that matter – often struggle to identify the difference between love, desire, and affection. What does a healthy relationship look like? Should you be happy all the time? Is it a good relationship if you argue all the time or if you never argue? What does respect look and feel like? How do you know when you’re ready for sex? How do you communicate that you’re not ready? Young people are eager to seek the answers to these questions. However, they’re often not readily available or found in a textbook. Be open to having honest, meaningful conversation about the realities of relationships which, in this lady’s opinion, can be the best Valentine’s Day gift you could give a young person.

Author: Kim Frierson, Training Specialist, RHYTTAC/NSPN