Parenting Beyond Pink and Blue: How to Raise Your Kids Free of Gender Stereotypes By Christia Spears Brown
According to a growing body of research, parents treat male and female children differently right from infancy, often without even being aware. These entrenched social norms and expectations affect children throughout their lives and development. Christia Spears Brown, a developmental psychologist, unpacks current research on gender and offers ways for parents to remove gender-based stereotypes from parenting, from infancy through middle school.
What To Do When You Worry Too Much: A Kid's Guide to Overcoming Anxiety By Dawn Huebner
This positive and interactive guide (for ages 7-12) gives kids control over their own mental health by helping them differentiate between normal worries and overwhelming anxiety. Using a cognitive-behavioural approach, kids can choose their own tools for managing anxiety. A lovely resource for kids and parents! https://www.facebook.com/amightygirl/posts/1258069734229337:0
When a child is struggling with a mental health issue, parents often feel helpless and worried, not knowing where to seek help. Navigating mental health services can be a daunting process. In my work as a school counsellor, I often advise parents on how to enhance their own knowledge about the resources available. Here are a few of my favourite tools for children, youth, and parents in BC:
For Children and Youth
Kids Help Phone provides children and youth, age 20 and under, with free access to professional counsellors. Kids Help Phone is anonymous and confidential, with phone service available 24/7 and an online chat option between certain hours. The Info Booth section of the Kids Help Phone website also offers kid-friendly information on a variety of mental health topics. www.kidshelpphone.ca
The Booster Buddy Appis a fantastic free tool that allows children and youth to monitor their own mental health and wellness. App users choose a “booster buddy,” one of three adorable cartoon creatures, who will check in with them each day, monitor their use of coping and self-care strategies, and provide opportunities to complete fun quests. This app is an interactive way to build kids’ self-awareness and knowledge of mental health. www.viha.ca/cyf_mental_health/boosterbuddy
Mindcheck is a wonderful, interactive website, aimed specifically at teens and young adults to help them identify what to look for and what may be happening when someone is struggling with depressed mood, anxiety, stress, body image or eating problems, substance use problems, or psychosis. Created by BC Children’s Hospital, this website provides quizzes, self-care information, and connections to community resources and professional services. www.mindcheck.ca
The Crisis Centre of BC has created a youth-oriented service called Youth in BC, which offers 24/7 phone support for teens, as well as online chat services from noon to 1:00am. www.youthinbc.com
The Kelty Mental Health Resource Centre is the number one service I recommend to parents. The Centre is physically located at BC Children’s Hospital in Vancouver, but can be accessed easily by phone and online. Parents can call the centre to chat with a Parent in Residence, a person who has vast experience in navigating the mental health system and has a child with a mental health challenge. The centre also has several Youth in Residence staff members who have lived with mental health challenges and can provide mentorship for other youth. In addition, the Kelty Centre runs the Pinwheel Education Series, a free monthly lunch-hour session on a mental health topic, which parents can attend in person or by telephone. www.keltymentalhealth.ca
Here to Help is a mental health service aimed at adults. As parents struggle to cope with a child’s mental health concerns, they often need to access services to take care of their own mental health needs. Here to Help provides information and access to services in several languages. www.heretohelp.bc.ca
As a school counsellor, one of the most challenging issues I come across is school avoidance and refusal. There are many complicated reasons a child stops coming to school: extreme anxiety around academic performance, peer conflict, body image issues, low self-esteem, perceived “meanness” of the teacher, medical problems. Solving the puzzle of why is half the battle; the other half is restoring the child’s confidence in school as a safe, caring environment. Unfortunately, the child may not perceive school as safe or caring. So what can you do as a parent when your child is afraid of school or has been away from school for a period of time?
1. Start gradually. Make a plan that allows your child to ease back in to school. Start with bringing them to school for an hour or two at a low-stress time of day, during an activity that your child enjoys. Slowly work up to a full morning or afternoon, and then a full day.
2. Connect your childwith at least one caring adultin the school. This can be a teacher, youth worker, counsellor, education assistant, or administrator. Pick someone who your child likes and is comfortable approaching. If your child can’t identify someone he or she knows and trusts, foster a new relationship; seek out the school counsellor or a youth worker and help your child get to know that person.
3. Ask the teacher to make accommodationsfor late or missed schoolwork. In order to create some breathing room, ask teachers to help your child catch up without pressure to complete everything that has been missed. Talk to the teacher about extra support for your child, possibly in the form of a quiet place to work in the school or help from an education assistant in the classroom.
4. Find a peer mentoror reconnect your child with a trusted friend. Safe social connections can be a great way of drawing a child back into the school environment.
5. Encourage adults in the school to keep an eye outfor your child. Having a few teachers and staff members make an effort to make eye contact with your child and say hi in the hallway can make a big difference. This will help your child identify safe, trusted adults to go to in times of distress.
6. Create a visual schedule. For younger children especially, it can help to see the shape of the day and know what to expect with regard to routine, transitions, and when he or she will be picked up. Sit down with your child to make this schedule together, either by hand or on a computer. Colour and laminate it so that your child can keep it in his or her backpack and refer to it for reassurance.
7. Put daily notes in your child’s backpack or lunch box. Attachment is key for children who are feeling insecure about going to school. By giving the child a personal note that he or she can look at throughout the day, you maintain connection and remind your child that you care. Write a new note daily so that the child has something new to look forward to at school each day. More resources: