Oregon Parenting Education Collaborative

Tweens, Teens, and Screens

Person holding phone
Photo by Daria Nepriakhina on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

As a parent of adolescents, I struggle with how much my kids are “plugged in.” When I consider my hopes for them – compassionate, curious lives with fulfilling relationships – I wonder if their time on screens will help encourage these lives or become a barrier to them. It is not always clear. Living far from extended family, I am incredibly grateful to technology for allowing us to stay close with regular video-chatting. I also see how much time my family and I spend online and want to create more space to allow time for hobbies away from screens. How can I create boundaries for my children that will help create a healthy balance in their lives? I turned to experts for advice. 

Read on for findings that help me think about this topic.

It is okay to set boundaries. Sometimes we need a reminder that borders are all right! We may get pushback from our teens who tell us their friends don’t have the same rules. Remember, this is their job right now. They look for the boundary line and try to see how far they can push it. I like to tell my kids that boundaries are like guardrails. They are there to keep us safe. We don’t always like them. Sometimes they hurt a bit when we push up against them, but they protect us. Many families let go of screen time rules during the height of the pandemic. We may have relied on screens to keep our kids busy so that we could complete a work task or take a break. That was okay then, and it is okay to “reset family patterns” now, as Tina Payne Bryson said in a recent talk on Supporting Families Post-Pandemic. I like to invite my children to share ideas in this process to help us all build empathy and flexibility skills. 

When Should My Kid Have a Phone? As expected, there is not a “right” answer to this question. Common Sense Media has a helpful list of questions to consider as you think about phones, such as, “Would having easy access to friends benefit them for social reasons?” During quarantine, my teen helped us buy her phone. We all agreed that being able to text her friends was a meaningful way to connect. I love sending her a quick encouragement text, which was a perk I did not consider before she had her phone. Consider how and when your child will use their technology and set expectations. For example, using a watch to call a parent during the school day about a playground disagreement is not okay, but a text to a parent to let them know the bus is running 30 minutes late is helpful.

Social Media. Many of us spend a significant part of our days on a variety of social media apps. As I hiked with a friend, we talked about how some of our favorite parenting accounts entertain us and teach us about what is expected behavior from our children. We feel relieved when we hear other kids saying the same things as our own. Social media can help us connect with others in our community – our local friends and our identity groups. How powerful that teens can find an LBGTQ2SIA+ group online if they don’t have one locally! And, we know that social media can be harmful to teens, especially girls. Limits on time are helpful; app developers try to keep us scrolling. You may consider sitting with your child when they’re online and talking together about who they choose to follow and the algorithms at play. As Liz Gumbinner writes, including “tech talks” in our conversations with our children is crucial so they can think about how they are spending their time. There are even some worksheets to help us think through our social media usage and label our feelings. 

Adult Content. Many parents are concerned about their children accessing inappropriate sites online. Tweens and teens are curious about sex and may accidentally stumble on adult images when seeking answers to their questions. Please remind your children to come to you or another trusted adult to clarify what they hear from their friends. Share reputable sites with your kids that will help them get the information they need to avoid a random search. You may also want to talk with your kids about how to react when they do see porn. Friends may show your children videos when they hang out together. Dr. Lisa Amour discusses this in her podcast. She shares that your child may see confusing things. Sometimes their body reacts excitedly to what they see, but logically, it seems violent or wrong. We can help them create a phrase to get them out of that situation, such as, “I don’t want to watch this – let’s play video games.” Talking together about online porn is a perfect opportunity to share your family’s values about sex and healthy relationships.

Model What You Want to See. Try following the limits you set for your kids. Consider turning on a focus mode, SelfControl (Apple), or ColdTurkey (PC) apps to help yourself and your family stay focused. If you ask that phones not be used at dinner, that includes your own. My teen does not have her phone in her room at night. She quickly pointed out that I used mine as an alarm. I now plug mine in next to hers in the kitchen and use a separate alarm clock. Instead of looking at my phone, I now focus on how I want to spend my time. I prefer reading, talking with a friend, or playing a game with my family rather than zoning out on a screen. When I honestly analyze my screen usage, I realize how much of my time I’ve given away. I find it helpful to think about what I get to say “yes” to when I say “no” to my screen.

Acknowledging that technology can be helpful and risky creates a gentler starting point for conversations with my family. My kids want to connect with their friends and explore independently online, and I want to keep them safe and create healthy habits. We can meet all these needs when we talk honestly and develop plans together. 

Resources

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, imparting a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

En Español: Tweens, Teens, and Screens

Persona sosteniendo un teléfono
Fotografía de Daria Nepriakhina publicada en Unsplash

Por Megan McQueen

Como madre de adolescentes, lucho con la cantidad de tiempo que mis hijos están “conectados”. Cuando considero mis esperanzas para ellos —vidas compasivas y curiosas con relaciones plenas—, me pregunto si el tiempo que pasan frente a las pantallas les permitirá llevar esas vidas o se convertirá en un obstáculo para ellos. Eso no siempre se sabe. Al vivir lejos de la familia extendida, estoy enormemente agradecida a la tecnología por permitirnos estar cerca mediante las videollamadas frecuentes. También veo cuánto tiempo mi familia y yo pasamos en línea, quiero crear más espacio para que nos quede tiempo para disfrutar de pasatiempos lejos de las pantallas. ¿Cómo puedo fijar límites para mis hijos que les permitan lograr un equilibrio saludable en sus vidas? Fui en busca de expertos para obtener asesoramiento. 

Siga leyendo para conocer las conclusiones que me ayudaron a reflexionar sobre este tema.

Está bien que se establezcan límites. A veces, ¡necesitamos un recordatorio de que los límites están bien! Quizá tenemos resistencia de nuestros adolescentes que nos dicen que sus amigos no tienen las mismas reglas. Recuerde que ese es su trabajo en este momento. Buscan la línea del límite e intentan ver cuán lejos pueden empujarla. Me gusta decirles a mis hijos que los límites se asemejan a las barreras de protección. Están allí para mantenernos a salvo. No siempre nos gustan. A veces, hacen doler un poco cuando empujamos contra ellas, pero nos protegen. Muchas familias se olvidaron de las reglas relativas al tiempo frente a las pantallas en plena pandemia. Quizá hemos dependido de las pantallas para mantener ocupados a nuestros hijos para que nosotros pudiéramos terminar una tarea laboral o tomarnos un descanso. Eso era aceptable entonces, pero ahora está bien “restablecer los patrones familiares”, como dijo Tina Payne Bryson en una reciente charla sobre Cómo apoyar a las familias después de la pandemia. Me gustaría invitar a mis hijos a intercambiar ideas en este proceso para que todos podamos generar empatía y desarrollar habilidades de flexibilidad. 

¿Cuándo debería tener un teléfono mi hijo? Como era de esperar, no hay una respuesta “correcta” a esta pregunta. Common Sense Media tiene una lista de preguntas útiles para considerar al reflexionar sobre los teléfonos, como: “Por motivos sociales, ¿sería beneficioso para ellos tener fácil acceso a sus amigos?”. Durante la cuarentena, mi hija adolescente nos ayudó a comprar su teléfono. Todos coincidimos en que poder enviarles mensajes de texto a sus amigos era una manera significativa de conectarse. Me encanta enviarle un mensaje de texto rápido para alentarla, lo cual es una ventaja que no consideraba antes de que tuviera su teléfono. Considere cómo y cuándo su hijo utilizará la tecnología y defina las expectativas. Por ejemplo, no está bien usar un reloj para llamar a uno de los padres durante la jornada escolar para contarle sobre un desacuerdo en el patio de juegos, pero sí es útil enviarle un mensaje de texto a uno de los padres para que sepa que el autobús tiene un retraso de 30 minutos.

Redes sociales. Muchos de nosotros pasamos una parte considerable de nuestros días en diversas aplicaciones de redes sociales. Cuando me fui de excursión con una amiga, hablamos acerca de la manera en que algunas de nuestras cuentas sobre crianza favoritas nos entretienen y nos enseñan sobre cuál es el comportamiento esperado de nuestros hijos. Nos sentimos aliviados cuando escuchamos a otros niños decir las mismas cosas que nuestros propios hijos. Las redes sociales pueden ayudarnos a conectarnos con otras personas en nuestra comunidad —nuestros amigos locales y nuestros grupos de identidad. ¡Es tan positivo que los adolescentes pueden encontrar en Internet un grupo de lesbianas, gays, bisexuales, transgénero/no binario, queer/personas que cuestionan su sexualidad, dos espíritus, intersexuales y asexuales (LGBTQ2SIA+, por sus siglas en inglés) si no tienen uno a nivel local! Además, sabemos que las redes sociales pueden ser perjudiciales para los adolescentes, especialmente las niñas. Los límites en cuanto al tiempo son útiles; los desarrolladores de aplicaciones intentan que sigamos desplazándonos. Podría considerar sentarse con su hijo(a) cuando está en Internet y hablar sobre quién elige seguir y los algoritmos que intervienen. Como escribe Liz Gumbinner, incluir las “charlas sobre tecnología” en las conversaciones con nuestros hijos es fundamental para que puedan reflexionar acerca de cómo pasan su tiempo. Incluso hay algunas planillas que nos permiten analizar nuestro uso de las redes sociales e identificar nuestros sentimientos. 

Contenido para adultos. A muchos padres les preocupa que sus hijos accedan a sitios inapropiados en Internet. Los preadolescentes y adolescentes sienten curiosidad por el sexo y pueden toparse accidentalmente con imágenes para adultos cuando buscan respuestas a sus preguntas. Recuérdeles a sus hijos que recurran a usted o a otro adulto de confianza para que les aclare lo que han oído decir a sus amigos. Comparta sitios de buena reputación con sus hijos que los ayudarán a obtener la información que necesitan y así evitar una búsqueda aleatoria. Tal vez también quiera hablar con sus hijos sobre cómo reaccionar cuando ven pornografía. Es posible que los amigos les muestren videos a sus hijos cuando pasan tiempo juntos. La Dra. Lisa Amour habla sobre esto en su pódcast. Comenta que su hijo puede ver cosas confusas. A veces, su cuerpo reacciona con excitación a lo que ve, pero, lógicamente, parece violento o incorrecto. Podemos ayudar a nuestros hijos a crear una frase que los saque de esa situación, como “No quiero ver esto, juguemos videojuegos”. Hablar acerca de la pornografía en Internet es una oportunidad ideal para compartir los valores de su familia sobre el sexo y las relaciones saludables.

Ejemplifique lo que quieren ver. Intente respetar los límites que estableció para sus hijos. Considere activar un modo de enfoque, SelfControl (Apple) o ColdTurkey (PC), para que usted y su familia puedan mantenerse concentrados. Si pide que no se utilicen los teléfonos durante la cena, eso incluye su teléfono personal. Mi hija adolescente no tiene su teléfono en la habitación por la noche. Rápidamente me señaló que yo usaba el mío como despertador. Ahora conecto mi teléfono junto al de ella en la cocina y uso un reloj despertador. En lugar de mirar mi teléfono, ahora me centro en cómo quiero pasar mi tiempo. Prefiero leer, hablar con una amiga o jugar un juego con mi familia, en vez de distraerme frente a una pantalla. Cuando analizo honestamente mi uso de la pantalla, me doy cuenta de cuánto tiempo he perdido. Me resulta útil reflexionar acerca de aquello a lo que digo “sí” cuando digo “no” a mi pantalla.

Reconocer que la tecnología puede ser útil y riesgosa crea un punto de partida más apacible para las conversaciones con mi familia. Mis hijos quieren conectarse con sus amigos y explorar de manera independiente en Internet, y yo quiero mantenerlos a salvo y crear hábitos saludables. Podemos satisfacer todas estas necesidades cuando hablamos honestamente y desarrollamos planes juntos. 

Recursos

Megan McQueen es una mujer de buen corazón, maestra, capacitadora, asesora y escritora. Basa su trabajo en la educación empática, para lo cual imparte un fuerte sentido de comunidad y habilidades sociales a aquellos con quienes trabaja. Megan prioriza el aprendizaje emocional y las habilidades de resolución de problemas. Cuando no está en el trabajo, lo más probable es que esté jugando con su esposo, sus dos hijos y su cachorro. 

Español: Integrating Mindfulness in Parenting Education Classes

Fotografía en primer plano de una persona con los ojos cerrados
Foto por Alexander Krivitskiy en Unsplash

Por Megan McQueen

Como madre, he encontrado que el espacio es el camino para ser lo mejor que puedo ser. Necesito espacio para cultivar mis intereses, pero también espacio entre un evento y mi reacción. En ese momento puedo recuperarme, calmarme y elegir cómo quiero reaccionar. Poner este simple concepto a trabajar es mucho más complicado de lo que parece. Requiere de práctica y dicha práctica es la meditación.

Algunas personas pueden pensar que la meditación es algo religioso, así que podemos hablar de estos métodos como la práctica de la conciencia plena en lugar de meditación.
Considere usar estas ideas e investigación como una guía para sus clases de educación para la crianza:

¿Por qué? Hay mucha investigación que muestra que los padres tienen mejores respuestas hacia sus hijos después de practicar la conciencia plena. Muchos padres y madres dicen que se pierden en el momento y se olvidan de usar las estrategias para la crianza. La simple práctica de enfocarse en la respiración, puede tener un efecto dominó sobre las emociones, las respuestas y las relaciones. Practicamos no juzgar nuestros pensamientos, lo que nos recuerda extender esto a otras personas. Piense en aprender más sobre cómo la conciencia plena puede respaldar a los niños. (Estos enlaces están enfocados en la infancia temprana, pero se traducen a otras edades también). Empiece su práctica y note cualquier efecto. Tenga en cuenta que se requiere de consistencia y tiempo para ver el cambio.

Agregue momentos de conciencia plena al inicio y al final de sus clases. Encontrar nuestro centro puede ser un cierre poderoso para sus clases. Un momento para cerrar los ojos, respirar profundamente y dejar ir al mundo exterior puede ayudar a traer presencia a su tiempo juntos. Trate de extender esto por varios respiros o varios minutos. Pida a sus familias que elijan una intención para su tiempo juntos, para dar un enfoque. Termine las clases con otro respiro profundo. Pida a las familias que se pregunten entre sí cómo se sienten al final de cada curso. Practicar esta simple técnica de tomar un respiro puede ser una estrategia que las familias pueden llevarse con ellas para centrarse a sí mismas fuera de la clase. Les permite parar, pensar sobre cuál es la decisión que quieren tomar y tener acceso a las herramientas de las que hablaron en sus clases. 

Modele la conciencia plena. Cualquier persona puede practicar la conciencia plena. Ver las caras de sus familias (si es culturalmente aceptable), saludarlos usando sus nombres, sonreír y decirles que agradece su presencia en el grupo. Estas habilidades, igual que cualquier otra, pueden enseñarse de forma explícita. Si una persona en su clase le hace una pregunta complicada, puede tomar una pausa, respirar y decir: “voy a tomar un respiro para centrarme y darme la oportunidad de tomar una pausa y pensar cómo responder”. Modelar y enseñar los pasos para tomar una pausa antes de reaccionar puede ser algo revolucionario para todos, especialmente en la crianza.

Comparta las técnicas para practicarlas en casa. Considere dar a las familias un par de estrategias para que las pongan en práctica en casa. Mi idea favorita es tomar un momento para realmente abrazar a sus hijos. Si las personas están abiertas al contacto físico, sugiérales que abracen a sus hijos en las mañanas y en las noches por más tiempo de lo normal. Cuando normalmente se separan del abrazo, que sigan abrazando por un rato más. Que cierren sus ojos. Que piensen qué tan profundamente aman a su hijo/a. ¿Qué tan alto/a es? ¿Cómo se sienten sus cuerpos junto al de su hijo/a? Que se empapen en el aroma y en el efímero momento. ¿En qué parte de su propio cuerpo sintieron el amor? 

No hay un padre o madre “perfecto”. Integrar la conciencia plena a las estrategias de crianza nos puede ayudar a todos a ser más amables con nosotros mismos y con los otros. Es posible que podamos librarnos del estrés de forma más fácil y quedarnos con los momentos de alegría Llevar la conciencia plena a nuestras clases de educación para la conciencia plena les ofrece a ustedes y a sus familias la oportunidad de construir sus cajas de herramientas para conciencia plena al mismo tiempo en que practican estas habilidades en tiempo real, juntos. 

Libros/Recursos:

Para adolescentes y adultos:

Megan McQueen es una mujer de buen corazón, maestra, capacitadora, asesora y escritora. Basa su trabajo en la educación empática, para lo cual imparte un fuerte sentido de comunidad y habilidades sociales a aquellos con quienes trabaja. Megan prioriza el aprendizaje emocional y las habilidades de resolución de problemas. Cuando no está en el trabajo, lo más probable es que esté jugando con su esposo, sus dos hijos y su cachorro. 

Integrating Mindfulness in Parenting Education Classes

Close up of person with eyes closed
Photo by Alexander Krivitskiy on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

As a parent, I’ve found that the path to my best self is space. I need space to cultivate my interests, but also space between an event and my reaction. At that moment, I can collect myself, calm myself, and choose how I want to react. Putting this simple concept into action is much more challenging than it seems. It takes practice, and meditation is that practice. 

Some people may think that meditation is religious, so you may want to discuss these methods as mindfulness practice instead of meditation.

Consider using these ideas and research to guide your parenting education classes:

Why? Much research shows parents are more responsive to their children after practicing mindfulness. Many parents say they get lost in the moment and forget to use parenting strategies. The simple practice of focusing on our breathing can have ripple effects on our emotions, responses, and relationships. We practice non-judgment on our thoughts, which helps us remember to extend this to others. Consider learning more about how mindfulness can support children. (These links are focused on early childhood but translate to other ages as well.) Begin your practice and notice any effects. Be aware; it may take consistency and time to see change.

Add mindfulness moments to start and end your classes. Centering ourselves can be powerful bookends to your classes. A moment to close our eyes, take a deep breath, and let go of the outside world can help bring presence to your time together. Try extending this for several breaths or several minutes. Ask families to choose an intention for your time together to give them some focus. End classes with another deep breath. Ask families to check in with how they are feeling at the end of each course. Practicing this simple technique of taking a breath can be a strategy families can take with them and use to center themselves outside of class. It allows them to stop, think about what choice they would like to make, and access tools you discussed in your classes. 

Model mindfulness. Anyone can practice mindfulness. Looking into your families’ faces (if culturally acceptable), greet them by name, smile, and tell them you are grateful for their presence in your group. These skills, just like any other, can be explicitly taught. If a member of your class asks a challenging question, you can pause, take a breath, and say, “I’m going to take a breath to center myself and give myself a chance to pause and think about how to respond.” Modeling and teaching steps to pause before we react can be a game-changer for us all, especially when parenting.

Share techniques to practice at home. Consider giving families a couple of strategies to try in their homes. My favorite idea is to take a moment to really hug their children. If people are open to physical touch, suggest they embrace their child in the morning and evenings for longer than usual. When they would typically part, stick with the hug just a moment longer. Close their eyes. Think about how deeply they love their child. How tall are they? What does their body feel like against their child’s? Soak in their scent and the fleeting moment. Where did they feel the love in their own body? 

There is no “perfect parent.” Integrating mindfulness into parenting strategies can help us all be more gentle with ourselves and each other. We may be able to let go of stress easier and hold on to moments of joy. Bringing mindfulness to your parenting education classes offers you and your families an opportunity to build your mindfulness toolboxes while practicing these skills in real time together. 

Books/Resources:

For Teens and Adults:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, imparting a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

Español: Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Pareja con un bebé sentada en el pasto
Fotografía de Omar Lopez publicada en Unsplash

Por Megan McQueen

El Mes de la Herencia Hispana (desde el 15 de septiembre hasta el 15 de octubre) nos brinda a todos la oportunidad de celebrar, aprender y abogar por las personas de origen latino e hispano. Los términos “latino” e “hispano” no son intercambiables. Entable conversaciones con familiares, amigos y compañeros de trabajo, con curiosidad sobre sus experiencias. El abanico de razas, idiomas, comidas y estilos de vida incluidos en esos grupos es enorme. 

Espero con interés que valoricemos las ricas culturas representadas este mes con las siguientes sugerencias:

Aprender sobre personas de origen hispano y latino Comience con el interés de su hijo(a) en destacar a aquellas personas hacia las que pueda mostrar entusiasmo. A su hijo(a) amante del arte quizá le fascine Frida Kahlo y Eduardo Kobra. A su hijo(a) fanático(a) de los deportes tal vez le encante conocer más sobre Evan Longoria (béisbol) y Melissa Ortiz (fútbol). Dolores Huerta sigue teniendo un impacto en los derechos civiles y los derechos de los trabajadores agrícolas. Ellen Ochoa es la primera estadounidense de origen hispano en ir al espacio. Miren juntos películas tales como Coco (PG), Vivo (PG) y En el barrio (PG-13) para valorizar las culturas hispanas. Jueguen al dominó cubano en su próxima noche de juegos.

Aprender juntos español Pasen tiempo juntos aprendiendo a comunicarse con sus parientes y amigos hispanohablantes. El español es el segundo idioma más hablado en los Estados Unidos, que es uno de los países con más hispanohablantes del mundo. Si la herencia de su hijo(a) incluye a personas que hablan español (u otro idioma de familias de origen latino —hay muchos idiomas indígenas que se hablan en México, por ejemplo), aprender el idioma puede ser una oportunidad para infundir orgullo en sí mismo(a). Si la herencia de su hijo(a) incluye a personas que hablan inglés, aprender otro idioma puede generar empatía por sus compañeros multilingües y aumentar la cantidad de personas con las que puede comunicarse.

Apoyar las causas y los negocios propiedad de personas de origen hispano y latino Haga una rápida búsqueda en Internet para buscar negocios locales propiedad de personas de origen hispano y latino. Al elegir dónde comprar tacos para la cena, considere apoyar la taquería propiedad de personas de origen latino para disfrutar de las recetas auténticas, como también para ofrecer respaldo financiero a su comunidad hispana local. Quizá también quiera probar algunas comidas nuevas para usted, como las pupusas salvadoreñas o las arepas venezolanas. Investigue maneras en que puede apoyar a su comunidad local. ¿Tiene tiempo para guiar a los jóvenes? ¿Participan sus hijos en deportes o en organizaciones de exploradores? ¿Cómo puede garantizar que las familias latinas se sientan bienvenidas allí? Diversifique intencionadamente sus grupos sociales —no para dividir a las personas, sino para hacer crecer muy bien su comunidad. 

Hablar sobre raza y racismo Hablar con nuestros hijos sobre las diferencias culturales y raciales puede ayudarlos a convertirse en defensores de sí mismos y de otras personas. Use libros y películas para iniciar conversaciones, como lo sugiere Allison Briscoe-Smith con un ejemplo de Zootopia, y Jeremy Adam Smith proporciona un marco para eso con las lecturas en voz alta. Incluso puede mirar con su familia algunos videoclips de Plaza Sésamo como apoyo para responder las preguntas de su hijo(a) y promover sus creencias contra el racismo.

Asistir a una celebración En el momento de preparar esto, se estaban llevando a cabo algunos festivales presenciales en todo el estado. Esté pendiente del calendario (y los índices de COVID-19) y considere sumarse a las celebraciones. El área de Portland tiene eventos a lo largo de todo el año que su familia puede disfrutar. El Centro Cultural Chehalem de Newberg está planificando exhibiciones y conciertos. La programación en Salem incluye poesía, eventos de arte y mucho más en mediados de septiembre. Busque los eventos planificados de su ciudad o participe en los eventos virtuales.

Libros para lectores jóvenes

Libros para adultos jóvenes

Megan McQueen es una mujer de buen corazón, maestra, capacitadora, asesora y escritora. Basa su trabajo en la educación empática, para lo cual imparte un fuerte sentido de comunidad y habilidades sociales a aquellos con quienes trabaja. Megan prioriza el aprendizaje emocional y las habilidades de resolución de problemas. Cuando no está en el trabajo, lo más probable es que esté jugando con su esposo, sus dos hijos y su cachorro. 

Celebrating Hispanic Heritage Month

Couple with a baby sitting in the grass
Photo by Omar Lopez on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

Hispanic Heritage Month (Sept. 15 – Oct. 15) gives us all an opportunity to celebrate, learn about, and advocate for Latinx and Hispanic folks. The terms Latinx and Hispanic are not interchangeable. Enter conversations with your family, friends, and co-workers with curiosity about their experiences. The range of races, languages, food, and lifestyles included in these groups is vast. 

I look forward to building my appreciation for the rich cultures represented this month with these suggestions:

Learn about Hispanic and Latinx People Start with your child’s interest in highlighting people they may be enthusiastic about. Your art-loving child may be fascinated with Frida Kahlo and Eduardo Kobra. Your sports fan may love to learn more about Evan Longoria (baseball) and Melissa Ortiz (soccer). Dolores Huerta continues to have an impact on civil rights and farmworkers’ rights. Ellen Ochoa is the first Hispanic American to go to space. Watch movies such as Coco (PG), Vivo (PG), and In the Heights (PG-13) together to build an appreciation of Hispanic cultures. Play Cuban dominoes on your next game night.

Learn Spanish Together Spend time together learning how to communicate with your Spanish-speaking relatives and friends. Spanish is the second most spoken language in the United States and has some of the most Spanish speakers in the world. If your child’s heritage includes Spanish speakers (or another language of Latinx families – there are many indigenous languages spoken in Mexico, for example), learning the language can be an opportunity to instill pride in themselves. If your child’s heritage includes English speakers, learning another language may build empathy for their multi-lingual peers and increase the number of people with which they can communicate.

Support Hispanic and Latinx Owned Businesses and Causes Do a quick internet search to find local Hispanic and Latinx-owned businesses. When choosing where to get tacos for dinner, consider supporting the Latinx-owned taqueria to enjoy authentic recipes as well as offering financial backing to your local Hispanic community. You may also want to try some new-to-you foods like El Salvadorian pupusas or Venezuelan arepas. Research ways you can support your local community. Do you have time to mentor youth? Are your kids involved in sports or scouts? How can you ensure that Latinx families feel welcome there? Intentionally diversify your social groups – not to tokenize people, but to grow your community beautifully. 

Talk about Race and Racism Talking with our children about cultural and racial differences can help them become advocates for themselves and others. Use books and movies to spark conversations, as Allison Briscoe-Smith suggests with an example of Zootopia, and Jeremy Adam Smith provides a framework for with read-alouds. You can even watch some Sesame Street clips with your family to give you support in answering your child’s questions and building their anti-racism beliefs.

Attend a Celebration As of the time of this writing, some in-person festivals are happening around the state. Keep an eye on the calendar (and COVID rates) and consider joining in the celebrations. The Portland area has events throughout the year your family may enjoy. Newburg’s Chehalem Cultural Center is planning exhibitions and concerts. Schedules in Salem include poetry, art events, and more in mid-September. Search your town’s planned events or participate in virtual events.

Books for Young Readers

Young Adult Books

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, imparting a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

Transitioning Back to School

Children standing on a play structure.
Photo by Rajesh Rajput on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

As an early childhood educator, I supported many families transitioning to school for the first time. Families can help their children shift to school gently with helpful conversations and routines. Even if your child attended school last year, your family’s habits might benefit from a fresh look. Imagine starting most of your days connected and seeing your child excited for school. Simple tweaks to your schedule can help make this a reality. 

Consider some of these ideas when you are ready to begin thinking about heading back to school.

Build excitement: Talk together with your child about the many aspects of school they are anticipating. Some kids look forward to riding the school bus, and others can’t wait to play on the big playground. As you chat about this, share other things they might love about school: painting, new friends, stories, and singing together. Allow space in the conversation for questions and reassure them that many grown-ups at school will help them.

My children enjoyed co-creating a list with pictures of what they would do to get ready in the mornings – eat breakfast, get dressed, brush teeth, etc. They could refer to their list to help them stay on track during a busy morning. Try creating a picture schedule with our own child based on your family routine. Visual schedules like this can help children feel centered and in control of their day.

Transition objects: Many students attending school for the first time benefit from bringing something special from home. I recommend finding a small meaningful item that will not be devastating if it is lost. Some children have family pictures in their backpacks or a small stuffed animal that looks like their pet. Most children leave these in their bags, but the thought of having something special from home close by helps them transition. Kids might visit their backpacks for a quick squeeze hug to boost their confidence. My students and I would often take breaks together during our first school days to send our families love. We would put our hands on our hearts, close our eyes, picture our family, and feel the love. You can do this at home too. Practice together at home and tell your child that you will be sending them love when they are at school. 

Bedtime rituals: We all function better in the mornings with a full night’s sleep. Late summer is an excellent opportunity to create bedtime rituals. Use some of the following ideas to help your child wind down for the evening: an outdoor walk to burn off any extra energy, choose clothes and a snack for tomorrow, a warm bath, a back rub, quiet music, snuggles, and book reading. Choose a couple of these suggestions and try them out for a few weeks to see what will work best with your family and child’s personality: daily routines and rituals calm children (and adults). We know what is coming next and have fewer decisions to make. 

Visit school: Some schools offer a time to visit the classroom and meet the teachers before school begins. As you register your child for school, you can ask if this is an option. If you and your child have things you want the teacher to know, write a letter together. Your child can tell their teacher about the animals they love or ask questions about the school year. Your child can also use this as an opportunity to get out some anxieties that might be helpful for the teacher to know about, such as, “Will you show me where the bathroom is?” “How will I find my Grandma after school?” You may also want to visit the playground before school starts to build excitement and boost familiarity. You can practice the route that you’ll take to school to help ease that transition as well. “Let’s ride our bikes just like we will when school starts! I’ll show you where we’ll park your bike and how we’ll lock it. Then we’ll go play on the playground.” 

Goodbye Ritual: Practice saying goodbye together. Create a loving, connecting ritual to send your child off to school. You can start this when you go to the store or drop your child off at a friend’s house. Saying the same words and a hug or other gentle touch will be a touchstone for your child and may ease the separation. Goodbye rituals can be a sweet memory-making time for you as well. If your child cries or holds on tight when saying goodbye, trust that the teachers have lots of experience handling separation. Stay positive, say a quick goodbye and head out, knowing your child will most likely calm down quickly. Give yourself time and space to notice your feelings. Many parents grieve their child growing older as well as enjoying some freedom in their schedule. Be gentle with yourself as well! 

Simple routines can help your child feel more comfortable with this big transition. By focusing on excitement, you are modeling for your child that school is something to look forward to, and together you can embrace the changes.

Picture Books:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup.

Supporting Families Navigating Poverty

Photo of a person reading a book to a baby.
Photo by Picsea on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

Throughout my career as an educator, I noticed that all families want the best for their children. I have known many families with long lists of needs while still being abundantly full of love for each other. There are many reasons families find themselves navigating poverty – some have had a health crisis, others are refugees. Systemic racism and societal barriers are additional factors contributing to family wealth. Sometimes we know the family’s circumstances, but not always. As educators, our job is to accept the family and support their journey with compassion. Unfortunately, Covid has become a financial hardship for many families, especially those who face racism in our society.

These suggestions for supporting all families may be helpful as you lead your parenting groups.

Lead with empathy. I have grown to realize that my hard work and luck have created my life. If I had been born to a different family or in another place or other body, my life would look nothing like it does. When I work with families, I want to convey respect and curiosity. Greet families warmly and create a community where classmates can connect. It may help families to hear from other families’ experiences. Laughing together and finding commonalities may help everyone connect over time. 

Offer practical supports. Families that attend your class may benefit from learning about local services. Consider compiling brochures or contact information for food banks, clothing giveaways, state health insurance applications, Head Start classes, local job openings, and more. Share this information with everyone and leave pamphlets on tables for people to take so no one needs to work up the courage to ask for this.

Add resiliency exercises to your classes. Often stress and money worries combine. Help counteract negative impacts of stress by practicing stress reduction techniques together. Brainstorm people your classmates can call upon when they need a break. Family stress levels can have adverse effects on children’s emotional development. Giving adults practical strategies and breaks will build family resiliency. 

Advocate together. If your organization allows, spend a few minutes of your class time on a postcard campaign to lobby local, state, or federal politicians for family rights. Families can benefit from child care availability, family leave, health care, food, and housing support. Focus your discussions on policies that are best for families rather than political debate or division. Taking action may empower people and can support resiliency.

Your parenting classes can be a place of respite and joy when you create an accepting community of learners. What strategies and resources would you share with your fellow parenting educators?

Picture Books:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

Managing Climate Change Anxiety

Ocean waves crashing on rocky shore
Photo by Katie Musial on Unsplash

By Megan McQueen

As a child, I learned that I could be an environmentalist by recycling, picking up litter, and turning off lights when not in use. I still do my part (biking instead of driving when possible, gardening, etc.), and I know that the change needed depends on larger systems. My family takes action, but my children realize that it is not enough. Wildfires and massive hurricanes worry them. I looked to experts to help guide me in managing our fears. Hopefully, their suggestions can support your family as well.

Celebrate the beauty outdoors. My family and I spend lots of time outdoors. It feels good, but I’ve also learned that this helps instill a love for nature in my children. They are more likely to understand the need to protect green spaces because they feel connected to them. We can talk about the interconnectedness of it all, of our responsibility and place in nature. We don’t get out to the coast or the mountains as often as I would like, but spending any time outside can provide these opportunities. “Look at those birds! I haven’t seen them in a long time.” or “The big Oak tree has all its leaves now.” Noticing our environment can help us get outside our heads and positively impact our mental and physical health.

Talk about it. Many people throughout the world are already familiar with changes in their local environment. None of us have escaped news about it, children included. It can feel frightening to bring up a seemingly hopeless subject, but acknowledging our collective anxiety may help. We are providing our children an outlet to share their feelings and release some worry. Provide your family a safe space to connect about big emotions: the joys you share and the despair. By doing this, you can strengthen your family bonds and teach your family that all feelings are okay. It might be helpful to learn more about the science behind climate change. Your children may be learning some of this in school, but you can supplement at home and learn together. 

Acknowledge anxiety and teach coping strategies. If your child’s (or your!) fears start to seem overwhelming, recognize this and help them with their feelings. You won’t be able to “fix the problem.” Use this as an opportunity to model coping strategies. We can say things such as, “This is hard and scary. Let’s take a break. We’ll step outside, put our hands on our hearts, and take some deep breaths together.” You will teach your children how to handle life’s big emotions and build your connection. 

Become a helper. Mr. Rogers reminds us to “look for the helpers” when times are challenging. Research shows that if we become the helpers, our anxiety and feelings of helplessness decrease. Our empowered selves notice differences that we can make, especially collectively. Volunteer together or encourage your child to involve themselves with an environmental action group. Many schools have “green teams” or other environmental clubs. Connecting with others can have a positive impact on our mental health. We also realize that others are working together on climate change. We’re not alone; many people are trying to solve these problems. There is hope when we build resilience. Taking breaks and finding joy in our lives is crucial to sustaining the work. It is easy to become overwhelmed. Watch for signs of fatigue and restore your energy.

Books:

Websites:

Megan McQueen is a warmhearted teacher, coach, consultant, and writer. She grounds her work in empathetic education, importing a strong sense of community and social skills to those with which she works. Megan prioritizes emotional learning and problem solving skills. When not at work, she is most likely playing with her husband, two children, and pup. 

Celebrate Pride Month!

Close up of person's holding rainbow colored candles.
Photo by Sharon McCutcheon on Unsplash

Please see our earlier post Supporting LGBTQIA+ Families for tips, online resources, and fabulous book lists.

“All young people, regardless of sexual orientation or identity, deserve a safe and supportive environment in which to achieve their full potential.” Harvey Milk

X
X