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In our final post on adding in Positive Childhood Experiences, we are going to focus on the culminating recommendation - feeling safe and protected by an adult in your home. This PCE can really take on many forms and can include ensuring emotional and physical safety. This particular PCE was saved for last as the implementation and practice of the other six PCEs we have discussed will invariably lead to a feeling of safety in the home.


Feelings of safety and stability can stem from knowing what to expect. Children and teens feel that their environment is safe when chaos and interruptions are kept to a minimum. (We all know life happens but taking time to work towards predictability is helpful.)


For scheduling purposes knowing what to expect can look like:

  • Visual reminders of schedules posted so children know what is coming each day

  • Shared family calendars

  • Use of family reminders on Alexa/Google Calendars

  • Consistent routines in the am/pm (bed times, alarms, expectations for homework time, etc)

  • Posting routines so children/teens can see and refer back to them

Feelings of safety in the home regarding scheduling routines can also be increased by creating these routines together. Promote your child’s autonomy by allowing them to participate in setting routines and deciding how to utilize them (paper calendar, phone apps, etc)


For emotional purposes, knowing what to expect can look like:

  • Understanding expectations in the home. Having consistent expectations and consistent logical consequences helps your child know what to expect and can increase feelings of stability.

  • Creating a sense of emotional safety is a byproduct of all of the other PCEs we’ve discussed with an emphasis on validation. Teens and children will feel increased safety when they can expect to be consistently validated and supported.

  • Emotional safety is also increased through modeling. Model vulnerability in the home by sharing the feelings you experience, and talk about how you meet your own emotional needs. As this skill is modeled, teens and children will understand expressing feelings and meeting personal needs is expected in the home.

The goal of this series was to provide you with a positive perspective on parenting. Instead of focusing on all the things we need to avoid, the goal is to focus on the daily things we can embrace in order to promote wellness in our children and teens.


If you have questions or would like to schedule a free fifteen-minute consultation to discuss any of these strategies, please reach out to KS Services at counseling@keystoneservices.biz. We are more than happy to partner with you on your parenting journey.


Laura Waller, MS

Resident in Counseling


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Over the past few weeks, we have been reflecting together on the addition of Positive Childhood Experiences in our teens and children’s lives. Please be sure to read the entire series as each blog post highlights various application strategies.


The next two PCEs we will cover include experiencing a feeling of belonging in high school and feeling supported by friends. These two experiences can be difficult to navigate, but we cannot avoid their importance in the lives of our childrens and teens. While caregivers do not have complete control over the application of these two PCEs, parents have plenty of opportunity to model and provide support.


As we noted in our last blog post, it is important to give your child a voice as they begin to identify their interests and hobbies. Listen to what interests your teen and help them find avenues to connect to others who express a similar interest. For example, your teen may express an interest in reading and watching anime. Help your student log on to the school’s website and search for clubs that may align with this interest. If there is not a club, consider encouraging them to charter a new club at their school. By connecting with others with similar interests, your teen will find that they feel a sense of connection and belonging with their peers.


If your child or teen is expressing concerns regarding their peer relationships, take time to listen to their worries and fears. Provide a safe space for your teen and validate their thoughts and feelings (if you need help validating go back and read this post!) It may be that your teen would like some support for problem solving but be sure to ask first and walk through the problem solving together with your teen’s permission. Often our teens just want to know that they are heard and understood, and they are able to problem solve on their own.


While it is important to find connections in school, connections outside of school provide opportunities for lasting friendships. If your teen is expressing difficulty connecting with peers in the school building, begin looking for what your community has to offer. There are recreational sports leagues, programs for gaming in the public libraries, and pet training classes. Connection does not always have to look like a sports team. Teens can meet with other students for book clubs, gaming clubs, archery, and theater. Be willing to think outside the box - your teen will thank you for your creativity and willingness to provide them with autonomy as they begin to identify what interests them.


Model the importance of friendship and connection in your home. Take time to invest in your own relationships by joining your own clubs and activities. When you come home and discuss the experience - be vulnerable and share the things that made you nervous and how you worked through them. Normalize the variety of feelings that inherently come with establishing friendships.


If your teen is experiencing increased anxiety regarding relationships and social interactions, consider a quick consult with KS Services. While some anxious thoughts are normal, the intensity and frequency of these thoughts should not interfere with your teens’ ability to engage in relationships and function academically and socially. Feel free to seek support in determining if your child needs further assistance finding meaningful connection.


Laura Waller, MS

Licensed Resident in Counseling

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Updated: Oct 5



In our series on Positive Childhood Experiences (PCEs), we have looked at various ways parents can promote a sense of vulnerability and safety in the home. Home is our starting point and where we are able to focus on daily practices that create a sense of safety. However, PCEs do extend outside of the individual family unit. What I love about the next two PCEs is the focus on other adults and community involvement. The two PCEs that we will consider in this post are:

  1. Enjoyment in participating in community traditions

  2. Having at least two non-parent adults who genuinely care

These two PCEs are a reminder to parents that parenting is not something that is done in an isolated state but is to be a community venture. Nothing brings more relief to me as a parent than knowing that I am not on this journey alone but am united with others in the support and development of my children. According to the CDC, the creation of strong bonds and relationships support mental health in teens (DASH, 2021). Feeling connected is an important part of healthy emotional development. Teens need to know that someone cares about them in the home and also outside of the home (DASH, 2021).


Let’s consider a few tangible applications of these two PCEs.


Enjoyment in community traditions:

Participating in community traditions reminds our children and teens that they are part of a greater whole. By participating in community traditions, a sense of rhythm is established that reminds children and teens of the larger picture of support connected to their family. Community traditions can look like so many different things. Here’s a list of ideas:

  • Running/walking a Thanksgiving or New Year's 5k with your family

  • Participating in a holiday food drive

  • Hosting a Halloween party for your neighborhood

  • Attending a yearly festival (consider Fall Festivals or Christmas Light Festivals)

  • Apple picking/Pumpkin picking

  • Cutting your own Christmas tree

  • Viewing fireworks each Fourth of July

  • Being a part of a swim/dive team in the summer and participating in the social aspect of the sport

  • Joining an active Scout group and participating in the camp outs and activities

These yearly activities give your teens something to look forward to and create a sense of expectation and consistency. Activities do not have to be extensive or elaborate - they are simply predictable so that your child knows what to expect and has the event as a marker on their calendar. If you do not currently have traditions, consider having your teen sit with you and choose a tradition together. Having your teen choose the activities creates a sense of ownership and increases participation. If you do have current traditions, consider letting your teen add a new one to the calendar this year.


The second PCE (feeling that two non-parental adults genuinely care) is an important part of development - particularly for pre-teens and teens. As children develop, they begin to need the support and encouragement from others including coaches, teachers and peers. Parental thoughts and opinions become less important to the teen, and they begin to seek validation from others. Providing trusted adult support for your teen can be done by participating in the community traditions listed above (swim coaches, dive coaches, scout leaders, etc all provide excellent adult support). Music, theater and art teachers also provide an excellent avenue for increased adult support outside the home.


One final thought for these two particular PCEs: the community traditions and adult support outside of the home that your teen needs may look a bit different than you imagined as a parent. It is important to give your child a voice in these activities. If your child is interested in comic books, theater, a particular sport, or Dungeons & Dragons, you may need to spend some time looking for connection points in these areas - even if they are not interesting to you. This is another way to validate your teen’s interests and create a sense of safety in communication.


Laura Waller, MS

Licensed Resident in Counseling


Resources:


https://www.cdc.gov/healthyyouth/mental-health/index.htm


Photo Credit - Clarke University