Posts Tagged ‘back to school’

What to do if Your Teen is Being Cyberbullied

by Guest Blogger

With kids heading back to school we wanted to tackle a very important issue.  This week we are featuring a guest blogger, Kevin Stromberg, LCPC.  Kevin Stromberg, LCPC, is a clinical therapist at Linden Oaks Behavioral Health. Stromberg collaborates with those he works with to create a safe and therapeutic environment.

The world we live in today is much different than it used to be. Our social lives have moved online in a lot of ways. So has bullying.

Cyberbullying is a threat to our children’s mental and physical health. About 34 percent of teens admit to being victims of cyberbullying.

Cyberbullies use the internet, cell phones, video game systems, or other technology to send or post text or images intended to hurt or embarrass another person. They do this by threatening, excluding, spreading rumors or tricking their victims.

You can help your teen take steps to prevent cyberbullying before it starts. Also, be on the lookout for warning signs that your teen is being cyberbullied.

What do you do if a cyberbully has already invaded the comfort and safety of your home? If your teen is the target of cyberbullying, you can help with these tips:

  • Stay calm. Tell your teen that it’s not his/her fault if they are cyberbullied, and you won’t blame them or take away their computer privileges. (This is the main reason kids don’t tell adults when they are cyberbullied). Let your teen know you support them, and stay calm yourself.
  • Don’t respond. Your teen’s first response might be to retaliate, but that can make a situation much worse. Teach your teen not to respond to cyberbullies. Bullies are looking for a response and when they don’t get one from their target, many just move on.
  • Block the cyberbully’s access. Over 70 percent of teens said that being able to block cyberbullies was the most effective method of prevention. Show your teen how to block the bully’s messages. Most websites let you block certain users, and phones allow you to block phone numbers.
  • Save the evidence. Help your teen keep a record of all instances of cyberbullying. Print out messages, pictures and emails, save text messages, record screen names, and capture screen shots. Let your teen know that cyberbullies can often be traced, located and punished.
  • Report it to the content provider. If you don’t know who the cyberbully is, contact the website or service where the cyberbullying is occurring and make a report. Cyberbullying is a violation of the terms of service of any reputable service provider (websites, apps, internet, cell phone companies). Report cyberbullying.
  • Work with the school. If the cyberbully goes to the same school, seek the help of school administrators. Most schools’ bullying policies cover cyberbullying. If the bullying is based on race, sex or disability, contact the Office of Civil Rights as well.
  • Call the police. If the cyberbullying involves threats and harassment, or if you feel your teen’s safety (or the safety of someone else) is in danger, report it to the police immediately. Most states have laws related to online threats. If your local department is not helpful, contact county or state law enforcement officials.
  • Set up measures to prevent future issues. Monitor your teen’s online usage and behavior. Set up privacy controls on their online accounts. Tell your teen to never share passwords with anyone except you (not even friends), never give out personal information online, and never open emails from someone he/she doesn’t know or from someone they know is a bully.

Bullying of any kind has got to stop. Our kids have the right to feel physically and emotionally safe at school and at home.

Make sure your teen knows not to join in if he/she sees someone being bullied online. Stand up and tell others to stop cyberbullying. Get an adult involved. Be a friend to the person being bullied. Drown out the bully’s hurtful words with supportive, encouraging ones.

Is your child a victim of cyberbullying? Explore behavioral health resources, including counseling and programs for adolescents.

Healthy Back to School Tips for Your Family

by Kristin Stromberg, ATC

School is just getting back into session in the Chicago suburbs and routines are changing.  It usually takes families weeks to nail down the new schedules.  Here are a few easy steps to start to implement so everyone is off to a healthy school year!

  1. Eat a nutritious breakfast.

While there has been a debate recently about the merits of eating breakfast for weight loss, it is agreed that kids should not skip breakfast. Breakfast is a perfect opportunity to help your kids get a healthy dose of nutrients such as fiber, calcium, and protein. Limiting sugar intake in the morning will help keep their brains firing at full force during their early classes. Great quick and healthy options include: Make ahead breakfast sandwiches or burritos, overnight oatmeal, protein shakes, low-fat Greek yogurt and fruit, or scrambled eggs and a slice whole wheat toast.

  1. Limit liquid calories.

The easiest place to start is to limit sugary beverages such as soda. Sugary drinks are simply empty calories and devoid of nutrients. Try also limiting fruit juice or diluting juice such as OJ with water to reduce the sweetness and the calories. Try also to  substitute sugary drinks for a glass of almond or coconut milk.

  1. Increase fruit and vegetable consumption.

Fruits and veggies are rich in nutrients including antioxidant vitamins A and C, folate, fiber, and potassium. They are also low in calories. To help your kid increase their consumption of fruit and veggies, keep pre-washed produce available for your kids to simply grab and eat. Keep washed berries, apples, pears, and bananas on hand. Keep a bag of baby carrots and celery sticks around for kids to snack on.  The nutrients in fruits and vegetables are key to keeping your kids healthy during the school year.

  1. Plan dinner as a family.

The best way to get your kids to eat healthy dinner is to engage them in the planning. Choose healthy options that everyone likes and let your kids select a veggie option and healthy whole grain option. Steamed broccoli, sautéed spinach, whole wheat pasta, and brown rice are some examples of healthy side dishes. Healthy main dish protein options include baked chicken or grilled fish. Try to make meals kid friendly and try to eat together as a family on most nights. Planning ahead for busy school nights will make dinner run more smoothly.

  1. Practice portion control.

Finally, my favorite tip for families is to practice portion control. Minding your portions as well as those of your kids is, by far, one of the easiest ways to manage calories and avoid weight gain. I also love practicing portion control with kids as it allows for occasional treats instead of banning foods altogether. Portion out an occasional cookie for your kids’ snack and add additional healthy choices such as melon, berries or grapes.

Meal planning doesn’t have to be difficult.  Pick a day during the week that you have time to pre-plan.  Create bags of vegetables for healthy snacks, and even pre-prep breakfast and dinner items for quick turn around.  If you have questions regarding recipes, meal planning or portion control, feel free to contact our office!