We were happy to have child psychologist, USAF Maj. Killpack, at our campus last week. He spoke to our students in classes 10 and older about stress management and social media. He spoke to our younger students about what to do if someone is using their power to hurt us. Here is some of the language you can use with your children at home to reinforce the ideas Dr. Kilpack shared with us.
Strategies for managing stress:
- One, use diaphragmatic breathing, or belly breathing. Breath by expanding your belly, below the lungs, for 2 to 5 minutes. This pulls the diaphragm down and allows the lungs to fill more fully. Deep, slow breaths tell our brain that we are not in danger and there is no reason to stress. Research shows this is extremely effective for calming the body and brain.
- Two, reframe your thinking. When you are overwhelmed by, let’s say a math test, and your mind is racing with “What if…?” questions, you’re probably filling in negative responses and fears. What if I fail? What if my parents are angry? Instead, answer with positive thoughts. What if I do well? What if my parents are proud? Dr. Kilpack reminded us that any positive responses can also be true.
For Social Media:
- Keep it positive. If what you’re doing feels happy and positive, and you are behaving in a positive and friendly way, then you are probably using social media in a healthy and manageable way. As soon as it feels harmful or you realize your mood dropping when you are on a certain app: stop and log off. Talk to a trusted adult about how you’re feeling.
- Be safe. Know about privacy settings and keep your information private. Try to only chat with people you know. Avoid using your real name or any identifying information.
- Stop if it doesn’t feel right. Don’t use social media to compare yourself to others. Don’t let people say mean or hurtful things, and don’t say hurtful things to others. If the app is making you feel bad or behave badly, stop and log off. Talk to an adult about how you’re feeling. Get help if you feel unsafe.
For our younger students, if we feel like someone is trying to hurt us or someone else, on the playground, for example, remember S-T-A-R: Stop. Think. Act. Review.
- Stop what you are doing.
- Think about your options. (for example, get help, run away, fight back, shout loudly, tell a teacher, etc.)
- Choose an action. What option will you choose?
- Later, review what happened. Is it resolved? What was good about what we did? What might we do differently next time?
The kids were very engaged and had good discussions. We thank all of those involved that made his visit possible.