Here’s a follow-up to our big news! The state of IN is endorsing our approach to prevention and wants to see it grow.
By Sarah Laury, LCSW, Courier & Press, May 16, 2017 –
Every year as springtime rolls around we are welcomed by signs of the changing seasons. The grass starts to green, the days get longer, and the flowers start to bloom.
For me, one of the most exciting signs that spring is around the corner is that my seed catalogs arrive in the mail and the hardware stores open their garden centers for the season. In my family gardening is a tradition, and we involve our children in all parts of the process. We work together to plan, plant, harvest, and of course enjoy the fruits of our labor.
Many people are aware of the nutritional benefits of gardening with children. Gardening allows children to have a better understanding of where their food comes from, and various studies have shown that children who participate in growing their own food are more likely to eat fresh fruits and vegetables, even developing a preference to fruits and vegetables over other snacks.
Besides the nutritional benefits, there are also many important psychological benefits to gardening as a family. First, gardening is a great way to incorporate exercise and physical activity into your child’s routine. When you exercise, your body releases chemicals called endorphins, or “feel good hormones.”
In addition to this, exercise has been shown to decrease stress levels and increase serotonin levels in the body. Serotonin is an important neurotransmitter in the brain and is thought to be partially responsible for influencing mood as well as anxiety and depression.
Gardening also requires the gardener to slow down. Because we live in such a fast-paced and electronics-focused society, it is more important than ever to encourage our children (and ourselves) to practice mindfulness. By definition, mindfulness is “the state of being conscious or aware of something” or the ability to focus on one particular thing without distraction.
Gardening is a great way to teach our children to be mindful. When you garden, you have to be aware of the needs of your plants in order for them to flourish. Are they getting enough water? Are they getting enough sun? Do they need to be weeded or fertilized?
In addition to being mindful, taking care of other living things such as plants can help children gain a sense of responsibility and purpose or belonging. In addition to being in the moment with your garden, caring for a plot has been shown to reduce stress and anxiety.
In an experiment published in the Journal of Health Psychology, gardening was compared to reading as a stress-relieving activity. Test subjects that gardened experienced a more significant decrease in stress when compared to the subjects that were assigned to read.
You don’t have to live in the country or even have a yard in order to experience the benefits of gardening with your children. You can reap these benefits whether you have rows upon rows of crops, a window sill herb garden or even a single potted tomato plant on your patio.
If you would like to learn more about gardening with your children, please visit the website for the Purdue Extension office in Vanderburgh County at https://extension.purdue.edu/Vanderburgh/pages/default.aspx.
By Alice Munson, MSW, Courier & Press, May 9, 2017 –
Anyone who attends school athletic events has probably noticed negative behavior in a small percentage of parents. These are the folks who believe winning is everything, and the opposing team, players and coach are not deserving of respect. Forgetting the meaning of sportsmanship, they make their opinions known to anyone within earshot.
We all like to see our children or team win, but there is much more we hope our children will learn from their involvement in athletics. Here are some things that come to mind:
These are certainly lessons our children could use in day-to-day life outside of sports. Here are some additional benefits from participating in sports:
Looking at the last four benefits, you can see how easily they could translate to situations like standardized testing. This would certainly be a win for both athletics and academics so that these benefits could positively impact a student for life.
According to momsteam.com, here are some other behaviors you can model to make sure your child has a positive experience:
Don’t condone poor sportsmanship. Don’t cheer on the coach or player who gets ejected from the game because of bad behavior. Rather, use this as an opportunity to talk to your child about poor sportsmanship at home after the game.
Take a look in the mirror. How is your behavior on the sidelines viewed by other parents, coaches and players? Are you keeping your cool, remaining calm and under control in tough situations? Children learn self-control by watching adults model self-control.
When we get caught up in the emotion of a tie-breaking play, we need to remember that we all want our kids to win and they all deserve respect. The essence of competition is sportsmanship – learning to be gracious in winning as well as losing.
This is a quality that everyone can model for his or her child. After all, we are our children’s first and most important teachers. Let’s give them something to be proud of – parents who are positive and supportive of their student athlete, team and coaches.
After all, whose game is it anyway?