* Take Advantage of Teachable Moments

By Tiffany Harper, LCSW, July 3, 2018 –

Parenting today’s kids can be a challenge. Most parents remember a simpler time when TV shows were wholesome, phones were attached to the wall, and social communication was conducted by writing notes (oftentimes folded creatively and passed in class).
In those “simpler times,” it seems that values were also different. Because our children are exposed to so much, both directly and indirectly, it is important to make good use of “teachable moments.”

Teachable moments happen in the course of life, unfolding more naturally than if we planned a formal, sit-down talk. Teachable moments can be applied to any situation, but one important area of focus is technology.

Parents’ responses to their teen’s use of technology tend to exist on a spectrum. There are parents who try to protect their children from as much exposure as they can. They ban their kids from social media sites, restrict and monitor television and internet usage and maybe even read all of their text messages.

This can cause strained relationships between parent and teen. On the other end of the spectrum are parents who are totally unaware of what their child watches, posts, and texts. This can send the message that parents don’t care and lead to unwanted behaviors.

There is a middle ground, however. Most TV shows have ratings, and most movies are reviewed on websites like IMDb.com. Look for tips and details on why the movie earned the rating.
When in doubt, the best way to evaluate appropriateness would be to take the time to watch the show by yourself first and then with your teen. Perhaps there is a character who is deciding whether or not to have sex, drink with friends, or skip school. That opens the door for vital discussions with your teen.

It doesn’t mean a full-blown lecture is required, but it opens a dialogue and provides an opportunity to discuss what your expectations are as a parent as well as tuning in to how your teen is forming opinions about these issues.

Social media constantly changes, so it takes some effort to be up-to-date on the popular sites and apps. Occasionally checking in with your teen about what is being posted is tricky but necessary. Some parents demand passwords to their teen’s accounts, and other parents don’t know anything about the latest apps.

Non-judgmental, open-ended questions can be asked, such as “What did you think of Susie’s tweet about her breakup?” This promotes discussion about what is appropriate to post.

It is also a good idea to educate teenagers about their digital footprint, helping them understand that once it’s “out there” future employers and colleges can make decisions about them based on what has been posted, even if it was in the distant past.

Remember that not all social media is bad and all discussion surrounding social media doesn’t have to be serious. In fact it can promote bonding, as lots of laughs can be shared over watching “You Tube” videos with your teen.

Here are some guidelines for making the most of these discussions with your teen:
• Be clear and firm about your expectations.
• Try to be non-judgmental when your teenager is expressing their views.
• Lighten up, and use humor when possible.
• Take a closer look if you have reason to be concerned about your child’s safety.
• Keep it brief. A message can be conveyed in a small amount of time. Any conversation that lingers loses effectiveness, as it tends to turn into a lecture.

German American Title Sponsor for Heart of Youth First Luncheon in Washington, IN


German American Bank was the title sponsor for the Heart of Youth First luncheon held on Thursday, Sept. 7th, 2017, at Washington Junior High. At the luncheon, Youth First paid tribute to corporations, foundations and individuals in Daviess County who have supported Youth First’s work in the Washington community in the past year. 

Youth First Celebrates

By Lindsay Owens, Washington Times Herald, Sept. 9, 2017 –

Supporters of Youth First, a local nonprofit dedicated to strengthening youth and families, gathered at Washington Junior High School on Thursday to hear more about the nonprofit’s efforts to protect and heal the hearts of children and families in Washington.

Parri Black, president and CEO of Youth First, said much of the work Youth First social workers like Ashley Hale, who works with students at Washington Community Schools, involves children who’ve encountered struggles.

“A lot of our work involves kids who’ve been bruised,” said Black. “We don’t always see those bruises. Some are internal. We’re working with kids who need a little extra support.”

 During the event, which was sponsored by German American, local financial center manager David Stowers spoke.

Stowers said Daviess County is fortunate to have a group of leaders with a vision and a heart for giving.

“We’re fortunate to be in a community where leadership steps up,” said Stowers, adding the community’s support for the program also ties in with the Character Council of Daviess County’s Character Matters program. “We see the Character Matters banners all over town. One of the words was gratitude. We need to have a heart of gratitude to look at the bigger picture.”

Senator Eric Bassler, one of Youth First’s supporters from the beginning, also spoke.

“We have to be concerned about our children,” said Bassler, adding that many youth face obstacles at home. “By intervening at a young age, we have a greater opportunity to help get kids on the right track.”

Focusing on three R’s, resiliency, relationships and readiness, Davi Stein-Kiley, Youth First vice president of social work and programs, said it’s no secret youth can have a lot of challenges, but the nonprofit hopes to help youth navigate through the tough stuff and enjoy milestones and celebrations.

Washington Junior High Principal Mark Arnold said the school is thankful to have someone like Hale there to help students.

“No one benefits more than the kids,” said Arnold, adding that without the generosity of Youth First supporters, having Hale would not be possible. “You helped bring us Ashley.”

Ellie Meade, regional development officer with Youth First and Washington native, said she always knew people here were kind and generous but since starting with Youth First earlier this year, she’s found out just how generous.

“All of our donors are the heart of Youth First,” said Meade.

Supporters of Youth First include not only corporate entities, but also local businesses and individuals as well. For more information on how you can support Youth First call 812-421-8336 or visit www.youthfirstinc.org.

Indiana Adopts Plan to Combat Drug Abuse – Includes Expanding Youth First Prevention Model

This is a VERY BIG deal: Indiana’s plan to combat drug abuse includes expanding Youth First’s proven prevention model!

Check-out the plan at http://www.in.gov/…/files/DPTE%20Preliminary%20Action%20Ste… and the news coverage at the link below.

Indiana adopts new plan to link drug prevention, treatment with law enforcement

* Whose Game Is It Anyway?

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:

  • Physical as well as mental challenges
  • How to adapt to unforeseen problems
  • Learning to show respect for the efforts of others
  • How to share time and talent
  • Learning to work harder and smarter to achieve goals

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:

  • Learning problem solving
  • Learning to develop strategy
  • Developing trust in one’s self
  • Exposure to calculated risk taking

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 view the other team as the enemy. Talk with parents and players from the other team to send a message that the game isn’t life or death.
  • Congratulate and applaud ANY player (on either team) who makes a good play.
  • Have fun! If kids see you having fun on the sidelines, they will keep the game in perspective and realize they can be good sports and have fun too.

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?