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

* Thinking Outside the Planter Box: The Benefits of Gardening With Your Children

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.

* 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?

* Preparing Older Children for the Birth of a Sibling

By Jordan Beach, MSW, Courier & Press, April 25, 2017 –

Having a new baby is a very exciting time. There is so much to be happy about.

Since there is usually a lot to be done before baby arrives, preparing for the newest member of the family can be very consuming.

When you have your first child it is possible to allow the new family member to take up all of your time and energy.  But when there are already children in the home, it’s important to get older siblings ready for the arrival of their new baby brother or sister.

Unfortunately, children are not usually as excited about a new baby as the rest of the family.  They understand at an early age they are going to have to share things they’ve never shared before.

One of the biggest changes they are going to face is sharing the attention of their parents.  There are plenty of things that you, as parents, can do to help make the arrival of the new baby exciting for everyone and help older children mentally and emotionally prepare for the changes occurring in their family.

During the pregnancy, it is important to discuss the new baby with older siblings.  Talk about when the new baby will arrive.  Depending on their age, you could tell them the month the baby is due or talk about the season the baby is going to be born. Help your child understand the amount of time it will take before baby comes.

Other activities that will encourage your child’s relationship with their future brother or sister include reading books about siblings, visiting friends who have infants, including them in prenatal appointments and encouraging them to help you think of baby names.  Many hospitals also provide sibling birth classes to help the older child prepare for the new arrival.

Most of the changes in your family will occur after the baby arrives.  It is great to talk to your child about the arrival of the new baby, but there is no way to really prepare them for the amount of time a new baby takes.

If possible, maintain a normal routine with your older child.  If your son or daughter attends a childcare center or school, continue sending them as normal.  This will help maintain their routine and also make your transition back to work easier when the time comes.

After baby arrives, set aside some special time each day for the older sibling to spend with mom and dad.  This might be bath time or reading a book right before bedtime.  It doesn’t really matter how you spend the time; it is just really important to give them at least 10 minutes of your undivided attention every day.

This would be a great time to talk to children about how they like being an older sibling to get a better understanding of how they are adjusting.  It is also important for them to receive this individualized time with both parents.

Another way to help your older child adjust is to allow them to help with the new baby.  They can help by getting diapers or other things you need for the baby, playing with the baby (appropriately), singing songs and telling stories.

There is no doubt your family is about to change with a new baby on the way, but by taking some of these simple steps you can make the transition as seamless as possible for your older children.