Notes from Parent Council Meeting

Thank you so much to all the parents who attended our Parent Council Meeting. I know that carving out the time in the evenings is a challenge, so I wanted to collect some of what we discussed for us to review and for everyone to see. 

Most Important Outcomes
Please read to learn about some solid steps we are taking based on our conversation.

Out of the Darkness Walk
Nick Anderson had the excellent idea to join the American Foundation for Suicide Prevention’s Seattle-area walk. Joining the walk together can help us in our journeys through grief while raising money and awareness to prevent future tragedies. The walk is at Greenlake on Sunday, October 12th at 1:00 pm.
Ways to Participate—visit Hillside’s page here  to:

  • Join our team for the walk
  • Donate to our team
  • Find more information

Kindness Challenge
Can you do small kind things daily for 21 days? I’m going to try, and I think you can too! Will you join me in a 21-Day Kindness Challenge through Kindspring.org?

Kindspring’s website states: “Small consistent actions performed over 21 days can create a significant impact in our personal lives. When these actions are done by groups of people the impact ripples out even further.” Hillside is already a caring community, and this challenge will build that even further.

Hillside’s Challenge will start on October 6th. I will be sending you an invitation via email shortly. If you are interested, please accept! If not, please discard!

More Information from the Parent Council Meeting:

We were fortunate enough to have Sue Eastgard the Director of Training at Forefront, Innovations in Suicide Prevention at the University of Washington. Please visit http://www.intheforefront.org/about/staff for more information about her.

Here is a summary of information that Sue shared with us.

Important Information about Suicide:

  • In Washington State, 2 children (age 10-24) commit suicide each week. While each suicide is an individual tragedy, it is not an isolated problem.
  • While girls attempt suicide more frequently than boys, boys are much more likely to succeed.
  • Guns are the number one way that kids end their lives.
  • Kids with psychological pain often don’t share with others, especially adults, because they want to protect others from the pain they are feeling.

 

Sue stressed her belief that suicide is not about wanting to die. Suicide is about wanting to end pain. Usually those who choose suicide see no future without continued pain. Our society still has a large stigma attached to mental health issues; we need to work to break that down to help our children know that it is okay to ask for help.

Signs of possible suicidal thoughts include sadness, anger, self-isolation, and increased risky behavior including substance use/abuse. While it is completely developmentally appropriate for adolescents to have very black and white thinking, brain chemistry and cognition can be adversely affected by lack of sleep or poor nutrition.

If you are wondering if the adolescents in your life are just having normal adolescent feelings or are dealing with mental health challenges, take action. Steps to consider: talking with grownups that see your child in other settings, go to a counselor yourself to ask what his/her opinion is about your child’s behavior, or work to give your child many opportunities to share how he/she is feeling.

 

Thoughts for opening a dialogue with your adolescents:

  • Make sure you are modeling open, and honest behavior. Our kids respond to how they see us behave more than what we tell them to do.
  • Make a date to do something one-on-one
    • Avoid asking “why” questions which often seem judgmental—try to use “how” questions which invite answers (note the difference between “Why are you reading this?” And “How does reading this make you feel?”)
    • Once you ask a question, such as “How are things going?” SHUT YOUR MOUTH and REALLY listen (Sue’s words and emphasis!). Listen with the only goal of getting information, perspectives, and thoughts from your child.
    • Ask follow up questions if you have to talk, but don’t share your thoughts unless your child asks for them. We want to jump in and fill in blanks of conversation, but that can shut down sharing and feeling understood. There are times to teach kids—but this sort of conversation is not one of those times.
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