Positive Parenting

Parents have an important job. Raising kids is both rewarding and challenging. You’re likely to get a lot of advice along the way, from doctors, family, friends, and even strangers. But every parent and child is unique. Being sensitive and responsive to your kids can help you build positive, healthy relationships together.

“Being a sensitive parent and responding to your kids cuts across all areas of parenting,” says Arizona State University’s Dr. Keith Crnic, a parent-child relationship expert. “What it means is recognizing what your child needs in the moment and providing that in an effective way.” This can be especially critical for infants and toddlers, he adds. Strong emotional bonds often develop through sensitive, responsive, and consistent parenting in the first years of life. For instance, holding your baby lovingly and responding to their cries helps build strong bonds.

Building Bonds
Strong emotional bonds help children learn how to manage their own feelings and behaviors and develop self-confidence. They help create a safe base from which they can explore, learn, and relate to others.
Experts call this type of strong connection between children and their caregivers “secure attachment.” Securely attached children are more likely to be able to cope with challenges like poverty, family instability, parental stress, and depression.

A recent analysis shows that about 6 out of 10 children in the U.S. develop secure attachments to their parents. The 4 out of 10 kids who lack such bonds may avoid their parents when they are upset or resist their parents if they cause them more distress. Studies suggest that this can make kids more prone to serious behavior problems. Researchers have been testing programs to help parents develop behaviors that encourage secure attachment.

Being Available
Modern life is full of things that can influence your ability to be sensitive and responsive to your child. These include competing priorities, extra work, lack of sleep, and things like mobile devices. Some experts are concerned about the effects that distracted parenting may have on emotional bonding and children’s language development, social interaction, and safety.

If parents are inconsistently available, kids can get distressed and feel hurt, rejected, or ignored. They may have more emotional outbursts and feel alone. They may even stop trying to compete for their parent’s attention and start to lose emotional connections to their parents.

“There are times when kids really do need your attention and want your recognition,” Crnic explains. Parents need to communicate that their kids are valuable and important, and children need to know that parents care what they’re doing, he says.

It can be tough to respond with sensitivity during tantrums, arguments, or other challenging times with your kids. “If parents respond by being irritable or aggressive themselves, children can mimic that behavior, and a negative cycle then continues to escalate,” explains Dr. Carol Metzler, who studies parenting at the Oregon Research Institute.

According to Crnic, kids start to regulate their own emotions and behavior around age three. Up until then, they depend more on you to help them regulate their emotions, whether to calm them or help get them excited. “They’re watching you to see how you do it and listening to how you talk to them about it,” he explains. “Parents need to be good self-regulators. You’re not only trying to regulate your own emotions in the moment, but helping your child learn to manage their emotions and behavior.”

As kids become better at managing their feelings and behavior, it’s important to help them develop coping skills, like active problem solving. Such skills can help them feel confident in handling what comes their way.
“When parents engage positively with their children, teaching them the behaviors and skills that they need to cope with the world, children learn to follow rules and regulate their own feelings,” Metzler says.

“As parents, we try really hard to protect our kids from the experience of bad things,” Crnic explains. “But if you protect them all the time and they are not in situations where they deal with difficult or adverse circumstances, they aren’t able to develop healthy coping skills.”

He encourages you to allow your kids to have more of those experiences and then help them learn how to solve the problems that emerge. Talk through the situation and their feelings. Then work with them to find solutions to put into practice. 
Meeting Needs
As children grow up, it’s important to remember that giving them what they need doesn’t mean giving them everything they want. “These two things are very different,” Crnic explains. “Really hone in on exactly what’s going on with your kid in the moment. This is an incredibly important parenting skill and it’s linked to so many great outcomes for kids.”

Think about where a child is in life and what skills they need to learn at that time. Perhaps they need help managing emotions, learning how to behave in a certain situation, thinking through a new task, or relating to friends.

“You want to help kids become confident,” Crnic says. “You don’t want to aim too high where they can’t get there or too low where they have already mastered the skill.” Another way to boost confidence while strengthening your relationship is to let your kid take the lead.

“Make some time to spend with your child that isn’t highly directive, where your child leads the play,” advises Dr. John Bates, who studies children’s behavior problems at Indiana University Bloomington. “Kids come to expect it and they love it, and it really improves the relationship.”

Bates also encourages parents to focus on their child’s actual needs instead of sticking to any specific parenting principles.

It’s never too late to start building a healthier, more positive relationship with your child, even if things have gotten strained and stressful. “Most importantly, make sure that your child knows that you love them and are on their side,” Metzler says. “For older children, let them know that you are genuinely committed to building a stronger relationship with them and helping them be successful.”

By being a sensitive and responsive parent, you can help set your kids on a positive path, teach them self-control, reduce the likelihood of troublesome behaviors, and build a warm, caring parent-child relationship.

Tips for Connecting with Your Kids
-Catch kids showing good behavior and offer specific praise.
-Give children meaningful jobs at home and positive recognition afterward. Don’t be overly critical; instead, help them improve their skills one step at a time.
-Use kind words, tones, and gestures when giving instructions or making requests. 
-Spend some time every day in warm, positive, loving interaction with your kids. Look for opportunities to spend time as a family, like taking after-dinner walks or reading books together.
-Brainstorm solutions to problems at home or school together.
-Set rules for yourself for mobile device use and other distractions. For instance, check your phone after your child goes to bed.
-Ask about your child’s concerns, worries, goals, and ideas.
-Participate in activities that your child enjoys. Help out with and attend their events, games, activities, and performances.

Written by NIH Office of Communications and Public Liaison
Editor: Harrison Wein, Ph.D.
Managing Editor: Tianna Hicklin, Ph.D.

Two New Support Groups Offered FREE To Local Residents

Are you or someone you know in need of support to be successful in your recovery? Have you or someone you know recently lost a loved one and in need of comfort and support? Not sure where to turn or how to get help?

Beginning January 23, Nassau Alcohol Crime Drug Abatement Coalition (NACDAC) will be offering two new support groups for community members.

“Relapse Prevention” is a FREE support group being offered to individuals in recovery from any type of addiction. The group’s goal is to harbor a safe, confidential environment where one can gain support and skills to be successful in recovery and provide networking opportunities for continued future support.

“Living With Loss” is a FREE support group offered to anyone who has lost a loved one and needs a safe place for comfort and support. The group is designed to assist participants with healing methods, self-awareness exercises and give a sense of connectedness to others.

For more information, please contact Kerrie Albert, NACDAC Director of Prevention Services at (904) 277-3699 or email kerriealbert@nacdac.com.

Vote for Eric Childers

Vote for Eric Childers

I have a very good reason to cast my vote for Eric Childers, and this may come as a complete surprise to many of you, but he is the best big brother a girl could have!!!

eric-and-judieThat’s right, Eric and I are brother and sister, so if you see me waving election signs that say Vote for Eric Childers, now you know just one of the many reasons I am voting for him.

As a big brother, Eric has been my confidante, my protector, and my most trusted friend for ALL of my life. Like most siblings, boy, do I have some great stories from our childhood, too. Oh, and just for the record… he IS older than me.

Eric is accessible, and he studies the issues – taking pride in hearing from YOU on the subjects that are most important to those he wants to represent. He is embedded in our community, a married man, and works a full time job, so his decision to run for public office and “serve” his neighbors was not made lightly. He understands the day to day concerns of working families. He sees the importance of welcoming our tourists, and he listens when you express concerns about growth, infrastructure, and the delicate balance of man v nature.

Having served in the Navy, and having grown up a Military Brat, Eric understands commitment, sacrifice, and pride of country… but most of all, he truly cares about the future of Fernandina Beach, her residents, her business owners, and her visitors.

If you want to see a fun, and very short video endorsement I made when I was in Las Vegas earlier this year… scroll down on my facebook page to October 25th and take a look. If you want to hear a really, really funny story from our childhood… come find me, I’ve got some great ones!

We thank you for your support.

This shameless plug is of my own personal opinion. He did not hold my arm behind my back, give me “noogies”, or make me say, “Uncle” to write this endorsement. We still retain our right to express, so I don’t reckon I need any disclosures typed up in this space.

A Letter to Those I’ll Never be Able to Thank

Not too long ago I found myself stranded in Los Angeles, California, betrayed by the man I had hoped to spend the rest of my life with. Now, don’t get me wrong, it is NEVER easy to find out that the person you’re with is being unfaithful, but, finding out that the man I am in love with is actually in love with someone else (while I’m 2000 miles away from home visiting him) is probably the shittiest thing that has ever happened to me. I had no where to go, no one to turn to, and no clue of what to do next. All I knew was that I needed to get out of there. We got my airplane ticket transferred so that I could leave early to be with my family and even as angry as I was, I knew that saying “goodbye” was going to be so hard.

He drove me to the airport at 4:30 a.m. the next morning and couldn’t stop apologizing. He seemed upset, but I genuinely don’t think he will ever feel the immense pain that I felt knowing he must have stopped loving me at some point in the few months prior. When I turned away from the car and started towards the entrance to LAX, I lost it. Every bone and muscle and joint in my body hurt and I couldn’t keep myself from sobbing as I retrieved my boarding pass. Thank god for the self-service kiosks! I wasn’t composed enough to talk to an attendant.

I wiped my eyes and tried to breathe as I walked down, what seemed like an endless hallway, towards the start of the security line. By this time it was 5:15 a.m. and there were a total of 12 people going through security, including me and the hipster with a guitar case behind me. I wiped my eyes and continued to sniffle, but stopped crying long enough to find my ID and get ready to hand my pass to the guard. As we got closer, I could hear the short, automatic responses between the guard and people in front of me – it was very clear that he wasn’t happy about being at work so early.

“Ticket?” *beep* “Enjoy your flight. Next!” were the extent of the words he exchanged with the few people in front of me while he scanned their passes. When it became my turn, I mustered up the best smile I could manage and handed over my license and boarding pass. To my surprise, he smiled back and began to make small talk… commenting on the baseball shirt that I was wearing and asking about their star player. This is the kind of conversation that I would generally thrive on! I love sports and I know everything there is to know about Bryce Harper and the Nationals. But this morning was different, it seemed obvious to me that this nice, male security guard, with a beautiful smile, was trying to cheer me up, not caring why I was so upset, but caring enough to make it go away. I’ll never be able to thank him for engaging me in conversation, albeit short and mostly one-sided, I appreciated the effort so much more than I could have let on at the time. Especially when I had rounded the corner to slip my shoes off and we continued to make eye contact. He finally gave me a brief side smile that seemed to say everything was going to be okay, before turning to the person in line behind me and saying, “Ticket?” *beep* “Enjoy your flight. Next!”

I slumped into a seat at my gate and stupidly texted my ex to tell him I made it. It didn’t take long for him to respond, “If it makes you feel any better, I am a mess, the second you walked away I lost it.” OF COURSE THAT DIDN’T MAKE ME FEEL ANY BETTER!

That one text would make me start blubbering like a baby again, enough to startle the woman sitting across from me. I knew I wouldn’t be able to avoid her forever so I lifted my head and made eye contact with her. “Are you okay? Would you like some water? Or part of my granola bar?” She quickly asked me. I smiled, knowing that if I was in her position, I, too would have offered this young, crying girl, the granola bar right out of my mouth.

“No, thank you. I’m just having a rough day.” I proceeded to give her a few details because she seemed interested in helping me in any way she could. She was very genuine and so kind, and she is another person that I will never be able to express my sincere gratitude to. She said some very kind and encouraging words before we parted ways and boarded the plane to Chicago.

I was a mess the whole flight, thankfully the guy next to me was asleep so I didn’t have to worry about explaining myself again. I sat back and tried to escape by reading Amy Schumer’s new book of short essays about her life, unfortunately this didn’t help as much as I anticipated, but I did get a few laughs!

We landed in Chicago and at that time I had a little over an hour before my next flight, the flight home to Jacksonville. I stepped off the jet bridge and started looking for signs leading me to the next terminal when I heard someone say my name. I turned to face the kind woman from the last airport and she said, “Ally…. I have been thinking about you the whole flight and I know that I only got to chat with you for a short time, but I just had to let you know that you are so kind and so genuine and I know you’re hurting now, but you’re going to find someone who is so much better suited for you. I just know it.”

I couldn’t have asked for a better stranger to confide in. I hope I made it clear to her how much I appreciated all of the nice things she said to me, but, I may never know. I may never be able to tell her how much that meant to me and how that encounter would be the only thing that helped me keep my sanity long enough to get home.

My flight kept getting delayed and pushed back due to mechanical issues and weather in the Carolina’s. And progressively I got sadder and sadder. I never asked for help and I don’t think I looked like I needed any, either. I really just wanted to find a bar to sit at and drink my sorrows away, but unfortunately for me, they were all full and had long wait times. We ended up being delayed 6 hours and during that time, I met a very nice lady who was traveling alone to visit her sick sister, she was so thoughtful and never once asked me why I was so sad, but went out of her way to cheer me up, she made sure I was well fed and entertained. We sat together and just talked for hours about nothing important, but she is a third person, from the same day, that I may never see again to thank.

So, thank you kind security officer who didn’t HAVE to smile at me, and thank you dark haired woman who hugged me when we exited the plane – I hope you’re right about me finding someone better, and thank you lady who helped the delay to Jacksonville go by a little faster. You all honestly made light out of such a terrible day for me, probably unintentionally, and for that I am forever grateful. I just hope some day I will be able to return the favor with kind words or a smile to someone who needs them as desperately as I did that day. My faith in humanity has been restored and for this I thank you.

Ten Marriage Tips that got us to our 26th Wedding Anniversary

Ten Marriage Tips got us to our 26th Wedding AnniversaryThere is a lot to be said for a couple who can remain married for 26 years, and Lawrence and I are celebrating our 26th wedding anniversary on July 28th. Having dated over four years, this is someone who has known me, and I mean really known me, for over 30 years. That is a long damn time!!!

Dr. Joyce Brothers said, “Marriage is not just spiritual communion and passionate embraces; marriage is also three meals a day, sharing the workload, and remembering to carry out the trash.”

Many who are new to marriages often ask me what it takes to stay married. I find it humorous, because, I often ask folks who have been married 30 years, 35 years, or those who have been married even longer – the same question: Just HOW do you stay married til “death do us part”?

My first answer is always, “One of us has a lot of patience… and I’m guessing it is me.” But, honestly, there is a lot to be said about patience, and other things, that help you stay in a long term marriage.

Here are ten tips you may (or may not) find helpful in seeing your marriage go the distance.

1. Don’t kill each other
The quickest way to ruin a marriage is to kill your spouse. You WILL end up in jail. Even maiming the other is a felony, so DON’T DO IT!

2. Remember the Important Dates
Anniversaries and birthdays are important, don’t forget the dates. Buy gifts ahead of time and hide them in the house. When an anniversary or birthday pops up unexpectedly (not that the actual date changes from year to year) you will have a gift in the house and ready to go when you need one. TIP: You WILL score bonus points if the gift is wrapped.

3. Be Honest – from the beginning
“Does this dress make my butt look big?”
“Yes, yes it does, you may want to change before we attend your high school reunion.”
Your spouse’s knee-jerk reaction may not be appreciative, but when you come home from a successful evening of “Wow, you look better now than you did in high school” remarks – you WILL get “lucky” later in the evening.

4. Have Recreational Activities in Common
Over the years we have met tons of other couples. The ones who end up divorced are almost always the ones who have nothing, and I mean nothing, of interest in common with the other. It is wonderful to be an individual and have your own interests; but you must have fun – together – when it comes to your down time.

5. Marriage is a Committment
When the two of you married, you made a committment in front of your friends, and likely your God. You promised to face life together through sickness and health, richer and poorer, and all that other crap! As we age we realize we have seen more “poorer” than we planned as a youthful couple, and most recently we have seen more “sickness” than we ever thought we would face; yet – we are still hanging in there. You must hold on to the promise to “love and to cherish”.

6. Make a Daily Conscious Effort to Stay Married
There are times in your marriage that you MUST make a conscious effort, on a daily basis, to stay married. Trust me – this too will pass. Every single day you are with the same person, and every single day you deal with their dirty socks, smart-ass comments, and an ability to piss you off more than anyone else in the world! Always remember, this IS what YOU signed up for… no one forced you!

7. Be Faithful
In most relationships, cheating and adultery is a deal-breaker – period!

8. Be a Good Lover
One of the best things about a long term relationship is the sex. Over the years, we have learned there are three types of sex, categorically speaking. In the beginning you have “house sex”. You are newlyweds and you will have sex anywhere and everywhere… in the kitchen, on the washer, on the living room floor, etc… After a few years, you have what we refer to as “bedroom sex”. You likely have kids by this point in your marriage, and finding privacy is predictable. For the sake of convenience you find it easiest to have sex on Tuesdays, Saturdays, and an occasional Thursday, too – always in the master bedroom – always with the door closed. Then, you get to 26 years of wedded bliss. At this point, the sex moves on to a new level. The kids are (hopefully) more independent and have their own activities, or better yet – have gone on to college or otherwise moved out of the “nest”. This frees up a long-term married couple to have what we refer to as “hallway sex”. This is where you encounter each other in the hallway and say, “F-you!” as you pass.

9. Know that you must WANT to stay married.
I mentioned earlier that marriage is a commitment, but it is more than that. You must, deep down in your soul, know that you will honor your vows because you truly WANT things to work between you. In a life long relationship, there is a lot of money, time and energy that has been invested and you should want to realize a return that many others have failed to receive.

10. Laugh
Know matter how stressful life can be, keep a sense of humor. Life is serious, but finding the humor is a gift to treasure and if you two have the same, sick sense of humor – well, even better. Here is a recent example: I was diagnosed with colorectal cancer this past year. After my first surgery, I was left with an colostomy. This is a surgical opening created for the bowels to empty into a bag on the outside of the abdomen. It was gross, disgusting, smelly, messy, and well… it pretty much freaked me out ALL of the time in the beginning. I am NOT in the medical field for a reason… I can’t handle it! My husband was a trooper. When I came home from the hospital he would help me change my ostomy pouch. It took scissors, towels, a fresh appliance, powder, adhesive remover, adhesive paste, waterproof seals, measuring tape, an ink pen, skin wipes, and so many other supplies we had to keep them in a medium sized U-Haul moving box! But, through it all, he stuck with me and helped me change dressings and bandages several times each day. Every day I was whining and complaining about the waste coming from a hole in my side. And every single time I cried out, “It’s not worth it! Just let me die!” He would laugh, make a joke or wisecrack, and help me learn to change the appliance. Once, he even woke up in the middle of the night, knowing full well the seal on my pouch had come undone, and he actually accused the dog of crapping on the floor. I laughed so hard I cried!

In my opinion, life is too short to sweat the small stuff and the longer you are with someone, more and more of the “stuff” appears smaller.

… as they say, “Live simply, laugh often, and love deeply.”

Happy Anniversary, Lawrence… I love you!

Change a Life – Choose Adoption

Change a Life - Choose AdoptionDid you know you have the potential to be a child’s hero? Well, by considering adoption you can have a wonderful positive impact on the future life of a child. Nowadays, adoption has become an important part of our culture with some 120,000 children per year in the US being adopted.

Just how does adoption impact the life of a child? 90% of children over five have positive feelings about being adopted. Likewise, more people than ever see adoption as a positive choice, and more people from all walks of life are choosing adoption: either as an adoptive parent, or as a chance to give their child a better life. Many groups of people should consider adoption as either a positive way to expand their family or a selfless choice to give their baby the best life possible. So, when might adoption be something to consider?

One of the most common reasons couples (or singles, for that matter) may choose to adopt is due to fertility problems. Often times, couples who want to have a child later look back on their infertility as a blessing after a successful adoption because they realize they would never have the son or daughter they have now if they hadn’t been blessed to bring that child into their lives through adoption. Likewise, even though we have great modern day technology, such as IVF, these procedures are very expensive. They simply may not be an option for many parents given their cost can run upwards of 10-20 thousand dollars per individual cycle. Adoption can also be expensive, but, luckily, the US government offers generous tax credits and grants to help couples be able to cover the cost of an adoption. These financial aids can make becoming parents through adoption a real reality.

Making a Difference
Many parents choose to adopt after they’ve already had other children as a positive means both to expand the family and make a difference to a child in need. This can be a wonderful way of giving back. Many parents want to do something that will have a great positive impact on another person’s life, and adoption can be an amazing gift of love. Adoption can assure an older child knows what it is like to have a family that is his or her own for possibly the first time, and young children will never have to know what life is like not having that familial love.

Going it Alone
Nowadays, both men and women are choosing to adopt as single parents. The reasons for choosing adoption as a single person are as varied as the people who choose this path. However, now stable single individuals are welcomed by most adoption agencies just like couples. The average age to marry and start a family has increased in the US in the last few decades; more young men and women are becoming well established in their lives and careers before settling down or choosing not to marry at all until later in life. For whatever reason, a single person wishing to bring a child into the family should consider adoption.

Just as there are good reasons to consider adopting a child, there are also good reasons to consider giving a child up for adoption. One of the largest reasons biological parents choose to give a child up for adoption is because of timing issues. Sometimes, it simply is not the right time to bring a child into the world. This can especially be true for young parents and couples who aren’t yet established, through school, and so on. However, these teen parents often grow up fast during the months preceding a baby’s birth, and they may want to make sure the child has the best in life – including older and wiser parents. For any couple who does not feel old enough or mature enough to raise a child, adoption is a selfless and mature decision. Adoption is not an easy way out, but the ultimate gift of love: both to the child and the adoptive parents.

Some couples feel that even if they are stable in their relationship, it is not the right time yet to add a child to the family. Perhaps they feel as if they are not stable enough financially or emotionally to provide the kind of security as child needs. While adults can make due with the ups and downs of instability in life, this kind of upbringing can affect a child for life. Parents who realize they cannot give the child they are expecting the life they dream for them can choose adoption as a way to ensure the child has the life that parent would want to provide for them if they were able.

Health Issues
Sometimes health issues, especially with the parents, mean considering adoption may be a good option. Couples facing serious health crises or serious emotional crises may simply not feel in good enough health to provide for a child the way a child needs – especially a baby – while dealing with serious problems in life, such as death or serious illnesses like cancer.

The reality is, no matter whether a person would like to adopt or is considering an adoption for their coming child, choosing adoption will save a child’s life and allow that child to have a beautiful, happy life. The statistics about the way adopted children live are encouraging. Adoptive parents have clear ideas about the things they would like to do for and give to an adoptive child. While all parents strive to be the best they can be, adoptive parents are often very special people indeed. Likewise, to choose adoption for your child is a courageous sacrifice that can bless your child’s life for years to come.

jennifer-livingston-bioAuthor bio: Jennifer Livingston is a freelance writer who specializes on topics related to health, fitness and family. When she is not writing she likes to bake, read and travel.

Caring for the Caregiver at Fernandina Senior Center

Caring for the Caregiver at Fernandina Senior CenterFernandina Beach, FL – Taking care of a loved one is not easy. All too often the caregiver pays a high price and this can lead to all sorts of emotional and sometimes even physical problems. According to Aging Facilitator Barbara Bruce, caring for a loved one can be both a blessing and a burden, because we act out of love and often give 100 percent to our loved one and 0 percent for ourselves.

Bruce will be leading a Strategies for Caring for the Caregiver presentation at Nassau County Council on Aging (NCCOA) on March 19th from 2:30 to 4:30 p.m. at the Fernandina Beach Senior Center.

She invites the public to come experience tried and tested ways to care for themselves as the caregiver. These strategies take little time and provide great benefit to ourselves and the people we love and care for.

The public is invited to register for this free event by calling NCCOA at (904) 261-0701. The Senior Center is located at 1367 South 18th St across from Baptist Medical Center.

In its 41st year of service to senior citizens, Nassau County Council on Aging’s mission is to improve the lives of older adults with a special focus on those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. We accomplish this through our Senior Life Centers, providing vital programs, services and compassionate care designed to improve the health, independence and economic security of Nassau County seniors and their families. We are partially funded by government grants, foundation funding and donations from private individuals.

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Council on Aging Adds Evening Caregiver Support Group

Council on Aging Adds Evening Caregiver Support Group
Fernandina Beach, FL – Nassau County Council on Aging is pleased to announce a monthly evening support group for caregivers. The first meeting of the evening group will be held Tuesday, March 3rd from 6 to 7:30 p.m. at the Fernandina Beach Senior Center located at 1367 South 18th St, across from Baptist Medical Center.

Subsequent meetings of the evening group will be held the first Tuesday of each month beginning at 6 p.m. The evening meetings are open to anyone who is a caregiver for someone who is sick, elderly or disabled.

The evening group is in addition to the regular monthly daytime caregiver group that meets every third Thursday of the month from 2:30-4:30 p.m. at the Fernandina Beach Senior Center.

As our population ages, more and more people are taking on the role as caregiver. This can lead to increased stress, frustration, anxiety and depression. The key to being an effective caregiver is remembering to take of yourself before taking care of others.

Meetings for both caregiver groups are free of charge.

For more information, call (904) 261-0701. You may also email Dawna Cornelissen at dcornelissen@nassaucountycoa.org or Sue Keith at Skeith@nassaucountycoa.org.

In its 41st year of serving Nassau County Seniors, the Council on Aging is a 501(c)(3) non-profit agency, the highest level of charitable organization. We cheerfully deliver critical services to Nassau County seniors in five categories including Meals on Wheels, COA Transportation, Home Health Services, and Adult Day Health Care, while operating two Senior Life Centers. We are partially funded by government grants, foundation funding and individual donations.

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Grief Support Seminar at Council on Aging

Grief Support Seminar at Council on AgingFernandina Beach, FL – Is there an area of your life where you are not feeling fulfilled? Are you struggling with overwhelmingly sad feelings that come with suffering a loss in your life? Are you ready and willing to take action and yet are not sure how?

Come to Nassau County Council on Aging for a free personal development seminar where you can learn ways to create feelings of fulfillment and abundance with tips and strategies overcome those unpleasant emotions. This event will be held at the NCCOA Senior Center located at 1367 S. 18th St. in Fernandina Beach, FL on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015 at 2 p.m.

According to Janice Ancrum, NCCOA’s Executive Director, seminars on various topics of importance have a lot of value to the community, “We think a grief seminar is a great idea,” she said.

If you would like to attend, please call 815-748-4676 or email inspeakermode@gmail.com to register for this free event.

Barbara Ellison is a certified personal development trainer, She is certified by Peak Potentials Training, one of the fastest growing business and personal success training companies in North America. Part off their mission is to educate and inspire people to live a life of courage, purpose and joy. Barbara totally shares this mission believing that gender, age, ethnic background should not hinder anyone from living up to their own personal potential. She has studied extensively and has dedicated her life to bringing personal growth and fulfillment to men and women who have suffered loss through death, divorce, career,

In its 41st year of service to senior citizens, Nassau County Council on Aging’s mission is to improve the lives of older adults with a special focus on those who are vulnerable and disadvantaged. We accomplish this through our Senior Life Centers, providing vital programs, services and compassionate care designed to improve the health, independence and economic security of Nassau County seniors and their families. We are partially funded by government grants, foundation funding and donations from private individuals.

Pictured: Certified personal development trainer, Barbara Ellison gives her 98 year-old father Malcolm Lunan a hug. She will be teaching a free seminar on overcoming negative feelings on February 23rd at 2 pm at NCCOA’s Senior Center.

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Watts-Taylor Engagement Announced

Watts-Taylor Engagement AnnouncedAmanda Watts and Jonathan (JT) Taylor have announced their engagement.

The bride-to-be is the daughter of Lawrence and Judie Mackie (Fernandina Beach, FL), and Mark Watts (Charlestown, IN). She is a graduate of Brown Mackie College and employed as a Medical Assistant at University Surgical Associates.

The groom-to-be is the son of Herbert and Kathy Taylor (Lake Jackson, TX), and Stephanie Coleman (Hilliard, FL). Mr. Taylor is an associate on the Safety Team at Amazon.

The couple currently reside in Chattanooga, Tennessee, however the future bride and groom originally met when they attended Fernandina Beach High School.

The wedding will be held on June 12, 2015, with Kelley McCrimmon officiating. A reception at Pate’ Sucree on North Second Street will follow the ceremony, with a head-banging, rock performance by the band, Blistur.

Save the Date announcements will be mailed to family and friends before Valentine’s Day, with formal invitations to follow.

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Bullying Prevention Awareness Month

Bullying Prevention Awareness MonthOctober is Bullying Prevention Awareness Month – when individuals, families, schools, and communities across the nation help to raise awareness about bullying prevention.

Bullying remains a widespread problem with nearly 30 percent of adolescents in the U.S. reporting some experience with bullying, whether as the victim, the bully or both.

An infographic developed by the Health Resources and Services Administration (HRSA) highlights important facts and information about bullying prevention.

We know that there are a number of emotional effects that can result from bullying such as depression and anxiety. There are also physical effects as well, like headaches and stomachaches, and sleep problems. In a special supplement of the Journal of Adolescent Health supported by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in collaboration with the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA) we see how researchers continue to investigate the complex relationship between bullying and suicide.

But help is available. There are a number of exciting activities and initiatives that HHS will be launching during Bullying Prevention Awareness Month.

•Media Guidelines for Bullying Prevention. Media coverage of social issues can have a widespread impact on how communities understand and address problems. This guidance offers help to journalists, bloggers, and others to engage in responsible reporting on this important topic.

•Conversation Starters Mobile App. Later this month, SAMHSA will release a mobile app for parents to help start conversations with their children about bullying. This app will be available for both Android and Apple platforms.

•Bullying Prevention Training Center. This revamped section of stopbullying.gov provides a one-stop-shop for training materials for educators and community leaders.

Successful bullying prevention can’t happen alone! Across the country, youth are encouraged to talk about bullying by organizing bullying prevention social and educational events through youth organizations in their communities.

•The Department of Education has issued guidance in the form of a Dear Colleague letter that provides an overview of school districts’ responsibilities under the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act to address bullying of students with disabilities.

With all of these resources available, it’s a great time to consider how you can help raise awareness about bullying and take action to stop it.

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School has Started – Bullying Does Not Have To

School has Started Bullying Does Not Have ToThe U.S. Department of Health and Human Services stated that just because school has started doesn’t mean bullying has to start, too. Kids, parents and school officials can help to prevent or stop bullying. At HHS’ Administration for Children and Families, Dr. George Askew has some suggestions about how parents can help when their children say they are being bullied, “Listen to them. Try to know who their friends are. I know that’s much easier said than done. But really be actively engaged in who they are hanging out with and whether they are hanging out with anyone or are they alone – and if they are alone is that by choice or because they are being excluded.”

All children should know bullying is unacceptable – and how to get help.

Askew also says it’s important for adults to model how to treat others with kindness and respect.

I have often written about this subject and if you need some tips, check out my article, Discuss Bullying with Your Kids from May 2013.

Bullying is NOT just a school issue! The media’s attention has been focusing on the ex-NFL player Ray Rice and him knocking out his fiance’ on an elevator, but when you look at the statistics from Micah’s Place, “Children and teens who are victims of bullying or are bullies themselves have a much higher chance of being invlolved in situations of domestic violence as adults.”

They said in March 2014:

“If the headlines in newspapers around the country are any indication, bullying is one of the major problems facing Americas youth and schools today. There have been numerous studies conducted on the issue of bullying, and the numbers all tell the same story:

• Nearly 1 out of 6 students in grades 6-10 are bullied every year
• 6 out of 10 teens witness bullying every day
• 160,000 students miss school every day out of fear of bullying
• 1 in 10 students who drop out of school do so because of repeated bullying
• Bullying has been linked to 75% of all school shootings”

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month, so lets STOP the cycle now!!!
…but to break the cycle of domestic violence, we must also address the issue of bullying.

For this reason, Micah’s Place developed a curriculum for middle and high school students that focuses on bullying and dating violence. Led by a Micah’s Place staff member, students cover topics such as the effects of bullying, healthy and unhealthy traits of relationships, what to do when you encounter bullying, and the importance of talking to a trusted adult. Students also learn the warning signs of dating violence, and some safety strategies to use if they or a friend are involved in an abusive relationship.

For more information about their bullying and dating violence programs, please contact them at (904) 491-6364 or visit www.micahsplace.org.

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Raising a Confident Teen Requires Active Parenting

Raising a Confident Teen Requires Active ParentingIt is not uncommon for teens to test the waters as they struggle to find their own identities. Raising a Confident Teen Requires Active Parenting. Peer pressure and low self-esteem can lead to self destructive behaviors such as smoking or alcohol use. Society places a lot of expectation on our youth. Boys are expected to excel at sports and girls are expected to be pretty and thin. Girls mature faster than boys by about two years enhancing their need to feel attractive and become popular. A study released by SADD (Students Against Destructive Decisions) showed that self esteem is indeed an influential factor when dealing with peer pressure. Confident and positive teens are less likely to use drugs and alcohol, substances that teens often use to make them “feel good”.

Some activities instill more confidence than others. Familiarity breeds contentment. If your teen has goals that are important to them as an individual, but they excel in other areas, they may feel inadequate in pursing their personal goals. As parents, we have to find out what their priorities are, what is their list of interests, and help them find ways to improve those areas of their life. Permissive parenting does not work. You have to take the lead role and be the parent!

If your son, for example, wants to be an artist, but just happens to be awesome on the baseball field, consider enrolling him in a art class so he can pursue his challenging interests. Let him experience art! Being a teenager is tough. We need to permit them the personal experience of chasing their own dreams or aspirations. Just because your son is good at baseball doesn’t translate to him having a passion to play the game. Baseball for him comes easy, just like math comes easy to others.

Chores can also help your teen build their self esteem. As they age, they can – and should, handle more cross-gender responsibilities. Teach your daughter how to operate the lawn mower and change the oil on the family car. Teach your son how to cook and use the sewing machine. As they accomplish new tasks outside of their day-to-day routine, they gain more confidence.

The teen years are when we think we are supposed to step back and let them develop some independence, and that is true. Teens need to learn to make right and wrong choices. Let them learn from their own bad decisions and follow through with reasonable punishment when warranted. You want your kids to learn to trust themselves. Let them help make family decisions and listen to their opinions. Let them help establish their curfew, their allowance, when it is too late to be on the telephone, or how much time is too much time spend in front of the television or computer screen. If a few years they will be an active part of a society that has rules. While they are learning to become adults, teen appreciate boundaries. They know they are not yet ready to be set free! Having a curfew, or a limit on text messages, lets them be responsible for themselves, but within safe boundaries. As they comply, they are learning to make appropriate choices within a set of boundaries, and how to stay off of restriction.

As your teen shows good judgement by following the rules, you can loosen the reins a little. If too much freedom gets them into trouble, then you know they still need tighter rules. If you give them too much rope and they get tangled up in it, then it is time to shorten the rope. As you see they have mastered life using the shorter rope, go ahead and try it again. Eventually, they will graduate high school and move with full control of their lives… with no rope or net to catch them at all!

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Observing National Foster Care Month 2014

Observing National Foster Care Month 2014A Statement by HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius

Each May, National Foster Care Month serves as a reminder that there are children, youth, and families in our communities who require our collective support to achieve safety, permanence, and the tools needed to thrive in adulthood. This month is a time for us to acknowledge and express our gratitude to those who provide a helping hand to children in foster care, including professionals, foster parents, mentors, and others.

National Foster Care Month is also a time to reflect on how we can work together to better serve all children and ensure that every child has a safe, permanent family and that their well-being needs are met.

Nearly 400,000 children in the United States are in foster care. Most will be reunited with their families or find a permanent home through kinship care, guardianship, or adoption. However, it also is important to remember that each year approximately 24,000 youth “age out” of foster care without a permanent legal family.

Thanks to the Affordable Care Act, former foster youth who were in foster care when they aged out and who were enrolled in Medicaid or a waiver program while in foster care are now eligible for Medicaid until they reach age 26 in most cases.

As the federal agency charged with ensuring the welfare of children throughout this country, the Children’s Bureau, within the Administration for Children and Families of HHS, works with child welfare professionals and institutions year-round to discover, test, and promote best practices. In 2014, the Children’s Bureau funded a number of new initiatives, including:

Awards for agencies to test new strategies for recruiting resource families for children in foster care.

Grants to states, localities, and tribes to build the capacity of child welfare systems to prevent long-term homelessness among youth and young adults who have been involved with child welfare.

Funding for states, localities, and universities to develop initiatives that will improve the social and emotional well-being of children who are involved with child welfare and have mental and behavioral health needs.

The National Foster Care Month initiative, with this year’s theme of “Building Blocks Toward Permanent Families,” promotes awareness of children in foster care through a website and resources at https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth.

During National Foster Care Month, we encourage all Americans to seek out ways to support children in foster care and assist those who have dedicated themselves to improving the lives of these vulnerable children in need, including child welfare professionals, foster families, and mentors. Not every individual or family is in a position to foster a child in need, but everyone can play a role. To all who have given their time, love, and commitment to the children in foster care and their families, we thank you.

Visit the National Foster Care Month website to learn more: https://www.childwelfare.gov/fostercaremonth/

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