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20 ways to prepare youth for independent living

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Model these skills and have youth practice them on a regular basis. 


1. Help kids learn to express their feelings.

2. Does the youth know how to convey respect, caring, honesty and trustworthiness (e.g. saying thank you, not being rude, tone of voice, valuing others' opinions, not keeping people waiting, being inclusive, accepting responsibility for a mistake)?

3. Does the youth know how to greet someone and introduce himself?

4. Help young people learn social skills and develop at least one friendship.

5. Can the youth carry on a conversation and maintain comfortable eye contact?

6. Teach youth ways to have fun without spending lots of money.

7. Connect youth with a religious organization.

8. Start a Lifebook that tells the child’s story and contains important papers, pictures of family and other mementos.

9. Teach kids how often household chores need to be done to keep a house reasonably clean.

10. Show youth how to properly dispose of garbage, including recycling.

11. Teach youth what cleaning products and equipment to use for different jobs and how to use them, including how to change a vacuum cleaner bag.

12. Show youth the best places to shop for food, clothing and furniture.

13. Teach good kitchen hygiene, such as washing hands before preparing food and using safe practices to defrost and prepare food.

14. Teach youth how to read food labels for nutritional values and expiration dates.

15. Show youth how to tell if fruits and vegetables are fresh when shopping.

16. Teach kids how to use the store flyers and coupons and how to comparison shop.

17. Have youth plan and shop for one week's worth of meals within a budget.

18. Teach youth how to use utensils, an oven and a microwave.

19. Have the youth cook a meal using a recipe and be able to adjust it to feed more or fewer people.

20. Teach the youth to prepare at least five different meals.

The Business of Human Behavior: Gathering talent for the task ahead

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By Geoffrey C. Ammerman, MS Ed., Licensed Psychologist  


I’ve said it dozens of times. “We are all of who we are at work, and more so.” Every life experience; every bit of learning from our earliest recollection; our upbringing; our spirituality; our rational and irrational proclivities all come together with everyone else’s to become an 18 molar solution of humanity in the workplace. So, when there is a major or minor task to be completed, all of this humanity needs to be focused in a productive direction. All of this massive human diversity and all of the correlating behavioral need to be understood and utilized for the common good of the organization.


But how in heaven’s name do we do that?


The first thing that needs to be done when gathering talent for a task within the workplace is to establish a cultural foundation of the group. It needs to be genuine and meaningful to those attending. Depending upon the group, I will say something akin to, “I need all of your expertise and creativity for this task (whatever it is). We have the solutions in this group. We’re searching for gold, a vein of which is within each of us. Together we become the riches of the organization.” This opening statement serves two purposes. The first is to empower each participant and truly believe in them. The second is to also empower them to be the same with those they supervise, or mentor or serve. This allows for more freeing conversations and the ability to look at the issue with a greater optimism.


Model and reinforce the free exchange of ideas based upon the goal and mission of the group. I heartily recommend you say, “This group gathered for (name the mission or goal to be achieved) respects the dignity of every human being while here and when we leave this group.” It is one thing to think it, but it is an entirely different thing altogether to state it out loud and then to act the way a person so dedicated acts. The group will focus upon mutual respect, honesty, calm and assertive communication, all while establishing the objective behaviors every person expects to see as a result of this work and goal.


The defining of the tasks and expectations within the group, and thereby the organization, is accomplished through measurable and objective terms. It is a major accomplishment when a diverse group can agree on these terms and feel comfortable with them, regardless of their personal history or beliefs. The stage is then set to proceed with a given strategy. When these issues are addressed, when the natural ebb and flow of group dynamics occurs, that is forming, norming, storming and performing. Each and every one of us wants to be heard and wants to contribute in every way possible for the good of the organization.


When people have a drive to assist and to want to further the goals and reach of the organization, that is energy and drive capable of moving an organization in ways it had never thought possible. This creative energy, in my view, is the life’s blood of an organization. It needs to be nurtured and put to use in ways that further the mission and vision of any organization for it to grow and develop. This energy can lift us all to be able to see a bit over the horizon and capture a glimpse of the bright future an organization has.


Next time, I’ll cover a process of implementation and measurement, bringing many hands to one powerful task.


The relationship between learning and video games among children

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This article was contributed by Dave Edwards   


The popularity of video games has continued to rise over the years and the technology for games has advanced to a level that makes it an affordable form of entertainment for people of all ages. There are literally thousands of games available for almost instant play at any time. Unfortunately the negative aspects of video games often get much more media exposure than the positive effects. Scientists and researchers are discovering that there is a lot of potential for video games to be used as an educational tool. Here are some of the positive educational opportunities that video games can offer children of all ages. 


Video games teach problem solving 


When playing a game, there are set goals and incentives. Although the problems might not be the same as in real life, the basic premise is. Unless you solve the problem, you won't reach your goal. Also, the problem has to be solved in a way that is acceptable. This requires children to figure out and plan a strategy to reach their goals. Problem solving can lead to success in life. 


Emotional health 


Some simple games help children to relax and calm down. This is important because when children are upset they are not as open to learning and have a hard time paying attention to key concepts. Examples of simple games are the popular Angry Birds series or other games that can be played on even a smartphone. 


Memory and concentration 


Hidden object games have a lot of fans. They allow children to go on an exciting adventure with a great storyline while teaching concentration, memory skills and problem solving. Many games can be solved in as little as eight hours of game play, so they are great for those that are not into games that take weeks to conquer. Other games take longer and novice gamers can work their way up to longer ames. 


Overcomes learning obstacles 


No child is impossible to teach. Children learn differently. That is why some conventional methods of teaching do not lead to academic success. A one-size-fits-all approach results in some children being left behind. This can lead to a myriad of problems that can impact their success as adults. Video game learning can reach children who are having a hard time learning via books and tests. When learning is fun, children are not as resistant to it. Video games can also build skills that make learning via traditional methods less cumbersome and boring to the child.  


Makes history and other cultures more accessible 


While taking your children to another country might be cost prohibitive, teaching them about other cultures and history through video games is easy and inexpensive. There are many history-based games such as Civilization and, for older kids and teens, even games like Rome: Total War or the Age of Empires series. Children pick up on historical facts by listening to the narration and exploring through the game. There are countless games out there that pick a book or historical event and base the entire game on that. When history seems vivid and exciting, children and young adults retain facts and timelines more easily. 


Video games can help kids make friends  


Kids getting together to play video games fosters friendships through a shared hobby. If the game has educational aspects then you are fostering an environment of competitive learning. Even if children and teens live far apart, they can still communicate and play games together via the Internet. Headsets allow them to talk to each other easily as well. Kids who have trouble making friends can actually become more social through video games than they otherwise would be, despite the stereotype of gamers being socially isolated and awkward individuals. Bobby Kotick, of Activision Blizzard, is famous for making the popular Warcraft game franchise as popular as it is. The Warcraft series is played in real-time all over the world and has created many friendships. 


Helps children explore and learn job skills 


There are many games that can help children and teens explore different occupations. Games such as Surgery Simulator and Farm Simulator are extremely popular, often outselling even top action games. While these games cannot match real-life experience they can get kids thinking about their future and considering what they would like to do while gaining some of the knowledge and skills they need to make a successful career as adults.


Video games teach team building and empathy 


There are a lot of multiplayer games out there that force gamers to work as a team. At the same time, many story lines in games involve helping others achieve a goal or make their lives better. Kotick took the connection between empathy and video games one step further by creating the Call of Duty Endowment, which is a non-profit that assists soldiers returning home find jobs in the civilian sector and make an easier transition when coming home from overseas.


Maintaining a balance 


While video games can be a valuable educational tool, if used too much they can have some negative effects. The same can be said for almost anything that is used daily. Drinking too much water can be harmful as well but you don't see that being broadcast in the media. Parents can help children use video games in a healthy way by limiting game play and influencing what games are played at certain ages.


One of Kotick's latest contributions to the gaming world is unique parental controls that allow parents to limit and control game time with ease. Lashing out at a child or teen for a specific game often just causes contention. Providing them with another game or another stimulating activity can help them not take game play too far. Sometimes if a child or teen becomes obsessive about a game it is because they don't have enough going on in other areas of their life. 

ADHD support: A much needed helping hand

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By Helen Shelter


Attention-deficit disorders are getting a lot of press right now. The number of children in America diagnosed with these disorders is growing at an exponential rate – and it seems to be a peculiarly American problem. Arguments over whether the issue is biological – i.e. an issue caused by the chemical and physical properties of the child’s brain – or behavioral – i.e a situational disorder caused by underlying psychological issues which should be treated through therapy rather than drugs – rage back and forth. Some argue that ADHD doesn’t exist at all, that it’s a doctor’s get-out clause covering a cluster of other conditions, that it’s a convenient excuse for poor parenting and badly brought-up kids, that it’s a symptom of our over-protective, over-medicated society. Meanwhile, parents whose children have been diagnosed with attention-deficit disorders struggle to contend with all of this stigma while simultaneously dealing with problematic children. Whatever the truth of the issue, families afflicted with ADHD clearly deserve help and support – and that is precisely what KidsPeace exists to provide.


The Impact of ADHD 

The trend in America is to treat ADHD as a biological disorder, which should be treated with medication. Elsewhere in the world, it is considered to be a psychological disorder brought on by things like inadequate boundary-setting in early childhood, lack of exercise and the domestic situation. European guidelines advise against medicating children with ADHD and focus instead on therapeutic approaches. The American way is to give the affected child drugs like Ritalin. Both approaches appear to have a degree of success, rendering the ultimate cause of the disorder (or disorders) something of a moot point. What is clear, however, is that ADHD causes an immense amount of suffering to both the affected children and their families. They symptoms of ADHD cause children (and adults) to behave in a manner that society considers unacceptable. All sorts of negative labels, such as ‘flaky’, ‘procrastinators’, ‘unruly’ and ‘disruptive’ are applied to ADHD sufferers. These make it very hard for the affected child to get ahead in life. Making friends and prospering at school is nearly impossible with ADHD, which is stressful for the child and upsetting for the parent.


Parental Problems 

The parents of children with ADHD, however much they love their offspring, frequently find themselves frustrated. Studies show that the ADHD ‘mindset’ and the way in which children with ADHD are treated by society may influence criminal behavior, which begins as worrisome childhood disruptiveness. Parents of kids with ADHD learn to be incredibly in tune with their child’s moods and emotions, but the highs and lows of attention-deficit disorders take a huge toll on many parents’ patience. You have to develop an immense amount of tolerance and understanding for children that just can’t seem to grasp the basics of acceptable behavior, while simultaneously consistently following through with any rules you lay down for them. It’s a big ask, especially when you may have a job and a marriage to hold down, and/or other children to concentrate on. Furthermore, everyone else is either an expert on what you should be doing to tackle the condition, or thinks that your child’s behavior is your fault. Little wonder that so many parents slacken off in their efforts, or get frustrated and take it out on the child. These parents may need help even more than their suffering offspring.



KidsPeace provides breathing space – a much needed chance for children with ADHD to be somewhere non-judgemental, and get the help and support they need from trained professionals. It also provides a degree of validation for parents – reassurance that it’s completely normal to feel frustrated, it’s how you deal with that frustration which makes the difference. KidsPeace does not judge or denigrate you, and does not refer to your child as a ‘problem.’ Instead, they accept children for who they are, and try to help them adjust to a world which may not be quite so understanding. Most importantly of all, they help parents to understand that they are not alone, that there are others out there suffering like them, that they can help each other and that there is a lot more support and love out there for them should they need it. 

Super Bowl commercials ran gamut of emotions, sparked important conversations

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By Caren Chaffee


Each year, the televised airing of the Super Bowl is as much about the commercials as it is about football. Super Bowl XLIX was no exception to this; however, this year, viewers noted a definite shift in paradigm. While over the years, Super Bowl commercials have garnered attention through comedy, slapstick and adult innuendo, the 2015 commercials tended to evoke more poignant emotion from its viewers. In addition to marketing for the typical snack foods, candy, beverages and vehicles, there were also an array of commercials that addressed more serious topics: cyberbullying, domestic violence, the roles of fathers and mothers in their children’s lives, safety, friendship and meaningful relationships.


The shift indicates several dynamics: First, more than one company thought it was important to communicate with the public on some serious topics. Advertisers pay a great deal of money to get their messages out during the Super Bowl, and the fact that they spent their dollars to make poignant statements about important, serious subjects indicates that they felt it would be a good use of their advertising budgets. Second, as a society, we are impacted by this touch of humanity. In these days after the game, people are still talking about and commenting on some of the most emotional commercials. In a world where we are bombarded by messaging on an almost constant basis via television, radio, the internet and print, we are showing that we are impacted by deep, significant messages. And third, as a society, we are responsive to human need. Even as our communities seem to trend toward less “human” contact and more digital contact, we continue to be moved by and responsive to situations which demand the human touch.


The increase in serious, emotional commercials does not mean that the humor disappeared altogether, however. There were still plenty of opportunities to laugh during the commercial breaks. After all, it has long been known that experiencing a wide range of emotions sets humans apart from other species. In that manner, the 2015 Super Bowl commercials accomplished exactly what advertisers set out to do: Make the television viewers laugh, cry, comment and debate – and keep the important discussions going long after the game clock ran out.


Safer Internet Day is a time to re-establish good online practices with your teens

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It's Safer Internet Day, the perfect time to take a closer look at what your children are doing online. The popularity of smart phones makes it easy for your teen to stay connected at all times. But while being plugged in can certainly be convenient, even to communicate with mom and dad, it opens the door to many dangers, such as cyberbullying.


Check out the graphic below, submitted by Amy Williams, to get an idea of what your teenager might be encountering online. And take a few moments today to talk to your teen about being safe online, establish boundaries for mobile device usage and maybe even devise a contract about how computers and mobile devices will be used. It is a conversation you can't afford to avoid.


Mental Health First Aid training can teach adults how to help youth

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mental-health-firstaidLehigh County (Pa.) System of Care is partnering with Intermediate Unit 21 and the Safe Schools Healthy Students initiative to offer FREE Youth Mental Health First Aid training.


Youth Mental Health First Aid is primarily designed for adults who regularly interact with young people. The course introduces common mental health challenges for youth, reviews typical adolescent development and teaches a five-step action plan for how to help young people in both crisis and non-crisis situations. Topics covered include anxiety, depression, substance use, disorders in which psychosis may occur, disruptive behavior disorders (including AD/HD) and eating disorders.


If you know of someone who could benefit from this training, please share the information.

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