For Parents

For Parents

Resources for Parents:
PARENT'S TOOL BOX
What are you looking for?
As the parent or trusted adult of a youth, it can be difficult to understand the emotional rollercoaster that comes with being an adolescent. Providing a supportive, safe and trusting environment for your teen is important to building a strong bond and keeping lines of communication open. 

myHealth understands the important of this and developed this “Parent’s Tool Box” to give you some of the tools needed to address the many situates you and your youth will encounter as they grow and develop into happy, healthy, informed adults. This tool box contains:
  • PARENT EDUCATION: Interactive educational presentation for a wide variety of audiences, including the parents or trusted adults in the life of a teen or young adult.
  • TIPS & TOOLS: Being the best parent you can be
  • AGE MATTERS: Parenting Children By Age Groups
  • TEACHABLE MOMENTS: An Exercise in connecting with your kids on current issues facing them today. How would you react? How would they react? 
  • ISSUES TODAY: Issues facing teens and young adults today & their parents today

We encourage parents to visit myHealth clinics with their young person or attend one of the parent education programs, or call us at 952-373-5095 or email us with your questions at info@myhealthmn.org. Take a moment to browse this section for details on our educational presentations, review the Tips & Tools for Being Your Best Parent and get an understanding of what issues are faced each day by your youth.

All topics are adjusted to be age appropriate for the grade level and can be adapted to young people with disabilities. In addition, while presentations are LGTBQ inclusive, they can be specifically tailored to that audience.
Parent Education:

These presentations can be done for large or small groups, in your home, office or at one of many community and faith based locations. Take a moment to review the topics so you can decide which ones best fit for your needs!
Our Mission
TO IMPROVE THE HEALTH 
of our community by providing health services and information that supports teens and young adults in making responsible and well-informed decisions
Our Vision
ONE DAY ALL YOUNG PEOPLE 
will be educated and empowered to make responsible decisions regarding their health and relationships
Talk Early and Talk Often: It's Never too Soon to Begin the Conversation
For Parents w/Kids: Ages: Birth to 5 & 8-12, With a focus on puberty and development
60
Minutes
Clarifying and communicating family values, expectations and attitudes about sexuality. How to answer questions, identify teachable moments, and locate resources and developmental information.
Honey, We’re Not In Mayberry Anymore: Parenting in the 21st Century 
For Parents w/Kids: Grades 5-10
90
Minutes
How life is different for our kids (then vs. now), how to bring up tough topics and communicate about sexuality, chemical use, parties, cell phone use, establishing limits and setting boundaries.
Learning to Speak Their Language: Texting, Social Networking and Cyber Safety
For Parents w/Kids: Ages 13 & Up
60
Minutes
Review what's current and happening in the world of texting and social networking through Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Discuss parental concerns such as cyber bullying and “sexting,” explore effective ways to communicate with your teen about internet dangers and establish rules and limits around the internet and cell phone use.
Hooking Up is Not About Jumper Cables: Teen Sexuality and the New Dating Scene
For Parents w/Kids: Ages 13 & Up
90
Minutes
Review the current trends in dating and sexuality, discuss how to guide and support your teen as they learn about relationships. Identify family values and key messages around sexuality and how to effectively communicate with your teen.
Growing Up: Parents and Children Connecting
For Parents w/Kids Ages: Girls 9-12 & Boys 10-13
3
Hours
Learn about puberty and development in boys and girls, what's normal about growing up, learn communication techniques and create a communication tool box
Surviving the Stress of Parenting
For Parents w/Kids: Grades 1 - 12
90
Minutes
Parenting can leave many parents feeling helpless, ineffective, and overwhelmed. Trying to juggle the demands of work, home, and parenting can prove to be difficult and stressful. Excessive stress can damage physical and emotional health. This class is designed to help parents manage the stress they face each day in more healthy and appropriate ways. The focus will be on parenting with mindfulness, prioritizing, positive re-framing, self-care, and relaxation techniques that can be used on a daily basis to better manage and minimize stress.
My Kid Came Out, Now What?
For Parents w/Kids: Grades 8 & Up
90
Minutes
When your child shares information about their sexuality with you, you may feel proud, worried, confused, hopeful, angry, or a host of other emotions, all at once. A young person coming out to their family will hopefully be a wonderful, emotional experience that can bring the family closer together, and though it is a normal experience for many, many families, it may also leave you with many questions. Please join us to talk about supporting, loving and accepting your child on their journey through life.
Leaving the Nest
For Parents w/Kids: Grades 11 & up
90
Minutes
Preparing for your child to spread his or her wings and head off to college or move out of the house can be a time of mixed emotions—excitement, anxiety, hope and fear, all rolled into one. Join educators from myHealth to talk about issues pertinent to newly independent young people, such as sexuality, stress, sleep, safety, and drugs and alcohol. You can’t go to college with them, but you can ensure they are prepared when they leave.
Parent Toolbox:
Tips & Tools for being your best parent

As a parent you are the primary role model for your children. Watching your teen or young adult navigate the ups and downs of this time in their lives can be just as difficult for you as it is for them. You need the right skills and tools to keep yourself grounded and ready to answer the tough question and create a nurturing stable environment. Your adolescent or young adult may not always want to hear what you think is “right or wrong” with their personal choices. The best way to avoid those awkward conversations is to lay the ground work early, give them the tools and skills to make smart well informed choices on relationships and health and mental health care. Part of that is to let them know when we are impressed with their healthy choices.
 Make Sure They Feel Involved in Their Well-Being
  • They need to know who they are: Discuss your family health history, both mental and physical, with your child
  • Encourage Responsibility:
  1. When appropriate let them make their own appointments and fill out any forms.

  2. Review the medications your young person is taking. Make sure they know the names of their medications and when and how they are to take them. Ask them to set up a schedule and reminder system.

  3. If you have health insurance, let them carry a card and understand co-pays and coverage facts
  • Respect their Privacy: Remind teens that they should spend some time alone with the healthcare provider to learn how to discuss personal matters without a parent’s input. The parent will be asked to join later if they’d like.
  • Be a good role model: Take care of yourself, make healthy choices and attend preventive health care appointments.
Be a Proactive and Prepared Parent
  • Build confidence: Steer teens towards positive risk taking behaviors i.e. volunteering or trying out for a play or team. Doing something new that is out of their comfort zone can have similar endorphin effects to engaging in negative risk-taking behavior, with the bad consequences.

  • Get out in front of trouble: Review scenarios of possible situations that may come up (i.e. pressure to have sex). Help them practice the words or actions that can get him/her out of a negative circumstance. When brains practice, they get “wired” to know how to react.

  • Be prepared: Read about parenting teens. See resources below.
Get Connected!

Parent-child connectedness is defined as an emotional bond between a parent and a child that is both mutual and sustained over time. There are seven specific parent behaviors included in parent-child connectedness. These are:
  • Provide for basic physiological needs (food, shelter, clothing)

  • Build and maintain trust (teen can always count on someone)

  • Demonstrate love, care and affection (be your child’s biggest Super Fan)

  • Share an activity (find something you both enjoy and do it together)

  • Prevent, negotiate and resolve family conflicts (role model, support & guide)

  • Establish and maintain structure (provide clear expectations/rules, monitor activities, discipline as needed and provide positive reinforcement)

  • Communicate effectively (demonstrate how to receive and send messages effectively).
When these things exist, parent-child connectedness actually protects young people from the many challenges and risks facing them in today's world, including chemical use, depression, eating disorders, violence, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted infections. Teens report that they do or don’t participate in certain behaviors because of how they believe their parents will react.
Age Matters: Parenting Children By Age Groups

Just like hitting milestones such as learning to walk or read and write, young kids hit important milestones in how they see themselves, feel about their bodies, and how they build relationships with family and friends. Understanding how your kids grow and learn, will help you build on those positive experiences the can build a healthy self-image and foster their emotional and physical health.
Highlights of the pre-adolescent years:
This is when you can lay the ground work for your children to be ready for the rollercoaster that is adolescents.
Parenting children ages 0-12 (pre-adolescent)
  • Nurture your child: Be his/her number one fan. Provide unconditional love.
  • Meet their needs: From infancy thru the pre-teen years, supply the basics like food, shelter, clothing and cleanliness (helps them stay healthy) – and of course, affection.
  • Give the facts: Use correct terms to describe body parts, even if you are embarrassed or fear they are too young to understand. They are just words and you want your child to feel comfortable and empowered to use them.
  • Share your values & expectations clearly and frequently.
  • Role model responsible use yourself, i.e. alcohol or prescription medications.
  • Start with young children and reinforce throughout their growing years.
  • Provide accurate information about chemical use and brain development.
  • Be prepared. Learn about the effects of about alcohol and other drug use at a young age and what resources are available for teens.
Highlights of adolescent development:
By understanding those areas of life that become the focus in your adolescent's life you will be better prepared to react, encourage and build life skills. Parents can help their children develop into healthy, competent and confident teens and young adults by meeting their needs, guiding and encouraging them to explore the world safely.
Parenting children ages 13-15
  • Social: peers are a major focus, seek more independence, may be poor judge of consequences, lack future thinking skills, can get caught in group pressure situations.
  • Emotional: mood swings, self-conscious and self-centered, worried about being “normal" tend to overreact to emotions a lot like a 2 year old.
  • Physical: growth spurt continues, increased muscles and coordination.
  • Sexual: puberty, increased hormones, infatuations and crushes, stronger sense of caring and loving relationships, less likely to ask questions about sexuality issues but think about it a lot.
  • Intellectual: increased empathy for others, trying to determine own morals and values, brain is fragile and susceptible to influences, increased abstract thinking.
 Parenting children ages 16-18+
  • Social: Peers are less of an influence, increased independence and confidence, likes to express personal style and opinions.

  • Emotional: Higher self-esteem than earlier teens, can analyze own feelings, can have a caring and loving relationship.

  • Physical: Females may reach adult height, most males continue to grow, look more like adults, increased muscle mass and coordination.

  • Sexual: Puberty changes are winding down for most, aware of own sexual orientation, attractions to others are strong, hormones are surging, are very aware of all the sexual messages in the media Intellectual: learning skills for self-sufficiency, may get a job, learn to drive, the brain is still very susceptible to influences. There are many social, emotional and physical changes that occur during this period of time. See resources below to read more about your teen’s developmental stages. It is important to note that during these years, the brain grows and changes rapidly.
TEACHABLE MOMENTS

What is a teachable moment? It’s that moment when you can set the path for how you a child, teen, or young adult sees the world or themselves based on your reaction to a specific scenario.
Take a moment to read the following scenarios and see how you would react by answering the following questions
  • What is your initial (gut) reaction?
  • What family value, if any, was compromised?
  • What is a key message you want to give your child in this situation?
  • What methods/ words would you use to address your child in this situation?
Dating: A parent of a fifth grader calls you for advice: “My son wants to go on a ‘date.’ When I said no, he said, ‘you're SO old fashioned, and besides, all the other kids have been “dating” and their parents are okay with it.’” The parent wants to know if he’s “just out of touch.”

Movies: Your child’s new best friend is having a 12th birthday party. The plan is to go to an R movie, after pizza. What do you think? What do you do?

Clothes: Your 13 year old daughter has been invited to her first co-ed party. She walks down the steps to get in the car, scantily clad in clothes you’ve never seen before. What do you do?

Video Games: You just learned about a video game your child was playing at a friend’s house. It contained “extreme violence, profanity, and sexual content”. What do you do?
9th-12th Grade

Dance: You have helped your 15 year old prepare for the upcoming school dance. He/she doesn’t have a date, but is going with a co-ed group to dinner and the dance. It’s the night before the event when your child springs on you plans for an after party with a sleepover. What do you think? What do you plan to do?

Summer Fun: Your 16 year old has been invited to a weekend away with a co-ed group of friends to a family cabin. You do not know this family. You aren’t familiar with this group of friends. Your high schooler really wants to go. What do you think? What do you plan to do?

Hot Tub: Your 15 year old has a group of friends over. They all planned to be in the hot tub on a cool fall evening. When you decide to check on the group, outside, you discover your teen with a “friend” making out in the hot tub. There is no sign of any other kids. What do you think? What do you do?

Laundry: You were switching loads of laundry when a 3 pack of condoms fell on the floor. You have 15 & 17 year olds, neither of whom are in a steady relationship. You’re not sure who these belong to. What do you think? What do you plan to do?

Chemicals: You just learned that your teen’s best friend was caught by the police this weekend and given a citation for alcohol consumption. What do you think? What do you plan to do?

Sexual Behaviors: Your 17 year old has been dating the same person for 1 year. He/she asks you “when do you think it’s okay for someone to have sex?”
Issues facing teens and parents today

My child’s sexual orientation

Whether you’re wondering if your child is gay or not, or you know this to be a reality, you may be feeling overwhelmed with emotions. You’re not alone. Learn some of the tips for to talking with your child. It is important to provide your child with love, care and respect as you discover what this means to you and your family.
You might wonder what is LGBTQ? Basically, it’s lots of letters indicating a variety of sexual orientations including:
  • Lesbian
  • Gay
  • Bisexual
  • Transsexual
  • Questioning
Most young people start to identify the people they are sexually attracted to in their early teen years. Some will say “they knew all their life” while others aren’t sure for many years to come. One out of ten people are LGBTQ. One out of four families know someone who identifies as LGBTQ.

“Coming out” or telling their parents that they are gay may be stressful for one person, while it may not be for another. Many young people worry their parents will not listen to them, ask them if it is a phase, try to change them, or even kick them out of the house. We encourage parents to consider how to best react in this situation and how to be there for their adolescent. If you’re wondering about your child’s sexual orientation, you could either ask about it or decide to wait and see- you know your family’s communication abilities better than anyone. The following resources will help you better fully understand this topic and how to sort out the emotions you may feel.
Teen Brain Development
In addition to a teenager’s many hormonal changes, the brain goes through dynamic changes during adolescence.

From ages 10 to the mid 20’s, brain development is in the second busiest growth spurt of a person’s lifetime. During this time, the brain develops permanent nerve connections or “wiring” that will affect a person for the rest of her life.

It’s a common mistake adults make, to think that teens have adult-like brains since their bodies look that way. The fact is teen brains are underdeveloped and changing rapidly. Teen brains are built in a way that causes poor impulse control, a lack of future thinking abilities, poor judging of emotions and the tendency to engage in risk taking behaviors, whether positive or negative.

Teens need their parents now more than ever, even though they frequently say they’ve “got it under control." The range of emotions and changing moods is unpredictable, and yet, it can they be very creative in how they express themselves. Remember each teen is unique, these changes vary from person to person and personality to personality.

While this brain development is happening, as parents, you need to step in and provide the support, guidance and tools that teens needs to negotiate potentially unsafe situations i.e. trying chemicals or driving too fast. Parents can steer their teens towards healthy, positive and stimulating behaviors that will wire their brains for a healthy adult life.
Bullying

Bullying is a form of abuse and something that teens and young adults face regularly. Research shows that about half of students are bullied at some point in their educational career and 10% are bullied on a regular basis. Both bullying and being bullied are serious issues that can and should cause parents concern. As parents, you can stop bullying. You can understand the signs of bullying and demonstrate proper behaviors and open the doors of healthy communication between you and your family.

myHealth is here to help. If your child is being bullied, we offer mental health services for teens and their families. Take a moment to review the following links and learn more about bullying, how is impacts your child and what to do if you think your child is being bullied or is a bully.
Cybersafety
Teaching children and teens to be safe is more challenging in the 21st century than ever before. In this era of the internet, social media, text messaging, Snapchat and Instagram, safety messages about talking to strangers, looking both ways when crossing the street and staying in the neighborhood take on a whole new meaning.

While technology may seem daunting, it also has advantages. It’s not about denying access to cyber tools, it is about teaching your teen how to navigate them safely. They are part of day-to-day life. How people play, work and communicate is based on technology. Keeping your teen safe while using the internet isn’t an overwhelming task. Stay current on technology yourself, teach them self respect and boundaries when it come to their interaction with others and find activities you can do together while “surfing the web”
Did you know?
  • 95% teens ages 12 to 17 are online -- half of them daily*
  • 78% of teens now have a cell phone, and almost half (47%) of those own smartphones.*
  • 81% of teens are using some type of social media, with Facebook being #1*
  • 91% post a photo of themselves, up from 79% in 2006.*
  • 71% post their school name, up from 49%.*
  • 62% post their relationship status.*
  • 24% post videos of themselves.*
*Statistics are from the Pew Research Center study on teens and technology

 By staying on top of the latest technology trends and monitoring the way your teens use technology, you can help guide them away from risky online behavior and develop a stronger parent-teen relationship. At myHealth we encourage parents to rethink the way they deliver their safety messages. In lots of ways, these are the same as when we grew up. The messages just need to be adapted for young people who understand the cyber world and lingo in a way adults are still trying to comprehend.

Websites You Should Know
    • Facebook
    • Twitter
    • IM (Instant Messenger)
    • Tumblr
    • SnapChat
    • FourSquare
    • Live Journal
    • Reddit
    Talk about Cybersafety
    • Start early. Start with basic information and add to it as children get older. Remember, children watch and learn through observation, so if a parent is watching R or X rated videos, chances are young brains will learn something from it i.e., violence and sex are portrayed together a lot in adult films – is this what you want your child to mimic as normal behavior?

    • Initiate conversations. Don’t wait for questions. Take advantage of teachable moments. Role model responsible behaviors and use. How much screen time do you engage in? Do you text message and drive? Remember, children are always watching.

    • Share your values and expectations clearly and frequently. What is a key message you’d like your child to understand about technology?

    • Keep the computer in a public place where the screen can be seen by anyone who walks by.

    • Remind children the internet is not a safe place to “talk to strangers”. It’s the same message, just a different neighborhood than where parents grew up.

    • Demonstrate how anything placed in cyber world is permanent, including texts, photos, videos, etc. Reputations are at stake here.

    • Teach young people to never impersonate someone else. They should understand how easy this is for others to do. Can you really trust what strangers say or post as photos?

    • Discuss healthy relationships. Teach your child how to effectively communicate with people. While texting or IMing may be the most popular technique, it’s important to actually talk to people and LISTEN to their voices and watch their body language to really learn what another person is really trying to say.

    • Talk about cyberbullying. Sexting, or posting explicit sexual messages, videos or photos by mobile phone is a harassing behavior and is against the law in some states. If someone receives harassing messages, these need to be reported to a parent as soon as possible.

    • Be clear and consistent about what internet sites are allowed or not. Set up consequences with the child should these rules be ignored. This is similar to the message “stay close to home”.

    • Set limits on time spent in front of screens. Recent studies show children and teens spend up to 44 hours per week in front of screens- more than a full time job.

    • Know who your child “hangs out with”. Pay attention to “friends” online and how much phone calling/texting is occurring (easily done on cell phone bills). This is not about “trust” as a teen would say, but it’s about SAFETY and being a parent. It’s a parent’s job to know who his/her child spends time with.
    ALCOHOL AND DRUGS

    The good news is fewer teens are using chemicals than they were in the 70’s and 80’s. The bad news is there are more drugs available than ever before. Some adults think experimenting with chemicals is a right of passage for adolescents. This is not true. Anyone who knows about the developing brains of 10-25 year olds would understand why this is risky.

    It’s time for parents to do their homework and start talking to their children sooner rather than later! Please refer to the resources listed below for further information about chemicals. Statistics tell us that the #1 reason kids choose to not use chemicals is because they don't want to disappoint their parents.

    The Bad News
    Alcohol, marijuana, and prescription drugs are the most commonly used substances 

    The Good News
    Research shows fewer teens use chemicals now than when their parents were growing up.
     Physical Signs
    • Smell of alcohol, marijuana, or tobacco
    • Slurred speech, impaired coordination, disorientation
    • Red, glassy eyes or dilated pupils
    • Vomiting or shakes
    • Extremely difficult to awaken
    • Respiratory or digestive problems
    • Physical injuries
    • Marked change in weight and/or appetite
    • Excessive yawning and sleepiness, change in sleep patterns
    • Memory lapses and/or concentration difficulties
    Behavioral Signs
    • Curfew violations and/or constant defiance of rules
    • Excessive or last-minute requests to sleep at a friend's house
    • Frequent use of eye drops and breath mints
    • Withdrawal from family and/or friends
    • Pronounced mood swings; increased irritability and/or hostile outbursts
    • Changes in friends and/or extracurricular activities
    • Tardiness, truancy at school
    • Decreased academic performance
    • Changes in personal appearance (i.e., dress, hygiene, grooming)
    • Overly preoccupied with privacy or secrecy; lying
    • Suspected of vandalism and/or stealing
    • Talks positively about alcohol or drug use
    Other Indicators
    • Alcohol, medications, money or valuables missing from the home
    • Alcohol or drug paraphernalia stashed in pockets, drawers, etc. (i.e., a medicine bottle prescribed to another person; empty alcohol containers/baggies/light bulbs/aerosol cans; tweezers, matches and lighters)
    • Over-the-counter medications in adolescent's possession (i.e., Robitussin, Nyquil, etc.)
    • Adapted from www.TonkaCares.org 
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