Helping Children Deal with Grief
Resources for Dealing with Grief
Grief is often characterized by sadness, emotional pain, and introspection in adults. However, children’s grief reactions differ according to age and developmental level:
Preschool - Regressive behaviors, decreased verbalization, increased anxiety
Elementary - Decreased academic performance, attention/concentration, and attendance; irritability, aggression, and disruptive behaviors; somatic complaints; sleep/eating disturbances; social withdrawal; guilt, depression, and anxiety; repeated re-telling of the event
Middle and High School - Decreased academic performance, attention/concentration, and attendance; avoidance, withdrawal, high risk behaviors or substance abuse, difficulty with peer relations, nightmares, flashbacks, emotional numbing or depression
Grieving is a normal response to loss, but may require some support. Here are some resources that may help you and your child:
1. Facts and tips on addressing grief...broken down by age groups
National Association of School Psychologists resource
2. Insightful podcast (with transcript) on the intersection of grief and worship
Christian Counseling and Educational Foundation resource
3. Consider ways to help grieving children into your community, offering them space to grieve their losses and find comfort and hope in Jesus.
4. It might be hard enough for adults to go through the grieving process — one thing that could make it even tougher is to try to help children walk through it as well. Here are some of the best Christian books to help children answer the questions they have with appropriate age designations.
List of Christian Books on Grief for Adults and Children
70 Percent of Kids In Sports Quit By Their Teens—Here’s How (and Why) To Keep Them In the Game
There are so many benefits of playing sports in childhood, including boosts in physical health and social and emotional skills. However, about 70 percent of kids stop playing sports by age 13, says a poll from the National Alliance for Youth Sports. The reason? “It’s just not fun anymore.”
Amanda Visek, a professor at George Washington University, has designed a comprehensive research project to map out what kids think is “fun” or “not fun” about playing sports—and the answers are far from what adults tend to expect. Rather than defining fun as goofing off, the young sports players in the research study defined fun in 81 different ways, and the three most important categories were “being a good sport,” “positive coaching,” and “trying hard.”
Visek also researched what kids feel takes the fun out of sports, and some of the most prevalent answers had to do with unwanted parent behaviors (such as putting too much pressure on athletes, or yelling at coaches or officials during games) and unwanted coaching behaviors.
Julianna Miner, a parent of three, agrees that pressure from adults is a major factor in kids quitting sports. She writes in the Washington Post, “Our culture no longer supports older kids playing for the fun of it. The pressure to raise ‘successful’ kids means that we expect them to be the best. If they’re not, they’re encouraged to cut their losses and focus on areas where they can excel.”
Unfortunately, this attitude leads to many kids missing out on crucial life skills that can be developed from being on a sports team—and these can be even more important for girls. “Sports, and particularly team sports, tend to give women and girls things that they otherwise have a hard time getting, like resilience, grit, knowledge of teamwork, knowledge of leadership,” argued Debora Spar, a professor at Harvard Business School.
So how can parents prevent kids from being driven away from sports?
One of Visek’s top tips, as told to the Way of Champions podcast, is to really “listen to what the kid wants … fostering their own sense of autonomy, giving them choice. Not making them play soccer or football because you played it, not living vicariously through our own kids.” In addition, she recommends keeping things positive, providing encouragement and support, and asking kids what they’re learning and what is rewarding about playing.
Miner also points out that “There is a clear push for kids to specialize and achieve at the highest possible level,” even though “early specialization can be harmful in terms of long-term injuries, and it does little to increase one’s overall chances of later collegiate or professional success.” Visek agrees that “sports specialization gets you nowhere fast.”
So rather than worrying about your child finding the best sport and sticking with it until they become masters, a more beneficial approach would be to let them try new things for the fun of it, and to think about many different ways to stay active and practice a range of movements.
Originally written by Joanna Eng and published here:
7 Calming Anger and Anxiety Coping Skills For Tweens
Is your kid old enough now that they’d just roll their eyes if you tried to suggest something like, “Let’s take five deep breaths together” when they’re upset? It’s time to learn some new coping mechanisms that are more age appropriate, and that cut through the resistance when they’re clearly angry or anxious but just don’t want your help—or don’t want to admit they do.
These seven options help your older child deal with negative emotions in healthier ways. With these more advanced coping mechanisms, your kid is less likely to feel like they’re being patronized or misunderstood—and more likely to feel better.
7 Options for Helping an Upset Teen/Tween Cope
1. Provide hands-on tools, without the pressure
Sometimes kids don’t want to admit they want your help, because the added pressure from you stresses them out even more. Try suggesting a hands-on calming activity, then step away so they can decide to try it without you watching them or lecturing about its benefits.
Say: “Here, I left some bubble wrap and these new drawing pens here for you. Just in case you need a good distraction.”
Then give them some space and quiet. After they’ve calmed their nerves or anger a bit, you can see if they’re ready to talk.
2. Tell an inner secret
Start telling your child about a time when you had a really strong emotion and what you did about it. It helps demonstrate that you’re human and you’ve dealt with difficult things too.
Say something like: “Once I was really angry at your dad and just wanted to get away and think, so I ended up walking all the way across town, but then I was so far away and so hungry that I had to call him to come pick me up.”
3. Literally change the soundtrack
Music can be a great calming or mood-boosting tool, but you might not know what your child wants to listen to. So try to use a little humor and distraction to get them there: Start playing a song that you like but you know your kid will make fun of, or a goofy song that your kid loved as a toddler, or even a cheesy “relaxing ambiance” video.
Say: “I know you probably hate this song, but it’s what I listen to when I’m feeling down. Here, change it to whatever you want.”
4. Fact-check negative thoughts
If your child’s brain is blaring something emotion-based like, “I’m going to make a fool of myself during my presentation today,” of course they’ll feel nervous and upset going into their day. But it’s important to remember that their thoughts are not facts.
Say: “What evidence do you have for or against that thought? Let’s make a list of only the facts.”
5. Play “What’s the worst that could happen?”
This is another way to give your child a reality check, and can also provide a creative outlet for them to express themselves. Once they have a grasp on the worst outcome that they’re afraid of, they can realize that not only is that probably not going to happen, but even if it did happen, they’d survive.
Say: “Sometimes when I’m feeling anxious it helps when I ask myself: What’s the worst thing that could happen? And then I write down or voice-record an over-the-top story about how horrible everything could go. Feel free to share it with me if you want, or just toss it.”
6. Switch parent/child roles
After a child has gotten some space and calmed down, one way to talk about how to improve behavior next time is to ask hypothetical questions and even try a little role play. This kind of prompt can help them get out of their own head and see the bigger picture.
Say: “If you were the parent and I was the kid, what would you do if I came home and started yelling and pushing my brother and slamming the doors, and wouldn’t tell anyone what was wrong?”
7. Model setting a concrete goal
If your teen or tween seems stuck in an unhealthy pattern of expressing (or not expressing) their emotions, it could help if they set a specific goal or intention, like only saying kind words to a sibling. But take it one day at a time to start.
Say: “Why don’t we each set a goal for the day, and we can check in with each other later? My goal is to look at people when I’m talking so I don’t have to yell across the house. So feel free to remind me if I forget.”
At CCS, we endeavor to create a comfortable and enjoyable approach to education for every grade level.
Originally written by Joanna Eng and published here:
Teaching Kids How to be Humble
The growth of humility in your child's life will lead to positive development in many other areas of their character and relationships.
Scripture shows us which characteristics are most important in our lives and the lives of our children. Based on scripture, one characteristic that is foundational to the development of all other healthy relational and developmental traits in the life of a well-adjusted, connected, and genuinely loving child is humility. Teaching kids how to be humble in our world is critical to positive child development.
Roots of Humility
When you meet a genuinely humble person, you instinctively understand that they care about people around them regardless of race, sex, or socioeconomic status. Interestingly, the word humility comes from the word humus. If you have a garden, you know humus is the part of soil that is necessary for the growth and strengthening of plants. It provides the environment for deep-rooted growth.
Scriptures on Humility
There are many scriptures on humility throughout the Bible. Scripture emphasizes the importance of humility and its ability to create that deep-rooted growth in many places. James writes that God gives grace to the humble and opposes the proud (James 4:6). The Bible also says it is our responsibility to humble ourselves under God’s mighty hand and to foster a humble heart (1 Peter 5:6).
Importance of Humility For Our Kids
Where humility is lacking, selfishness, anxiety, pride, and insecurities abound. Teaching kids to understand their thoughts, longings, desires, and emotions helps them observe why they do the things they do. More importantly, establishing a life or culture of prayer in your home is an excellent starting point to soften the heart and train it toward humility.
Humility in a child’s life includes learning to:
- serve others
- take time for self-reflection
- desire growth
- be honest
- see life through a lens of invitations rather than inconveniences
- see endless possibilities to love others rather than criticize
- want the best for others
- manage emotions
7 Tips For Teaching Kids How to Be Humble
Humility leads a child toward becoming a contributor rather than a consumer as they grow and mature. Here are seven quick tips:
1. Foster a Culture of Listening First
Help your children understand that people crave to be known. Learn to discern the core desires in others.
2. Learn To Exercise and Grow in Empathy Toward Life
Parents can begin to teach humility from the time their children are infants.
3. Foster a Mindset That Sees Invitations Rather Than Inconveniences
Opportunities to engage and serve others can be embraced as invitations rather than dreaded as inconveniences.
4. Practice a Culture of Gratitude
Look around as a family and intentionally talk about what you’re thankful for.
5. Model and Encourage a Culture of Respect
Respect each other’s unique ideas, emotions, and interests by noticing and learning to live well together in those differences.
6. Fuel Others Through Words of Encouragement
Words can be life-giving. Children can learn to genuinely encourage others without feeling the threat of losing their own value in the process.
7. Celebrate Opportunities to Serve
Map out ways you can serve within your family and in your neighborhood, school, or community. Take time to celebrate a culture of service in your home.
The growth of humility in your child’s life will lead to positive development in many other areas of their character and relationships. Take time each day to model and invest in this trait and teach your kids to be humble as you engage with them.
At CCS, we use our Sea Star Program to support and encourage qualities such as humility at school and at home.
This post was originally written by Danny Huerta PsyD, MSW, LCSW, LSSW and published here: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/teaching-kids-how-to-be-humble/
Why Friendship is Important for Children
“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.’” – C.S. Lewis
Friendships have a fascinating impact on our lives, some positive, and some negative. Friendships can motivate and can distract. As our kids head back to school (online or in-person), some kids are looking forward to seeing their friends and some are dreading the feelings of rejection. The pandemic has offered some new challenges for maintaining friendships, and the school year is compounding some of the challenges. Keep in mind that you may need to be creative in helping provide moments of connection for your child.
Take some time to come up with a list of ideas for connection this coming school year. This is a time for problem-solving together to help your child be connected with his or her friends. Loneliness continues to be on the rise, as well as boredom, so this is going to be an important and intentional task you take on with your family.
Listed below are the five reasons friendships are essential in your child’s life. Help your child understand the importance of choosing well when it comes to friends.
1. Friendships Build Beliefs
How have your friendships impacted you? What is a healthy friendship and unhealthy friendship? Beliefs are the driving engine to our thoughts, emotions, and actions. Friendships can have a profound influence on what we believe about ourselves and the world around us. The Bible tells us in Proverbs 22:24-25, “Make no friendship with a man given to anger, nor go with a wrathful man, lest you learn his ways and entangle yourself in a snare.”
Take some time to talk about ways friends have impacted your beliefs and ways friends have impacted your child’s beliefs. Friends can fuel internal and external action, but it’s important to understand in which direction (Proverbs 4:23).
2. Friendships Lead Us Toward Growth
The second reason why friendship is important is that it can lead us toward growth, connection, and personal improvement. On the other side of that coin, however, it can lead us toward personal destruction, emotional pain, and distractions if we are not careful with who we choose to be our friends. Friends influence our children within three core needs that we all are hard-wired to have.
Every person has three core needs:
A Sense of Belonging – Ask, “Do you feel like you belong or that you have to find ways to fit in with your friends?”
A Sense of Worth – You can ask, “Do you feel worthwhile when you’re with your friends, or do you have to find ways to make yourself feel worthwhile around your friends?” to be constantly guessing whether they care about you or not?”
A Sense of Competence – You can ask, “Do your friends build you up or encourage you, or do they constantly put you down?”
These three areas help a child discover their identity and will form a foundation for their identity and character. Some kids may think that rebelling or asserting independence means growth; however, it simply means eventual unhappiness, anger, disappointment. Ask your child, what do you see in this friend or these friends? How are they contributors or builders in your life as you are in theirs?
3. Friendships Give the Opportunity to Help Build Contributor Skills Rather Than Consumer Skills
Every relationship has some give and take. One of the reasons why friendship is important is that, as friends, our kids can contribute to the growth and encouragement of their friends. 1 Thessalonians 5:11 instructs us, “Therefore encourage one another and build one another up, just as you are doing.”
Teaching kids how to be contributors in their friendships—helping each other in times of need, encouraging each other, and praying for each other—can help them form solid foundations for friendships and relationships later in life. Teach them to become aware of how their friends influence them and how they influence friends around them.
4. Friendships Can Encourage Our Walk with Christ
Have you ever had a good friend who was closer than a brother to you and challenged you to have a deeper relationship with Christ? Children, especially, tend to become like the people with who they spend time. If our kids are spending time with friends who are believers in the Lord, they will likely begin to grow in maturity in their relationship with Christ. However, if their friends are not followers of Christ, they may influence our children into wrongdoing and wrong thinking.
Ephesians 5:6-7 tells us, “Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience. Therefore do not become partners with them.” As parents, we need to encourage our children to forge strong friendships with fellow believers in Christ.
5. Friendships Can Pave the Way for Solid Relationships as an Adult
The way our kids see the world around them all starts with attachment as a baby. Newborns become attached to their parents as a matter of survival. If attachment with parents is interrupted, the child is at higher risk for adverse events later in their lives.
As babies grow into children, their attachment begins to shift from their parents to their friends. In much the same way as the bond with their parents, healthy attachment in friendships helps our children grow. These healthy attachments will also have an impact on all other relationships, including the relationship with their future spouse. If children do not form healthy friendships in their formative years, the odds of having relationship issues later in life significantly increase.
At Coastal Community School, creating friendships as part of our community is part of our core mission and values.
Originally published by Focus on the Family: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/back-to-school-why-friendship-is-important-for-children/
By Danny Huerta, PSYD, MSW, LCSW, LSSW. © 2020 by Focus on the Family and Danny Huerta.
Motivating Your Kids to Read
Sometimes getting kids to read can be difficult, but the time is well spent because reading can help develop kids into individuals of godly character. The editors of Focus on the Family magazine asked parents how they’ve created a culture of reading in their homes. Their answers were surprisingly creative and practical:
I gave my son a blank bingo card and helped him fill in each square with a reading-related activity. Each time an activity was completed, I put a sticker in that square. Once he earned a bingo, he got to choose a reward, such as a trip to the library or skipping a chore that week. — Diane Stark
The Reading Hour
“Can I stay up 10 more minutes?” I took that frequent request and transformed it into a reading tool. I had one simple rule: You can stay up an extra hour after bedtime, but only if you spend that hour quietly reading. My kids gladly spent their extra hour reading page after page. — Jessica Snell
An Audio Approach
My stepmom, a literacy specialist, asked, “Have you tried audio books?” From the start, I was amazed at how much he loved listening to books. Then he started taking books with him everywhere. The audio books even helped him read dialogue with voice changes. I was pleasantly surprised that my son developed a love for reading through audio books. — Erica Sirratt
My two boys love to compete with each other, so I held a “book tower” contest. After a book was read, my kids would stack it on the last book read. Whoever had the tallest book tower at the end of the month was the winner. — Courtney Roberts
Bringing Books to Life
I have found that my kids love to read about things that they can experience. Before taking them to the petting zoo, I researched what animals would be on hand and then found books at the library about these animals. My children were excited to read the books because they knew they would soon be petting these animals. — Jessica Tyson
Getting My Kids to Read
The key to getting my kids to read was finding books that they enjoyed. Some only liked fiction; others liked nonfiction. I found that the more my boys read, the better readers they became. So to encourage them to read, I found book lists online and paid attention to their interests. Once they saw a book they liked, we looked for those books at our local library and then at online bookstores. When my kids chose the books, they took more responsibility for reading it. — Sheila Seifert
Motivate Your Reluctant Readers
Owen loved football, so we used trading cards as a reading reward — one card for every 10 minutes he read to us. Two keys helped this method work: The rewards were easily achievable, and we constantly replenished his supply of interesting reading material. — Kim Harms
Little Ways to Raise a Reader
I used simple strategies to make reading more fun. I asked her to read a book that included food, and then we made the food found in the book. We also explored nonfiction books that interested her, such as butterflies and horses. And spreading out a blanket at the park for reading also became a favorite activity — a reading date. — Brooke Kramb
If you are looking for more ideas, talk to your child’s teacher at Coastal Community School!
Originally published by Focus on the Family: https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/motivating-kids-to-read/
Practical Ways for You and Your Teen to Pray
Praying Together with Your Teen
“In prayer you’re going to partner with God to unleash His power, to fulfill His perfect plan for your kids.” —Sally Burke, Parenting Pivot Challenge
As parents, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the responsibility of making sure our kids have a strong, lifelong faith. When it comes to prayer, we can’t make our kids have a prayer life, we can only encourage them to pursue it, and pray for a desire to build in their hearts to grow close to God
You may be a great example for your child, but their prayer life is between them and God; it doesn’t have to look exactly like yours. In the end, we can only hope and, yes, pray that they take advantage of God’s availability. But it’s hard to know how to begin when prayer doesn’t always come naturally. Here are a few ways you and your teen can experience prayer in a fresh way! We encourage you to first explore these on your own to strengthen your own prayer life, and afterward share them with your teen as part of helping them discover what works for them.
1. Lectio Divina. This is one form of contemplative prayer or “Christian meditation.” First, find a passage or verse you want to focus on and start by taking in the message. Then read it again and ponder it for understanding. Lastly, pray that God reveals His will to you. This can help us have a two-way conversation with God where we read His Word, and respond through prayer. Even if we don’t say anything to God, we can spend time in contemplative silence while focusing on Him, His presence, or His word.
2. Check-ins. Taking a few minutes to pray and check in with God can be a great way for your teen to connect with Him when they’re feeling busy or overwhelmed. This can be a time to vent their pent up feelings or just a time to be calm and rest their mind. And remember, there’s no time requirement for prayer. A simple “Hey God, I’m overwhelmed, be with me,” is enough. When talking with your teen about prayer, try to lift the pressure of expectations or time requirements, and encourage them to simply talk with Him in the way they feel most comfortable.
3. Music. Encourage your teen to pick their favorite praise songs and spend time speaking with God as it plays in the background. When they hear a verse that reflects their feelings or thoughts, they can take it directly to God and talk with Him about it. This also gives them space to repent of their sins and praise God for His forgiveness of them. And no, this doesn’t have to be limited to something they’d hear on K-Love! There are a lot of cool artists and bands out there who love Jesus, so encourage your teen to explore some different music if they’re not sure where to start. (P.S. Find some great music suggestions here!)
4. Prayer list. This list can take many different forms. The idea is to write out parts of our lives and acknowledge God’s role in them. For example, your teen might make a list of their strengths and positive attributes followed by God’s involvement and impact in their lives. After the list is finished, go over each bullet point with thankfulness, and give the praise to Him. And the list doesn’t have to be upbeat, either. Does your kid feel overwhelmed by everything going on in their life right now? Do they battle with negative thoughts? Have them write out each fear, worry, or struggle, and then go back and write God’s truth beside those things, reclaiming what the devil wants to use against them by embracing God’s sovereignty over all things.
5. Journaling. Writing out our prayers in a journal can be a great way to communicate with God in a way that helps us concentrate on our words. Think of this as a direct message to God; a love letter that He receives as we write. Sometimes writing helps us understand our thoughts and feelings better, so this can also simply be a therapeutic task to unwind and get some emotions on a page.
6. Daily Prayer App. This app has prayers to consider in the morning, afternoon, and evening. It has an opening prayer tab, a confession prayer tab, and a tab dedicated to scripture. We encourage you not only to follow these prayer guides but to dwell on their meaning and apply the messages specifically to your life.
Watch the accompanying webinar and get the additional resources from the original blog posted on Axis at: https://info.axis.org/blog/practical-ways-to-integrate-prayer-into-your-daily-life
This blog was originally posted by Axis on October 23, 2020.
Why Christian Education?
It’s a Difference in Focus and Goals
Students spend more than 15,000 hours in school from kindergarten through 12th grade. This is an influential amount of time. This means that your decision regarding your child's school is really a 15,000-hour decision. Who will shape your son? Who will influence your daughter? How will God be portrayed? Your choice of school matters greatly and we believe that an excellent education within an accredited Christian school is the best way to prepare your child for life
What does it mean to "teach from a biblical worldview?"
We all have a lens through which we view and understand the world. It forms from your life experiences, and your beliefs and values. It includes what you believe to be true. A biblical worldview means that you examine, evaluate, and make sense of the world through the truth of the Bible. Christian schools teach from a biblical worldview. Christian teachers and coaches integrate biblical values into every program of the school. Teaching from a Christian perspective does not simply mean diagramming Bible verses or studying biblical text as literature. Teaching itself is not just the passing along of information from one person to the next. Our staff and teachers strive to reflect the Person of Christ in the classroom, in grace and truth.
Why is a biblical worldview so important?
History, science, the arts, and every subject, every curriculum, and every teacher has a point of view. There is no such thing as neutral. If a Christian viewpoint is not present, the only other option is a non-Christian viewpoint. Not allowing prayer, not wishing “Merry Christmas” or explaining how God is not involved in history, are just some of hundreds of examples that present God as non-existent or unimportant when this supposedly “neutral” point of view is presented. Children are bombarded with non-Christian messaging from movies, TV, music, social media, academia, and more. We believe that a school should be instrumental in equipping children to understand the truth about life, the world, and their place in it, and that truth includes God.
Yes, but many Christians have gone to public schools and turned out just fine!
No one can deny this. Yet parents must ask themselves, "Is today’s permissive culture what I want for my child?" The difference between a public or non-Christian school and a Christian school is not in the professionalism of its staff or perfection of its student body, but in the focus and goals of its education. That focus and those goals greatly influence the school culture. In a Christian school, students are loved and influenced as they learn by committed Christians sharing the same Biblical values as their parents. Students learn these values not just from Bible class but also from the examples that are modeled and taught by staff members in every school activity. Challenges, conflict, and circumstances are engaged from a Biblical / Christian perspective.
Shouldn't Christians be "out in the real world" making a difference in non-Christian circles? Why segregate themselves in a Christian school?
A quality Christian school should never become an institution that shelters students into a reclusive life. That is not the purpose of Christian education. In fact, the mission of Christian education is to do just the opposite – serve the community and equip students to be transforming influences in the world for Jesus Christ. Field trips, community service and volunteerism are just some of the ways students at a Christian school learn about the world and how to share their faith.
Isn't it the role of the parents and their church to teach the Christian worldview?
A Christian school does not replace the role of the parent or church; a Christian school becomes a partner with the parent and church. Christian parents today too often feel as if they are battling an entire culture in order to raise godly children. Parents increase their effectiveness by widening the circle of influence around their children with other godly adults. At a Christian school, students are taught by faculty and staff who share the same basic values and beliefs as the parents. It is a partnership. Those relationships will have a lasting influence on your child.
What about outcomes? What can I expect once my child leaves CCS?
A 2018 Cardus Education Survey is the most comprehensive study ever done on the outcomes of K-12 Christian education. The study found that Christian school graduates, as compared to graduates from non faith-based schools, charter schools, and public schools, are more outwardly focused individuals with a higher commitment to family, church, and the larger society. They donate significantly more money, are more generous with their time, and participate in far more relief and development services than their peers. They also feel more confident, are more likely to graduate from college, less likely to divorce, and pray and read the Bible more often.
At CCS, we feel these elements are an invaluable part of your child’s education. If you are interested in learning more about Christian education at Coastal Community School, email Nora Huggins: firstname.lastname@example.org