Mental Health Guidance for Kids, Teens and Guardians

Coronavirus is kicking everyone in the ass, but it’s especially tough for kids and teens. Here’s some guidance and a few resources to help us all through.

Talk. Listen. Validate.
While You’re At It, Blast a Little Metal.

Last week I wrote a post about what a drag this coronavirus crap is for my oldest daughter, a representative of classes of 2020 all over the country. For this year’s seniors, fun is not being had, friendships are not being deepened and memories are not being made.

Like all of us, they’re captives of circumstances that are beyond their control.

That sucks.

Everyone is sharply focused on physical health, for good reason, but we can’t forget about mental health.

The stress of self- or parent/guardian-imposed stay-at-home social distancing is a challenge for everyone, but I believe it has to be tougher on kids, especially teens.

Think back for a minute. Remember how important your friends were when you were 12-18 years old? Your crew – or whatever you called it – wasn’t just important, it was necessary. You felt things so much more deeply then. Everything took on such huge significance that you needed your friends to get through it all.

Nothing’s changed. These kids need their friends, and not just over FaceTime or some similar technology. They need to be with each other, face to face. They need to hug and bump fists. But they can’t. And that can be tough on their mental health.

Search “mental health kids teens coronavirus” and dozens of articles and posts will come up from reputable groups, such as:

Many offer similar advice, like:

  • Talk to your kids about coronavirus and COVID-19.
  • Ask them about the specific worries they have. Really listen.
  • Validate their concerns, but also reassure them.
  • Be a good role model. Get enough sleep, exercise and eat well.
  • Be realistic and honest, but try not to express rising levels of anxiety.

As for my favorite advice, it comes from a non-mental health professional, metal rocker Lzzy Hale. It’s good for people of all ages –

Now is the time we truly get to see the healing powers of music. Listen to it, play it, share your playlists with friends. Listen to music together online, etc.”

Whatever you do, remember that our kids need us during these strange and unpredictable days.

Coronavirus and COVID-19 be damned! But for now, we just gotta deal.

As my 16-year old son would say, #Facts.”

 

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#IAmNotaDistraction – New Letter to Editor

Letter to the Editor of The Forum, Fargo, N.D., about dress code enforcement in Fargo Public Schools, in response to a letter by Keith Berg from 11/27/18

The problem is not the dress code itself, it’s how it’s written

by Sheri McMahon
Letter to the Editor, The Forum, Fargo, N.D.
Nov. 28, 2018 (online 11/27/18)

Regarding Nov. 27th letter by Keith Berg about a parent’s challenge to the Fargo Public School dress code:

Mr. Fredricks’ objection to the dress code is not that there is one, but how the dress code is written. There are some sections which provide mostly objective, gender-neutral prohibitions such as banning ads for substances illegal for minors to use, coats in class, and so on. But the section he wants to address lists items most likely to be worn by girls and carries an implicit shaming message regarding girls’ bodies. It also includes reference to “any item deemed inappropriate by administration” which also creates a subjective standard.

The code contains no references to clothing that might be inappropriate but more likely to be worn by boys rather than girls. The catch-all section regarding any clothing considered “distracting” also leaves enforcement wide open to subjective interpretation.

Model dress codes have been developed, ranging in degree of what clothing is permitted (e.g. some school districts are OK with exposing the midriff, others are not), which are much more objective and avoid the gender-implicit language and application of dress codes such as the one Fredricks opposes. They also objectively define what is too short, too tight, too loose. Such codes have been established in many schools and are worth considering by the district.

Positive Feedback on #IAmNotaDistractionFargo

Here are comments on Facebook regarding The Forum’s story about #IAmNotaDistractionFargo, published on Saturday, Nov. 24, 2018.

Another Side to the Dress Code Story Reaction

Ashley – Oh my gosh, (#IAmNotaDistractionFargo), this is sooooo amazing. This is why it’s so important to speak up. Thank you for putting a spotlight on this issue!!! (We) are both grateful to you. (flexing bicep, clapping hands, double hearts)

Becky – Awesome

Brittlee – This is amazing! (three hearts)

Elizabeth – (#IAmNotaDistractionFargo), thanks for this. The “exposing of under garments” bit seems to target boys who sage their pants… Black kids.

Heidi – Hello! Let me know if I can help in any way. My daughter (now 10) was made to cover up her spaghetti strap dress 2 years ago. Very frustrating! She was only 8 at the time.

Jill – This is so awesome!!! I’ve always told our boys that if they are “distracted” it’s their problem and to fix it. I also hate that it’s ok for their cheerleaders to wear what they wear and that’s ok

Jodi – Go, (#IAmNotaDistractionFargo)!

John – Rock on, (#IAmNotaDistractionFargo). Rock. On. (horns up)

Kris – Oh heck yes! Keep it up dad! (smiley face, flexed bicep)

Lisa – Cool! So we can expect high schools to change their girls volleyball uniforms to something more modest, right? I find the double standard disturbing. In class, a girl with a skirt that is too short is determined to “be distracting to the learning process” and told to interrupt HER learning to go home to change. After school, this same girl is told to put on a volleyball uniform that is not much longer than her underwear and go out to entertain the students and parents of the same school. I think body and clothing shaming are disgusting. I think the only time a woman’s clothing choice should be discussed is to ask whether or not she is warm enough.

Lisa – My daughter was called down to the principal’s office during class and made to put on a large t-shirt over what she was wearing and then go back to class. I bought her clothing and nothing was ever offensive and not MOM approved. She took after me and had God-given gifts (if you know me, you know what I mean) but for them to pull her out of class and embarrass her was just too much. Needless to say, there was a discussion with West Fargo High School.

Mia – Love this!! (flexing bicep)

Mike – Way to go

Paul – Good initiative (#IAmNotaDistractionFargo).

Shana – I could go on and on about this. THANK YOU so much for your hubs taking the lead and addressing it. Dress code policies really do affect females way more.

Shereen – Great conversation. Thank you!

Thank you all for the support.

Martin C. Fredricks IV Logo

Fargo Newspaper Features Effort to End Body Shaming in Local Public Schools

#IAmNotaDistractionFargo invites anyone and everyone to share their own stories about themselves, their kids, their siblings or their friends being “coded” in a Fargo Public School.

Traction for #IAmNotaDistraction

The front page of today’s edition of The Forum, Fargo, N.D., features a story about the local effort to get rid of gender-biased dress code policies and enforcement, a.k.a., body shaming, in local schools. The story is also online.

IV Words first wrote about this in “The Alleged Distractees – Not Our Daughters and Sisters – Must Change,” and has provided several updates since.

Two parents have already shared stories of their daughters being coded following publication of the story.

#IAmNotaDistractionFargo invites anyone and everyone to share their own stories about themselves, their kids, their siblings or their friends being “coded” in a Fargo Public School.

You can do so on the Facebook page, through a direct message on the Facebook page or by emailing iamnotadistractionfargo@gmail.com.

Depending on the outcome of the FPS process to evaluate and change the dress code and dress code enforcement, the stories might be needed to continue the effort to end body shaming in schools.

Thank you for your support.

Martin C. Fredricks IV Logo

#IAmNotaDistractionFargo – Dress Code Enforcement Update

There’s been some activity with the issue of Fargo Public Schools dress code enforcement.

The Forum

If you have, or if your daughter, sister or friend has ever been “coded,” or if you have concerns about the FPS dress code and/or how it is enforced, please contact Kim Hyatt, a reporter from The Forum, Fargo, at 701- 241-5511.

Ms. Hyatt posted the following to the #IAmNotaDistractionFargo Facebook page today.

Continue reading “#IAmNotaDistractionFargo – Dress Code Enforcement Update”

#IAmNotaDistractionFargo

It will take many voices to bring about change in the gender-biased way the Fargo Public Schools dress code is applied and enforced. Please consider lending yours.

I believe dress-code enforcement in Fargo Public Schools is gender biased (see “The Alleged “Distractees” – Not Our Daughters & Sisters – Must Change“), and that the body shaming that comes with it is detrimental to my daughters, and their sisters as well as yours.

After many years of frustration, I decided to do something about it.

Continue reading “#IAmNotaDistractionFargo”