How a Meditation Practice Can Help Kids Become Less Anxious

The Power of Mindfulness

paradigmoct16_art2By now there’s a good chance you’ve heard the term “mindfulness.” It seems to be everywhere—touted as the new yoga, the answer to stress, the alternative to Xanax. But beyond the buzz, what is it? Jon Kabat-Zinn, the scientist and widely recognized father of contemporary, medically based mindfulness—over 30 years ago he developed a therapeutic meditation practice known as Mindful Based Stress Reduction (MBSR)—defines mindfulness simply as “paying attention in a particular way: on purpose, in the present moment and non-judgmentally.”

That’s the short version. To expand on that just a little, mindfulness is a meditation practice that begins with paying attention to breathing in order to focus on the here and now—not what might have been or what you’re worried could be. The ultimate goal is to give you enough distance from disturbing thoughts and emotions to be able to observe them without immediately reacting to them.

In the last few years mindfulness has emerged as a way of treating children and adolescents with conditions ranging from ADHD to anxiety, autism spectrum disorders, depression and stress. And the benefits are proving to be tremendous.

But how do you explain mindfulness to a five year-old? When she’s teaching mindfulness to children, Dr. Amy Saltzman, a holistic physician and mindfulness coach in Menlo Park, California, prefers not to define the word but rather to invite the child to feel the experience first—to find their “still, quiet place.”

Choosing behaviors

We begin by paying attention to breath.

“We begin by paying attention to breath,” she says. “The feeling of the expansion of the in-breath, the stillness between the in-breath and the out-breath. I invite them to rest in the space between the breaths. Then I explain that this still quiet place is always with us—when we’re sad, when we’re angry, excited, happy, frustrated. They can feel it in their bodies. And it becomes a felt experience of awareness. They can learn to observe their thoughts and feelings, and the biggest thing for me is they can begin to choose their behaviors.”

In her private practice, Saltzman, and her Still Quiet Place CDs for Young Children and Teens, teaches mindfulness to children and adolescents with a variety of challenges. “I work with kids individually with ADHD, with anxiety, depression, autism, anger management issues. The lovely thing about working one-on-one is you get to tailor what you offer to them.”

Saltzman also conducted a study in conjunction with researchers at Stanford University showing that after 8 weeks of mindfulness training, the fourth through sixth graders in the study had documented decreases in anxiety, and improvements in attention. They were less emotionally reactive and more able to handle daily challenges and choose their behavior.

Related: Mindfulness in the Classroom

As a teacher at The Nantucket New School where every student gets instruction in mindfulness, Allison Johnson has learned first hand what a difference it can make for kids. So she tried it at home. “I have a six-year-old son with ADHD,” she says. “I brought a chime home. We use it most nights before bed. ‘Cause he doesn’t love going to sleep. We sit on the floor facing each other, we close our eyes and we ring the chime. Sometimes we incorporate a visualization—like he’s floating on a cloud. We go on this little journey. And we ring the chime again and we say ‘when you can no longer hear the chime it’s time to open your eyes and come back to focus.’ And now if he gets in trouble and gets sent to his room, I can hear him upstairs doing it himself. Or when he’s getting unusually rowdy he’ll say ‘okay lets do our mindful breathing now.’” Johnson says since Curren started practicing mindfulness she’s seen subtle but noticeable differences in his behavior. “He’s more able to bring his focus and attention back to where they were—remembering to raise his hand and not move around so much.”

Mindfulness and teenagers

While the research on children and adolescents is really just beginning to gain real traction, there are several small studies showing that for kids who suffer from anxiety and ADHD, mindfulness can be especially helpful. Diana Winston, author of Wide Awake and the Director of Mindfulness Education at UCLA’s Mindful Awarene
ss Research Center, started taking teens with ADHD on retreats for what she calls “mindfulness intensive camp” back in 1993. Twenty years later the program is still going strong.

Get our email?Join our list and be among the first to know when we publish new articles. Get useful news and insights right in your inbox. “Teens benefit tremendously,” she says. “Kids talk about their lives being transformed. I remember one girl with ADD who’d been very depressed and I didn’t think we were reaching her. On the last day of class she came in and said, ‘everything is different. I was really depressed. My boyfriend broke up with me and it’s been so hard but I’m finally understanding that I’m not my thoughts.’ That concept is huge—the non-identifying with the negative thoughts and having a little more space and freedom in the midst of it.”

Stress reduction and self-acceptance are two of the major perks of mindfulness, benefits Winston says are particularly important during the drama and turmoil-filled teen years. “Emotional regulation, learning how to quiet one’s mind—those are invaluable skills.”

Managing anxiety

Randye Semple, PhD, an assistant professor at the University of Southern California’s Keck School of Medicine, has spent her career developing programs to teach anxious kids how to quiet their minds. “When I look at childhood anxiety I see an enormous problem and a precursor to other problems in adolescents and adults,” she says. “So I figured if we could manage the anxiety we could head off a lot of the other problems.” Mindfulness-Based Cognitive Therapy for Anxious Children, the book she co-authored, is based on the program she developed. A study she and her co-author, clinical psychologist Jennifer Lee, conducted from 2000-2003 showed significant reductions in both anxiety and behavior problems in 8- to 12-year-olds in Harlem and Spanish Harlem who participated in the program.

Teaching mindfulness to children and adolescents is a growing trend—in private practices as part of therapy and increasingly as part of the curriculum in both Special Ed and General Ed classes throughout the country. “We’re at the beginning of a movement,” says Megan Cowan, co-founder and executive director of prog
rams at Mindful Schools in Oakland, California. “Jon Kabat-Zinn’s work really set the stage for mindfulness to be visible on a mainstream landscape. I think we all have the sense that society’s a little out of control. Education is a little out of control. We’re all looking for a way tochange that. This is meaningful to almost everybody.”

Juliann Garey is a journalist, novelist and clinical assistant professor at NYU. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, Los Angeles Times and Marie Claire; her novel, Too Bright To Hear Too Loud To See, was an American Library Association award-winner and NPR Best Book of the Year in 2013.

Not Quite Burnt But Crispy Around the Edges

dr-william-demeoMindfulness & how it affects us and what we can do about it was the topic given by (“Dr. Bill”) at PSI’s Fall 2016 Conference at the Crowne Plaza in Independence, Ohio.   Without doubt, it seems the five-letter word everyone dreads most every day is stress. Using slides, video, numerous skits and literally working the room, Dr. Bill made the three-hour presentation consistently interesting, fun and a sharing group experience that united the large audience. Learning is easy when you laugh along the way!

About Dr. DeMeo

Dr. DeMeo, a neuropsychologist, said that about a fourth of all employees view their jobs as the number one stressor. It heads the list that includes fear of sickness, paying bills and keeping the car running. With the current national focus on obesity he added, “there’s a strong connection between weight gain and stress.” Each day we face 50-70 stressors with little or no idea how to handle them effectively. A chemical in the brain called cortisol gets released which increases blood pressure and can adversely affect the immune system.


The Presentation

Throughout the presentation, Dr. Bill had the audience form groups of two and three to interact with each another. In one, they would exchange how they handle stress. In another, a partner would tell two truths and one lie and ask the others which was which. With a third, each would show three things done over the weekend without speaking. There were seven skits in all, furnishing great fun, relaxation and acuity. This presentation had no dull moments!

Motivation is a key to avoiding stress.

To wit, if you can wake up to go to work most mornings without the alarm clock, things may well look good. Involvement can translate into commitment. On the flipside, Dr. DeMeo’s view is that “we in education are burning ourselves out.” Anxiety can lead to procrastination, which in turn can lead to a sense of hopelessness and depression. Stress morphs into distress.

As a neuropsychologist, Dr. DeMeo discussed the impact of stress on the brain and cardiovascular system. Neurons can cease to fire, with the heart rate speeding up. Smoking gets seen as a stress reducer. Research is showing many aging-related diseases are linked, even the yellow bands of DNA (telomeres). “We can create our own stress just by thinking!”

What to do?

Start with getting enough sleep at night, eight to ten hours. Exercise at least three times a week, each thirty minutes minimum. Maintain solid social support with those you trust. Avoid negative people who typically have glib solutions to everything. Finally, a positive mindset can be your driving force, for human resilience is a bellwether.  Mindfulness is key to managing stress.

Celebrate what you do right rather than be critical of what might be wrong. Everyone has a unique combination of strengths that can be built upon as a foundation to protect against the storms.

A growth mindset instead of a fixed mindset is what’s needed. List five strengths as your building blocks, along with the strengths you most admire in others. Pose the question: “Is what I’m about to do a reflection of who I am and who I want to be?” The answer can be the ultimate game changer.

Dr. Bill said that talking about yourself is a great way to reduce stress. In parallel, thinking positively about yourself can be just as good, perhaps even better.


VirtualPSI is here!

VirtualPSI launched on October 1, 2016! Yes it’s a Saturday but in the virtual world, learning doesn’t take a day off!

Our platform is interactive, it is clear, it is precise and it is user-friendly! Schools are turning their textbooks into chromebooks and turning their therapy to virtual!

Research has shown that online services are just as effective as in-person direct services. Therapists have reported better eye contact and better engagement from their students. Therapists who specialize in a unique areas are now more accessible. There is greater flexibility in scheduling, sessions can be recorded and replayed!

There will always be a need for in-person direct services as well as some students may not qualify for online therapy; however, online therapy is now more prevalent than ever in education!

VirtualPSI  is not a replacement of in-person services but a value-added program! A program that will lead to a greater reach of students, a program that will lead to a unique blended model for therapy and instruction, and a program that will lead to an expansion of our many other great programs currently in place!

Did you attend the TESOL Conference and want me information on additional websites? Click Here.

If you are interested in getting involved with VirtualPSI  please contact Mike Tornow, or at (330) 425-8474. VirtualPSI first programs will be in Speech, OT and TESOL!

In the Wake of the Most Recent National Violence

NASP, the National Association of School Psychologists, has released the following statement regarding the violence this past week. These are trying times for everyone, particularly those people living in the communities directly affected by such violence. While my heart is heavy, I am proud to be a school psychologist and serve as your president at time when the country and the children, families and schools we serve need our help more than ever.

We will be developing additional resources to help engage children and youth in productive discussions and positive actions in the days ahead.

For additional information and resources to help support children and youth, visit

Melissa A. Reeves, PhD, NCSP
NASP President, 2016-2017

In Honor of Sister Bernadette…..

2016-06-14_12-48-26We meet only a few very special people in our journey through life. I met such a lady close to 40 years ago when PSI was in its infancy. Sister M. Bernadette Maier, OSU, is perhaps the most remarkable woman I have met in my four decades of work with educators in Ohio. Certainly schools, and in particular the Catholic Schools, are full of wonderful people who are dedicated to their mission and give their all for the schools and the furtherance of Catholicity.

Sr. Bernadette did all that. In addition, she saw opportunity where there were obstacles, dreams where there were ‘roadblocks’ and strategies where there were almost insurmountable challenges. The non-public schools throughout Ohio but especially in the Cleveland Diocese, live her legacy every day when children benefit from services paid for by auxiliary services funds. These services didn’t just come to be by fiat. They were achieved by dint of hard work, vision, politics and endless blood, sweat and tears. Her stories and accomplishments are as voluminous as they are a study in political triumph.

She became dear to us over the years as we all strove to expand the services she wanted for ‘her kids.’ She was one of a kind, full of the vim and vigor that all movers and shakers have, changing the systems in which we live. She will live on in our hearts as an ideal to which we all should aspire, a tireless supporter of PSI and a dear, dear friend.

God Bless you Sr. Bernadette.


– Steve Rosenberg, President of PSI

Body Language- Powerful Career Asset

CoverFeb2016Here are ten simple and powerful tips to help you have a super successful 2016.

By Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D

1) To make a great first impression, begin before you enter the room.

In business interactions, first impressions are crucial. Once someone mentally labels you as “likeable” or “untrustworthy, ”powerful” or “ineffectual,” everything else you do will be viewed through that filter. If someone likes you, she’ll look for the best in you. If she mistrusts you, she’ll suspect devious motives in all your actions.

A study at the University of Glasgow’s Centre for Cognitive Neuroimaging that discovered it takes the brain just 200 milliseconds to gather most of the information it needs from a facial expression to determine a person’s emotional state. That’s why you can’t wait until you’re in the meeting room to “warm up.” You’ve got to walk in, already expressing the emotions you want to project.

2) To dramatically increase your professional impact, make eye contact like Goldilocks.

Too much eye contact is instinctively felt to be rude, hostile and condescending; and in a business context, it may also be perceived as a deliberate intent to dominate, intimidate, belittle, or make the other person feel at a disadvantage.

Too little, on the other hand, can make you appear uneasy, insincere, or uninterested. In its analysis of patients’ complaints, for example, one large county hospital found, that 9-out-of-10 letters included mention of poor doctor-patient eye contact; a failure which was generally interpreted as “lack of caring.” (To improve your “too little” eye contact, make a practice of noticing the eye color of everyone you meet.)

“Just the right” amount of eye contact – the amount that produces a feeling of mutual likability and trustworthiness – will vary with situations, settings, personality types, gender and cultural differences. As a general rule, though, direct eye contact of about 60% of the time during a conversation – more when you are listening, less when you are speaking – makes you seem attentive, interested and informed.

3) To boost your self-confidence, ditch your cell phone and buy a newspaper.

You may be familiar with research from Harvard and Columbia Business Schools about the effects of expansive physical poses — feet wide apart, body erect, hands on hips (think “Superman” or “Wonder Woman”). Studies show that holding this kind of “power pose” for just two minutes raises testosterone levels (the hormone linked to power and self-confidence) and lowers the level of cortisol, a stress hormone.

But did you know that this hormonal effect is actually reversed when you tuck your chin in, round your shoulders and contract yourself physically? In that posture, you lower your testosterone level – and its corresponding feelings of confidence – while increasing cortisol.

So, instead of hunching over your smart phone, try leaving it in your purse or briefcase while you wait in the lobby for an upcoming meeting. Instead, take out a newspaper, and read it sitting up straight with your feet firmly on the floor, and your arms spread wide to hold the paper open. By putting your body into this expansive posture, you will not only feel more confident and certain when the meeting starts, you will also be perceived that way. 

4) To build instant and lasting rapport, touch someone while saying “the magic word.”

Touch is the most primitive and powerful nonverbal cue. In the workplace, physical touch and warmth are established through the handshaking tradition, and this tactile contact makes a lasting and positive impression. A study on handshakes by the Income Center for Trade Shows showed that people are two times more likely to remember you if you shake hands with them. The trade-show researchers also found that people react to those with whom they shake hands by being more open and friendly.

You can, however, go beyond the handshake and create a lasting, positive impact by adding a single word to a brief touch, because touching someone on the arm, hand, or shoulder for as little as 1/40 of a second is enough to create a human bond. Here’s how to do it: When you meet someone and they tell you their name, find a way to repeat that name later in the conversation. And as you do, touch the person lightly on the forearm.

The impact of this combination comes from the fact that you have aroused positive feelings in an individual by remembering and using her name (the magic word for all of us), and as you touch her arm, those positive emotions get linked to your touch. Then at subsequent meetings you can reactivate that initial favorable impression by once again lightly touching your acquaintance’s arm.

5) To reduce resistance, don’t allow people to double-cross you.

People who are defensive, guarded or resistant may protectively fold their arms across their chests. And when you see that gesture coupled with crossed legs (what I call the “double cross”) you can be fairly sure that (a) you aren’t making a very positive impression, and that (b) what you’re saying isn’t being listened to very closely.

In fact, in one study, groups of volunteers were invited to attend a series of lectures. While doing so, the first group was instructed to keep legs and arms uncrossed – and to take a casual, relaxed sitting position. Volunteers in the second group were asked to attend the same lectures, but to keep their arms tightly folded across their chests. The result showed the folded arms group learned and retained 38 percent less than the uncrossed arms group.

To neutralize this physically expressed resistance in a one-on-one encounter, you could extend your hand for a handshake. You could offer the person a cup of tea or coffee, or give them your business card, brochure or product sample. (When I address large audiences, I often ask questions that invite people to raise their hands or rise to their feet.) It doesn’t matter which strategy you choose, just as long as people are obliged to change their postures, to uncross their arms and legs, in order to respond to you. Because body positions influence attitude, the mere act of unwinding a resistant posture will begin to subvert the resistance, itself.

6) To power up your thinking, talk with your hands – but watch what they say.

Brain imaging has shown that a region called Broca’s area, which is important for speech production, is active not only when we’re talking, but also when we wave our hands. Since gesture is integrally linked to speech, gesturing as you talk can actually power up your thinking. Whenever I coach clients to incorporate gestures into their deliveries, I find that their verbal content improves, their speech is less hesitant, and their use of fillers (“ums” and “uhs”) decreases. Experiment with this and you’ll find that the physical act of gesturing helps you form clearer thoughts and speak in tighter sentences with more declarative language.

Remember also to keep your movements relaxed and to use open arm gestures showing the palms of your hands — the ultimate “see, I have nothing to hide” gesture. In addition, if you hold your arms between your waist and shoulders, and gesture within that plane, most audiences will perceive you as assured and credible.

What you want to avoid (or at least minimize) are the nonverbal behaviors that make you look unsure or incompetent. We all do it. When we’re nervous or stressed, we tend to pacify ourselves with some form of self-touching: We rub our foreheads, massage our temples, wring our hands, touch our lips, play with our jewelry, twirl our hair, etc. — and when we do these things, we immediately rob our statements of credibility. If you catch yourself indulging in any pacifying behavior, take a deep breath, exhale slowly, and steady yourself by placing your feet firmly on the floor and your hands palm down in your lap or by your side, or flat on the desk or conference table.

7) To communicate effectively, stop talking.

Stillness sends a message that you’re calm and confident. When you are giving a presentation, don’t be concerned with filling every moment with words. Every so often, try pausing. It might feel like you are waiting for an eternity, but it won’t seem long to your listeners. Try it. It’s unexpected, it’s attention getting, it’s effective . . . very effective.

8) To raise your salary, lower your voice.

An acoustic scientist at UCLA studied the characteristics of charismatic voices and found that lower-pitched male CEOs made up to $187,000 a year more than higher-pitched peers.

In the workplace, the quality of your voice can be a deciding factor in how you are perceived. Speakers with higher-pitched voices are judged to be less empathic, less powerful and more nervous than speakers with lower pitched voices. One easy technique I learned from a speech therapist was to put your lips together and say “Um hum, um hum, um hum.” Doing so relaxes your voice into its optimal pitch. This is especially helpful before you get on an important phone call – where the sound of your voice is so critical.

And watch that your voice doesn’t rise at the ends of sentences, which makes you sound as if you are asking a question or seeking approval. Instead, when stating your opinion, use the authoritative arc, in which your voice starts on one note, rises in pitch through the sentence and drops back down at the end.

9) To power up your body language savvy, start with your feet.

When most people think about improving their body language, they focus primarily on facial expressions, posture, and hand gestures. Because feet go “unrehearsed,” they often tell more than you realize.

For example, if we were sitting and talking and your legs were stretched forward with your feet pointing at me – or If the toe of the leg that you crossed on top was pointing at me — I’d be pretty sure that we were relating well. But if you pulled your feet away in a tight ankle lock or wrapped them around the legs of your chair, I’d suspect that you were upset or uncomfortable.

And do you know that you often bounce your feet when you’re happy or excited? Bouncing or tapping feet are what professional poker players refer to as “happy feet” — a high-confidence tell signaling that a player’s hand is strong. You may be sending the same signal in a business negotiation when you feel you’re getting a good deal. But if your bouncing feet suddenly go still, it could be a sign that you’re unsure or waiting to see what will happen next – the equivalent of holding your breath.

It’s also fascinating to watch how people’s feet turn away from situations they want to avoid, and point in the direction they’d prefer to be. So, if you are speaking with a co-worker when you would rather be somewhere else, your upper body may be angled toward him, but your feet will most probably be turned toward the door.

Feet also have a lot to say about your self-confidence. When you feel insecure or anxious you may stand with your feet close together or with your legs crossed — or you might shift your weight from foot to foot. But when you widen your stance, and evenly distribute your weight on both feet, you look more “solid” and sure of yourself.

10)To keep your New Year’s resolutions, get a grip.

Research at the National University of Singapore and the University of Chicago found that participants who tightened their muscles – gripping their hands, fingers, calves or biceps – were able to increase their self-control. It was, however, also found that muscle tightening only helped with willpower when the choices the participants faced aligned with their stated goals. So make sure you know what you really want – then get a grip  to help achieve it!


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About the Author: Carol Kinsey Goman, Ph.D. is the author of “The Silent Language of Leaders: How Body Language Can Help – or Hurt – How You Lead.” The impact of body language on leadership effectiveness is a topic she addresses in keynote speeches and seminars on “The Power of Collaborative Leadership.” She can be reached at






PSI LPN Saves Student’s Life

PSI LPN Saves Student’s Life
Paula Harris, Manager PSI Special Needs Services

The early morning of October 26, 2015 is a day that PSI Licensed Practical Nurse Jackie Hamlin Davidson will never forget.  In fact she can tell you the exact time of the event: 8:25 am.  Jackie, because of her training and assessment skills, saved a student’s life. Not many of us have been given this experience.

Jackie has worked in the Independence School District as a Special Needs LPN working with a 1:1 student (meaning she cares only for this student during the school day) for 2 years. Arriving at the student’s home that morning, Jackie found everyone running behind schedule. Mom was even thinking about bringing her in later. Jackie took over the chaos and got the student out of the door and on the bus to school.

Arriving at the school, the student was her usual funny self. This special student has a gift of making everyone smile. Nothing was out of the norm and it was time for the student’s breakfast. As Jackie was getting her cup out of her bag, the student color became pale and she had a grand mal seizure.  This was startling to everyone present because she had not ever had this type of seizure before and there was no indication that she was not feeling well.

Jackie immediately took the student out of her wheelchair and placed her on the floor. She then noticed that the student had stopped breathing and was without a pulse. Being described by Jackie as an “out of body experience,” she immediately directed the staff that was in the classroom on what to do. She started the CPR on the student that saved her life. The paramedics arrived and transported the student to the hospital. Even at that point, Jackie, knowing how scared the student would have been in the ambulance surrounded by people she did not know, rode with her to the Emergency Room and stayed to support the family.

The student has recovered and is back at school, returning to her duties of making others smile and laugh! The School District has presented PSI was an outstanding letter commending Jackie for her compassion, professionalism and positive attitude. All of us at PSI are so honored to have Jackie on our team!!

Mental Health Matters- Suicide Prevention and Education

PSI has recently joined forces with LifeAct ( to be the educational partner to provide Middle School and/or High School students complimentary suicide education and prevention programs. PSI is currently registering interested NE Ohio schools for the 2015-2016 school year.

Middle School Program: UROK™

LifeAct, in conjunction with the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry at University Hospitals, has developed a program specifically designed for middle school students that emphasizes the unique situations and changes they face that may induce stress and lead to depression.  ParadigmJan2016BMiddle school students learn to identify and manage stress in their lives. Most importantly, they are taught to recognize healthy and unhealthy responses to stress, when they should ask for help, and how to request that help from a trusted adult.

High School Program: Recognizing Teen Depression and Preventing Suicide

The goal of our program is to raise awareness among young teens about unhealthy behaviors that indicate that a teen is struggling and needs adult help. Early identification and intervention for teens with mental health issues is the most effective way to prevent teen suicide.  High school students will learn to identify the outward manifestations of depression and the warning signs of suicide.

PSI and LifeAct school programs have been presented to more than 170,000 students since 2000.  The two-day presentation (1.5 hours total time), utilizes PowerPoint, videos, a small group activity, and class discussion designed to engage students by focusing on age-relevant experiences. Students who self-identify to PSI or LifeAct instructors and who may be experiencing mental health issues (including depression, bullying, self-harm and suicidal thoughts) are escorted to a guidance counselor or other appropriate school personnel. PSI or LifeAct instructors record each self-identifying student and provide a copy of the documentation to both the classroom teacher and guidance counselor or appropriate school personnel. Students
frequently self-identify to school personnel in the two to three weeks following LifeAct’s program delivery. The school personnel are a critical element to this program; however, they are not expected to diagnose or treat these possible mental illnesses. PSI will provide appropriate assessment and referral resources.

Knowledge is power. PSI is committed to this important cause. For more information on how to bring this program to your school at no cost, contact

Stephanie Carlson’s Biggest Loser Challenge!

Stephanie Carlson’s Biggest Loser Challenge!
Stephanie Carlson, PSI Registered NurseParadigmJan2016A

PSI’s Registered Nurse Stephanie Carlson has started her annual biggest loser contest between several Horizon/Concept Schools: Denison Elementary Cleveland, Denison Middle Cleveland and Noble Academy Euclid. Who will be the biggest Loser?

This year the team names were chosen as follows: Denison Elementary Team Waisting Away; Denison Middle School Team Losing It; and Noble Academy Team Lean Cuisine.

The competition begins this week and runs for a total of 10 weeks. Principals from each of the three schools have signed up to join their team.  Each participant pays a registration fee of $5.  Participants must weigh-in on the same scale in the school clinic each week in front of the nurse. There is a $1 penalty each week that you do not weigh-in, $1 if you gain or $1 if you stay the same.  There are 33 participants registered this year.

The team with the biggest percentage of weight loss at the end of the 10 weeks wins the piggy bank or should I say they take home the bacon.  The team has the option of going out to eat, ordering food in or simply dividing the money among their team members.

Formula used each week: (initial weight-actual weight)/initial weight)x100=%weight loss.

Stephanie began this program a few years ago in her schools as a fun activity for staff as they return from winter break.  The program helps to encourage exercise, healthy food choices and weight loss for staff.  Each week e-mails are sent out with reminders and fun healthy facts for the week.

There will be a weekly skinny cow for each school. This individual will stand out by losing the biggest percentage for their team that week. They will receive a skinny cow certificate and skinny cow candy bar as motivation to keep losing and for a job well done.  In years past, this competition has been a huge success and a lot of fun for teachers and administrators.

Stephanie, along with her three schools, is really looking forward to seeing the results from all the motivation and hard work of her teammates. Which school will be this years’ biggest loser?

If you have any questions on how to run a biggest loser contest at your schools, please contact the PSI health staff at your school or at the PSI office and we can tell you how to get started.


Helping Children Cope with Terrorism

All of us at PSI have been distressed and saddened by the on-going national and world events involving terrorism and other mass killings. Our partner schools often come to us for advice on properly communicating with students about these tragic events. We are aware that you want to individualize your school’s response, but we thought the following information from the National Association of School Psychologists might be of help. Please let us know if we can guide you in any way as we all navigate these turbulent times. As always, we thank you for your continued support of PSI.


Talking to Students About Terrorism

Due to the recent incidents of terrorism in Paris, children may turn to educators with questions and need support.  Our students may have known someone who has been affected by these recent incidents or other acts of violence.  They may be worried about a loved one who lives in an area where a terrorist act or threat has been made.  Our students may develop stress and anxiety due to media coverage of these incidents.  Some of our students may even be unfairly stigmatized due to a perceived resemblance of perpetrators who have enacted violence.

The National Association of School Psychologists (NASP) has provided to the public access to a variety of resources regarding school safety and violence.  A recent article posted by NASP, entitled Helping Children Cope with Terrorism – Tips for Families and Educators, may be useful for you in your schools.  Below is a summary of ways you can help support your students who are processing their thoughts and feelings regarding terrorism.  Please note that it is important to discuss your involvement in addressing these sensitive issues with your school administrator in order to ensure that your service aligns with their school policies and best meets the needs of the students.

Tips for Families & Educators:

1)    Be Conscious of Your Reactions – Children take their emotional cues from the significant adults in their lives. Avoid appearing anxious or overly frightened.

2)    Reassure children they are safe – Point out evidence that support this.

3)    Remind them that trustworthy people are in charge – Explain that emergency workers, police, firefighters, doctors, and the government are helping people who are hurt and are working to prevent this from happening in the future.

4)    Let children know that it is okay to feel upset – Explain that all feelings are okay.  Let children talk about their feelings in a safe and open environment.

5)    Tell children the truth – Don’t try to pretend that the event has not occurred.  Children will be worried if they think you are afraid to tell them what is happening.  It is a good idea to discuss ways to deliver this message to students in a developmentally appropriate way with the school administrators.

6)    Stick to the facts – Don’t embellish or speculate about what has happened or where another attack might occur.

7)    Be careful not to stereotype people or countries that might be associated with the violence – Talk about tolerance and justice versus vengeance.  Stop any bullying or teasing immediately.

8)    Keep your explanations developmentally appropriate – Early elementary children need brief, simple information that should be balanced with reassurances that the daily structures of their lives will not change. Upper elementary and early middle school children will be more vocal in asking questions about whether they truly are safe. They may need assistance separating reality from fantasy. Upper middle school and high school students will have strong and varying opinions about the causes of violence and threats to safety in schools and society. They will share concrete suggestions about how to make school safer and how to prevent tragedies in society. They will be more committed to doing something to help the victims and affected community.

9)    Maintain a “normal” routine – To the best extent possible, stick to a normal classroom routine, but don’t be inflexible. Children may have a hard time concentrating on schoolwork or falling asleep at night.

10) Monitor or restrict exposure – Monitor exposure to all forms of media, including social media. For older children, caution against accessing news coverage from only one source.

11) Observe children’s emotional state – Depending on their age, children may not express their concerns verbally.  Changes in behavior, appetite, and sleep patterns can also indicate a child’s level of grief, anxiety or discomfort.  Children will express their emotions differently. There is no right or wrong way to feel or express fear or grief.

12) Be aware of children at greater risk – Children who have a connection to this particular event, have had a past traumatic experience or personal loss, suffer from depression or other mental illness, or with special needs may be at greater risk for severe reactions than others.

13) Provide an outlet for students’ desire to help – Consider making get well cards or sending letters to the families and survivors of the tragedy, or writing thank you letters to doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals as well as emergency rescue workers, firefighters and police.

14) Keep lines of communication open between home and school – Schools are a good place for children to experience a sense of normalcy. Being with their friends and teachers is helpful. Schools should inform families about available resources, such as talking points or counseling, and plans for information sharing and discussions with students.

15) Monitor your own stress level – Don’t ignore your own feelings of anxiety, grief, and anger. Talking to friends, family members, religious leaders, and mental health counselors can help. It is okay to let your children know you are sad, but that you believe things will get better. You will be better able to support your children if you can express your own emotions in a productive manner. Get appropriate sleep, nutrition, and exercise.

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