Parenting a teen on Social Media: Where does the danger actually lie?

Ever wondered what your teen really wants you to know about social media and wants you to teach them? Well, here it is. A brilliant and insightful piece by one of our Youth Advisory members. – Gigi, 17yrs.

Schools, parents, and organisations predominantly focus on the preventative measures of educating teens on the dangers of social media. These systems use scare tactics to focus on why you shouldn’t sext, have your account set to public, or engage in online bullying and view pornography. And yes, while we must educate the youth on the safety and dangers of these ever-changing media platforms, it does not extensively address the undeniable contemporary issues teenagers face on social media. While we have taught the youth how to not engage in unsafe practices on social media, we have failed to actively teach them how to respond to these situations if they do.

A young girl has sent nudes to a boy on Snapchat, screenshot it, and has blackmailed her, “if you don’t send more, I will share these around” she feels she has no other option.

A boy is being bullied on social media and is embarrassed to tell his parents or the school for fear of ridicule by his parents and peers.

An older unknown man has commented with inappropriate messages on a girl’s Instagram post but does not want to tell her parents in fear of embarrassment and deleting her account.

Social media is not an issue because we are not educated judiciously enough on its dangers; instead, we have failed to teach our youth how to actively and appropriately respond to these dangerous situations. This is where the real danger lies. Read More

Autumn and the Michaelmas Festival

March 21 is the midpoint between the Southern Hemisphere’s summer and winter solstices, it is also known as the autumn equinox and for us, it is when the festival of Michaelmas is celebrated. Michaelmas is the feast of Saint Michael the Archangel. The Archangel Michael is one of the principal angelic warriors, seen as a protector against the dark of night, and the administrator of cosmic intelligence.

The season of Michaelmas asks us to be thankful for the plentiful harvest of the preceding year and to face the approaching darkness of winter with courage in order to meet the darker days and places in ourselves symbolised by the dragon. The fire and fury of the dragon are strong in the world presently and increasingly so with each passing day it seems. We are called to face these challenging times with Michaelic courage to tame the dragon.

Rudolf Steiner said that the outer conflict of Michael and the Dragon was transferred to the inner human being because only in human nature can the Dragon now find its sphere of action. Thus, we are called to face our own darkness with courage and light. It is even time to question: when we find the “enemy” in the outer world, are we just avoiding facing him in ourselves? And also: how can one be a “peaceful warrior,” taking a stand with courage for a higher truth?

At this time stories of good versus evil or light versus dark are often told to illuminate the balance of light and dark that we all must strive towards mastering.

Here are some ideas for observing the festival and the season:

• Learn Michaelmas songs and verses.
• Create a Seasonal Nature Table depicting St. Michael and the Dragon. You could display autumn leaves, small pumpkins and gourds to represent the harvest.
• Tell stories about St. Michael or St. George and the Dragon.
• Do fun outdoor activities that require strength, courage and bravery.

As adults, we can use this time to focus on our own inner work and spiritual growth. Take time for meditation and journal writing, and think about the areas in which we would like to grow.

Some verses for children

Brave and True (this is a nice verse to recite while marching out the rhythm.)

Brave and true I will be
Each good deed sets me free.
Each kind word makes me strong.
I will fight for the right,
I will conquer the wrong.

St. Michael

Earth grows dark and fear is lurking,
O St. Michael, Heaven’s knight,
Go before us now and lead us,
Out of darkness, into light.

The Story of St Michael and the Dragon

A Michaelmas Story

St Michael’s Harvest Song

A Michaelmas Song

We wish everyone strength and courage this Michaelmas season, may all your dragons be tamed!

Post-Flood Worries: Help Your Child Manage Anxiety

After a flood, many families will take time to recover. This will depend partly on the level of trauma a family suffered during the actual event, and how quickly life can return to normal after the event.

For people who had to evacuate their homes, those whose homes were destroyed, or those who lost significant possessions or family pets, the process will be longer. This also depends on the amount of recovery support available, whether the family suffers ongoing financial hardship, and how long and arduous the process of returning to normal life is.

Children look to parents and carers in times of crisis to know how they should behave and feel. It’s important to stay calm and model a healthy stress response (easier said than done!) to help your child feel secure and comforted. Self-care is vital during this time because you are unable to give to those around you if your own cup is empty. If you need help during this time, don’t be afraid to reach out and ask.

Children and young people function better when they have an understanding of what has happened, so encourage your child to ask questions or talk about the flood. Provide openings to get the conversation started, such as sharing your own feelings.

Children and young people don’t always talk about what’s going on inside, so check the list below to help you figure out if your child is anxious after the floods.

How do I tell if my child is worried?
A child’s reaction after a disaster depends on their age, developmental level, and previous exposure to disasters. Different coping styles also mean that kids react in different ways; some might withdraw, while others will experience angry outbursts, agitation or irritability. The following reactions are common after a natural disaster:

  • Fear of being separated from family members
  • Worry that something bad will happen to a caregiver or loved one
  • Tantrums, outbursts, or meltdowns
  • Strange physical ailments such as stomach aches or aches and pains
  • Increased activity levels
  • Loss of concentration or inability to pay attention
  • Withdrawal from normal social interactions
  • Worry over their safety or the safety of a family member or pet
  • Falling school grades
  • A persistent focus on the flood in play or conversation
  • Loss of interest in previously enjoyable activities
  • Appetite changes
  • Regression to earlier behaviours such as baby talk or bedwetting
  • Increase in risky teen behaviours, such as drinking or substance abuse, self-harm, or undertaking dangerous activities

What can I do to help my child?
Parental involvement in a child’s world is crucial to post-disaster recovery. Staying involved tells your child that they can trust you and depend on you to be there for them. Although it can be difficult to find time, it will pay off as your child learns to manage their emotions and anxiety in the recovery phase of a disaster.

Leaving yourself open to conversations is important as children try to process their experiences. You might find yourself answering the same question more than once; try to be patient. Clarify the question so you understand what’s behind it. Children need to know what’s happening in the family, with their school, and in the community. Keep it age-appropriate and don’t overwhelm them with too much information, but enough that they know what’s happening and can feel secure. Ask for opinions or ideas where appropriate to help your child feel involved.

Check out the following list of ideas for ways to help your child manage their anxiety during the recovery phase.

Tips for managing anxiety after the floods:

  • Mealtimes and bedtime are good opportunities to talk. Prepare to turn off the TV or take a little extra time saying good night to give your child the chance to tell you what’s on their mind
  • Young children will benefit from extra stories and physical touch to reassure them
  • Try to model calm responses to stressful situations. Your child is watching you to know how they should behave under the same circumstances
  • Remember that your ability to cope influences your child’s recovery, so it’s important to care for yourself as well
  • Shield your child from excess exposure to the news or adult conversations that may trigger trauma memories or unnecessarily frighten a child
  • Monitor media use, especially for older children who may have their own social media accounts. Set limits and be prepared to stand your ground for the sake of your child’s mental health
  • Reassure your child that they are safe now, even if you have to do it repeatedly
  • Spend extra time together, reading, playing games, or spending time in nature. Time spells love to a child, and love means feeling secure. Remember to tell them you love them often.
  • If your family has lost a pet, pay attention to the grief process and mourn appropriately. Hold a memorial service or do something else to remember the life of your pet. Speak of the memories you have of your furry friend and let your child know that it’s OK to grieve and feel sad.
  • Do your best to establish a routine to help your child feel secure. An example is brushing your teeth before bed. It might seem like a small thing, but it’s a familiar activity that helps a child feel safe.
  • Reassure your child that friends or loved ones are being cared for even if there is no communication. Talk about the volunteers who are helping people.
  • Do your best to stay healthy with adequate water, activity, and a good diet along with plenty of rest.
  • Maintain regular mealtimes and bedtimes; knowing what to expect provides important structure that helps children to feel safe.
  • Encourage children to help and continue to allocate small chores as part of daily life. Children feel better when they are doing something positive to help others.
  • Think of ways to alleviate boredom if the disruption has put a stop to normal extracurricular activities such as sports or youth activities. Try board games, arts and crafts, or meeting up with other flood-affected friends instead.
  • Avoid negative reactions to annoying or irritating behaviours such as clinginess, repeated questions about the floods, acting out flood play, or seeking reassurance. Just understand that your child is doing their best to cope and be patient.
  • Maintain a positive mindset and speak of the future in hopeful terms. Encourage your child to see the good in the situations that you find yourselves in.
  • Communicate with teachers about what to expect from your child and be prepared to spend extra time helping with homework if your child is experiencing a lack of concentration
  • Get involved in community activities. While helping in the community is good for positive feelings, try to find some community activities unrelated to floods for a mental break. Storytime at the library, activities at the YMCA, or church or community youth groups are all good ways of connecting with others who might have been through similar experiences.

Read the full article at lifeskills4kids.com.au

Raising overcomers: How to teach your kids to do hard things

By Katie Westenberg from mother.ly

Ever wonder how to teach your kids to fight fear, to live brave and overcome hard things?

I haven’t taught any of my children to ride a bike. Not one of the four.

I’ve helped, for sure. I’ve held on to the seat and steadied them while they will their bodies to balance and their feet to push the pedals, but my husband has always been the one to let go of the seat and enable their independence.

This never even occurred to me until I was working with my youngest on riding sans training wheels last month. My husband had been gone for the weekend and sensing my little guy was ready, I took the training wheels off and started coaching him along. When my husband arrived home he put one steady hand on the back of my son’s bicycle seat, lingered for a mere second and sent him on his way. Just like that, he was riding a bike.

And I realized, it was the letting go that was hard for me.

If my husband hadn’t come home, I might still be scampering along behind that little boy’s bike—holding him back, rather than watching him soar.

Ever wonder how to teach your kids to do hard things? How to fight fear, to live brave and overcome hard things? Here are some great ideas to get you started.

Life is full of hard things. Full of them. Learning to walk is tough. Growing up is challenging. Learning to become a good spouse is no easy feat, settling into the role of mother is hard. Hard. Hard. Hard. So why wouldn’t we want to prepare our kids to handle hard things well—to not balk at the pressure? Why shouldn’t we seek to give them eyes that see beyond what’s right in front of them, intentionally training them and equipping them with the tools to handle hard things?

Here are 5 things I want to be intentional about in raising kids who can do hard things, kids who are overcomers.

1. Let them fail

Really. Our home is a training ground for life. And so is yours. It’s a place where our children are loved no matter what, a place where their worth is not based on performance, and the safest place for them trip and fall and learn about what it takes to get back up again.

As the supplier of band-aids and ice packs this can be hard for a mama to do. My natural tendency is to smooth out all the rough spots, champion my children to success and just continue holding on to their bicycle seats for a good long while. But this does not help them in the long run.

A cut-throat workplace or college class are not the best place for our kids to be learning these lessons for the first time. Be intentional about giving your children a safe place to mess it all up, to crash and burn, to learn consequences and forgiveness and exactly what it takes to get back up and try again.

2. Equip them

Watching our children deal with hard things give us the opportunity to teach them how to respond well. Recently my daughter took two weeks of group swimming lessons—something that was new to her. Although she was scared, she made it through the first week quite well. She conquered some fears and by the end of the week she was having all kinds of fun.

However, after a long weekend she began to fear swimming lessons again and didn’t want to return for the second week. Through tears she told me how much she hated swimming. And I quickly understood this wasn’t really about swimming anymore. She was being seized by fear. She loved swimming just a few days earlier and now she was believing a lie, believing her fears.

One thing I’m learning is that no matter how irrational, improbable, or ridiculous it may seem to someone else, fear is real. We all fear different things, but when you are in the midst of it, it becomes your reality. Minimizing someone else’s fear is not helpful.

I remember having a math teacher once who seemed to think all of math was easy. Which was great for him, but it did not change the fact that it was NOT easy for me. Ever. I fought for every good math grade I got. It never got easy, but I was able to learn the principals well enough to get through it and avoid it for the rest of my adult life. (I’m kidding…partly.)

The same strategy applied to my scared swimmer. Telling her swimming is fun and not scary would not be helpful, but teaching her how we handle fear, how we fight lies that can eat away at our hearts, is quite useful.

3. Talk truth

While we try to re-shape hearts and complaining attitudes around here we don’t shy away from calling things hard. Learning to swim is hard. Pulling weeds is hard. Keeping a tidy home is hard. Sure it is, but that doesn’t mean we don’t do it.

As my kids get older we talk more and more about the hard things of life, because they don’t ever magically go away. We talk about their dad’s job and the hard things he does there. We talk about paying bills and taxes, we talk about being treated unfairly or unkindly.

Opportunities abound—that grumpy grocery store clerk who seems to be having a hard day, discuss it with your kids. That construction worker who is sweating up a storm in his hard hat, talk about it with your kids. Talking truth with your children, rather than sugar-coating life lessons, conditions them to understanding that hard work is a part of life and not something we shy away from.

4. Start training them

Have you ever considered intentionally training your children to do hard things, to push past their will and what they see right in front of them in order to learn the value of perseverance? You can be intentional about helping your children develop faithfulness and tenacity.

Try taking on a big challenge as a family. Help your kids engage in conversations outside of their comfort zone or offer an apology even when it feels awkward. Show them how to serve others or what it might look like to give sacrificially. These things don’t come naturally for most children, or adults for that matter. Walk them through it intentionally and give them opportunities and new environments in which to practice it. Make sure they see you doing the same.

You can practice hard things at home as well. If your home is like ours there are plenty of jobs and chores my husband and I do out of habit or because it’s quicker and cleaner if we do them ourselves, but allowing our children to do the work grows and shapes them.

Let them fold their clothes, let them weed the flower beds, teach them to clean up the kitchen, to sweep the steps and wash the windows. The tasks will grow with age, of course, and you can even make some of the bigger and more challenging chores paid jobs, but only pay for a job well done. It all takes effort and oversight on your part, but slowly they will begin to learn the value of hard work and doing hard things. And, hopefully, your house will be getting cleaner in the process!

5. Follow through

Similar to discipline, follow-through is key and is often the hardest part as a parent. Recently, my husband was working on training my son in the area of responsibility and before leaving for work one morning he said to me, “We had a talk last night about responsibility and I told Tyler that I expect his chores to be completed by the time I get home from work. Please don’t give him any reminders today.” No reminders. Can I tell you how that about killed me as mama?

9:00: Chores weren’t done.

11:00: Chores weren’t done. And I may have developed a nervous tick trying to keep my mouth shut. Thankfully, by the time my husband got home the chores were finally done and I can honestly say I did not give any reminders. But it doesn’t always work out that way.

This parenting gig, this training kids thing, is hard. It’s work.

You love those kids like crazy and if you’re anything like me, you tend to let them off the hook too easy at times. But that is not parenting brave. Parenting brave requires the very same thing of us that we are trying to train in our kids, making decisions not based solely on what is right in front of us, but with the end result in mind. In this case that would be responsible and capable adults.

A version of this article was originally published on I Choose Brave.

2021 HSC Results

Cape Byron Rudolf Steiner school would like to congratulate all students and teachers across NSW on achieving their best HSC results under the most challenging and disruptive of circumstances last year. 

The measure of the Class of 2021 was always going to be different, as the world around them changed too. How well did they persevere despite a constantly changing social and academic landscape? How well did they maintain cohesion as a class, good spirits, and faith in themselves, their abilities and their teachers? How well did they support one another and give back to the community and the school? These are the metrics that more accurately reveal the capacities of this year group and on all fronts the students at Cape Byron shone.

That said, our cohort of 28 also achieved outstanding results, in particular in Drama, Music, Visual Arts  and Design & Technology. Almost half of all Drama students were awarded a Band 6, with three nominations for OnStage. In Music 1, there were two Band 6s with one student invited to perform in Sydney for ENCORE. Top Band 6 results were also achieved in Maths Extension, Maths Standard, Design & Technology, Society & Culture, German Beginners and Visual Arts, also with a nomination for ArtExpress. 

Paddy Innes-Hill, Co-Head of School, said, “I am thrilled for all our students, and delighted with these results.  They demonstrate the breadth of excellence in our teaching.  And our exceptional creative arts result, where over 80% of students achieved Bands 5 and 6, truly reflects the heart of the best Steiner education.” 

He also pointed out that ”while we celebrate the highest results, we also recognise that we achieved fewer lower band results than in previous years.  Only 6 % of results were below Band 4, and none were below Band 3. “Lifting” the tail-end is as valid a measure of the success of student learning as achieving high marks.”

Students have accepted scholarships and offers in a diverse range of courses and colleges around Australia and internationally, pursuing interests in: Business Entrepreneurship, Science and Biomedicine, Coastal Science and Marine Studies, Fine Arts, Engineering and Architecture, to name a few.

Our Dux of 2021 is Inde Henderson who will commence a double degree in Law and Political Communications at Victoria University, Wellington, NZ. 

Congratulations one and all.

Photo By Kate Holmes.