Thursday, August 25, 2011

Creating a Positive and Healthy Environment for Girls on Long Island


I can't believe back-to-school season is upon us already.

For many of our Girl Scouts going back to school means plenty of great opportunities for girls, including new friends, new knowledge and new experiences. However, it also means encountering both old and new stressors.

We at the Girl Scouts of Nassau County are dedicated to educating girls and adults about some of these issues, including bullying, healthy relationships, body image and conflict resolution. We hope that through this education, we can help put an end to harmful behaviors and create a positive and healthy environment for girls on Long Island. Here are a few tips we thought it was important to share.

If your child has trouble managing her time:

Work with your child to create a daily schedule. Make a time table with each hour and activity of the day. Be sure to devote at least eight hours to sleep!

Ask your child about the activities that are most important to her. Make sure to devote time to those activities and be prepared to cut down on some of the less important activities.
  
Children (and adults) need unscheduled time to relax, be with friends, read and explore their creativity. They also need time each day where they are not “plugged-in” to the electronic world.

To protect your child’s digital safety:

Keep all computers in open areas in your home. Hook laptops up to land connections. Collect all cell phones when it is time to go to bed so children’s sleep is not disturbed by text messages, Internet, etc.
   
Talk with your children about being a digitally responsible citizen. They can find ways around all of the controls you set up, like creating multiple Facebook accounts or blocking your account so you can’t see what they post about themselves. Talk with them about your rules and why you set them up so they understand the repercussions of their actions.

If a child is a victim of bullying:

Listen to her. Let her tell you the full story before you react.
  
Discuss ways to resolve the situation with her. Create a plan you both can support.
  
Do not hesitate to seek help from school officials. All children are entitled to be in a safe school environment.

If a child is a bully:


Ask her to recount the situation in her own words. Let her tell you the story before you react.
  
Find out why she bullied and how it made her feel. Explore other ways to address these feelings with her.

To help girls develop a positive body image:

Examine your own body image and how it might influence girls; the way that you speak about your own body and how you perceive others to look will greatly influence your children.
  
Lead a healthy lifestyle with girls, modeling good eating and physical activity.
  
Take action! Urge your representatives and senators to support The Healthy Media for Youth Act at www.girlscouts4girls.org/girlscouts/home/.

If you're interested in learning more about the above, please contact Eliza Zipper, advocacy and critical issues coordinator for the Girl Scouts of Nassau County at zippere@gsnc.org or 516.741.2550 x254. She will be happy to speak with you. And, please do enjoy the rest of your summer!

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This article originally appeared in the Garden City Patch.

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