Non-Native recovery approaches often look at addiction as an individual disease, ignoring the social, political, or economic roots of addiction. The indigenous experience adds a dimension of acknowledging sociopolitical causes without removing an individual’s need to do the hard work it takes to heal. This is new, culturally specific thinking that can also add to the field of mainstream recovery knowledge.
– Don Coyhis (founder) and Richard Simonelli
The White Bison Vision
Don Coyhis, Mohican Nation, is the President and Founder of White Bison, Inc., an American Indian non-profit organization, located in Colorado Springs, CO. Don originally set out to raise awareness and treat alcoholism among Indian youth on the reservations. After studying the underlying causes of alcoholism, White Bison’s mission expanded to include drug addiction, dysfunctional families and relationships, as well as the American Indian suicide rate. From this, the Wellbriety Movement was born.
The teachings of Wellbriety go beyond being sober to include thriving in the community and being balanced emotionally, mentally, physical,ly and spiritually. Over the past 26 years, Don has developed a series of culturally-based programs to address recovery and treatment, youth prevention and treatment, programs for healthy families, and healing from unresolved grief and traumatic loss due to intergenerational trauma. These programs are designed to help with all facets of family healing and have been implemented throughout the United States and Canada.
White Bison is a Native American-operated 501(c)3 nonprofit dedicated to creating and sustaining a grassroots Wellbriety Movement – providing culturally-based healing to the next seven generations of Indigenous People.
The Wellbriety Movement
To be sober and well. That’s what White Bison wants for our community, that’s why we’re a proud facilitator of the Wellbriety Movement. We must find sobriety and recover from the harmful effects of drugs and alcohol.
To Go Beyond
The “Well” in Wellbriety is the inspiration to go on beyond sobriety and recovery, committing to a life of wellness and healing everyday. Many use White Bison’s healing resource products, attend its learning circles, & volunteer their services to help themselves and others achieve wellness.
A Resource to the Community
White Bison offers sobriety, recovery, addictions prevention, and wellness/Wellbriety learning resources to the Native American/Alaska Native community nationwide. Our resources are also available to non-Native people.
The Wellbriety Movement is an interconnected web spreading across our Native Nations carrying the message of cultural knowledge about recovery. Substance Abuse Treatment Centers across the country have taken steps to become a Wellbriety Certified Treatment Center. ( https://whitebison.org/treatment-centers/ ) They have met specific criteria by utilizing principles, methods, and resources from the Wellbriety approach within their programs.
By sending clients to Wellbriety Certified Treatment Centers, it means that these centers are guaranteed to:
Include culturally-based Wellbriety curriculum, including:
The Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps course, materials and related counseling
Mending Broken Hearts course, materials and related counseling
Warrior Down/Recovery Coach course, materials and related counseling
‘The Red Road to Wellbriety: In the Native American Way’ and the supplementary workbook.
Employ at least one individual of Native American ancestry;
Provide individual counseling for clients;
Provide access to a Native American Elder, who conducts ceremonies and provides teachings;
Incorporate traditional Native American healing practices (smudging, pipe ceremony, sweat lodge, etc.);
Establish aftercare plans by providing community referrals for continuous self-care; and,
Ensure all counselors are trained in and incorporate culturally-based curriculum, including:
Medicine Wheel and 12 Steps Programs
Mending Broken Hearts
Warrior Down/Recovery Coach course
‘The Red Road to Wellbriety: In the Native American Way’ study groups/circles.
Translating the world for a person with fetal alcohol
BEING A “COGNITIVE” TRANSLATOR.
Written by Jodee Kulp
Jodee has been a tireless advocate for persons with FASD since 1997, and she continues to pioneer new ways of quality of life improvement. She is the behind-the-scenes engine of Red Shoes Rock and developer of the Expanding Mindz with Canines program to encourage executive functioning growth. She is also the co-producer of Embraced Film (www.embracedmovement.org)
In an abstract world, a brain that thinks concretely may need help with interpretation, and by having a cognitive translator our daughter can avoid mistakes and frustration in professional meetings in finance, social welfare, medical, and the judicial process. When needed she enlists me as her cognitive translator and I attend the appointment or meetings to make sure the communication between the professional and my daughter is understood. Over time both the professionals and individuals gain communication understanding in working as a team.
To translate I make myself “an only when a necessary piece of her conversations”. I may bring a magazine or book to glance through to appear busy or I may catch up on a text message. I make sure to give her the space she needs to manage herself and remain in charge. If she gives me a preset signal, I interject into the conversation for clarification. After the end of the meeting, I ask for a recap of the next steps or meeting. Cognitive translations provide her safety to remain on course and navigate through complicated professional discussions, keep her trust in the professional and increase her skills and knowledge. It also opens the eyes of the professionals to understand how what is said or written can cause huge repercussions.
“You need to keep your blood sugars low” can be interpreted two ways A1c which is a 90-day average or glucose test-by-glucose test. What is low? What does low mean? Does it always need to be low? What about if her body is different from the international average? What if those average numbers are actually dangerous for her? You see one statement can become difficult.
“You need to not lose any more blood.” Do we stop drawing labs?
When she trusts and feels safe she is able to manage more complex situations. With time and experience, she manages her life challenges.
While some professionals consider my attendance a hindrance to her progress I wonder how clearly they understand the brain and metabolic system of a person with fetal alcohol.
In a therapy session for anger management, a therapist described the range of emotions: “Emotions are like waves, there will be low times and high times and if you wait through a low time you can ride the wave up to a high time. Then you will ride the wave back down. Like this.” (Therapist demonstrated with her hand a waving motion.) I remained silent, watching my daughter process what she heard. When we arrived in the car, I said, “Your therapist had a good idea today about managing anger, tell me about it.” She replied, “I don’t get it, why would she want me to ride in a wagon?”
Why did this miscommunication occur?
First, we live in Minnesota so she has no experiential frame of reference for a large wave. (Professionals must think about what experience this person has that I can connect new learning to) Second, she took “wa” sound and assumed her auditory processing issues had confused her once again. “You can not ride a wave on a Minnesota lake. If you ride on it, could it be a “wagon?”
How many times “What we say” is not “What is received?
At a job placement meeting, a counselor stated, “I am a realist, do you think senior citizens would like your hair?” “I am a realist, do you think senior citizens would like your clothes?” (And she continued with more questions beginning with “I am a realist”) When we reached the car, my daughter turned to me and said “Why would a Realtor care how I look for grandmas and grandpas. They like me just how I am.” I was glad she had missed the professional’s point.
One adult I have translated for begins nodding her head when she “does not” understand. This provides two results – “The person explaining believes understanding has occurred and stops talking.” Another polite adult states, “Thank you so much for telling me that, now I understand.” Only later in the safety of her home do you realize the words understood were hot air.
As a cognitive translator, I do not consider myself an external brain any more than I would consider a seeing-eye dog an external brain for a person who cannot see. I am simply a tool, another set of eyes, ears, and mouth when needed. I become the list maker, the care coordinator, the text message, and the dot connector for individuals and professionals.
When another person I care about was asked in a meeting to provide a two-year timeline of events for judicial. I problem-solve the abstract into concrete finding solutions like notes on recipe cards you can sort into time, phone, and social media texts. Soon, a two-year time frame was created.
The people I love have beautiful brains – they think very differently from mine and all are very capable in so many ways better often than those of us functioning abstractly. In a world that has moved from agricultural to industrial to informational and now to communication, we have left this population behind. She is a strong, dynamic adult with valuable insight into a world that often seems to talk too fast and too much.
Injured with facial stitches and unable to talk well due to an injury, the nurse continued to come into her hospital room pull down her mask and take a deep breath (yes, during Covid). She then proceeded to drop a pill on the floor and put it back into the med cup. Sam, her husband, became her cognitive translator and advocate stopping the situation and requiring new medication. The statement back from the nurse, “Oh, I thought you were retarded.” Enough said.
Cognitive translation empowers versus de-powers.
In a world that is so often dismissive, the professionals often have the wrong thought process, my daughter is a greater person because of her challenges not lesser.
Please share your experiences in missing communication, perhaps together we can start and finish better conversations.
— Written and shared by R.J. Formanek –R.J. is one of our beloved FASD Survival Strategy Teachers – R.J. Formanek is the developer and visionary of Red Shoes Rock FASD Aware and the founder of the Facebook Site “Flying with Broken Wings”
Learning how FASD affects each of us individually can make a huge difference in understanding the miscommunication we with this hidden disability often face.
Because of deficits in our cognition, due to the damage (in this case mainly to the frontal lobes) we often do not understand cause and effect, because to us that is an abstract idea. We tend to not be so good with abstract concepts… and that may be due to a lack of understanding.
Humour, jokes are often lost on us because they involve using the ability to look at things in an abstract, as opposed to a concrete light. And many things we say are taken as jokes because the typical person puts an abstract spin on what we say. This can manifest in some interesting ways.
For example… when I was a kid people said,
“Don’t touch fire, you will get burned.”
Burned? I had NO IDEA what that was. I had seen paper and wood burn. Would I burst into flames as well? What did it feel like? What exactly does burn mean anyway? If you have difficulty generalizing you get burned many many times!
And you know what I did? I stuck my hand in those flames. And then I knew what burnt was.
Ok, so far, so good…. stay with me here (this is the ‘twist’ part)
People said, “Don’t touch the stove, the element is hot and will burn you.”
Now, I knew what burn meant… and that hurt. BUT… there were no flames, how could this red, glowing element burn me?
And you know what I did? Yes, you know…. LOL! I left a fair amount of my skin on THAT one.
People said, “Don’t put your hand in boiling water, it will burn you.”
Now, having been burned once or twice before… I had this one. No problem. EXCEPT: How could water burn me? It wasn’t in flames and it wasn’t red hot like the stove? OK, that’s got to be a ‘joke’ or something…
And you KNOW what I did. Third-degree burns down most of my chest on that one.
You see, I THOUGHT I understood… and in one respect I did. BUT and here’s the big reveal:
I was not able to transfer the knowledge I learned in one situation to another. I HAD to experience the different types of ‘burn’ to understand.
and so I rolled with the flow of learning one simple word… … burned in a relationship – well that hurt inside … sun burned – peeled and blistered … burn more calories… worked my butt off
and not to forget… … fire can burn brightly or fiercely – yep really hot … her eyes burned right through him – felt that one
and I didn’t even add the SLANG usages… … just think about it – I thought I did
I’m just glad I pretty well had it figured out when I found out that acid can burn as well…. 😉
So, I hope that helps explain some of the problems we often have with understanding what we haven’t experienced, and transferring knowledge from one situation to another similar, yet different situation.
Obvious enough that generalities work to protect the mind from the great outdoors; is it possible that this was in fact their first purpose? – Howard Nemerov
The way we use the language can be very confusing and when we have a word one can use as a noun, verb, adjective and adverb it will be easy to get burned!
Savanna Pietrantonio: “Seeking inside keys to knowledge to prevent abuse from parents, professionals, and caregivers to persons with FASD”
Internal Understanding of FASD Nuclear Reaction Meltdowns
Guest Blog by Savanna Pietrantonio
Savanna is one of our beloved FASD Survival Strategy Teachers
In an effort to reframe my understanding of meltdowns I’ve had to look deeper into the meaningful gifts of the meltdown and change my fear and shame into acceptance that they are always going to be my body’s unique way of communicating with me.
In my attempt to hide my disability, act normally, and bury my feelings I forget that this is not being true to my disability or myself. And my body lets me know.
Usually through a meltdown of epic nuclear reaction proportions!
I can go about my life for weeks accomplishing, learning, overcoming and shutting off or hiding the FASD part of me.
But I feel everything intensely and emotional and physical distress is a daily part of living with the disability.
I have to learn to respect the meltdown as a symptom of brain damage. I am not being willful, rebellious, purposely destructive, or hateful. My brain is telling me that something is wrong and I need to stop everything and ask for help to both get through daily life and regulate my emotions.I have discovered eight situations, which cause stress hormones to flood my system, and unfortunately, my brain is not equipped to cope with the overload I am asking it to handle. Sometimes I can handle one or more, but as they add together as life often will, there may be no stopping the ensuing meltdown. Find your own keys that trigger our meltdowns. Understand them and then reach out to caring support to walk through your next day safely.
Eight meltdown situations
Social situations where I have to “be on” for extended periods
A change in a set schedule or a plan I am expecting
Fast-paced days where I am thinking and processing constantly
Or the opposite days when I am wandering “lost”
Anticipation of an event even if it’s a positive one
After the event, the letdown and “what’s next?” feeling
Something new is being introduced into my life- a skill or an object
An expectation that I fear I cannot meet
Neurotypical people can manage inherently as the brain balances their self-regulating neocortex with their limbic emotion regulating system—‘wise mind’ and ‘emotion mind’. My brain because of prenatal alcohol damage can’t do that. Messages between these two parts of the brain get stuck like tangled Christmas lights and I am triggered into an emotional spiral down the slippery slope to meltdown.
To the best of my ability, I can tell you that the warning signs of a meltdown before or after any emotional high or low are there. Both my external brain and I must be on the lookout and aware of them. If the warnings are missed the overload becomes unmanageable. These signs present themselves ahead of the event or days to a week afterward. Compassion and understanding provision us to walk into our complex moments and process them safely.
Find your keys that trigger your meltdowns. Understand them and then reach out to caring support to help you before they occur.
17 clues of an ensuing meltdown:
Restless, interrupted sleep, night terrors (others have vivid dreams)
My heart feels like it is racing and an uneasy sense of dread or urgency
Boredom (really not knowing what to do next-directionless)
My surroundings become cluttered (suddenly I can’t pick up after myself)
The tired but wired feeling
Inability to focus on one thing but the impulse to multitask to the extreme
Defensiveness and extreme sensitivity
Acting withdrawn and feeling alone and isolated or isolating
Itchy skin and breakouts
Fidgety movements like uncontrolled scratching (others may pick or bite a part of hand or area of the body – bottom lip)
Easily frustrated to the extreme (slamming doors or verbal aggression)
Obsessions over unrelated things and agitation with them
A profound sense of sadness or unexplainable loss
The feeling my brain is full and slow, like when you overeat and your stomach feels uncomfortably full
Spending money carelessly and in excess
The Pre-crisis—COMPASSION PLEASE!
Before a crisis can occur its critical to stop the spiral by having a compassionate, understanding, non judgmental external brain who has learned not to take your behaviors personally, step in and guide my thinking, give me a perception check or just show care and not let me disconnect. This is not easy as my behaviors are shouting for help while pushing people away at the same time.
I may say something very hurtful when my external brain says, “What can I do to help you?”
“You can die!” I shout because I don’t know what he can do and my brain is no longer connecting to the part of me that can share thinking and feeling.
But there really are things he can do to help me and they really do bring down the energy and place my life back into a state of regulation.
Hug me and say I understand. “This is because…” and name it for me
Hold me while I cry and listen while I try to get my feelings out. This may be for more than one day as perserveration is at its most intrusive
Help me pick up the scattered brain puzzle pieces and put them into order.
My external brain maneuvers my day, stepping in and canceling appointments or doing a task for me so that I can include self-care and put downtime into that moment.
Provide direction—one direction only, please.
Break down my day or task into single doable steps.
Becoming compassionate and nonjudgmental.
Or I need to be told to stop all my activity and go rest.
And provide time for me to complete self-care:
Sometimes I need a complete escape and to have a fun, new adventure — this builds neuroplasticity.
I focus on the foods that build a healthy brain-walnuts, salmon, and dark chocolate—the magic trifecta for calming. Drink lots of water-mild hydration causes tiredness and fatigue. And if we’re not talking nutrition- banana bread, carrot cake, mac & cheese, spaghetti. The things that comforted me in childhood. Baking these things can be surprisingly sensory and calming.
Sometimes I need to get to a yoga class to reconnect my mind, body, and spirit or I need an aggressive cardio workout that burns off the adrenaline and cortisol.
I need an intervention so that I can concentrate on the work of really surrendering to my emotions appropriately, processing whatever it was that happened, talking out my feelings and fears, feeling compassion for myself, and coming to a letting go of it. It is exactly like the work of the grief process. If I skip this step, the symptoms become very aggressive and I am propelled into a full fight or flight reaction and I explode with emotion and nothing and nobody is safe from the destruction of self-loathing I feel. This is where I can hurt myself, others and possessions. (Note: some people shut down and freeze.)
Handling a meltdown with love
While my external brain or myself can’t always read my body’s clues, I have learned to meltdown more appropriately as I begin to trust the process.
We have set some guidelines:
I can’t run away, especially by driving, but staying in trust and working through the intense situation and he can’t leave me at that moment or I am unsafe.
No arguing when glass things are within throwing reach – find a safe open place to work through the issue and I have a sensory or squishy toy in my hands instead.
No swearing (this is so hard when I don’t have words).
A pact I made with God and myself is that I will not engage in self-harm or use substances. Ever!
I am not to strike out in anger at him.
I am not to say hurtful, blaming things to him about the past.
We have personal space boundaries and if losing it is imminent my external brain cannot—imperatively—cannot react with anger and punishment or aggression and he must not come into my personal space.
Sometimes though unfortunately, he has to just hold me down and use extended breathing techniques and calmly stroke my hair and tell me I am loving and loved, all is well and I am safe in a soothing voice over and over again while I kick and scream and cry until I am exhausted and its all gone and I’ve let go of my fear, urgency, and panic.
Triage after the storm
Afterward, the storm really is over and I can be helped into a calm environment where he can prepare a bath (running water is soothing) with dim lighting, zen music, and calming lavender or other essential oil, while I drink a magnesium supplement or I need to be soothed to sleep with weighted blankets and soothing guided meditations playing while he rubs my back or uses tapping on me.
It is possible to get to the place on the other side of the meltdown where you can look at it and see where intervention might have stopped the spiral and what might we do differently for the next time. And reinforce that what my body was telling me is that I need to heed its signals. By understanding and reflecting back I can empower myself when I list these and review them.
The gifts of the cathartic meltdown are the stillness afterward that allows for more clarity It allows me to see what I need to let go of and what I need to clear space for. It reminds me that I can empower myself by respecting my FASD and that I have to act authentically and within my own trueness not separate from it but within it.
I no longer need to feel shame, as I know God made me exactly how He wanted me to be with unique built-in ways of communicating my needs. I’ve come to embrace and be comfortable in the discomfort knowing that every emotion felt will pass if accepted and felt with compassion.
I can return to the path of “Buddha-nature that is found within suffering and our relationship to it, not by escaping it.” 1
The taking care of self becomes easier and better the more often you do it and the more your heart and soul become aligned.
After all, the Spectrum is halfway to SPECTacular.2
Mackie is an amazing young man – now 12 years old – who has Fetal Alcohol Syndrome and Autism and over 150 medical conditions associated with prenatal alcohol exposure. With his Red Shoes Rocking he has been and continues to plan to CHANGE THE WORLD.
This year he has decided to open and run a store called MAC FURRY ROCK RED SHOES to raise money so that children who are hurting can get their own Furry or Stuffie and the Furry the Penguin Cares Book. He buys them at cost to give them away.
Help Mac build this opportunity.
So far, Mac has given 50 C.A.R.E. kits to his children’s hospital and continues to stuff first responders and police cars in his local community. He is also the secret behind presents that arrive at hurting children’s homes who have lost parents to Covid.
Mac has a Fantastic Altruistic Spirit for others. Some call that FAS. Our kids will give away everything they have – that is their gift.
A place for those who love him and care for him to follow his escapades and triumphs and learn about this amazing young man.
COMING SOON SURPRISE – Ann Yurcek will be going down the Medical Realities Rabbit Hole in our C.A.R.E. Theme for FASD Awareness starting on June 1 – Watch for our New FREE downloadable AWARENESS Graphic being released NEXT WEEK!
Development is variable as we grow – when you first learned to ride a bike you fell off – when you first learn to walk you had to get back up… When you first learn to spell you forget…. when you first learn to read – you stumble on words – ALL of these skills take multiple developmental abilities in many areas of the brain and our kids with neurodiversity often need to reroute neuro passages – not everything reaches developmental maturity at the same time – not everything reaches maturity – EVEN FOR US!
Working with Toni Hager we discovered that a working circular system to climb the developmental structure helped us see the areas still needing work while discovering ways to complement learning at age appreciated levels. We do not necessarily use age appropriate as is can be dismissive to the individual.
Our family learned to always return to center and focus on the Metabolic structure then stabilize with interests, talents, strengths, and challenges. And at different stages of huge brain and growth like during puberty we have the opportunity to layer those areas, cement, and grow. This is a time to look at missing developmental areas and lags. It is a time we can develop playful strategies to help those layers have the accommodations to build the other layers. We all learn better when we are having dun.
For Ann’s son, Mac, he cannot see well, so his development is skewed. In Mac’s case adding in new technologies, different colors, movement, and revisiting learning to read at age 12 is helping other areas develop and connect.
Once his family discovered he had a tethered cord and afer his tethered cord surgery Mac was able to learn to feel his feet, increase motor abilities and build the skills he couldn’t when he was tiny. (Note: this also affected bowel and urinary issues)
With puberty fast approaching he has an implanted DBS and what his brain was unable to do on its own, it can with his new robotic partner! Mac is focusing on building motor, small motor, speech and everything that his initial wiring had skewed and is building new connections and cementing them. This is providing for higher levels of learning and skill development.
Children will typically flock to an adult who understands the nature of this situation and who encourages challenge and expressive fun. I am so excited to feature the world of Dr. “Fun” Lyelle Palmer.
Use language to build your child’s strength of character. Words to share with our children to create excitement and encouragement?
By Lyelle Palmer, PhD “Dr. Fun”
Children consider playground activities “circus performances” and they hunger for recognition.
Goal: Children are encouraged to work out on the playground equipment by the presence of an adult.
The greatest luxury of a child is to have an adult who will watch the performance with full attention. By full attention, we mean that the adult is looking and commenting to the children, rather than reading, talking to another adult, or being distracted or absorbed by internal thoughts unrelated to the children. “Being present to the children” is another way of describing this full attention condition. Adults should verbalize action or use emotional sounds or exclamations in order to intensify the experiences. For many students, the activities introduced at school will be a first experience and the only opportunity for participation.
Here are some verbal tools for adults to use in interacting with SMART children.
Zoom! Zip! (intoned during action)
Boom! Bump! Ka-Boom! Splat! (Intensifying the experience)
Being Impressed (Rewarding the experience)
You did it!
Giving Attention: (Rewarding the experience)
Look at you.
I see you.
Naming Experience: (Rewarding specific activity)
You are hanging upside down.
You are swinging high.
You are climbing up and up.
I see you swinging.
Look at you flip on the bar.
Hello, upside down.
I see you hanging upside down.
Rewarding desired action: (Attention reward)
You are locking your feet under the bar.
I see you keeping your feet on the board.
You are tying your shoes.
Good job. Give me five!
Redirecting: (Diverting attention to desired action)
Now I want to see how you jump rope.
Now it is time to use the overhead ladder.
Everyone is hanging. That must be fun.
Meeting Resistance: (Reversing opposition)
I’ll bet you can’t hang upside down.
You’ll really fool me if you can jump rope.
Don’t let me catch you doing flips.
You will never be able to…
Voicing limits: (Objective/non-personal control)
Bars are not for jumping from.
Gravel is not for throwing.
We give others a chance to swing.
Children are not for hitting.
Alerting to Time: (Avoiding unpleasant surprises)
We go to class in three minutes.
You have five/two minutes left.
Now it is time to do flips.
Suggesting: (Linking positive emotion to future expectation)
You will want to do this again and again.
You will hardly be able to wait to come back here.
You will feel so proud to tell __ about your flips.
Reminding of Skill: (Picturing past success, linking to positive emotion)
All kids should spend more time outside to get away from their screens and burn off some energy. Some parents also want their kids to be comfortable outdoors to prepare them for summer camp. No matter the reason that you send your kids outside, you need to ensure they can engage in safe exploration around potential hazards like fire from a fire pit (which is a great addition to the backyard to have family fun time once the sun goes down). The following tips from Red Shoes Rock will help you get your kids actively exploring the outdoors. Nature and neurodiversity often offer our children and adults the best enrichment and long-lasting learning opportunities.
1. Provide Just Enough Structure with Organized Activities
Kids who feel the most comfortable exploring the outdoors do so with some guidance from their parents. Metro Parent notes that structure makes kids feel safe and secure, so don’t plan to throw open your back door and order them to have fun and explore. Rather, invite them to discover, create, and explore with messy play ideas. Show them that they can have fun outside, expand their imagination and creativity, and learn more about themselves and the world around them in the process.
One way to acclimate your kids to the outdoors successfully is to create a scavenger hunt. At Tinkergarten, we often “Go on a Bear Hunt” looking for a baby bear to reunite with mommy bear or vis versa. You can do this in your backyard, a public park, or a campground. The kids will focus on the hunt itself and less on the fact that they may be a little uncomfortable outside. They’ll also be excited about competing against one another.
To get your kids actively exploring the outdoors, create a list of natural items for them to find, such as a certain color leaf or a specific size rock. Have a copy of the list for each child and adjust for your kids’ ages and abilities. You can have the kids compete individually or in teams, and it may be helpful to team a younger child with an older child. Be sure to explain the rules before you give the kids their lists. And have small prizes on hand to reward their hard work.
2. Create Opportunities to Learn about Nature Together
You also can provide structure to your kids’ outside time by organizing a family bird watching day. Childhood by Nature says there are all kinds of advantages to becoming a birder, both for your child and the pair of you.
To start, it’s an opportunity to learn about your immediate environment: exactly what kinds of birds (and other animals, such as squirrels) live there, the kinds of habitats they live in, why your area’s climate is ideal for them, and how different animals have adapted to human presence. Your kids will enjoy learning about the wildlife that lives in their own yard, and they’ll take pride in being able to identify various species that share their outdoor space.
One way to be able to study nature just outside the home is to attract birds and butterflies to your property with an intentional design in your backyard landscaping. Bring on the help of professional landscapers, who will know what native plants and flowers to include.
3. Teach Your Kids Outdoor Safety
To put your kids’ minds at ease—and your own—Scholastic points out that it’s important to teach them outdoor safety tips. Kids are curious, and once they feel more comfortable outside, they will take more risks. Equipping them with general knowledge about the outdoors will help them stay safe, no matter the situation.
Safety for bikes, skates and scooters—Teach your kids not to do any of these activities without first putting on helmets and pads. Show them where to ride safely, such as in your driveway, and review the rules about riding near or on the road.
Safety with insects and animals—While you don’t want to instill fear in your children about insects and animals they will encounter outside, you do need to prepare them in the event they come across some that can harm them. Instruct your kids to avoid spiders, wasps, bees, and ticks because they bite and sting.
You also need to teach your kids about the various animals they may come across in your backyard. Make sure they know to stay away from snakes and wild animals. Also, ensure they know what to do if they encounter an unfamiliar dog or cat.
Parents know the value of outdoor play for kids. To encourage your kids to participate in safe, active play outside, start by providing some organized outdoor activities. Then, learn about nature as a family and teach your kids outdoor safety tips.
This article is brought to you by Red Shoes Rock, a global awareness campaign giving voice and support to those affected by prenatal alcohol exposure. For more information, please contact us today!
Jodee Kulp , co-founder of Red Shoes Rock FASD aware has been a Tinkergarten Leader since 2019 and encourages parents of children with neurodiversity to join her in-person nature classes for ages 18 months to 8-year-olds in the Minneapolis area. Tinkergarten is available in the USA as an early childhood program – Check out their website it is filled with FREE IDEAS.
Parents often say that while having a child was the best thing that ever happened to them, it was also the scariest. Becoming a mom or dad can create anxieties we never even knew existed, and it’s easy to forget about our own needs while we’re looking after those bundles of joy. If there’s a new parent in your life, one of the easiest ways to show them you care is to give them a gift that will speak to their specific needs. Courtesy of Red Shoes Rock, here’s a list to help you get started, and never fear; it includes budget-friendly options.
Make life a little easier for the new parent in your life with these recommendations:
The perfect gift doesn’t need to be elusive. Shopping specifically with your loved one’s needs in mind will allow you to take care of their needs, which most parents could desperately use a little of. You can also find items that will get more than one year of use, which will help the parents in your life stretch their own budget.
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