Prescription Drug Misuse Awareness Week

Did you know that the average age kids start misusing prescription drugs is 12? Or that 300 Montanans died last year because of prescription drug misuse?

Striking.

Missoula Underage Substance Abuse Prevention and The Missoula Forum for Children & Youth are shining the light on prescription drug misuse and abuse this week with several events, including a summit and a community conversation.

Already MUSAP, along with several other organizations, is working to prevent the prescription drug abuse epidemic from growing and has put out a Parent Resource Guide, which is chock-full of tips on how to talk to kids about prescription drugs, alcohol and more.

The guide is intended to be used frequently, said Brandee Tyree, MUSAP’s coordinator.

Feedback from the community has been mixed about the guide, but overall positive, Tyree said.

Some parents tell her, “Gee, thanks for giving me something else to worry about,” she said.

But, knowing what issues kids are facing, how to talk to them about the issues and doing so continually ultimately leads to a healthier, safer community.

See the resource guide here.

And if you want to share thoughts on prescription drug abuse issues, go to the Safeguard our Kids, Safeguard our Prescriptions community conversation from 7 to 8:30 p.m. tonight at the City Life Community Center, 1515 Fairview Ave.

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Today’s Learning on the Go Tip: Beyond ‘good job’ – praising your child

Here’s the latest Learning on the Go Tip from Susan Barmeyer of the Healthy Start Council. The Healthy Start Council, remember, is the prevention coalition that works under the Missoula Forum for Children and Youth, and brings together various individuals, agencies and organizations to improve the lives of Missoula County’s young children.

The council states that “Our mission is to prevent problem behaviors by helping Missoula children grow up healthy and resilient,” and in that vein, today’s tips concern something all parents (hopefully) do: Praise their children.

Sometimes it is easier to notice what your child is doing wrong.  So try to notice small changes or successes and then say encouraging things to your child. Experts say that it takes SIX positive comments to counteract one negative comment.

Be specific in your praise.  Focus on the process or the effort the child is making, rather than the result.  Research shows that children work harder and attempt harder tasks when efforts are praised.  So try:  “Wow!  You spent several minutes making sure you brushed all your teeth!”

Separate the child from their behavior and praise the behavior.  Instead of commenting that your child is smart, try:  “You worked hard at finding where those puzzle pieces fit.”  Children who are frequently told that they are smart, or good, or athletic, will be upset by failures and will choose easier tasks.

With little ones, an easy way to praise is to simply describe what they have done:  “You found a place on the shelf for ALL those toys!”

Most of us will revert to “Good job!” occasionally, but trying to focus on the effort and making our praise more specific will encourage our children more.

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State of the Young Child to be held on St. Patrick’s Day

There’s not much time left to register for this Thursday’s State of the Young Child luncheon and symposium in Missoula. Yes, this Thursday is St. Patrick’s Day, too. So wear something green to the luncheon.

This year will mark the sixth annual such gathering hosted by the Healthy Start Council of the Missoula Forum for Children and Youth in the Missoula County Office of Planning and Grants. The public – and especially parents – is encouraged to attend the very affordably priced event (it’s just $5 per parent, $7.25 for others; and free childcare is available on a limited basis).

For your money, you get lunch and the words of Montana Kids Count research analyst Thale Dillon; Missoula County Public Schools’ Carol Ewen, who will be talking about the literacy readiness of incoming kindergartners; parent and inspirational speaker Karen Marsolek of Made You Think LLC; and Richard Manning, a research associate in childhood trauma at the University of Montana’s Institute for Educational Research and Services and the National Native Children’s Trauma Center.

It’s all taking place from 11:30 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. this Thursday, March 17, at the City Life Teen Center, located at 1515 Fairview Ave. For more information call Susan Barmeyer at the Healthy Start Council at 721-3000 ext. 1022 or e-mail sbarmeyer@co.missoula.mt.us.

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Missoula is an awesome place for young people. Let’s celebrate that.

Got dinner plans for Tuesday? If not, then pencil in these plans for Oct. 19: free dinner, door prizes and community camaraderie from 4 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

Here are the details from the city of Missoula:

Please join us in spreading the word about this free public event, Family Connections, celebrating Missoula’s 100 Best Communities for Young People Award, to be held next Tuesday, Oct. 19, at the Home Arts Building at the Missoula County Fairgrounds.

Dinner will be served, and more than 35 organizations that provide services for families will be available to network with parents and kids.

The event is sponsored by the Dropout Prevention Workgroup of the Missoula Forum for Children and Youth and the Missoula Office of Planning and Grants.

Note that this is Missoula’s fourth time – count ’em again, four – being named one of the nation’s 100 Best Communities for Young People.

For more information about Tuesday’s event, call the Missoula Forum for Children and Youth‘s Nina Cramer at 721-3000 ext 1023.

– MM

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