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    Welcome to MindScape
    Raising a teenager today can be challenging, especially if they struggle with anxiety, depression, relationship difficulties, or general stress management. As school counselors, we collaborate with the mental health counselors in our School Based Health Center to better understand today's most pressing mental health issues your teen may be facing. 

    Parents, as a partner in your teen's development, we've created this MindScape blog just for you. We'll share our expertise and bring you mental health tips, relevant topics, and links to valuable resources that will help you navigate these teenage years with ease. 

    Be well, 
    The MindScape Team




  • What's on Your Mind?



    If there are any topics you'd like us
    to cover or if you have any mental health
    questions or concerns you'd like to discuss,
    please feel free to reach out to:

    Danielle LaForce
    School Counseling Team Leader
    508–529–7758 x3667
    dlaforce@valleytech.k12.ma.us

  • Building Wellness

    Posted by MindScape Team on 8/3/2022

    Building Wellness

    Adolescence is when children tend to start exercising their independence from their parents, and parents tend to grant their teen more autonomy to make decisions. Research suggests that teens don’t always make the best choices when it comes to healthy habits. Like many things in life, the path to wellness is not accomplished in one big leap. There are, however, several small steps adolescents can take every day to balance their physical and mental health. When your teen’s mental health seems unbalanced, it’s time to revisit the basic three tenets of wellness; sleep, nutrition, and exercise. These building blocks influence each other and directly impact a teens well-being.  

    Get Your ZZZZs: Doctors recommend that adolescents sleep 9– to 9½–hours per night to be at their best. However, research shows that most teens get somewhere between 7– to 7¼–hours per night, leaving them in a deficit zone. When teens don’t get enough sleep, they often struggle to wake up, can be irritable or moody, and have trouble concentrating during the school day. Educate your teen on the importance of sufficient sleep and help them understand that endlessly scrolling on their phones is not a healthy way to fall asleep. Share with them some mindfulness apps like Sleep Cycle, SleepScore, or SleepWatch, which contain sleep segments. Help them understand that sleep is one of the most important building blocks to their health and well-being.  

    Good Eats: Eating healthy is another important step in the wellness journey and goes hand in hand with healthy sleep. Does your teen skip breakfast? Do they avoid planning meals and make poor food choices? Do they skip lunch and eat when they get home? Teens can be guilty of all these unhealthy eating habits. Studies show that to keep our brain and body in peak performance, we need the right combination of proteins, carbohydrates, and fats. When teens skip meals, or make poor food choices, they are prone to mood swings, irritability, and have difficulty focusing. It’s time to educate your teens on the importances of nutrition and help them work healthy eating patterns into their day. 

    Get Up & Go: The final wellness building block is exercise. Physical activity is associated with a wide range of benefits, including improved mental health. Exercise releases endorphins and serotonin, which are the “feel-good” chemicals that help improve our state of mind and reduce anxiety, stress, and depression. Talk to your teen about their exercise habits and encourage them to get outside and move, join one of our sports teams or a local gym, take a yoga class, or work with our athletic trainer and use the fitness room after school. Better yet, join your teen on their exercise journey. It’s a great way to spend quality time together while modeling a healthy lifestyle. Encouraging your teen to incorporate healthy habits into their daily lives empowers them and gives them a strong foundation for adulthood. 



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  • Achieving Independence

    Posted by MindScape Team on 2/16/2022

    Achieving Independence

    Parenting a teenager is complex and in some ways, more challenging than ever. Today’s teens are constantly connected to their peers via cellphones and social media platforms and often have trouble disconnecting and being present. Parents, you have a tough role of managing the balancing act of caregiver vs. disciplinarian. Some days your teen is great, and other days, you may experience this:  

    Your teenager comes home from school, grunts a hello to you (if you’re lucky), and immediately goes up to their bedroom. You may see them only when they emerge to find some food or use the bathroom. Or maybe you do see them, but only to argue, be yelled at, or have a door slammed in your face.   

    You may find yourself feeling resentful when the effort and love you give your teen is not reciprocated. Here is some good news, child development studies show us that many of these behaviors are normal and even healthy. When a child reaches adolescence, they start to experience an increased desire to “individuate,” meaning they want to separate themselves from their parents and learn how to become independent. They want to make their own plans and decisions, spend money on what they choose, and hang out with new and different peers. 

    You may notice your teen behaving in new ways, such as not completing their homework, breaking curfew, or trying a new wardrobe style. They are essentially practicing to be adults but still need your guidance. The road to adulthood can be rocky and often painful. Teen’s communication and problem-solving skills are not fully developed. They can be overconfident in their abilities and push away the people closest to them, like immediate family members, even when in need of connection. In attempts to individuate, teens innately desire to connect with their peers. As a result, they may have trouble disconnecting from social media such as Snapchat, Instagram, and Tiktok because online platforms are a part of building and maintaining those peer connections. 

    Parents often bear the brunt of a teen’s attempts to develop the skills to be a responsible, independent, well-rounded member of society. Why are you the target? Because teenagers expect that their parents will still be there for them no matter how poorly they behave. So, how can you help your teen become more independent while still maintaining your sanity? Here are a few ideas:  

    Stay Connected: Offer an opportunity to connect, even if you are sure they will reject your idea. This shows them that you care and that you will be there for them, no matter how many times they try to push you away. If you can, give them advance notice, such as inviting them on a walk the following day.  

    Encourage Independence: Allow your teen to explore their independence. Remember that this is a natural process and a learning experience for them. As long as they are safe in doing so, let them try new things. If they have support around their healthy endeavors, they are more likely to talk to you before getting involved in situations that are less healthy.  

    Active Listening: If they talk to you, give them your full attention and when asked for advice, ask them what THEY think might be a reasonable solution. Praise good ideas when they have them!

    Recognizing Consequences: While you want your teen to grow, there will be times when they make poor decisions. Part of parenting a teen is teaching them to recognize that their choices have consequences. As their parent and caregiver, it’s up to you to put fair, proportional consequences in place.  

    Parenting a teenager is stressful. You’ll make mistakes, just like your teen, but it can be rewarding. One day, they just may thank you for sticking with them, even when they made it so difficult for you. 



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  • Be the Calm

    Posted by MindScape Team on 11/17/2021

    Mindfulness

    We know adolescents thrive on routine and predictability. Unfortunately, during the pandemic, our world has been anything but predictable. As parents, you have probably seen some fallout from the many unknowns that your teen has been going through. But in the process, they have learned to expect the unexpected, pivot, and can change their course of action at a moment’s notice. Hopefully, you’ve seen their resiliency too.

    Being back at school feels different this year. There is always some anxiety as students adjust to returning to BVT. Our freshmen are learning to navigate exploratory and a new school, while our sophomores are experiencing the true culture and norms of BVT for the first time. Due to COVID, our upperclassmen are now looked upon as leaders without having the traditional underclassmen experience. It all makes you need to take a DEEP BREATH! Ahhh...

    As parents, it is essential to remember that anxiety is a normal and important emotion. Feeling anxious is our brain’s way of protecting and keeping us safe while motivating us to pay close attention to worrisome situations. Anxiety itself is not a bad thing. It is one of many emotions we must learn to live with, investigate, and be curious about. But as we know, too much of anything creates an imbalance. When anxiety interferes with daily life, you may see your teen struggling, and they might not know how to tell you what’s bothering them.

    You may hear your teen express:
    • My stomach hurts
    • I have a headache
    • I don’t want to go to school
    • I have no friends
    • I can’t sleep
    • I feel sad
    • I feel angry
    • I want to be with you

    When you see these signs, it’s okay to name the feelings for your teen. But try to remain calm as teens learn how to regulate their emotions from the adults in their lives. This dialogue is an opportunity to remind your teen that they are safe and it will be okay. Helping your teen navigate anxiety and its challenges are the building blocks for a resilient adult. Students who persevere through difficulty will discover newfound confidence and the ability to tackle future problems. Although anxiety is uncomfortable, think of it as a wave; the emotion builds, crashes, and always retreats.

    We will work together to support your teen as they navigate their high school years. Whether it’s adjusting to BVT as a new student, trying out for a sports team, or getting up the courage to join a club, we’re here to provide your teen the tools to tackle the unpredictability and exciting road ahead.


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  • 5 Tips to Help Students Return to In-Person Learning

    Posted by MindScape Team on 4/2/2021

    5 Tips...

    With months of distance learning under our students' belts, many parents (and their children) have concerns about what it's going to feel and look like to return to in-person learning. To ease the transition, we created these five tips to help your child feel safe, connected, and prepared when they return to school:

    1. Re-Establish Routines
    Make sure that your teenager gets enough sleep and has enough time to get ready for school in the mornings. Our morning announcements start at 7:45 a.m., and the first class of the day begins at 7:55 a.m.

    2. Rebuild Connections & Relationships
    Help your teen identify teachers, counselors, or other staff members they can talk to when things get difficult. Remember, you can log into iPass, which opens new avenues of information and communication between parents, teachers, students, and counselors.

    3. Remain Calm & Positive
    Teenagers take their cues from you. If you need help, don't be afraid to reach out to us.

    4. Identify & Validate Concerns
    One of the most important things you can do is ASK your teen how they feel and what challenges they may be encountering. Let them know their feelings are valid and speak to them with kindness and compassion.

    5. Focus on Coping & Problem-Solving Skills
    Work together with your teen to identify what will help them get through each day. These can be simple techniques you can share with your child: carrying a calming stone in their pocket, deep breathing, and reaching out to a trusted adult.

    Change is challenging for everyone. As mental health counselors, we are here to help you and your child bridge the gap as we continue to shift from distance learning to in-person learning. Together, let’s do our best to make this a positive transition.






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