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Self Compassion vs. Self Care, A Leader’s Blueprint

Posted on: September 28th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

Self Compassion vs. Self Care, A Leader’s Guide

Plus, How to Strive for Resilient Leadership in a Modern World

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

Did you know that September is National Self Care Awareness Month? 

Established in 2017 by Evolve to Live (link at bottom), it was created to help people build a self-care habit and pursue a connected life. 

And if you’re like me, it’s a great reminder… to pursue a connected life by building a self-care habit. It’s not a static thing, self-care. It continues to evolve and grow, just like you.

With the Olympics wrapping up, football season underway, and school back in session, it seems as though we as a society are competing while doing so-called self-care. What starts as a day off from work to shop turns into a late-night, arms draped with shopping bags. And a feeling of shame knowing you’ve blown your budget.

Take one look at social media and you’ll see a myriad of images capturing just that. Cue the white, fluffy bathrobe with crisp green cucumber slices over one’s eyes, in what we’ve come to know as a typical spa-like setting. It’s kind of crazy that the American culture of winning and expectations has us comparing and competing while attempting to do self-care. As if that’s an actual thing. 

And this competitive nature tends to permeate your internal boundaries, your work, or your family cultures. It can be so toxic. So today, let’s take a few minutes to redefine self-care, taking a look at self-compassion and setting the tone for resilient leadership in your life.

What is Self-Compassion?

I heard the phrase “self-compassion” at a resilient leadership training. The distinction was made that for many of us, particularly us women in helping professions, we struggle with caring for ourselves. It may seem “selfish,” as if putting ourselves and our needs ahead of others and caring for ourselves as much as we care for others, is somehow indulgent and selfish.  

Self-compassion is giving yourself the same benefit of the doubt, the same grace, the same internal messages and dialogues that you would give another person. It’s about remembering that the messages you tell yourself are powerful. And being mindful of those messages is worth the work, physically, mentally, and emotionally. 

And it’s something you know you want to start doing more of, but how?

Here are three ways to build your self-compassion:

  1. Change the tapes in your head and your internal beliefs, those feelings and thoughts you have about yourself. If they are overly critical, based on past mistakes, or aren’t something you would say out loud to someone else, write them down and throw them away. Spend some time coming up with new things you’d like to start saying to yourself. Affirmations and reminders of your gifts, talents, and successes. Reminders that you are enough, exactly as you are. 
  1. Cut yourself some slack, you don’t always have to be on–to be doing, creating, leading, performing, achieving, making, etc. Take time to just breathe, sit, reflect, ponder, relax, rejuvenate. When you do get back to doing, you will be able to do your work even better than before.
  1. Take one small step, try to be 1% closer to what your intentions and goals are each day. Many of us, myself included, try to make a myriad of changes in one giant leap. It’s unrealistic and typically not sustainable to permanently change our behaviors and habits overnight.  Forward progress, no matter how seemingly small, is an accomplishment. Let’s aim for 1% that sticks around. And celebrate it.

Now you have a few things to try as you work to be more compassionate to yourself. Next, we’ll dive into self-care and explore how we can create a more aligned habit.

What is Self-Care?

According to the Oxford Dictionary, self-care is the practice of taking an active role in protecting one’s own well-being and happiness, in particular during periods of stress.

My interpretation? Self-care is not about self-indulgence, it’s about self-preservation. 

And while the act of self-care takes on many forms, from a manicure and pedicure routine at a local salon to reading a spiritual book each morning; from traveling to a new place to making time to talk to family or friends. At the core of self-care is you – and the things that will bring you a bit of happiness, a bit of relaxation.

You’ve come to realize that you’re not that great at it. In fact, you encourage those you love to practice self-care, but when it comes down to it, you’re lousy at practicing self-care – or for that matter, even self-compassion.

Well, we have that in common. I’m committed to encouraging and reinforcing for my team at Child Care Consultants and for my friends and families that self-care, self-compassion, and work-life balance are critical to our overall health and success. To take time to just be, to do nothing, and to recharge their batteries. 

But to do that myself? Now, that is a challenge. And in this season, I’m working hard to change that. It starts by acknowledging the type of leader I am, that you are, externally, and then aligning that same dedication and intentional internally. 

What is Resilient Leadership?

Resilient leadership means that you understand that you are human. That you can’t meet the needs of your staff and those you serve if you have not nurtured yourself. 

It means that you are willing to be vulnerable, honest, and authentic with yourself and those around you. To admit your mistakes, admit when you don’t know something, admit that your team does (and if fact should) know how to do their jobs better than you do.

Resilient leaders understand that crises are also opportunities. That as a leader your mindset and ability to remain positive and calm will have a direct impact on your team.

Resilient leaders understand that you need to slow down, to pause, and think before you speak and act. Especially in a moment of high stress, change, and uncertainty.

Resilient leaders understand that relationships, effective and open communication, compassion, and trust are the most important predictors and indicators of the health and success of their organization. Research tells us that people leave their job not because they don’t like the tasks, but because of unhealthy relationships and toxic environments.

And it’s something I strive to do, to embody resilient leadership. While expanding my understanding of self-care and self-compassion, just like you. And when I think of people who embody those traits, a few exceptional human beings come to mind… Oprah Winfrey, Nelson Mandela, and Brené Brown.

An Example of Self-Care, Self Compassion, and Resilient Leadership

Perhaps the best example of resilient leadership is the very one who has led us through the pandemic, Dr. Fauci. Each day, he would keep getting up, facing the next unknown with the COVID pandemic, responding to the politicization of COVID, and trying to move the needle in the right direction a little each day. Even as the public grew wearier and wearier, he led with compassion and grace.

And while you certainly hope you don’t need to lead your people through the thickest of it, you can learn from his approach. His calm manner, his consistent message, and his compassion. 

As you work on your own self-compassion, as you develop a self-care habit that is more aligned with where you are now, and where you want to be, you’ll grow as a leader. It’s okay for it to be a transition, to show yourself a different type of care, to try something new and fail. 

“I think that’s the most surprising part about true resilience. Resilience makes you strong, and while you earn the right to your strength, you simultaneously become more tender. While you harness the ability to rise quickly from the ground, you don’t fear the fall as much the next time. Resilience can only come from experience, and God willing, you’re forced to build new foundations.”

– Rachel Hollis

Just think of all you learned over the past two years, the past two decades. And let’s all commit to being more tender, with ourselves and with each other.


Continued Reading:

Center for Resilient Children: Resilient Leadership 

Center for Resilient Children: Devereux Resilient Leadership Survey 

Evolve to Live: Self-Care Awareness


About Child Care Consultants, Inc.

Child Care Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.

To learn more, visit childcareconsultants.org.

Five Career and Life Lessons From the 2020 Tokyo Olympics and a Celebration of Team USA’s Female Athletes on the World Stage

Posted on: September 24th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

So, sure, this topic is a little late, but I still think there are lessons we can learn from the athletes of the 2020, now 2021, Summer Olympics in Tokyo. The American spirit was on full display, the best of the best competing for the gold seemed to bring our nation together in a time of pandemic, politics, and uncertainty.

And likely, you were into it too.

There were tears and upsets. Photo finishes and unbelievable world records set. Some of your favorite familiar faces and new ones alike, competing in some events you know well and some new ones you hadn’t seen before.

Even before the games got underway, there were big headlines and controversy surrounding the competition.  One of the biggest draws of the Tokyo Olympics, the talented and charismatic American sprinter Sha’Carri Richardson, was banned from competing.

A year delayed, this Olympics seemed to have more hype, more pressure, more eyes on it than ever. Likely you handpicked a few of these superhumans to follow, to support. And you cheered. In fact, you may have stayed up way too late to watch the once-in-four-yearectacle of it all. 

Because you enjoy witnessing top talent, a diverse group of humans who train hard and are at the top of their sport, the peak of their careers. The mere act of watching these competitors ignites your desire to raise the bar of your own performance.

“Surround yourself with the dreamers and the doers, the believers and thinkers, but most of all, surround yourself with those who see the greatness within you, even when you don’t see it yourself.”

– Edmund Lee

But what can we take away from these games? 

Here are five lessons you can learn from and apply to your everyday life, both personally and professionally.

  1. You’re Worth More Than Other People’s Opinions

This year, more than any other, you saw this on display. You witnessed Simone Biles, the greatest gymnast of all time and the face of the 2020 Olympics, prioritize her own mental and physical health. On what some would argue as the biggest stage in the world, she pulled out of the team finals, as well as the individual all-around, vault, floor, and uneven bars. 

“I have to put my pride aside. I have to do what’s right for me and focus on my mental health and not jeopardize my health and well-being. That’s why I decided to take a step back.”

– Simone Biles

With one event left, the balance beam, she decided to compete. And she won bronze.

In speaking of her win, Biles said “it means more than all of the golds because I’ve pushed through so much the last five years and the last week while I’ve even been here.”

Biles is the epitome of grace, humility, and leadership, and she showed us all that elite athletes are human beings first and foremost. She boldly demonstrated her worth, and that it’s way more important than other people’s opinions… 

  1. Greatness Begets Greatness

In the much anticipated men’s 400-meter hurdles, two men broke the world record during the final heat – Karsten Warholm of Norway with the gold and Rai Benjamin of the United States with the silver.

And that’s saying something. Before this summer, the world record stood for over 29 years, more years than the 25-year-old Warholm has been on this planet. 

“I told myself going into the race to remember all the work you have put in. I knew this race was going to be the toughest of my life, but I was ready. Now I need to set myself new goals, I don’t think I’m done yet.”

– Karsten Warholm

It goes to show that speed begets speed, and greatness begets greatness.When you achieve great things, you have the traction to continue to achieve great things. 

  1. Achievement is Best Shared

In the grueling men’s high jump competition, something unheard of happened. With the final two men tied for first-place after hours of competing in the hot sun, locked in what the track world calls a jump-off, Mutaz Essa Barshim paused to ask… “how about two golds?”

And in what was truly an act of sportsmanship, love, and acceptance, good friends Mutaz Essa Barshim of Qatar and Gianmarco Tamberi of Italy both took home the gold medal.

“He’s one of my best friends. Not only on the track but outside of the track. We’re always together. It’s true spirit, coming here and delivering this message. Appreciate what he’s done, he appreciates what I’ve done. This is amazing. This is beyond sport, this is the message we deliver to the young generation.”

– Mutaz Essa Barshim

The lesson here? Achievement is best shared. When you put in the work, deliver your very best, and build strong relationships along the way, take the time to celebrate the results together.

  1. Regroup and Recenter

The US Women’s soccer team had quite the showing during the 2020 Olympics. These athletes were favored for gold but were knocked out of contention for it after losing in the semifinals to a strong Canadian team. The score? 1-0. 

After their shared grief and disappointment, the team rallied in the game to determine the bronze medal. Win, you get a medal. Lose, well, you go home empty-handed.

The team regrouped, recentered, and did what they set out to do. In fact, team veterans Megan Rapinoe and Carli Llloyd both scored two goals, clinching a 4-3 win along with the bronze medal.

“Hopefully, everyone on this squad and people watching and people that have been in the pool remember that we don’t win championships without the U.S. mentality. That probably has been the biggest takeaway from this tournament, and we need to continue to bring that each and every day. Each and every game. … that, ultimately, is our secret weapon.”

– Carli Lloyd

A strong team bond, the ability to recenter, and the U.S. mentality delivered a medal to these female athletes.

  1. You’re Never Too [Insert Adjective]

You get to insert the adjective here. You’re never too old, too young, too stuck, too small-town, too remote, too anything, really. You get to write your story, you get to try, no matter your adjective.

And while there were many examples of  this through the Olympic games, two of the most riveting were Lydia Jacoby, the 17 year old from Seward, Alaska who won gold in the 100-meter breaststroke. And for the record, there’s only one olympic sized swimming pool in the state.  This is a person with big dreams, huge talent, and seemingly very little resources. She didn’t let that stop her. 

Another phenom, Wisconsin native Molly Seidel, won bronze in the marathon. It was the third marathon race she ever ran.  And she came in third. Third in the world.  She clearly believed in herself and didn’t listen to others who say you need more practice. You need more experience. Who are you to think you can compete with more seasoned runners?  She gave it a shot and come out on the podium.

“I came in today with not a whole lot of expectations. I was hoping to be in the top ten. Just trying to like stick my nose where it didn’t belong and just kind of get after it. I mean, Olympics only happens once every four years, you might as well take your shot.”

– Molly Seidel

Powerful women pursuing their dreams, competing until the end, and believing in themselves. Never letting anyone tell them their too inexperienced or too young. If they can do it, so can you. 

A Celebration of Team USA Female Athletes 

Team USA had a strong showing in Tokyo, leading the medal count and continuing its legacy of greatness. Even in a year of delay, even in two years of pandemic and controversy.

And it was clear, U.S. women dominated. The female athletes won over 58% of the medals secured by the United States – 66 medals to the men’s 41. 

Or, as reported by USA Today, “If U.S. women were their own country, they would have finished fourth in the Olympic medal count, ahead of Great Britain, Japan, Australia, Germany and nearly 200 other countries, and behind only the entire U.S. team, China and the Russian Olympic Committee.”

In fact, the 2004 Olympics in Athens was the last time U.S. men brought home more medals than their female counterparts – 55 medals to the women’s 40. That’s four consecutive Summer Olympics in which the U.S. women came out on top.

As showcased by Time Magazine, “on the final day of competition alone, the U.S. women’s basketball team won a seventh straight gold, the women’s volleyball team took its first-ever gold, and Jennifer Valente won America’s first-ever track cycling gold in the omnium. This flip speaks to the momentum building for women’s sports in the U.S.; the Olympics will only help push this movement forward.”

It’s true, women are more empowered than ever. They are tapping into their authentic strength and intuition, and the results speak volumes. Let’s take time to celebrate our female athletes as we remember they are human beings, beautiful, complicated, whole beings, just like you and me. 

“If you give girls and women the same investment, opportunity and access, their potential, like all people, is unlimited.”

– Billie King


Continued Reading:

TIME: The 9 Most Inspiring and Surprising Things I Saw At The Tokyo Olympics

USA Today: US Women Dominated Medal Count at Tokyo Olympics in Ways They’ve Never Done Before


About Child Care Consultants, Inc.

Child Care Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.

To learn more, visit childcareconsultants.org.

Child Care Consultants (CCC) stands with the Central York School District students and families, as well as the wider community, that are protesting against the misguided decision of the Central York School Board to ban books.

Posted on: September 20th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

As the Early Learning Resource Center for York County, and with our nearly 35 year history of serving York County youngest learners, we are dismayed by leaders who discriminate.  The rationalization of this behavior through comments such as wanting to ensure balance in books and fears of indoctrination are troublesome.  All children and families deserve to be represented in their educational materials and resources.  All children need to be presented with honest, well rounded information about our history, a variety of opinions, and encouraged to think for themselves.  Anything less, is in fact supporting the very indoctrination and imbalance the school board members say they fear and that they say guided their racist actions.

Child Care Consultants supports and serves all the early education, childcare, and school age programs in York County. It is our mission to ensure that children enter school ready to be successful.  We administer Keystone STARS, the quality improvement and rating system for the Commonwealth in 13 counties.  One of the PA standards of high quality programs is that classroom materials and curricular resources are diverse so that all children and families “see themselves” in the classroom.  A critical component of this work is to incorporate in meaningful ways, the rich cultures and contributions of every person and family, to honestly and age appropriately reflect the realities of the history our country, and to promote diversity, equity, and inclusion.

Child Care Consultants, through a grant from the Donley Foundation, has engaged in meaningful in depth DEI reflection and work. This fall we will offer DEI and Cultural Responsiveness workshops and communities of learning and support to ECE and SACC programs. CCC staff were reading one of the books on CYSD’s banned list, “So You Want to Talk About Race”.  A challenging book to be sure, and one I encourage every York Countian to read if they are committed to bringing about meaningful change in our community.

Child Care Consultants encourages ECE, SACC, K-12 systems, school boards, and our entire community to do the hard internal work to ensure that they have a culture of inclusion, respect, equity, and antiracism.  Our families, children, and those we serve deserve no less. 

Christy S. Renjilian

Executive Director

Child Care Consultants

Wondering what fifth-grade students and teachers are thinking and feeling this school year? Check out my latest #blogpost. It’s a reminder that life is about people and caring not politics and conflict.

Posted on: September 16th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

Back to School: A Focus on 5th Grade and Getting Off on the Right Foot

With Real Thoughts From a Fifth Grade Student and Teachers

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

Ahhh, remember your fifth-grade self? And those feelings you had as you started the school year? Your interests, friends, and what made you, well, you?

You were geared up with whatever the new fad was. Maybe it was a bookbag brand, maybe a shoe, or those metal lunchboxes with the matching thermos. Either way, you were living your best life.

Hopefully, you had a strong, positive influence in fifth grade, too. A teacher or mentor who had a real impact on you. One who opened your eyes and mind, as you absorbed their lessons and really appreciated the space they made for you to grow in.

Kids this age typically start thinking more about abstract ideas, and not just about things they can observe.1 

Today, we’re taking a look at the perspectives of a student entering fifth grade, a first-year fifth-grade teacher, and an experienced fifth-grade teacher, to shed light on how this pivotal time is experienced in each role.

And we’ll finish with some tips to help you get your fifth grader’s school year moving in the right direction. Or, any student, for that matter.

Before we do, I want to tell you about my amazing fifth-grade teacher. He was the first male teacher I ever had – Mr. Lifshitz at Shubert Elementary School in Baldwin, NY (pictured below). He was warm, caring, and committed to every student. 

That was way back when, in 1975-1976, the Bicentennial year. That was a time marked by a lot of celebration of America, lots of red, white, and blue. The abstract idea and concept that stands out for me, learned from Mr. Lifshitz, was equality for the girls in the classroom. 

He named me and my friend, Jill, to the Audio/Video Squad. We were the first girls in school history to be the ones to set up the movie and filmstrip projectors in classrooms. We pushed the big carts around, threaded the machines, and fixed them when they skipped and looped. He also picked, “Free to Be You and Me” for our class play. The TV special had been on the air the year before; it was created by Marlo Thomas and many others to address gender stereotypes. 

Fifth grade is a big year. In some schools, it’s the last year in elementary school. For everyone it’s a year of in-depth learning and maturity, refining one’s ability to think critically.  

Fifth graders no longer learn to read, they read to learn and are growing as independent thinkers. To have a teacher in 1976 recognize that his job was to provide equal opportunities for all his students was an empowering gift. I haven’t been in that school in decades, but if I close my eyes, I can still see his smile, hear his big laugh, and sense the support and acceptance he offered his students. 

My wish for this new school year is that every teacher provides a safe, empowering environment for every student. And that every student and her family is able to receive the gift of care, hard work, and dedication from their teachers. 

This year especially, as we begin a new school year, one filled with things our fifth-grade selves never would have dreamed of, we can begin anew. For ourselves, for our students, and for our children.

To better understand fifth grade today, let’s take a look at a few perspectives. Each helps us wrap our minds around all it takes to make a school year successful.

First, let’s take a look at how a fifth-grade student is viewing the school year.

Q: How are you feeling about starting 5th grade?

A: I feel good and happy.

Q: What do you hope to learn?

A: Algebra and decimals.

Q: What do you hope your teacher is like?

A: Nice. 

Q: What advice would you give your teacher about teaching you and your classmates/friends? 

A: I would tell my teachers to answer questions we have.

In reflecting on these responses, it’s easy to see that our students enjoy learning, have unique interests and hopes, and simply want to be heard.

Next, let’s listen to the perspective of a first-year fifth-grade teacher.

Q: As a first-year teacher how are you feeling about the 2021-2022 school year?

A: I am nervous, terrified, cautious, excited, emotional, and uncertain. 

Q: In one or two words, what mindset is most needed by students this year?

A: GRIT and GROWTH.

Q: What can we (families, community members, advocates) do to help support teachers?

A: Here are a few things that come to mind:

  • Push for school reform, more funding. 
  • Vaccinate/take care of each other. 
  • Stay home when sick. 
  • Don’t project problems onto students/teachers. 
  • Send in supplies. 
  • Say thank you. 
  • Volunteer at the school. 
  • Read to students at home. 
  • Ask for help. 
  • Show up. 
  • Listen to what we have to say and genuinely do something about it. 

Q: What would you like to say/ask your former 5th-grade teacher?

A: Thank you for allowing me to be an individual and pursue my interests. I am now a teacher because there were people like you that let me try it out when I was younger. I know what you do is hard – what you did was enough and worth it. 

These words may take you back to a time when you were starting a brand new journey, one you worked hard to explore and put time and effort into achieving. It’s pretty special, the human experience, how good people step into leadership roles at pivotal times.

And finally, let’s check in with an experienced fifth-grade teacher.

Q: How are you feeling about the 2021-2022 school year?

A: I am looking forward to a more normal school year. Last year had many challenges. I think this year will as well, but I am hoping the changes will be less daunting for students since they have already experienced most of them.

Q: In one or two words, what mindset is most needed by students?

A: The sooner that students learn to look at their education as a gift and a pathway to a better future, the sooner they will value it. This is a tough concept for younger students, but a savvy teacher can help foster this idea.

Q: What advice would you give to families?

A: As much as possible, allow your child to have ownership of their education. The more you control it, the less they will value it. 

Q: What can we (parents, students, community members, advocates) do to support teachers?

A: Trust them, they are professionals. Keep the lines of communication open. 

Q: As you think back over your career, what advice would you give to a new teacher?

A: I would give the same advice that my cooperating teacher gave me, although it took years for me to understand it. Figure out your philosophy and stick with it. In other words, be true to who you are as an educator. 

Q: Anything else you’d like to share?

A: It is not about clever lessons, it is about people. Specifically, it is about small people who are forming opinions about everything, including themselves. If you help them to feel good about themselves, they will want to learn. Also, never engage in a power struggle with a child because you will lose. What you will lose is much more valuable than whatever the conflict was. You will lose an opportunity to have a relationship with this child. 

Such wisdom, such grace shared. A good reminder for all of us to remember it’s about people. It’s not about politics, shame, or conflict. It’s about being true to yourself, and in turn, modeling that behavior for the next generation.

Now that you’ve heard from a student and a few teachers, you may be wondering how you can help your fifth grader approach his school year. 

If so, here are the top five things a parent or student can do now to set themselves up for success.

1. Gradually get back on a schedule.  

If your child has been staying up late and sleeping in all summer, gradually help him or her get back on a schedule that aligns with the start time of school. Going to bed at a set time is essential. A little change of 10 minutes or so each night is much easier on everyone than a jarring shift a night or two before school starts.

Good-quality sleep helps improve your child’s concentration, memory, and ability to regulate their emotions and behave well. This all helps your child learn well. Getting enough sleep also strengthens your child’s immune system and reduces the risk of infection and illness.2 

2. Read every day.  

Your child should read something they pick and are interested in every day. Summer days. School days. Weekends. If you need help finding something your child likes, go to your library and ask the librarian for their suggestions. Or pay attention to the things they watch or participate in – there’s likely an age-appropriate book on the topic.

Did you know, only 35 percent of fourth-graders are reading at or above grade level?3 

“The ability to read, write, and analyze; the confidence to stand up and demand justice and equality; the qualifications and connections to get your foot in that door and take your seat at that table – all of that starts with education.”

– Michelle Obama

3. Encourage your child to set goals for the year.  

You’ve heard about vision boards and fancy dream catcher things. This isn’t those. Even if your child struggles with school, setting a few, realistic goals will be beneficial. Maybe your student wants to speak up more in class, try a new sport or activity, make some new friends, or be more organized. Let your child take the lead in setting their goals and have him write them down.

“Having goals makes learners aware of their actions, efforts, and even their time management skills. Setting goals obligates them to take action, regardless of the obstacles that may be in place. As such, it can encourage students to develop critical thinking skills, new problem-solving techniques, and a better understanding of how to overcome issues.”

– Julius Zigama

4. Develop a plan to stay informed and connected to the teacher.

In the age of quarantines, closures, and virtual schooling, plan out how you and your student are going to stay informed and connected to their teacher and school. 

Is there an online system for sharing information? If so, make sure you have access and know how to use it. Do you and the teacher prefer email or phone calls?  What time of day is best for you? For the teacher? If they aren’t in agreement, work out a compromise and plan this month. Remember if you change your phone number and/or email address to let the teacher know. Teachers know that all families want to be connected and informed. They just may need some assisstance to do so.

5. Take a deep breath. 

This is going to be another challenging year. Remember that everyone – families, students, teachers, and school personnel- are doing the best they can with changing guidelines, trying to keep every person safe, and meet everyone’s needs.  Patience goes a long way.

Deep breaths all around. For you, as a parent. And for our students, our educators, our school bus drivers, our administrators, and for every person who contributes to your student’s education. 

P-S- In a bit of a full-circle twist, the experienced fifth-grade teacher actually taught (and inspired!) the brand new fifth-grade teacher interviewed for this article. 


Resources:

1 Developmental Milestones for Typical Fourth and Fifth Graders

2 School-age and Pre-teen Sleep: What to Expect

3 The NCBLA Statistics


About Child Care Consultants, Inc.

Child Care Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.
To learn more, visit childcareconsultants.org.

Did you know that 1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year? [Source: National Alliance on Mental Illness] If you, or someone you know is struggling, check out my latest blog. It may just prove helpful in your journey.

Posted on: July 30th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

Mental Health: Where We Are and How to Move the Conversation Forward

Shocking Statistics and Two Mindset Shifts You Can Embrace Today 

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

Mental health doesn’t just show up in your life. Mental health is your life. In the same way, physical health is your life. 

Walking through struggles and facing challenges is part of the human experience. And unfortunately, so is trauma.

Research from the Center for Disease Control and Prevention tells us that children who have Adverse Childhood Experiences (ACEs) are more likely to have chronic health problems, mental illness, substance abuse problems, and difficulties in school. 

Often, the more numerous and severe the adverse experiences a child has, the greater the long-term negative impact on their physical and mental health. Evidence also suggests that adversity and stress can influence  brain development in infancy and early childhood and can even have intergenerational effects.

And we have seen, personally and professionally, the effects of trauma on mental health each day. From persons impacted by child abuse, sexual assault, domestic violence, and community violence, to the struggle with depression, bipolar, and other mental health issues that impact wellbeing. 

A Snapshot of Where We Are Now:

We know mental health challenges are prevalent in today’s world. But just how prevalent is it? 

According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness:

1 in 5 U.S. adults experience mental illness each year

1 in 20 U.S. adults experience serious mental illness each year

1 in 6 U.S. youth aged 6-17 experience a mental health disorder each year

50% of all lifetime mental illness begins by age 14, and 75% by age 24

Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death among people aged 10-34

You know these statistics are true. Chances are good you have someone in your life, right now, working hard to improve her mental health. 

She’s stuck in a rut, as they say. And you are doing your best to reach out to her, to encourage her. Or if that someone is you, you might be actively talking to a professional. Because so often it’s more than you and your community of support can cope with. 

This past year, especially, you’ve been trying your best to practice radical self-care and wellness. It’s been a struggle. And you want to do more. You want to model a life of engagement, a life full of living and love. And you want to help the next generation cope in a healthier, more aligned way. 

Because the numbers are staggering. And behind these numbers are real-life people like you and me.

Two things you can do to move the mental health conversation and movement forward:

Support Mental Health as You Do Physical Health

It’s time to admit that mental health and wellness affect everyone. It’s time to support co-workers, friends, and family members who are facing mental health issues as we would those experiencing physical health issues. 

In fact, the two are often intertwined and influence each other. During the past 18 months, as a society, as an employer, and as individuals, we have all experienced times of struggle in our ability to cope with COVID and the impacts it had on our ‘normal life.’  

It brought to light that everyone can suffer from mental health issues, and there is no need to be ashamed or to avoid getting support from friends, family members, and professionals. 

Dr. Ken Duckworth, chief medical officer of the National Alliance on Mental Illness, said “the rate of mental health conditions and substance use conditions essentially doubled during the pandemic from one in five to two and five. At the same time, I think mental health went from becoming a ‘they’ thing to a ‘we’ thing.

“People have recognized that mental health is, in fact, a part of health. And most of us know somebody or have had a personal experience of somebody who struggled with their mental health through the pandemic.”

In fact, just last month a friend and mentor shared with me that her husband was in the midst of a mental health crisis. And as a mother and business owner, it greatly affected her mental health, too. So she turned to a professional for help.

These crises are happening in homes across our community, our nation, our world. And so, too, are conversations. 

So go on, be a part of a conversation. Support a friend’s journey toward wholeness as you would his going through a physical health challenge. 

Be a positive influence on their healing, their recovery. It can be as simple as making a meal and dropping it off, going on a long walk together, writing a note of encouragement, or making open, judgment-free space for him to express himself during your next phone call. 

You can make a real difference.

When Talking About Mental Health, Use Strength Language

Just as you wouldn’t judge someone for breaking a leg or having cancer, you shouldn’t judge someone coping with anxiety and depression. In fact, you may even use strength language to talk about people who are living with depression, childhood trauma, or PTSD. 

“Words like suffering and illness have negative connotations associated with them. Thus, I choose to use healthier phrases such as ‘I’m living/thriving with mental wellness issues’ because I continue to push forward on a daily basis, with the language that I choose to use playing a critical role in that process. My wellness issues will not stop my ability to thrive, but if I look at it as an illness, it may. The mind is very powerful.”

– Phillip J. Roundtree

What seems like simple shifts, challenge instead of problem, seeking professional help instead of having a crisis, make a big difference.

In the same way you talk about preventative strategies and wellness for physical health, be open to talking about wellness in terms of your mental health.  Mindfulness, resilience, and things that feed your mental and emotional health are to be practiced. 

Encourage those around you to take time for their mental health, in whatever form that takes for them. Some like to meditate, practice yoga or go for a walk. For others it’s a hobby, good movie or concert. Some seek out human connection. Others like to be alone. The important thing is to be aware and honor yourself, to be okay with taking time, stepping back, and breathing deeply. To rest and restore your emotional and mental health.

“Vulnerability is not winning or losing; it’s having the courage to show up and be seen when we have no control over the outcome. Vulnerability is not weakness; it’s our greatest measure of courage.”

– Dr. Brené Brown

Dr. Brené Brown’s work on vulnerability and shame has resonated and captivated the nation and the world. It has shifted the lens of how we think about vulnerability from one of weakness to one of great strength. 

Takeaways

Mental health, physical health, and emotional health are all of the same importance. They all make up this very human experience you’re living day in and day out.

It’s time to support them equally. And to do it from a place of strength.

Along the way, be kind to others and to yourself. Often, it’s the most challenging time of our life. Extend grace and kindness to yourself. And to others.

“Be kinder than necessary because everyone you meet is fighting some kind of battle” 

– JM Barrie


Resources:

NAMI: Mental Health By the Numbers

ABC: How to recognize when someone needs help coming out of the pandemic and what to do


Additional Reading:

Brené Brown

Tara Brach: Guided Meditations

Harvard University: ACEs and Toxic Stress

Harvard University: Resilience 


About Child Care Consultants, Inc.

Child Care Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.
To learn more, visit childcareconsultants.org.

The trainings you need to get your child care business off to the right start…CONNECTIONS TO CAREGIVING

Posted on: July 28th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

Ready for more meaningful conversations with your child about LGBTQ+ inclusion? Start with this short, powerful read, where I share my four of my favorite children’s books. Inclusion, it starts with us.

Posted on: July 16th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

LGBTQ+: Raising An Inclusive Child

Three Things You Can Do to Start a Conversation in Your Home

Written By: Christy S. Renjilian

You believe all families and individuals are worthy of our respect. Everyone should have the ability and opportunity to feel good about themselves.

So being inclusive and welcoming is essential to you. And creating a space where you, your family, friends, colleagues, and those around you can see themselves and be themselves, you’re all about it.

And you know your child wants this, too. He’s naturally inclusive. And curious. And you want to nurture those traits.

If we all did that, it sure would make for a more inclusive community. A more inclusive world.

At Child Care Consultants, Inc., we work equally hard to ensure equal opportunities for all children so that they have the resources they need to grow up and be successful. 

For me personally, inclusivity means that coworkers, clients, friends, and family members that identify as part of the LGBTQ+ community, see me as an ally. I’m committed to doing the hard work of listening and learning, to grow in my understanding of the issues they face and how I can be supportive.

And clearly, you are too.  

If you’re ready to take the next step, to have meaningful conversations with your child about LGBTQ+ inclusion, here are three ways you can start.

Read Inclusive Books With and To Your Child

You know the importance of reading and the impact it has on early childhood development. So start there. Find a book that showcases that families come in all forms, and each person is to be valued and included.

“Diverse literature enables students to see themselves as the heroes of the story.”

– Lily Eskelsen García

Not sure which book to start with? You can always head to your local library. Your librarian will be happy to lead you to really great choices.

Or, if you’re looking to order online, here are some of my favorite inclusive children’s books:

All Are Welcome by Alexandra Penfold

Families by Shelley Rotner

The Family Book by Todd Parr

Tango Makes Three by Justin Richardson

Create opportunities for sharing and teaching. Welcome your child’s questions and curiosity, and if you don’t know the answers to his many questions, seek out the answers together.

The best books spark new thoughts, new conversations, and new ways of thinking. So go on, read an inclusive book with your child. 

Immerse Yourself in Communities that Include LGBTQ+ Members

Be a part of communities that include LGBTQ+ members and provide welcoming spaces for them and their families. 

For you, it may be participating in a local, regional, or online workshop. Or volunteering your time with an impactful organization. Maybe it’s a celebration or parade. Or maybe it’s inviting a loved one or community member to have coffee with you.

If you’re interested in learning, immerse yourself. Become better informed. And do the work.  

And when you’re ready, intentionally immerse your child in inclusive environments, if possible. Start by bringing her along to an inclusive environment. As a next step, maybe you work together to identify a summer camp, an extracurricular activity, a local community day, or another experience she’s interested in. 

Look for opportunities. And have open conversations.

“The richness, beauty, and depths of love can only be fully experienced in a climate of complete openness, honesty, and vulnerability.” 

– Anthony Venn Brown

Many nonprofits are a great place to start. They serve the needs of all the members of their community and are some of the most inclusive businesses in the region. 

At Child Care Consultants, Inc. our mission is to ensure that all children succeed. So we are mindful of the challenges facing LGBTQ+ families and work to promote their well being. 

As an organization, CCC staff have attended workshops sponsored by other community partners and state and national experts. These inclusive, immersive training events assist us in our support of early childhood education providers and community partners; and ultimately impact families here in our region.

It’s about learning and doing and engaging in the communities we serve.

Seek Out Trusted Resources to Expand Your Thinking

When we want to learn something new, to train our minds on a particular subject or topic, we often go to the worldwide web. And while it can prove helpful, at times, we can also get sucked into an endless vortex of knowledge and ideas and opinions. 

Because you want to expand your thinking, your awareness, and really be that welcoming, safe place for young people in your life. 

Let me point you in the right direction. Visit PFLAG, an organization of parents, families, allies, and others who support people who identify as members of the LGBTQ+ community. They are working toward a world where diversity is celebrated and people are respected, valued, and affirmed regardless of their sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender expression. 

PFLAG works to build on a foundation of love, helping families unite with LGBTQ+ people and allies who support one another. And to educate people and communities to speak up as advocates until all hearts and minds respect, value, and affirm LGBTQ+ people.  

They offer free resources, like their video blog series, membership, which comes with access to PFLAG Academy Online, and local and regional support.

If you’ve never visited their site, do so today. 

Start Talking to Your Child Today

Look, you don’t have to have it all figured out. Chances are good, really good, that your parents didn’t talk to you about sexual orientation or inclusivity during your childhood. Or even as an adult. 

But you, you can change that. The most important thing is to start learning, and to follow that up with conversations in your home. And then, together, work to build a more inclusive spirit and environment for our LGBTQ+ family and friends.

“We should keep calm in the face of difference and live our lives in a state of inclusion and wonder at the diversity of humanity” 

– George Takei

As you read a book together, with your child, turn to her to discuss what you just read. Ask her how she’s feeling and what she thinks about it. Share your thoughts, too. 

Because you’re ready to wonder, to soak in the diversity of humanity, to not only know it in your heart and see it from a screen, but to really engage and live a full, meaningful, inclusive life.

One step at a time.


Learn More About Being a LGBTQ+ Inclusive Parent 

PFLAG

Parents.Com: What is an LGBTQ+ Ally and How to Raise One

Research Brief: Accepting Adults Reduce Suicide Attempts Among LGBTQ Youth


About Child Care Consultants, Inc.

Child Care Consultants, Inc. (CCC) is a nonprofit centered in the heart of Pennsylvania. They serve childcare providers and low-income families ‒ the ones that have been impacted the most by the pandemic. 

For you and your business, CCC helps keep childcare options open for your employees ‒ saving missed work hours and lowering on-the-job stress levels. They work with early childhood education programs and home-based providers to improve the quality of care, ensuring that all children enter school ready to be successful.

Christy Renjilian serves as its Executive Director.
To learn more, visit childcareconsultants.org.

Child Care Consultants Diversity, Equity and inclusion Position Statement 

Posted on: July 13th, 2021 by Kristen Miller

Child Care Consultants (CCC) serves as an Early Learning Resource Center and is committed to helping children, families, and early childhood education programs be successful. As part of that commitment, we acknowledge the diversity that comes from within and outside of our organization.  We envision a thriving, growing community where children embrace a culture of learning, stay in school, and excel.  To achieve this goal, we strive to be inclusive regardless of ability, age, religion, politics, race, national origin, class, family status, sexual orientation, and gender.  We believe that hatred, in any form, negatively impacts our community because all people are different, deserve to be respected, and have their humanity recognized.  We provide tools for success and accommodations that contribute to an equitable environment, so all people receive what they need.   

At CCC, we understand that individual needs will vary, and we strive to be fair and equitable across the board. As an organization, we are committed to advocating for social justice and intentionally including all our stakeholders.  Through our many programs and roles in the community, we actively support and bring awareness to opportunities for marginalized voices and opinions at the local, state, and regional level.  We believe in transparent communication, listening, volunteering, and creating a sense of belonging for all stakeholders.  CCC values the rights and unique gifts of each individual.  We are intentional about developing and maintaining relationships based upon respect, open and honest communication, acceptance, and inclusion so that each person we come in contact with has the best chance at success.  CCC is committed to continual growth in the areas of diversity, equity and inclusion.   

Waitlist Update!

Posted on: July 2nd, 2021 by Kristen Miller

ELRC Region 9 (Cumberland, Dauphin, Lebanon and Perry Counties) currently does not have a waiting list.

ELRC Region 10 (Adams, Lancaster and York Counties) currently does not have a waiting list.

Attention: Provider COVID Absences

Posted on: May 27th, 2021 by Kristen Miller