As educators and parents, we have an important role in contextualizing disturbing world events like the recent violent takeover of our country’s capitol. After a year of challenge after challenge, this will require reaching into our deepest reserves of energy and resilience. But we must do what we can to provide a sense of understanding and stability amid chaos. We are obligated to take an active role in building a healthier, more just future.
Our first Parent Education workshop in the series of the year looked a little different, but the content was equally impactful. Organized and facilitated by High School history teacher Will Hornblower, Parent Education Workshops have been an incredible resource, and have recently been made available to the greater community.
Observing a pair of California Scrub Jays through binoculars with students and parents in the quiet early hour before school begins…
Witnessing the Pavilion transform into the Pale of Settlement of Imperial Russia of 1905…
Discovering the studio of Leonardo Da Vinci surrounded by student-crafted renditions of Mona Lisa and Self Portrait in the medium of candy (yes, candy!)…
Learning the process of sketching out a mural from concept to fruition, which is inspired by a group of high school students’ open-hearted immigration ideals…
All this happened this past week, and all were initiated and/or implemented by our parents. As Krishnamurti said the day before the school opened for the first time, “It would be right that the parents as well as the teachers and the students work together as a family unit.”
We ask parents to communicate directly with the teachers and staff, to attend parent education meetings, to actively read school and classroom updates, and to volunteer for projects and activities already established within the school. When parents move beyond this base-level of engagement and are energized by an idea for which the school can provide scaffolding for its implementation, we are able to provide something that might not otherwise be possible. When parents and staff can partner to bring form to a new idea, we are able to broaden our resources and capacity as a school, as a community, and as a family unit. Being a small school with a skeletal staff and a modest tuition, we might be limited by internal resources. But limited we are not! We have parents with an incredible wealth of knowledge, talents, and energies who choose to share those with our community. We rely on our parents to complete the circle so we can, together, operate a school “where one learns about the totality, the wholeness of life.”
March 31, 2019
Self-Discovery: Making Space for What Really Counts
The recent college admissions scandal, dubbed Varsity Blues, hit the news just a few days before the release of Turning the Tide II, the second installment of a report on the college admissions process from the Harvard Graduate School of Education’s Making Caring Common Project. As if part of a well-choreographed but tragic dance, a large portion of the report, entitled Ethical Parenting in the College Admissions Process, unabashedly calls out parents for “failing to prepare young people to be caring, ethical community members and citizens.” According to students surveyed for the report, most parents place far more emphasis on their children getting into good colleges than on them being good people. “In an effort to give their kids everything, these parents often end up robbing them of what counts.”
The report goes on to provide recommendations for parents guiding their teens through the college admissions process. Their first recommendation, ‘Keep the focus on your teen,’ centers around supporting the teen’s authenticity. In order to be authentic, teens first need to know themselves. In fact, identity formation is a primary facet of adolescence. But when in the frantic years of clamoring to accumulate outstanding grades, AP credits, athletic awards, participation in clubs and leadership credentials, do these teens have time to get to know themselves?
Parents are not the only culprits here. At risk of stating the obvious, Harvard itself is a major culprit. In fact, Harvard is ironically leading the pack on both sides of this dilemma: as arguably the most elite university of them all (with a record low 4.5% acceptance rate this year) and also as head of a movement to re-write college admissions criteria. Kudos to them for at least trying to be part of the solution.
All of the adults stewarding children through childhood play a role in this crisis and have the opportunity to be part of “turning the tide.” In my mind, the best way for both parents and educators to support young people in the essential process of self-discovery and increasing independence is to get out of the way, to back-off, humbly taking our well-thought out agendas and our best intentions with us. Schools can build in time in the regular schedule for pursuit of personal interests, for social interaction, and for quiet reflection. Parents can seek out and support these schools, eschewing questions about test scores, rankings, and college acceptances in favor of deep consideration of the culture of the school, the quality of the relationships, and the opportunities for self-discovery. Together parents and teachers can build supportive communities committed to creating the space teens need to come to know themselves.
There are many elementary and high schools that intentionally provide opportunities for self-discovery. Here are just a few inspiring examples from my own personal research this past year.
Oak Grove School in Ojai, California incorporates both time and space for a variety of contemplative practices into the regular weekly schedule and into the campus. These include meditation, council circles, quiet time communing with nature, and the 7th grade rocking chair circle pictured above.
Skorpeskolen Private School in Helsingor, Denmark offers Personal Time to students in the early grades and Talent Time to students in the upper grades. These weekly periods provide opportunities to follow a curiosity, to pursue a personal passion, and to develop the capacity for sustained, deep focus on a self-directed project for an extended amount of time. Open in Google Chrome for a translation of the website.
The Green School in Bali, Indonesia identifies sustainability as one its primary values. They believe that the practice of sustainability starts at the individual level. For that reason, teachers are free to set aside all academic demands whenever an individual child needs extra social-emotional support.
You can view Christina Sbarra’s original post here.
Tobi Jo Greene of The Empowerment Workshop joined some Oak Grove parents a few weeks ago for a discussion on how to have healthy and productive conversations with children and adolescents about sex and sexuality. Here are a few of the key points from the discussion:
How do I start conversations about sex and relationships with my kids?
- Everyday life provides plenty of moments for talking about sex and relationships. Here are some common “teachable moments”:
- When you see an advertisement for tampons, condoms, or birth control.
- When puberty, dating, LGBTQ issues, love, or sex comes up on a TV show, in a movie, or in a song on the radio
- When someone you know announces that they’re pregnant.
- When you see a portrayal of an unrealistic or oversexualized stereotype.
- News stories that talk about sex.
- When a “teachable moment” arises, make sure to ask open-ended questions like:
- “What do you know about how pregnancy happens?”
- “Would you want to date someone who acted like that?”
- “Do you think s/he looks like that in real life?”
What if you feel awkward about bringing up sex with your children?
- Leave books around the house for them to find and let them explore them on their own.
- Find a trusted surrogate to talk about these issues with your child.
- Admit your discomfort as a first step in the conversation. The more you talk about it with your child, the more the conversation will be normalized.
What if you can’t find the right time to have “the talk” or your child refuses to engage with you?
- Use car rides and other times when your child might be more receptive to a conversation. While riding in the car, eye contact is naturally indirect and uncomfortable topics can feel easier.
- Speaking in generalities and talking about other peers might be more comfortable than personal questions. For example, ask “At what age do you think it’s ok for kids to start having sex?” as opposed to “So, are you having sex?”
Foster closeness with your child
- Research shows that adolescents who have better relationships with their parents tend to have a lower likelihood of “early sexual intercourse initiation.” On the other hand, the same study showed that lower relationship quality and less parental monitoring increased the odds that a teen would initiate sex. More importantly, adolescents who are educated with comprehensive sex education are better equipped to make strong, positive decisions regarding their bodies and their sexuality, therefore, when they do engage in sexual activity, it is more likely safe, positive, and involved informative consent.
Don’t make assumptions and make sure to debunk myths
- Kids are picking up information from peers and the internet that is frequently misinformed. The ubiquity and availability of pornography has led many adolescents to have an unrealistic and unhealthy image of what a sexual relationship looks like. In addition, a child might be very knowledgeable about one aspect of sex or sexuality but have large gaps when it comes to other aspects.
Don’t be afraid to start discussing sex and sexuality at an early age:
- Always use the proper terms for anatomy and teach your children to use them too. Use these terms from the very beginning — so that children are as comfortable naming their genitals as they are their elbows and ankles.
- Lessons about respecting personal space and asking for permission easily transfer into lessons about consent and personal boundaries.
Focus on do’s instead of do not’s
- Teaching your child to have a healthy and positive outlook on sex will help them throughout their lifetime. Teach them that it is normal to have sexual urges, to masturbate, and to desire intimacy. Learn about sex positivity and move from that direction, rather than from fear. The idea of our children being sexually active can be scary for most parents, but the alternative, not discussing these topics, can have a negative impact on their sexual health and well being.
- Most parents naturally trend toward discussing what not to do and often forget to place emphasis on what to do when it comes to sexuality and personal safety. If your child learns how to react when stuck in a dangerous or uncomfortable circumstance, they will be much more likely to remember it in the heat of the moment.
- When teaching assertiveness, be very clear, that speaking up about what you DO like or want, is also very healthy.
- When people feel that they are in charge of their own bodies and their sexuality, they are more likely to communicate with sexual partners about protection, testing for STIs, and safety. They are also more likely to feel comfortable talking with a doctor about their bodies or a trusted adult when something in their relationship doesn’t feel right.
Learn with your child
- Don’t assume that you know everything about the topic. If you don’t know the answer to something, you can look it up on your own or together. You can say, “I’m glad you asked that question. I’m not sure how to explain it/what the answer is. Let’s look it up!”
- Be honest with yourself about areas of sexuality you find offensive, don’t agree with, or make you uncomfortable, and educate the ignorance out of yourself. You can do real damage to a human being that you love with your spoken or unspoken messages about something they may be personally dealing with.
Links to resources that discuss sex, sexuality and healthy relationships.
For parents and kids seeking reliable information:
Specifically for teens:
Thank you to those of you who were able to attend our Parent Education workshop on implementing Growth Mindset practices in your household. It was wonderful to see such a dedicated group of parents working together to discuss what actions and language will best help their children to embrace a culture of effort and perseverance.
“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
– Carol S. Dweck
For those of you who missed it, or are interested in further research, here are a few recommendations:
- What Do We Tell the Kids?
- A very brief summary of Growth Mindset praise (a one minute read!)
- Mindsetworks: Growth Mindset Parenting
- Some best practices for implementing a Growth Mindset culture in your family.
For the verbal linguistic learner:
- How Not to Talk to Your Kids- The Power (and Peril) of Praise.
- Great overview of the research on the way that praise can affect our children’s performance and attitude.
- The Effort Effect
- A summary of the research that Dweck has done on implementing Growth mindset practices and language in schools.
- The Talent Myth:
- Malcolm Gladwell explores the way that large corporations identify “talent” and explains how they often end up worse off by embracing a fixed mindset culture.
- Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S Dweck:
- Mindsets for Parents: Strategies to Encourage Growth Mindsets in Kids
- The Talent Code: Greatness Isn’t Born. It’s Grown. Here’s How.
For the visual learner:
- Ted Talk: Carol Dweck- The Power of Believing that you can Improve
- A great introduction to Dweck’s research
- The Power of belief — mindset and success | Eduardo Briceno
- More evidence of the effectiveness of a Growth Mindset culture
- Fostering Growth Mindsets in your Family:
- A series of dialogues from the Greater Good Science Center. The Greater Good Science center is an excellent parenting resource on all sorts of subjects.
For the auditory learner:
For the musical learner:
A school is a place for learning, and not just for our students. It includes an active learning environment for the adults, too. In addition to an emphasis on inquiry and self-reflection, which in and of itself supports a culture of learning, we also set aside time in our regular schedule for professional development, shared inquiry, and parent education, as well as targeted individual training and development for faculty and staff.
On most Wednesday afternoons, the faculty and staff meet to learn together. Two Wednesdays ago, the entire staff participated in an in-service around Peer Conflict. This past Wednesday, the faculty inquired together around the Intent of the School. On Friday, three of our Early Childhood Program teachers attended a workshop in Santa Monica on Materials and the 100 Languages of Children in the context of learning. Also recently, our K-8th grade teachers attended a Responsive Classroom training. Last month, a group of teachers and high school students attended the first annual Martin Luther King, Jr. Youth Summit at Thacher on Courage, Conscience, and Coalitions.
There is a significant amount of engagement, sharing, and learning with staff from other schools, too. I talk regularly with the Heads of Schools at many schools in Ojai and several in Santa Barbara; our admissions team talks with other admissions departments, communications with other communications staff, teachers with teachers, and so on. Several of our teachers have made recent visits to observe maths, science, and learning labs at local schools. I spent four days this past week visiting the Waverly School in Pasadena, serving on their accreditation team as part of my HOS duties as a dually accredited independent school. Although the intent is to closely examine the school in all its practices, culture, and governance, to recommend a term for accreditation, it is also an opportunity to take a deep look into how another school operates. Next month, three staff and two students will visit our sister schools outside of London — Brockwood Park School and the Inwoods School for Small Children.
Last Tuesday, parents of our Junior High students met with our High School teachers for a coffee mixer, as a way to get to know one another and to discuss questions about the High School. On Thursday, parents and teachers from Preschool-3rd grade met by the fire in Main House to discuss emergent questions around early childhood development. Upcoming all-school parent education topics include growth mindset, stress, and college.
Krishnamurti was clear about the teacher also being the learner, just as the student is the teacher. He intentionally added the parents into this purpose when founding Oak Grove School. On February 11, 1974, the day the school was officially announced, Krishnamurti said:
“And this school here, we have been discussing with the teachers, with the parents, and with the architects for the last two years. This school is entirely different from the other schools in India and England. Here the parents are involved in it, which is a new kind of experiment because if the children are going to be different then parents must also be different, otherwise there is a contradiction between the child and the parents, and there will be conflict between them. So to avoid all that we thought it would be right that the parents as well as the teachers and the students work together as a family unit.”
In early childhood, children are developing skills at school to help build a strong foundation for cooperative social play. During early childhood, kids actively seek ways to assert their own identities and to find ways to be powerful. Unfortunately, because of their developmental level, young children often don’t know how to make themselves feel more powerful without it being at the expense of another. They often look for “advantages”—who runs faster, who’s currently using the pink scissors, who has the biggest muffin in their snack box. For young children, as strange as this may seem, this is the work of finding their place in the world.
As kids begin to feel safe at school and want to play with other kids, they bring their naturally spontaneous and playful nature to these interactions. However, these same social impulses can be unpredictable and hurtful. As they play, stethoscopes get snatched and friends get elbowed out. As young children learn how to enter and sustain play, how to be friends and to bounce back from rejection, their social skills grow. Young children often disagree intensely, which can be distressing to adults, but which is part of learning who they are.
Young children naturally move from parallel play (alone or next to other kids, with separate ideas) to cooperative play, in which children share a common idea or theme, working together to negotiate rules and roles of the moment. In new situations like beginning at a new school, we may see children return to a less mature kind of play until they feel relaxed enough to jump into their more sophisticated ways of playing.
Some Preschool and Kindergarten friendships are serene and calm, but many are turbulent and variable. On the way to learning to cooperate and compromise, we adults may wince at hearing their words: “I had it first! You’re not my friend.” “No, my idea is more cool. You can’t play here.” “Only girls can climb up here—no boys allowed!”
All of us want our children to be generous and friendly and well-liked. As parents and teachers, how do we support this? Some of the ways we do this at Oak Grove include:
Observing without judgment. We keep in mind the age level of individual children and the social dynamics that come with that. We know that children have their individual temperament—some prefer playing with friends to everything else and play with a wide variety of children. Others take time to warm up and prefer playing with one or two special friends in familiar, small groups. Some prefer to lead play and others to follow; we encourage opportunities for kids to fulfill the opposite role in play.
Respecting their friendship choices. We respect children’s right to choose (sometimes two children are discovering a special connection) while making sure that feelings aren’t hurt and that there is space for a third child to connect and belong elsewhere.
Facilitating their learning to resolve conflicts independently and peacefully. When arguments erupt, we guide children in expressing their feelings and needs, in listening, and in coming to mutual solutions.
Active listening. We listen actively to children—to understand their feelings and goals at a specific moment and to reflect them back. Instead of stepping in (ordering them to let kids play), we strive to remain attentive to children without imparting our own feelings, values, or judgments. Our focus is on reflecting back the heart of children’s thoughts or feelings, which helps us to focus on understanding the child, instead of trying to explain, fix, or solve their dilemmas.
When children come to us with a hurt or complaint, we listen closely and restate a condensed version of what we hear. We “check-in” to help make sure we’ve correctly understood the child’s basic message. “It sounds like you were worried your play would be interrupted,” or “Today, she only wanted to play with him, and you’re feeling sad. Are you wondering whether she is still your friend?”
Active listening connects us with children but also models reflecting on their own words and feelings. Over time, we hope they’ll begin to see other perspectives: “How do you think she felt when you said to go away?” Young children are still learning self-regulation and empathy, and trying on another’s feelings can be a startling idea for them.
We may gently push them to own their own choices. Instead of offering a solution, we might ask, “What do you think your next step could be?” The child won’t immediately see the situation from another point of view, but the simple act of seeing that there are lots of possible solutions to a seemingly impossible problem is empowering. By responding with empathy, adults give children the opportunity to pause and move forward when they’re ready to.
As young children grow, they often explore feeling powerful through language, discovering (to our dismay) name-calling and excluding.
Exclusionary play—when friendship hurts:
Excluding is a natural impulse for young children. As two children or a small group solidify their friendship, they may exclude other children from their play. When a child orders another away from her play, she may be thinking, “He and I are in the middle of our pretend play and if another friend joins us now, it will ruin our story.” That thought is often verbalized as, “Go away!” This is because children generally aren’t sure what holds their play together and may fear that the pleasure of their play will be lost if they let another child join in. Exclusionary play can bond two children together: “We are friends if we agree with each other, and right now we both say ‘no’ to playing with you.”
When engaged in cooperative play, a question keeps coming up for kids: Who’s making the decisions about our play? A lot of negotiating goes on as children experiment with ways to have control over their firefighter or mommy play. This includes threatening: “You have to be the baby brother puppy or you can’t play with us” or “Give me the silver bucket or you can’t come to my birthday party.”
Children also exclude to investigate the role of power in affecting other children’s feelings: “If I say you can’t play here, will it make you cry?”
Kids often don’t understand the boundaries of friendship—if they are playing with someone, then they’re “friends,” and if they’re not playing with someone, they’re “not friends.” This means they might say, “You’re not my friend any more,” rather than “You can’t play with us right now.”
Excluding other children also springs from the cognitive developmental stage in which children begin to categorize. People in their family are different from people not in their family. Realizing that some people are like them and others are different, they often use those categories to exclude other children: “Only boys can play!” “We don’t want anyone here who has short hair!”
Teachers make sure that no child is excluded based on an attribute or affinity with which they are born, like gender, race, ethnicity, or ability, or a social category like family differences.
We include children in problem-solving. A powerful way to approach exclusionary play is to acknowledge the play that is going on. Because kids worry about a loss of control of their play, this reassures them. “It looks like you’re building a strong dam for the pond.” Once kids hear their play acknowledged, they have more confidence that it won’t be overridden and less resistance to having someone else join in.
We also might invite children’s ideas about ways their play could be extended to make room for others: “Do you need someone to carry the doctor tools and the groceries?” This often helps children find a way to open their play to another.
Adults might need to find ways to help expand children’s play, so if there isn’t room for more passengers in the wagon, we wonder out loud about bigger ideas: “Do we need to set up a ‘wagon washing station’?” This way everyone who wants to can join in.
It’s important to make sure the child who’s being excluded has a voice. We don’t speak for children (which puts them in a passive role), but check in with them: “How do you feel about that idea?” or “How does it feel when kids say that?” Whether an excluded child gets into play isn’t as important as being heard when they express their feelings, so we make sure others listen to what she has to say.
We keep play areas open for all children: “The slide is for everyone.” We arrange the classroom to provide limits at times, like the “two-person table” for art projects.
We establish ground rules for safety: “Those are hurtful words. It’s not okay to use those kinds of names with kids. What’s another way to say what you’re trying to say?” or “I wonder if you’re trying to tell her, ‘I just want to play with him right now.’”
Fortunately, as children grow older (though sometimes much older), they are more capable of understanding multiple points of view, think through their choices, and predict natural consequences to events. They become better able to understand that yelling, “Go away!” is not a great way to keep a friend.
Children’s friendships will be developing and changing all through the year (and through the years). Relationships in Preschool and Kindergarten are based on the here-and-now, and supporting them is ongoing work for teachers and parents. As busy adults, it’s easy to fall into the trap of playing judge and jury for social collisions between children. We may say, “Play nice!” or “Time out!” or “I’m going to put that tool away!” none of which are helpful solutions. But as long as we continue to mediate and “resolve” their conflicts for them, we prevent children from practicing those crucial skills themselves. Instead, it’s helpful to think of ourselves as attentive observers and guides for children as they do the work of learning how to be a friend.
Over time, these responses help increase the level of trust between adults and children. Kids learn that we are there for them in this complex process of navigating friendships. With our support, over time, children begin to understand that what they say and do affects others. When they trust that adults respect their ideas and clarify safe limits, they’re more willing to work together toward mutually satisfying solutions, and the rocky road of friendship can be a little smoother.
— Adrienne Hoskins
By Will Hornblower
Across the Oak Grove campus, parents and staff have been discussing strategies to improve the way that adults connect and communicate with children. Over the course of three workshops, we brainstormed ways to help students develop resilience, autonomy, and rapport with adults.
We started by posing a question to a gathering of the entire Oak Grove School staff and teachers: How should we talk to students at Oak Grove? This evolved into the obvious counterpoint: How shouldn’t we talk to students at Oak Grove? The teachers generated some excellent strategies. Here are some that might be of benefit in the home:
“The do’s” of adult-child communication:
- Body language equals words: show children that you are giving them your full attention by engaging in active listening. Here is a link to some active listening advice for those interested in practicing at home.
- Use “I” messages to communicate your feelings. Communicate your feelings honestly, and encourage children to communicate their feelings using “I messages” as well.
- When praising a child, praise the process and not the person or result. Instead of saying, “You are so good at math!“, try saying, “I like the way you tried all kinds of strategies on that math problem until you finally got it.” Here is more information on recent research on the effects of different types of praise in encouraging a growth mindset.
“The do not’s” of adult-child communication:
- Avoid making assumptions or leaping to conclusions when communicating with children. Often, we are only projecting our own anxiety onto the child. In her wonderful book, Peaceful Parent, Happy Kids, Dr. Laura Markham writes: “When we are worried, we usually feel an urgent need to take action. That alleviates our own anxiety but doesn’t necessarily give the child what he needs. So the first intervention is always becoming aware of and regulating our own emotions.”
- Avoid comparisons when your child is within earshot, especially comparisons to siblings. Kids are always interested in what adults have to say about them, and this can shape their own feelings of self-worth.
Strategies for Elementary Students
Every time you talk to a child you are adding a brick to define the relationship that is being built between the two of you. And each message says something to the child about what you think of him. He gradually builds up a picture of how you perceive him as a person. Talk can be constructive to the child and to the relationship or it can be destructive. – Thomas Gordon
Our first parent education workshop discussed communication strategies for younger students to help them develop resilience, autonomy, and executive function. Here are some strategies that we came up with:
Routines and rituals that help to encourage connection and communication:
- Regularly scheduled family meals. Assigned chores and structured conversations help make these meals more successful.
- An unhurried bedtime routine. Build plenty of space into your bedtime routines for conversation and connection while still making sure that your child enjoys the health benefits of adequate sleep.
- Structured daily reflection activities like: “Rose, Thorn, Bud” or “Three Good Things.”
- Screen-Free Sunday (or Saturday) for all family members. If you really want to go big, try a screen-free week.
- Enjoying nature together
Calming your child during moments of extreme anxiety or agitation:
- Soothing experiences like baths, massage, or snuggles.
- Role play and storytelling.
- Creating safe spaces and providing stress-relieving toys and objects for children.
- Mindfulness routines
- Modeling self-regulation by taming your own emotions during high-stress moments.
Strategies to use when your child is struggling with his/her social or academic life:
- Coaching, not controlling: consider the consultant model over a more authoritarian approach. Instead of offering solutions, ask, “How can I support you?”
- Asking specific questions about academic or social life as opposed to more general questions.
- Avoid power struggles around homework
Here are some helpful resources that we distributed during the workshop:
- Refrigerator sheet- How to Talk So Kids Will Listen And Listen So Kids Will Talk
- Whole Brain Child Refrigerator Sheet
- Dr. Laura Markham- Gameplan for Parenting Your Elementary Schooler
Strategies for Secondary Students
As parents, our need is to be needed; as teenagers their need is not to need us. This conflict is real; we experience it daily as we help those we love become independent of us. – Dr. Haim G. Ginott
Our second parent education workshop discussed communication strategies for older students to help them retain healthy attachments and strong connections with their parents and caregivers:
Routines and rituals that help to encourage connection and communication:
- Electronics-free times such as meals or even encouraging an entire screen-free day.
- Sharing common interests and hobbies: sometimes conversations flow better when engaged in a common task like cooking, hiking, or surfing.
- Game nights and playing music together.
- Going out on a one-on-one “date night.”
- Being enthusiastic at child’s sports and performance events.
Approaching difficult conversations such as discussions on sex, substance abuse, or peer conflict
- Using facts and discussing current research as opposed to voicing opinions. A calm demeanor and positive body language also help to avoid activating a child’s defense response.
- Using movies, tv shows, or current events as teachable moments or to discuss sensitive issues.
- Talking about issues in abstract terms or using another person’s experience as opposed to asking personal questions.
- Do not make assumptions about your child’s views on alcohol, sex, or other sensitive topics.
- Have a plan for when your child asks you about your own teenage experiences.
- Choose your moment to have a conversation; don’t “ambush” your child with a difficult conversation.
Strategies around electronics use to avoid miscommunication and to promote connection
- A media contract is a useful negotiating tool to remind parents and children about expectations.
- Modeling responsible media use is important as children observe and criticize every action by adults that might be deemed hypocritical.
- Texting and email can create misunderstandings. Convey important information in a face-to-face interaction.
Here are some helpful resources that we distributed during the workshop:
- Tips For Talking To Your Child About Sex, Drugs and Alcohol
- Communication Blocks to Avoid
- Why Your Grumpy Teenager Doesn’t Want to Talk to You – The New York Times
- 30 Ways To Stay Connected With Your Teen
Here is a link to a schedule of our upcoming parent education workshops.