“Talk to your kids” was perhaps the strongest advice that Dr. Elizabeth Englander gave to parents attending a recent PTA-sponsored Zoom presentation entitled Parent Talk: the pandemic, screen use and social growth.
Dr. Englander, who is Executive Director of the Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center at Bridgewater State University, reported that 45% of kids in her research said that their parents never talk to them about “social stuff.”
Dr. Englander said “Talk to your kids! Ask questions and keep asking.” Parents get credit for just asking and showing interest, even when their kids appear to ‘blow you off.’ Your children will know you care, and what matters is having a parent who cares to ask, rather than a parent who has all the answers.
The talk was both timely and valuable, according to Briarcliff Middle School Psychologist, Dr. Elissa Novick.
“For some of us, this was our second time hearing Dr. Englander speak, and both times, as parents and guardians, we came away with practical tools and strategies to use at home with our children,” Dr. Novick said. “In keeping with the pandemic “theme” we also learned that we need a booster of Dr. Englander every few years to teach us what is new and remind us of what is important.”
Below are a few highlights from the presentation that Dr. Novick noted:
Many of us are aware of, or have heard the research around the importance of having dinner as a family. We also learned from Dr. Englander that the quality of the conversations around dinner matters less than the act of having family dinners—at least three times a week. Her research revealed that kids whose families have dinner together are less likely to be involved in bullying or cyberbullying incidents, even if there is bickering or arguing at the table.
Family life is critical especially during this pandemic. It is even more so now because this is where kids are learning and practicing most of their social skills. Kids have few opportunities to connect with their peers to learn and grow socially during this time, and although here in Briarcliff we are so fortunate that our kids are in school, they are all wearing masks and socially distanced, so there are fewer chances to practice social learning. Thus, it is important to talk and model and discuss even more at home.
For those that missed the talk, please click on the following link to gain access to the slideshow where you can learn more information: Tinyurl.com/E-Englander