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Parent Education Event Recap: Health & Wellness Panel Discussion Webinar

Photo of Seattle Academy Parent Education Event October 2020 Panel Recap

Article Written By: Laura Avalone (Luca ‘27 and Maximo ‘24)
Hosted by: Charles Guest
Panel Moderator: Deli Moussavi
Panelists: Amy Lang, Jo Langford, and Dr. Ari Gilmore

Thank you to our amazing panelists for an information rich Parent Education Health and Wellness webinar! If you were unable to attend the virtual panel discussion on October 27, please be sure to watch and enjoy the recording, or breeze through this recap to find lots of useful tips and practical guidance to think about as we all navigate our way through this challenging time. Cheers to health and wellness!

Amy Lang “ How To Talk With Kids About Sexuality, Love & Relationships”

Talk about sexuality with your teenager! If you’ve been screening what you say, don’t! Your kiddos need to learn about this part of life from YOU! Pepper your conversations with your values and beliefs. Provide a safe place to get accurate information. We want kids to be super smart in this part of their life. Parents have a strong influence when kids are younger but will lose influence as they get older. If you aren't talking to them you will really lose influence! Understand that 17 and 18 year olds will have peers and porn as their main teachers, so get ahead of it, and in the way of it, so they will see you as their safe go-to person.*Need to share important info two years before they might put it to use.

Tips:

  • By Middle School, kids should know the basics, if you have been “negligent” in sex talking, just be honest and let them know. Get started and continue the conversations! 
  • Humanize yourself, be funny, lighthearted, don’t make discussions an “event”
  • Let them know dating, sex and relationships can be challenging and confusing
  • Think of your teenage years.  What did you wish you had known? What was missing? What would have been helpful?
  • Don’t be afraid if they don’t want to talk. Do it anyway; they are listening
  • Use media as a positive chance to talk about uncomfortable topics
  • Be gender-neutral. Kids are savvy about sexuality, gender, etc.
  • Dating & COVID. Use this time to talk about long-distance relationships and what they mean. Focus on emotional connection. Teach them about concrete legal lines they cannot cross. Discuss important guidelines about how to behave on screens. NO pics under 18 years old, no filming, cameras above the waistline, etc.
  • Talking about porn. Porn and Sex are not mutual, but a lot of kids don’t separate nowadays. 50% Rule: Develop own healthy fantasy through books, magazines, podcasts (sex positive people). Stuff on-screen is sexual, but not sex itself.

What the heck do I say?

  • Sexuality is about Responsibility, Joy, Pleasure & Trust. Use these four words to jump-start a conversation.
  • Pick something easy/low stakes to start with (for example: consent, aspects of a healthy relationship).

Jo Langford “Quarantine & Technology” “Binging & Boundaries” and Being on Screens

As parents, we are panicking and overwhelmed because kids are on screens more than ever! IT’S GOING TO BE OKAY! Right now screens are the primary connection to peers, social interaction & pop culture. They are something that resembles “normalcy” right now.

Tips:

  • Examine how you are thinking about screen time & media. Focus on HOW they (kids) are using screens rather than HOW MUCH. What are they watching? FAST FOOD vs. HEALTHY OPTIONS. Are they using screens in a way that is upping their creative energies or in a way that is avoiding that? Mindless scrolling vs. engaging.
  • BALANCE! Are they learning? Are they doing enough other things? (reading, exercise, creative projects, spending time with family, etc) If the answer is yes, don’t worry so much!
  • Talk about self-care
  • Make screen time connective (watch movies/shows together, play video games together, let them show you what they are doing, Zoom dinners, games, etc with other family members/friends. Use as an opportunity for human connection. How can the screen bring you together? Reduce stress?
  • Set expectations that there is a certain amount of time in different categories (gaming, something creative, chores, exercise, etc.)
  • If your teen is being stubborn in regards to lack of interest in physical activity, etc. give them a voice and listen. Delve into why. Why are they being resistant? Is it related to depression or anxiety? What are the hurdles?  Work in your expectations, offer suggestions, and alternatives. Imperative to talk about physiological effects. “The more you sit, the more you don’t want to move.” Try using some competition/challenge motivator. Be creative!

How do I monitor devices?

  • Monitoring means you know where they are going. Parental Controls mean you block stuff.
  • In Middle School and Upper School, monitor rather than block usage.
  • Qustodio & Disney Circle provide easy and user-friendly software.
  • Ask questions about the media they are consuming. Read up on it, watch with them and have conversations while watching.
  • Let them know you are monitoring! Spot check texts, web history. Let them know that an iPhone is a privilege, not a right. Talk about your values, what is okay and what is not, and what you expect them to be doing. Lay the groundwork!

Dr. Ari Gilmore “Teen Substance Abuse: Risk & Resiliency”

64% of adults entering treatment report substance abuse prior to 20 years of age.

Teens are on a teeter-totter in life right now. They are trying to balance risk (ex. stress, bullying) with proactive factors (ex. community involvement, self-regulation, exercise, parental involvement, positive sense of well being). 

Signs of substance abuse include changes in behavior, gut sense. Use your resources (friends, parents).

What can we do?

  • Educate effectively. Talk about each one of the drugs. (alcohol, marijuana, opioids, vaping & nicotine, meth) What do they know? What are the effects? Give them a sense of knowledge rather than “Just say no”. Kids should know the risks!
  • Let your kids know your stance. Help them to think about at least delaying the use of alcohol/drugs. “I don’t want you to use, but…” 
  • Let them know that if they do use that you are there for them and that you have their back.
  • If they do use, they should do it with friends they really trust and if they are being pushed they should say no.
  • Discuss media and advertisement portrayal. For example, Ads make vaping look “sexy.”  They are trying to get you to buy something. Encourage them to rebel against that! Reduce risky behaviors!
  • Model appropriate behavior

Give kids the chance to make mistakes and have frank discussions!

Silver Lining! Having more time with our kids at home! What can we do to help them up their resiliency and modify their behaviors?

Our next virtual Parent Education Event is scheduled for Tuesday, February 9, 2021. The topic will be a Social-Emotional Learning Forum for parents in Middle School and Upper School. Find out more information here.