Newell, S, Biggs, A, Graham, A & Gardon, L 2006, Communicating with kids about school issues: seminar report, prepared for Centre for Children & Young People, Lismore, NSW.
This seminar took a strengths-based approach to examine the challenges facing parents/carers and young people as they attempt to negotiate school-related, relationship and behaviour issues. Two initial discussions explored and compared the audience’s and the students’ thoughts about factors worrying young people and factors worrying parents. Both groups nominated similar issues as concerning young people – peer pressure, bullying, study pressures, living up to others’ expectations, etc. However, there were quite different perceptions about the issues concerning parents – with the audience expressing concern about a broad range of issues, most not directly related to their children themselves, whereas the young people perceived themselves (their behaviour, attitudes or achievements) as the major focus of parents’ concern. In the second part of the seminar, the students acted out a number of scenarios they had prepared during a day-long workshop with Helen Cahill – from their perspectives. These scenarios covered a range of issues concerning the students or perceived to concern parents – including peer pressure, bullying, amount of studying, negotiating boundaries, partying and appropriateness of clothing. During the seminar, the students acted out each scenario – firstly, demonstrating their experiences of the negative approaches often taken by parents or friends when expressing their concerns about the issue. Each scenario created much laughter and was followed by a facilitated discussion between the students and the audience regarding the likely impact of this negative approach and ways it could be approached more constructively. Then, the students acted out the scenario again, demonstrating some of these more positive strategies and approaches – and how they were more likely to result in positive outcomes. The seminar closed with each of the students sharing a final thought regarding their suggestions for ways parents could better approach discussions about issues of concern with their adolescent children.