- High School
During February and March this year, our High School Counsellors – Ms Michelle Koay and Ms Razia Farhad – facilitated Conversations @ SJII for our parents. The sessions have been ongoing since 2016 and they are run in small groups of about 15-20 parents. There are 7 different time slots that are offered for each topic and parents can select the one that suits them best. A total of about 120 parents attended the topic of “Communicating well – Power of affirmations and positive engagement”. Since last year, such sessions have been held online and we used various tools like breakout rooms and polls to engage the parents.
We started off the sessions with parents sharing the barriers to positive communication and what positive communication looks like. We are reminded that we can use strategies of positive communication to tackle those “barriers”, eg. taking time to listen, spending quality time together, having an open mind and refrain from being judgemental, using a moderate tone of voice to communicate.
We are aware that times have changed and communication is no longer top-down. Even the “outside world” is more consultative and inclusive in making decisions. We can model that in a positive and constructive way, based on respect and listening well. We recognized that it is important to nag less but engage in a way that facilitates conversations, discussion, showing care and concern, asking open-ended questions about what they can do differently to improve a situation that you are concerned about without giving the “answers” straight away. This helps with problem-solving and empowers them.
We have to be mindful about the platforms we use to communicate with our child as there may be negative associations with those instances if we often use it as a way to remind them of what they may not have done well. For example, “lecturing” during a meal may affect their digestion or their mind may be filled with not so good thoughts and they won't feel too good when they go to bed. For sensitive topics, we can consider talking “indirectly” by engaging in an activity, so it diffuses the awkwardness. Our teens may not respond well to long lectures or imparting “life lessons” so we can attempt to keep it short and sweet and find ways to dialogue versus a monologue. For families with more than one child, a useful tip is to set aside time for one-to-one engagement. We can even engage other adults (relatives, teachers, coaches, mentors) and older siblings or cousins, as they may be helpful resources for our teens.
Parents can communicate to our teens that we noticed and paid attention to their positive attributes and behaviours, using virtues or character traits, for character-building and for our teens to internalise the positive qualities about themselves. Similarly, it is helpful for us to communicate to ourselves about things that we have done well and things that we are good at. Being kinder and more compassionate to ourselves, and being less critical and harsh to ourselves, helps us communicate in a more constructive way with our child.
- High School