- High School
In the first quarter of the year, Ms Michelle Koay, our High School Counsellor and parent coach, facilitated Conversations @ SJII for our parents on the focus topic “Screens & Teens”. She offered seven-time slots for this topic, and 120 parents participated in the online sessions. The following is Ms Koay’s summary of what was covered in the sessions:
The sessions began with an activity where parents were quizzed on whether they could identify various social media apps. This activity had everyone talk about the use of social media, the benefits, and the risks associated with misuse or overuse.
Parents need to have conversations with their teens about how they can use social media appropriately and responsibly. Some parents may wish to have a device contract with their teen, and many samples are available online. However, please remember that it is essential not to use a top-down approach concerning the contract. The contract should be drawn up in collaboration with your teen through conversations and discussions to involve and empower your teen to take ownership and responsibility for the use of digital devices.
Although it may be more straightforward to impose draconian rules regarding device use, parents will find that controlling, monitoring, and micro-managing our teens’ device use is not sustainable and ineffective in the long run for building trust and developing a positive parent-child relationship. A more effective approach will be to facilitate the skills development of our teens in areas of emotion-regulation, navigating relationships, and executive functioning skills. Parents are encouraged to model positive use of devices and maintain a balanced lifestyle - sufficient sleep, a healthy diet, engaging in hobbies and physical activity, and connection with family and friends.
When an issue regarding device use comes up, instead of reacting, consider a posture of curiosity and explore the child’s perspectives and the skills they may need to develop. One helpful strategy is to have more conversations by asking open-ended questions to facilitate your teens’ ability to reflect and learn self-awareness instead of lecturing, nagging, or advice-giving. You can nudge your teen to think about the pros and cons and consider the consequences of specific actions. Do refrain from immediately telling them the pitfalls but have them think about the issue and perhaps do some research about it.
If we become upset about our teens’ device use, avoid using labelling terms like “lazy” or “lying”. These are teachable moments (see “The Virtues Project”), and we can reframe the conversation by encouraging our teens to build positive qualities, e.g. “to work on becoming more conscientious and hardworking” and “to be more truthful”. Suppose your teens seem to be withholding some information. You may approach the conversation with curiosity, asking, “I am wondering what may be bothering you right now, and you are not keen to share with me” – it could be that your teen is concerned about your reaction. You can reassure that even if it is not good, you are open to listening and supporting your teen to work through unhelpful behaviours together as you see this as a learning journey.
- High School