It was lovely to finally welcome some parents back on campus who attended in-person sessions of Conversations @ SJII, led by our High School Counsellor and Parent Coach Ms Michelle Koay. This time, the series focused on "Social Acceptance & Rejection," with over 120 parents in attendance. Others who couldn't make it due to personal and work commitments joined the online sessions.
Read the following reflection from Ms Koay.
At the start of the session, we were reminded of the context that our teens live in, where they engage socially in person as well as online. This requires parents to change their mindset and acknowledge that it is likely that teens will be moving seamlessly from in-person interactions to online interactions, then back to in-person engagements, and so on. Another key area to examine is the impact of the pandemic on our teens’ social skills. This depends very much on the developmental age at which the pandemic occurred. Due to the unavoidable loss of social skills development and opportunities for social interaction during the pandemic, parents can assess how best to support their teens as the Safe Management Measures ease. In addition, transitions can be stressful for some, or they can be a welcome change for others. Significant shifts to note are moving from elementary to high school, starting Grade 9, starting Grade 11, or changing schools. There is usually a period of adjustment, and this process is necessary for our teens to develop their self-identity and learn social skills.
Parents can provide opportunities for teens to learn and develop social skills, group problem solving, deal with competition and conflict, develop moral and ethical qualities, self-exploration and regulate emotions. We can explore teachable moments (see “The Virtues Project”) to guide our teens in developing positive qualities, empathy and compassion for others. Do be aware that our teens have different personalities, levels of introversion and extraversion and varying degrees of maturity. Hence, it would be essential to recognise that they may have different social inclinations or needs from us, and that is okay as long as they feel positive emotions.
As a parent community, we can build connections and get to know our teens’ friends and parents. The diversity of our school community is a wonderful setting where we can encourage our teens to adopt a posture of curiosity, be more open to making friends who are different from us and learn more about others. We can also encourage our teens to reach out to others who may be a little isolated or down to build a more cohesive community where we look out for one another.
Parents can examine the parent-teen connection and strive to portray a parenting style which is high nurturing and moderately controlling, and authoritative (NOT authoritarian). This is not a top-down approach yet has clear and firm boundaries, with opportunities to have collaborative conversations and discussions. If parents have concerns about certain peers or social groups, it would be better to guide your teens to reflect on the nature of the friendship and the impact of certain behaviours and actions. It is crucial that your teens are able to reflect and come to their own conclusion about what they need to do regarding the friendship.
After the June holidays, we look forward to seeing you at our third series of Conversations on SJII on “Trauma impact of COVID-19 pandemic on children & adolescents”. You can find out more via Resource Portal for Parents or contact Ms Michelle Koay at email@example.com for more information.