Preadolescence and the teenage years can be challenging periods of social and emotional change for children. At the International School of Beijing (ISB), counselors can help parents navigate these changes with confidence by fostering healthy lifelong relationships with their children.
Elementary and high school counselors led parenting workshops with these goals in mind on March 11, 2017.
Around 50 parents participated in the high school session in the upper gallery, while about 25 parents attended the elementary school event in the elementary school cafeteria.
In both divisions, parents shared their experiences during table discussions as counselors explained different parenting styles and ways to encourage children to make responsible decisions.
Teen years are a period of intense growth, not only physically but emotionally and intellectually. It's therefore understandable that adolescence can be a time of upheaval for many families.
"It can be an emotional journey for parents as the 'rules' seemingly change overnight. A lot of growing up is about making good choices, and sometimes there are areas of conflict," high school counselor Andy Mennick said in his introduction.
"Our focus today is on building good relationships with children, so that you will be a valuable part of their transition to independent, confident, and happy young adults."
The high school counselors emphasized the benefits of teens getting adequate sleep, minimizing screen time at home, and sitting down to dinner together as a family each night.
In the elementary school workshop, counselors Kevin Kooienga and Catie Spears led a session on STEPS, or Systemic Training for Effective Parenting. Normally presented over eight weeks, the PTA-sponsored workshop condensed the entire course to one day.
"We've been discussing managing emotions effectively, communication, consequences, and discipline. Parents have also been reflecting on their own upbringing and how that influences their own parenting style," said Ms. Spears.
Both workshops aimed to help parents form stronger relationships with their children through using research-based parenting skills.
They also aligned with ISB's commitment to nurture the whole child by providing parents with a supportive network where they can collaboratively learn and share insights into caring for their children's academic, physical, and social-emotional well-being.
"The energy we give each other during parenting classes is rewarding and sustaining, especially as we find out that we share so many common concerns. The workshops are also beneficial for counselors, since it requires us to put ourselves in parents' shoes, and in doing so it helps us improve our practice," said high school counselor Gina Cuthbert.