Say what? Listen to your kids

I had the pleasure of attending the Challenge Success event at Stanford a few weeks ago. If you are not familiar with Challenge Success, they are doing groundbreaking work in the areas of student support and success at the high school level. They work with schools, students and families to come up with strategies for student support and engagement with learning.  They recently published an insightful white paper on college admission called a fit over rankings which I found inspiring and supportive of a similar approach we take to college selection.

Challenge Success is led by Denise Pope and Madeline Levine, and their guest speaker at their annual event was Wendy Mogel. If you haven’t read her books, run don’t walk to get The Blessing of a b-, The Blessing of a Skinned Knee and her latest, Voice Lessons applies to parents of kids of all ages.

The basic theme of the evening was communication. The event’s title was “Say What? The power of Communication in Raising Healthy, Engaged Kids”. Wendy Mogel is full of wisdom and is hilarious. It was like attending a stand up comedy routine with parenting strategies. If you ever get the chance to see her in person, she is terrific,

Here were some of the themes from the evening:

  • Tell Me More: A positive way to look at #fortnite: if your kid is excited about bayonets ask them to “tell me more.” Be enchanted by what they are enchanted by. Find opportunities for inside jokes with your kids!
  • Listen and ask questions: this is what kids need forever
  • Thoughtful: I thought of you when I saw ….: Tell your kids you were thinking of them based on their interests (engage your kids)
  • Gender differences: Most men are on the spectrum and most women have some combination of a personality disorder and OCD.
  • Talk, Talk Talk
  • “I’ll think about it” – Model slowing down and thinking about a problem or a request they may have that you don’t have the answer to. You don’t need to respond immediately.

And, Madeline Levine had these wonderful words of wisdom at the end of the talk. Be aware before you communicate with your kid when these 3 conditions are true:

  1. The stakes are high
  2. There’s a difference of opinion
  3. Your emotions are high.

Solution: Ask yourself difficult questions like “What am I afraid of?” It gets your blood moving to your brain and helps calm you down. Ask questions rather than just say “no” to something.

I found the evening entertaining, insightful and refreshing. It’s so great to have a resource like Challenge Success in Silicon Valley.

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