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Posted on Sep 27, 2013

Elementary Coffees Offer Parenting Insights


Last week, Dr. Adria O’Donnell visited Gillispie to speak to parents at the Grades 3-6 and K-2 Coffees. The clinical pyshcologist, who last year spoke to parents and Gillispie students during an assembly, offered a variety of strategies for supporting children’s social and emotional development. Here’s a sampling:

How to help your children with friendship issues: Remind your son or daughter that he/she cannot control what others think, feel, or say about others. At some point, all friends can be annoying—your son or daughter even can be annoying to others. You can remind your child that a healthy strategy may be to take a break from the friendship, but to do so with dignity for all. In other words, take a break without being rude or mean.

How to help yourself be responsive: Children will use parents as a barometer for anxiety, so brainstorm constructively with your child as you walk through a scenario. For example, if your child wants to wear a new parka to school on a day likely to reach 85 degrees, don’t worry they’ll be teased or uncomfortable. Instead of responding with, “I’m worried that . . .” say, “Here is what I predict . . .” Or instead of “I’m afraid that if you . . .” say, “Let’s guess what might happen . . . .”

How to help your children when they are upset: When your child is upset, attempting to reason in the heat of the moment may not be the best strategy. As Dr. O’Donnell noted, it’s like throwing food into a blender without a lid–the emotions can really fly! Also watch your own reaction to the story as it is being told so that you are not becoming emotionally involved. Stay in the moment, which is exactly where your child is with those flying emotions. Stop yourself from festering in the past (“Not again!”) or worrying about the future (“What will this mean for my child moving forward?”). Just listen and acknowledge as your child works through the issues.

As promised, click here for Dr. O’Donnell’s handout and list of recommended books.

Alison Fleming
Head of School

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