By Gina Joseph Updated
CARE of Southeastern Michigan’s Parenting Conference at Macomb Intermediate School District is something parents not only look forward to but count on every year.
This year’s conference, March 23, from 8 a.m. to 3:30 p.m., is said to top them all with more than 20 interactive and educational workshops that cover everything from bullying, healthy cooking and emotional, physical and financial wellness to a discussion on indecorous children by keynote speaker Katherine Reynolds-Lewis, journalist and author of “The Good News about Bad Behavior.”
“I believe we have put together the strongest program in the (conference’s) history. Starting with Katherine as our keynote speaker to all of the breakout sessions, we design the program to provide parents, children, caregivers, educators and grandparents the tools and skills to make life better for families,” said Monique Stanton, president and CEO of CARE of SEM. Reynolds-Lewis has profound insight on parenting and issues facing both parents and children in today’s modern, connected world, gained through her experience as a journalist covering education and parenting, and five years of research.
Why are kids today so out of control?
Why do so many kids suffer from anxiety?
These are a few of the questions that set her on a path of discovery that led to her book and an in-depth article on school discipline for Mother Jones that boasted 6 million readers.
During the conference Reynolds-Lewis will look at some of the root causes of children’s behaviors such as:
• Lack of free play — Kids are not being allowed to play by themselves without adult supervision. Reynolds-Lewis said it’s during these times, be it outside or at home, that children learn life skills such like how to get along and cope with disappointment (like not being picked first for a game) or how to win and lose graciously. Parents need to stop hovering, even if it means a bump or bruise, now and then, for the sake of learning. “There’s a definite connection to anxiety and never having a setback,” Reynolds-Lewis said. “We so often jump in to keep our kids from getting hurt or making a mistake, we stop them from learning.”
If they’ve never fallen down, or never had a fight at an early age, how can we expect them to deal with it, later?
• Growth in social media and technology — Instead of figuring out for themselves, what they like or dislike, kids are looking to social media for answers on what’s popular or trendy. This disables their ability to discover themselves and what makes them happy.
• Childhood has become about perfection and achievement — Instead of encouraging children to contribute or show them how their actions impact others, we’re asking them to be academic or mathematic superstars. Whatever happened to encouraging children to volunteer their time to others, like mowing the grass for an elderly neighbor or helping a teacher with chores during recess or after school? These are things that will contribute to a child’s self-worth.
Parents will also learn how they can fix many of these issues through communication and giving children space to develop their own capabilities and self-confidence.
“It’s very normal for kids to bite, kick and scream,” Reynolds-Lewis said. “However, if we as adults overreact and make them ashamed they won’t learn anything.”
Instead, parents need to teach their children how to build their skills so they can get better at their emotional response to situations that upset them.
“If there is one thing I hope parents will take away it’s a new perspective on bad behavior and more confidence in addressing it,” said Reynolds-Lewis, during a phone interview from her home in Maryland.
The presentation by Reynolds-Lewis is followed by numerous breakout sessions that provide parents with even more information and tips.
“With all of the distractions we have today it is so important for parents and children to be able to connect, and we feel our parenting conference goes a long way in helping accomplish that goal,” Stanton said.
The event is open to the public and guests will have the option of choosing from 20 different workshop topics.
To view the full list visit Careofsem.com/events/parenting-conference/.
Tickets are $40, which includes a continental breakfast, lunch, keynote presentation and choice of workshops.
To register online visit careofsem.com or call CARE at 5686-541-2273. The Macomb Intermediate School District Conference Center is at 44001 Garfield Road, between 19 Mile and Hall Roads in Clinton Township.