How do you raise resilient children? How can I help my teen manage anxiety and stress? What’s going on inside my child’s adolescent brain? Parents at Holy Spirit College, Bellambi have gained insight into the answers, hearing from adolescent expert, author and educator, Maggie Dent, on how to help teens cope, conquer and shine, with what she calls "calm, common-sense, connected parenting".
In an informative and energising evening parent session, Dent’s 'Adolescence Unplugged' event drew on more than 30 years of her experience working with adolescents to deliver a dynamic seminar empowering parents and families to build resilience and connectedness in their 12-25 year olds. Her insights and down-to-earth advice were delivered with humour and a passionate desire to provide parents with tools to help guide their children through adolescence and strengthen their families and communities.
“Adolescents need allies to help them navigate the tricky waters of the teenage years. The art of guiding, and encouraging empowerment, while strengthening self-esteem and personal autonomy is something that can be learned. My seminar with Holy Spirit parents explored the shift in raising children to raising adolescents, and what works and what won’t,” Dent said.
The parenting and resilience specialist – who has experience teaching, counselling, working in palliative care/funeral services and in suicide prevention – offered relatable advice to common real-world parenting dilemmas and how to best support today’s adolescents through what can be a bumpy ride to adulthood.
“Research shows that adolescence is a time of confusion, massive change and serious risk... but it’s also a time of enormous potential in the development of new skills, knowledge and abilities. Today’s teens are experiencing more change, more rapidly than any previous generation,” she said.
Holy Spirit parent, Denise Bridgement, attended the event and said despite it being a cold and windy school night, it was “so worth the time and effort to hear Maggie speak”.
“When it comes to parenting, there are so many books, websites and bits of parenting advice out there, it can be overwhelming to sort through all the information. All I have been looking for is for someone to help me understand my teenager – someone that can offer some practical advice and strategies to help me navigate these somewhat challenging times,” she said.
"Hearing Maggie speak about adolescents – what’s going on in their brains; why they never seem to listen and why they behave the way they do; the lack of a pre-frontal lobe; their sensitivity and sometimes intense moods – was very enlightening."
"I found Maggie's strategies and advice on dealing with different [adolescent] issues extremely useful. It was an entertaining and informative evening, and I find myself still thinking and talking about it days later” — Denise Bridgement, parent, Holy Spirit College
“Thank you Maggie Dent for such an enjoyable evening. Your experience, knowledge and humour shines through. You have definitely helped me understand my teenager that little bit better!”
What attendees said:
“What an amazing evening!!! Thank you Holy Spirit College for organising, and thank you Maggie Dent for sharing your knowledge, hope and encouragement” — Jane Stone
“Thank you for organising this event. It was most valuable” — Louise Maher
“Really enjoyed it. Thank you” — Zoe Jacobson
“Would highly recommend. It was a great insight into teenage behaviour. Thank you to the Holy Spirit P&F for making this seminar possible” — Kristen Wells-Koumakis
“Thank you. This was worth braving the cold night for” — Kim Hulbert Gray
Dent was also a hit in a session for Holy Spirit teachers and staff earlier in the afternoon – presenting the latest research and strategies around better engaging boys in their learning and helping them flourish.
Dent explained key differences in boys’ development and behaviour, and the additional stressors impacting today's young men in school environments. She outlined ways to improve communication, examine expectations and discover vulnerability with boys, and creative ways to help them when they fail, as well as experience external forms of success – all so they can thrive in their secondary school years.
Holy Spirit teacher, Conor Cleary, echoed many of the teachers’ sentiments when he praised Dent for her thought-provoking session with them, exploring the function of the adolescent brain.
“Maggie talked engagingly about the power of kindness and being a ‘lighthouse' for students; and how our words and actions can deeply affect our students, so the need to be mindful of this and the impact we as teachers and adults can have on young people’s lives” — Conor Cleary, teacher, Holy Spirit College
“She emphasised the need for adolescent boys to have quiet time and be given more time to process things in a chaotic environment – and valuable ways we can approach students, or any young males, in these situations. It was a great opportunity,” he said.
Holy Spirit College extends their thanks to all those who took the time to attend Maggie's seminar, and to their P&F for supporting this event.
See more of Maggie Dent’s range of resources for parents, adolescents, and teachers at www.maggiedent.com. You can also listen to Maggie on her new ABC podcast, ‘Parental As Anything with Maggie Dent’.