Who or what can influence and inspire our children as they grow and develop? Who can inspire us as adults and why? How can we support our children to reach their physical potential when there are so many digital temptations to stay inside and on the sofa? What difference can one person make in shaping our children’s decisions about their futures? These were some of the questions I was mulling over last week, before a series of interviews with elite athletes.
‘Safer Internet Day’ will soon be upon us in Britain; a title that always irks me somewhat, mainly because it implies that we can teach children to be safe online in the same way that we might instruct them on matters like road safety. This is an attractive but simplistic analogy, which fails to take into account the expanse and complexity of the online world. It also implies there is a clear cut, evergreen set of rules to follow, and that, once you know them, you’ll be ok. This is far from the case.
The New Year nearly always means having to tolerate conversations about transformative change, resolutions and goal-setting. For those determined to set goals and to meet them, I am full of admiration.
After several texts and nudges from friends, I started watching ‘I am Ruth’ this week, a story about a mother (Ruth) and her daughter, who’s gradual decline in mental health appears to correlate with her excessive phone usage. No wonder I had lots of emails! If you are a regular reader, you will know that I routinely refer to research evidence on whether social media is a friend or foe, its concomitant ability to enhance teen wellbeing and potentially to fuel body dissatisfaction. The latter, we know, can lead (in some cases) to disordered eating behaviours and thoughts.
There is a lot going on in the world and our perspectives (whether we like it or not) are shaped by the news media that we read and hear and the extent to which things resonate in our own lives. In the last week, you’ve likely seen a number of issues which might have stopped you in your parenting tracks and left you puzzled over how best to respond.
Last week, I was invited to a prize-giving ceremony at my alma mater, a large, single-sex Girls’ Grammar school in Northern Ireland. The occasion was hosted by the school to mark academic achievement and an array of sporting and musical successes.
Last weekend, I had the pleasure of attending a book launch, hosted by leading Consultant Paediatrician, Dr Sophia Mooncey, who is an expert on neurodiversity and author of the recently published: A Parent’s Guide to Autism Diagnosis: what to expect and how to support your child.
You may have noticed that it is Anti-Bullying Week across the UK; a good time to remind ourselves, our families and colleagues that bullying is a problem of pandemic proportions. One third of children (globally) experience bullying in schools (UNESCO, 2019). Bullying isn’t just something that occurs in childhood either; adults can bully one another too – at work, at home and in relationships. It’s pervasive.
Recently, I hosted a webinar with Liz Keable, an expert on ‘metacognition’, where she explained how learning happens and how ‘metacognitive thinking’ can enable learning. Indeed, it is something that can be promoted in our homes and our schools, but more on that later. Liz passionately believes, as do I, that all children are capable of thriving in learning, if we can just (as cheesy as it sounds) locate the right ‘key’ to unlock their potential.
It is not often that I am in a store with both of my teen boys, but the half-term break afforded us an opportunity to do what they loathe more than anything in the world: the chance to shop.