Got kids and families gathering for football or track practice this weekend? Here are some new studies that may offer fresh advice on how to help your kids progress.
A University of Wisconsin-Madison-led group decided to hear testimony on interpersonal violence prevention by parent groups and youth groups.
The goal was to figure out why people lash out in certain circumstances.
“When we listen to the people who’ve been there, we feel we are coming into a more thorough argument and would be able to play that for ourselves,” says study author Robin McDowell, professor of human development and family studies at UW-Madison.
The results, presented at the American Psychological Association’s 73rd annual convention in Denver last month, include several recommendations.
One is how we talk about conflicts and to control or discourage conflict in ourselves, our family, friends and society as a whole.
“What we found, along with the other experts, was that the only ones who interpreted that kind of language were violent individuals, and they were in the pockets of the sources of violence,” says Robert Schilling, a University of Washington sociology professor who authored the report.
How we talk, for example, about boys vs. girls or black vs. white, isn’t very helpful, he says.
The report recommends focusing on actions we can take to help reinforce positive attitudes about our peers as they experience conflicts.
That includes recognizing that sometimes differences are good and that a child who is upset about another child’s disrespectful remark could have a problem with them later.
Eliud Thomas Grchak, a professor of psychology at the University of Wyoming, says teens need strong leadership skills.
“They need to know when they should respond in a school environment, because there will be conflicts,” he says.
One suggestion is to get kids out of locked rooms and work through long-term conflict resolution and conflict prevention.
Grchak offers some anecdotes from his students’ Facebook groups. Some adult Facebook friends and even some teens and other children participate as moderators to help break up fights and resolve problems.
One group recently had a highly publicized senior vice president who threatened to quit if the team did not meet his goal for the upcoming swim meet.
Some teens didn’t react well when the challenge came. Grchak says that was understandable since he tells students to go home and think of the obstacles that they face and then focus on what they can do to overcome them.
Grchak recommended that the challenge be allowed, and help was shown to be encouraging.
Another suggestion is that teens should play a larger role in non-academic academic activities — such as in classes — or provide support for their friends or siblings who are struggling.
“Part of life is learning,” Grchak says. “There’s no point in waiting until I need to fix something when I can just sort of talk.”
And he acknowledges that he didn’t push to begin with.
“That would be a difficult thing to do,” he says. “On the other hand, I think I’m a really good parent, and I like my kids. … So I would welcome some of the feedback.”
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