What Your Children Want You to Know

What Your Children Want You to Know

Supporting Them in the Ways They Need

June 25, 2024

When the Bialik administrators approached us about leading a seminar for parents, we knew that there was one topic that we could spend hours exploring. So, over the course of two back-to-back evenings at Viewmount and Himel, we had the privilege of sharing what we had heard from students on their sentiment, “I wish my parents knew that…”

To ensure that we shared the most relevant information with parents, we went straight to the experts: the students themselves. We conducted an anonymous survey with Senior Division students at both branches, raising the question, “What do you wish your parents knew or understood more about what it’s like to be a kid today?”

With over 300 responses, we were confident that this feedback would also give a strong indication of the challenges that younger students may encounter as they progress through Bialik. The results of the survey served as a springboard for discussing practical tips for parents to support their kids through challenging moments.

Takeaway #1: Different kids, different needs

Our survey revealed a simple yet often overlooked truth: different kids have different needs when it comes to how they want to be supported. Some students shared that it’s helpful when their parents offer “guidance” or “advice” about how to handle a difficult situation. Other students said that they want their parents to give them space to feel heard and understood…without trying to solve the problem.

Tip: Take your child’s lead in terms of how much or how little they want to talk about the stressors that they’re experiencing. This will leave the door open to revisit these conversations if or when your child is ready to have them. While this may be difficult to do as a parent, it is important to allow your child the time and space to problem solve on their own. This can help build their confidence and competence to navigate difficult moments in the future.

Takeaway #2: Social media isn’t all fun and games, and kids know that

Our survey revealed that students, much like the adults and experts in the field, are able to identify both the positive and negative aspects of social media. Of their own accord, a few students shared that social media can “distract [them] from homework”, “lead to bullying” and “be a bad influence on kids”.

Tip: Talk to your child about how they use social media, and the role that it plays in their lives. Saying things such as, “I know that social media is how you stay connected with your friends” can help your child feel heard and understood. At the same time, it is very important to speak openly with your child about the challenges associated with social media, and set clear boundaries and limits around their use. By doing so, you can support your child in making informed and responsible choices, laying the groundwork for further conversations down the line.

Takeaway #3: Expect and accept that kids will have big feelings at times

The survey results were loud and clear — being a kid today can be stressful! As adults, what might seem insignificant to us can be a major concern for our kids. Having said that, it is important to honour your child’s experience/s and validate their feelings. Validation doesn’t mean that you agree with your child or approve of their behaviour. Rather, it means that you are accepting their experiences, thoughts and feelings at this moment, without judgement.

Tip: Keep these phrases in mind when validating your child’s experiences (and yes, these phrases can be helpful for supporting adults too…)

  • "I can see that this is important to you. I really want to understand. Can you help me?”
  • "It sounds like you had a really hard day. How can I best support you right now?”
  • "I get that you don't want to talk about it right now. That's OK. I'm always here to listen if you change your mind."

Takeaway #4: You’re doing a great job

Don’t underestimate the power of YOU! You won’t always know what to say, and sometimes, there might not be a need to say anything at all. Simply being present with your child — and accepting the feelings that they are experiencing in that moment — is the best “solution” that you can provide.

Tip: One student said it best: “Sometimes we feel things for random reasons, and sometimes it is hard to explain, but just let us feel them. And if we do have strong emotions, do not get upset, just comfort us.”

Jordyn Berman and Rachel Srebrolow
School Social Workers, Viewmount Branch

Suzy Brotman
School Social Worker, Himel Branch