Harnessing the power of parents in the battle against bullying
How parents respond when their child is in a difficult situation has a very powerful effect on a child’s ability to cope with conflict, bullying and violence.
“When parents can manage their own intense thoughts and feelings about their child’s distress or difficulties and empathise with their experience, they create a space for the child to feel contained and understood,” explained Carolyn Aston, a Child Psychoanalytic Psychotherapist and Director of CASSE’s Peaceful Schools Program. “This, in turn, calms their child and encourages them to think objectively about their situation and to resolve it peacefully and empathically.”
Creating A Safe Supportive Environment (CASSE) has been piloting its Australian first Peaceful Schools Program (PSP) in selected Victorian schools over the past three years. The highly successful student-driven approach is based on psychoanalytic principles and acknowledges that problems such as bullying and conflict reflect unresolved issues within a whole school environment. Therefore, as well as working with students, teachers and school leadership, it is critical to work with parents.
“The importance of parental involvement and good parenting techniques when dealing with bullying cannot be understated. However, we all know just how tough parenting can be, particularly at times when parents are under stress themselves,” said Ms Aston. “We decided it was time to shine a light on good parenting techniques by celebrating mums and dads who remain calm, think through issues and consider the wellbeing of all concerned in tough situations.”
Thus the announcement of the inaugural CASSE Peaceful Schools Program Parent Hero Awards.
The aim of the Parent Hero Award is to highlight the importance of ‘mentalisation’ as a ‘circuit breaker’ – a core skill in responding to conflict, bullying or violence. Mentalisation is a psychological concept that describes the capacity to be aware of one’s own inner mental state (eg feelings, needs, beliefs, desires and reasons) as well as those of another.
“A child treats others and themselves according to how their parent generally treats them,” Ms Aston continued. “They learn empathy towards themselves and others from a parent who empathises with them. They learn to mentalise and to resolve issues peacefully when their parent or teacher demonstrates these behaviours.”
Entries close on Wednesday 20th August 2014. Winners will be announced at the CASSE’s ‘Peaceful Schools, Peaceful Parents’ Conference, to be held in Melbourne on the 27th of August 2014.
For more information visit https://www.casse.org.au/peaceful-schools-program/for-parents-2/
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