Friday, January 03, 2020

Kid Conferences

Several years ago, Daddio and I started having Kid Conferences with our children. We would sit them down, individually, and work through a list of discussion points. The idea was that they'd happen monthly. To be honest, that didn't really happen. We're a very communicative family. We spend a lot of time together. A LOT. (That's the nature of this home education gig.) We don't lack for conversation. We just didn't always make it a point to call it a kid conference. (I just asked my kids how often they think we had these conferences and they said about once a quarter. Oops!)

How does it work? I have a little notebook that has a page for each kiddo, and this is where I keep a running list of talking points. I'm not going to share pictures of the lists or specifics because Kid Conferences are confidential. I will share a random list of topics without specifying which topic goes with which kid:



As you can see, the topics vary widely. With each kid, each conference covers mental health (how are you doing, where are you in that aspect, is there more we should be doing to support you) and physical touch boundaries. This is a conversation that grows as they grow. When they're little it's a simple (but so serious) reminder of boundaries, safe people, talking to us if they're uncomfortable, etc. As they grow we discuss dating safety, how to be safe in social situations, etc. This part of the conversation is so important. We want them to know we respect them, and that they should expect respect from others.

We also ask them if there are any issues they want to discuss. Today at our conference, our college age Sunshine said she's already thinking about summer storage options. I was just getting around to asking if she wanted to come home for spring break, but she was ahead of me. I made a note of that so we can touch base with her a bit later in the spring to see what she's figured out.

Some conferences take a long time. Sometimes we are frustrated and upset, there are tears, maybe raised voices and disagreements. We also try to do the same thing that many school teachers do at parent/teacher conferences: we sandwich negatives with positives. And, regardless of the topics covered, we end the conference with a reminder of our unconditional love for them: "There is nothing you can say or do that will change the way we love you."

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