Following the success of last year’s conference in Eretria, QLS (Quality Language Services) organized two seminars for the parents of their students –one in Athens and one in Thessaloniki, last February.
The seminars were held at the Cultural Centre “Michael Cacoyannis” in Athens and the MET Hotel in Thessaloniki.
The parents were welcomed by Mrs Christina Anyfandi (QLS Chair Person) and Mrs Pepi Mousouri (QLS Secretary) in Athens while Christina welcomed the audience along with Mr Harry Nicolaides (Founder QLS Member and former Vice Chair) in Thessaloniki.
Topics of great interest for both parents and teachers were discussed such as:
• The role of parents in the family (Yiannis Petropoulos)
• Bullying (Victoria Prekate)
• Developing children’s self esteem (Victoria Prekate)
• Social Networks and the Internet (Nick Michelioudakis –Anthimos Aroutzides)
• The current financial crisis and its effects on family members (Eleni Livaniou, Aggeliki Zafiropoulou)
• The European Year for Active Ageing and the role of parents in society (Yiannis Katsanos)
Parents Parents will always be a child’s first and most instinctive role models. They will start looking to them for guidance from the time they are a baby. But as they grow older, they may shift and look to others.
Yet they should always be able to see their parents as good role models. For this, it’s important that parents remember that their children will emulate them, repeating behaviours, words and actions.
So parents should be especially mindful to present the best example possible.
Bullying is a widespread and serious problem that can happen anywhere and can cause serious and lasting harm. Bullying involves:
• Imbalance of Power: people who bully use their power to control or harm and the people being bullied may have a hard time defending themselves.
• Intent to Cause Harm: actions done by accident are not bullying; the person bullying has a goal to cause harm.
• Repetition: incidents of bullying happen to the same person over and over by the same person or group.
Types of Bullying Bullying can take many forms. Examples include:
• Verbal: name-calling, teasing
• Social: spreading rumours, breaking up friendships
• Physical: hitting, punching, shoving
• Cyber bullying: using the Internet, mobile phones or other digital technologies to harm others.
When children are involved in bullying, it is important for parents to be willing to take action.
Children often do not tell their parents that they are being bullied because they are embarrassed or frightened. If you suspect your child is being bullied or your child brings it up, consider these steps:
• Talk with your child: Focus on your child. Express your concern and make it clear that you want to help.
• Empathize with your child: Say bullying is wrong, that it is not their fault, and that you are glad they had the courage to tell you about it.
• Work together to find solutions: Ask your child what they think can be done to help. Reassure them that the situation can be handled privately.
• Document ongoing bullying: Work with your child to keep a record of all bullying incidents. If it involves cyber bullying, keep a record of all messages or postings.
• Help your child develop strategies and skills for handling bullying: Provide suggestions for ways to respond to bullying, and help your child gain confidence by rehearsing their responses.
• Be persistent: Bullying may not be resolved overnight.
Working with Your Child’s School Parents are often reluctant to report bullying to school officials, but bullying may not stop without the school’s help. Parents should never be afraid to call the school to report that their child is being bullied and ask for help to stop the bullying.
• Open the line of communication: Talk with your child’s teacher and establish a partnership to stop the bullying.
• Commit to making the bullying stop: Talk regularly with your child and with school staff to see whether the bullying has stopped. You may need to contact local law enforcement officials if the bullying persists or escalates.
What Not to Do • Never tell your child to ignore the bullying: Be supportive and gather information about the bullying. Often, trying to ignore bullying allows it to become more serious.
• Do not blame your child for being bullied: Do not assume that your child did something to provoke the bullying.
• Do not encourage your child to harm the person who is bullying them: It could get your child hurt, suspended, or expelled.
• Do not contact the parents of the students who bullied your child: It may make matters worse. School officials should contact the parents of the children involved.
• Do not demand or expect a solution on the spot: Indicate you would like to follow up to determine the best course of action.
“European Year for Active Ageing” The European Commission has proposed that 2012 be designated as the “European Year for Active Ageing”.
The initiative aims to help create better job opportunities and working conditions for the growing numbers of older people in Europe, help them take an active role in society and encourage healthy ageing.
It comes as Europe’s policymakers grapple with a steadily ageing population and its impacts on public services and finances.
From 2012, the European working-age population will start to shrink, while the over-60 population will continue to increase by about two million people a year.
The strongest pressure is expected to occur during the period 2015-35 when the so-called baby-boom generation will enter retirement.
Active ageing includes creating more opportunities for older people to continue working, to stay healthy longer and to continue to contribute to society in other ways, for example through volunteering needs to be supported by a wide range of policies at all levels of governance.
The EU has a role to play in areas such as employment, social protection and inclusion, public health, information society and transport, but the primary role is for national, regional and local governments, as well as civil society and the social partners.
The role of family in periods of financial crisis
Financial crises have an important impact on house¬hold functions. Reducing consumption – quantity and quality of food, expenditure on healthcare, investment in children’s education, etc. – and/or drawing on household savings and selling assets, are common responses to eco¬nomic shocks.
In times of crisis, parental time may become scarcer, as parents work longer hours in lower paid work.
This is not a simple story of parental neglect but reflects a broader societal failure to respond to changing labour and family support patterns.
The current economic crisis is also increasing the social exclusion of vulnerable groups, low-income people and people living near the poverty line .
Such vulnerable groups include children, young people, single-parent families, unemployed people, ethnic minorities, migrants and older people.
Economic pressure, through its influence on parental mental health, marital interaction and parenting, also affects the mental health of children and adolescents.
The effects of poverty on children include deficits in cognitive, emotional and physical development, and the consequences on health and well-being are lifelong.
The role of Media and Social Networks in children’s life The most significant effect of media is our tendency to test our own experience and perception of life by what we hear and see.
And today’s new media have compounded the problem by making those effects repeatable and recyclable.
Television’s effects are particularly important in this process, since in most homes it is all-pervasive and almost ever-present.
We watch TV to find out what we expect of others, answer questions and delineate horizons.
Children, especially, need help with TV viewing. They need parental help to interpret and evaluate what they see and hear.
Social Networks: A Virtual Understanding
For many children and teenagers social media is the primary way they interact socially.
A large part of this generation’s social and emotional development is occurring while on the Internet and on cellphones.
Parents need to understand these technologies so they can relate to their children’s online world.
Children using social media should be educated about the possible pitfalls of interaction with strangers and they should be monitored.
However we can’t ignore the positive effects of virtual interaction. Engagement in social media and online communities can enhance communication, facilitate social interaction and help develop technical skills.
It was suggested that parents who allow their children to join social networks should: • Keep the computer in a public space in the home.
• Start slow, allowing children to sign up on kid-friendly sites at first before venturing out into wider -and wilder- climes.
• Draw up a parent/child agreement. It should include rules about what personal information should not be disclosed and what type of people and interactivity should be avoided.
Parents should not deprive themselves and their children of the learning, fun, relaxation and increased understanding of the world. The medicine for the ‘modest malignancy’ is parental involvement and guidance in the best use of media while maintaining individual priorities.
Conclusion All speakers agreed that there were/are/will be times when the parents don’t model the best example for their children. But the important thing is that they learn from their mistakes and resolve to make changes that will influence the children for the better. Anastasia Spyropoulou (