Talking to teens about the tough topics

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Talking to teens about the tough topics

When I had brown hair and i was working with schools, we had a lot of what we call affected education; affect, meaning emotion. We talked with kids about drugs and sex and kind of, life skills kinds of things. The research from that era showed, that the more you taught them about drugs, the more they used drugs or it had no effect. The more you brought up the issues of sex, the more sex interaction or no effect. In other words, the programs didn't have a positive effect that we were looking for. For all these years, we've been looking at what is effective. That is the million dollar question. I wish I had a simple answer for you. Part of the answer is that you have to keep alive the willingness of your child to talk to you about these things; so when they come back from a Rave or a party, and three people were having sex on the couch, they can have a conversation with you about it without you jumping on them and saying, "Well, you'll never go to that again." It's a very razors edge about how to keep the door open and be responsive, and also set some guidelines and parameters. That's what I think parents need help with. That's why people like me do parenting classes, because it's not an easy thing to do to follow that fine line.

View JoAnn Deak, PhD's video on Talking to teens about the tough topics...


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JoAnn Deak, PhD

Psychologist & Author

JoAnn Deak, PhD, has spent more than 30 years as an educator and psychologist, helping children develop into confident and competent adults. The latter half of that period has also focused on working with adults, parents and teachers in their roles as guides or ‘neurosculptors’ of children. On her website is a quote that best describes her perspective on her work: “every interaction a child has, during the course of a day, influences the adult that child will become.”

Parents and educators at schools from New York to Hawaii, as well as such organizations as the National Association of School Psychologists, the National Association of Independent Schools, the Association of International Schools, the American Montessori Society and the International Baccalaureate Association, have heralded Dr. Deak’s ability to demystify complex issues of child development, learning, identify formation and brain research.

Dr. Deak has been an advisor to Outward Bound, a past chair of the National Committee for Girls and Women in Independent Schools, on the advisory board for the Center on Research for Girls (Laurel School), for the Seattle Girls’ School, Bromley Brook School, the Red Oak School, Power Play and GOAL. She consults with organizations and schools across the United States. Most recently, she has worked internationally with schools, organizations, associations and parent groups in every continent (except Antarctica!) She has been awarded the Woman of Achievement Award by the National Coalition of Girls’ Schools, was given the first Female Educator of the Year Award by Orchard House School, and the Outstanding Partner for Girls Award from Clemson University. She has been named the Visiting Scholar in New Zealand, the Visiting Scholar for Montessori Children’s House and has been the Resident Scholar for the Gardner Carney Leadership Institute in Colorado Springs for the past five years.

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