Building healthy relationship with your teenagers can be one of the biggest steps towards preventing them getting involved in unhealthy and abusive relationships with others. That was the topic at a panel I attended last week, hosted by the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. The foundation is tackling teen dating abuse and engaging parents through its Start Strong: Building Healthy Teen Relationships initiative.
The Start Strong Program is the largest initiative ever funded to target 11-14 year olds and rally entire communities to promote healthy relationships as the way to prevent teen dating violence and abuse. This is done in part by educating and engaging youth and youth influencers such as parents and teachers. Visit the website for tips, support, education and resources on healthy teen relationships and problems.
Three experts speakers gave amazing talks on the topic of teens and healthy relationships.
- Jennifer L. Hartsein, PsyD – You may know her as the psychological contributor for CBS’ The Early Show, she is also in private practice specializing in high-risk children and adolescents. Her talk was extremely relatable to the average mother of teens and I found myself nodding my head the entire time. Please watch a few minute clip of her talk below.
- Kristin B. Schubert – Program Officer with the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation, she focuses her time on improving the health and wellbeing of vulnerable children, particularly adolescents. She has a Masters in Public Health and fits in perfectly with RWJF, whose overall mission is to improve the health and health care of all Americans.
- Alexandra Smith – Project Coordinator of the Start Strong Bronx chapter. She believes in nurturing and educating children to helping their families.
Jennifer L. Hartsein
Some very important tips discussed were:
- Model your relationship(s) on the type you would like your teens to have
- A very important part of communication is listening to what the other person has to say
- Begin talking about relationships early and continue to do so often
- Let your teen know they can ask you anything and you won’t judge them
- Ask them open-ended questions to get them talking
- Know your teen’s like’s so that you have more things to talk about (hopefully, if you read my blog, you have been doing that all along)
This is a very important topic, especially since the digital age has made it so much worse. If you have any other suggestions for parents of teens to help them prevent their teenagers from falling prey to dating abuse, please share.
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