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How to Raise a Kid: the 1st Conference from HuffPost Parents

I recently attended HuffPost Parents' first parenting conference, How to Raise a Kid, at the William Vale Hotel in Brooklyn. The one-day event was geared towards parents who are past the baby and toddler stage and have children beginning to navigate the world on their own. GULP. That is definitely the current state of affairs around here.

I thoroughly enjoyed the conference and tried to soak in every morsel of parenting advice that came my way during the panel sessions (unfortunately I missed Abby Wambach's introduction due to my aforementioned children and school drop off. Parenting never ends). Scribbling notes for most of the day, I've finally had a chance to go through everything and see what wise words I can share from a wide range of parenting experts. Here we go!

How to Raise a Kid Who's Stronger than a Bully

Moderator: Eric Snow, Watch DOGS
Dr. Deborah Pope, Ezra Jack Keats Foundation
Dr. Elizabeth Englander, Massachusetts Aggression Reduction Center
Kirk Smalley, Stand For The Silent (check out their GoFundMe here)
Ryan Beale, Prepare U Mental Health Curriculum

Bullying is more psychological than physical; it's an imbalance of power. And it's not just about being mean- the bully's focus is on a target, & the repetition of that imbalance of power. Girls are more likely to be bullied within friend groups. As parents, how can we help our children cope? By helping them learn connectiveness and supporting the development of healthy relationships. EMPATHY is so important, as well as meaningful conversations, asking questions and demonstrating positivity through our actions.

SUICIDE is the 3rd largest cause of death in children (I was shocked by this one). Reinforce with your children that they are SOMEBODY.

More diverse books are needed for children, so kids can see themselves represented. There's a connection that develops when a parent reads to a child- it's so important. Ask questions about the book- make it interactive. See books as allies and a trip that can help you solve a problem.

Bringing school into the equation: parents should be involved, and schools should try and create a community. Take ownership and lead by example. Social media heightens anxiety (also a problem in children) - talk to kids about what social media actually is and how it effects connectiveness.

FAMILY DINNERS are crucial- kids whose families eat together do better because everyone is talking and connecting (also, parents- don't beat yourself up if it doesn't happen every night, but keep it on the top of your priority list).

LISTEN with your heart. Sometimes you can't fix it as a parent. And we don't have to have all the answers- really hearing your child is what's most important.

How to Raise a Screen-Savvy Kid

Moderator: Nicole Dreiske, International Children’s Media Center
Angela Santomero, Angela’s Clues
Jill Murphy, Common Sense Media
Sada Malladi, Vimana
Titania Jordan, Bark

Start with education- accept the fact that screens are a part of today's world, and find tools to deal with them. Embrace what your children are into and talk to them about it. Get rid of the guilt, not all media is bad. Narrate what YOU are doing on your screen, because it's not just a phone, it's also your computer. Know your kid- some kids are ready for screens earlier than others.

What should we tell them about the Internet? Kids want to explore, but GROUND RULES are important. Be there for communication. Research free parental controls. Talk every day. Identify those stories that ask questions and don't hand everything to you. Find the teachable moment even in bad videos. When do you give a child a smartphone? You have to evaluate what is best for your family and your needs.

How to Raise a Kid Who Understands Sex, Consent and Gender

Moderator: Doyin Richards
Carvell Wallace
Jeanette Jennings
Kim Cavill
Sarah Rich

Sort through your own issues with sex first, if you can. Recognize the CONSENT conversation is just the beginning, and consent is a low bar when talking about sex education. As a parent, you're not just teaching for the moment, but for a LIFETIME. Don't be afraid to share your history with your children, as it will help teach them empathy. The opposite of entitlement is context awareness. The opposite of aggression is asking questions.

... and unfortunately I had to leave midway through, so these were all the notes I got! I hope you'll find some of these thoughts helpful, and if it peeks your interest, you can still watch the panels. So much helpful information and resources! A link to video from the conference can be found HERE. I really enjoyed myself and learned a lot -- here's hoping the conference will become an annual event!

Disclosure: I was invited to the event by HuffPost Parents. All opinions are my own.

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