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Special Students, Special Night, Special “Parenting” Workshop

April 28, 2016

I met with parents and students at Mountain Secondary School in Hamilton Ontario. This high school is dedicated to serving students with special needs. The context of the meeting was a parenting workshop. It came as surprise that of the nearly 40 people in attendance, there were about 14 students.

It went great.

As always, after introducing myself I immediately went to asking those in attendance why they came out and what they were hoping I would talk about. I explained by asking these questions up front, I would then gear my presentation to directly meeting their learning needs.

Parents and students alike raised questions:

  • How can I trust more than one person at a time?
  • How do we transmit values to our children?
  • How do we deal with our children’s anxiety and/or depression?
  • How do we get kids to show respect?

There were many more questions and each was printed on the flip chart. With that I launched in to a history lesson on the changing structure of the family over time; the influence of the economy; the influence of technology. I explained how since the 1950’s parents and children have less and less direct contact with each other. We are more separate than ever before in history, yet even when within the same family.

Next I discussed attachment theory. Then I connected the dots between our greater disconnection between parents and children over time and the increase of childhood anxiety and behavior problems. Societal, economic and technological changes have given rise to a generation of children with what appears as modest to severe insecure attachment disorders.

With the lessons over, I then provided strategy after strategy for reconnection, to help facilitate secure attachments, relationship all through which we could then feel better about ourselves and through which we could then influence our children instead of punishing them. I explained that punishment leads to greater disconnection when the underlying issues seen today is already too much disconnection. Our kids need us and we need to learn how to facilitate that connection and sense of security.

After offering strategy after strategy to reconnect, I then had the pleasure of bringing up one of the students for a role play. Spontaneously we demonstrated two ways of handling the same situation: one through an escalation of distress and the other through promoting engagement and attachment. I asked the student how he felt about the first and then second role play. He was awesome. He explained he felt angry with the shouting and threats of punishment yet felt loved and cared for through connection strategies. It was powerful, it was spontaneous. Everyone in the room got it.

Fantastic evening.

The title of the workshop is Raising Awesome Kids.

Thanks Mountain SS.

All questions answered.

If you know someone who might benefit from this information please scroll down and share this article. Need a workshop presenter? Call me.

I am Gary Direnfeld and I am a social worker.

Gary Direnfeld, MSW, RSW

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Gary Direnfeld is a social worker. Courts in Ontario, Canada, consider him an expert in social work, marital and family therapy, child development, parent-child relations and custody and access matters. Gary is the host of the TV reality show, Newlywed, Nearly Dead, parenting columnist for the Hamilton Spectator and author of Marriage Rescue: Overcoming the ten deadly sins in failing relationships. Gary maintains a private practice in Dundas and Georgina Ontario, providing a range of services for people in distress. He speaks at conferences and workshops throughout North America.

If your relationship is faltering, then set it as your priority.

Read: Marriage Rescue: Overcoming ten deadly sins in failing relationships

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