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The 5 Greatest Challenges for Parents


21 February 2020

The 5 Greatest Challenges for Parents

The 5 Greatest Challenges for Parents

It was magnificent to see so many parents in attendance for the recent talk by one of Australia’s best known adolescent psychologists, Dr Michael Carr Gregg.

The session was presented in partnership with SchoolTV, a comprehensive resource containing short videos and articles from leading experts and speakers on topics ranging from Anxiety, Resilience, Surviving Year 12, Sleep and Cyberbullying. Dr Carr-Gregg features in a number of the videos available on the platform and is an advocate for the platform’s use.

School TV have gone to great lengths to make the content user friendly, with most videos lasting only 1 to 3 minutes. The SchoolTV landing page for Scotch College can be found here and I recommend adding it to your bookmarks. New topics will be featured through eNews throughout the course of the year.

Michael presented to parents on the topic of “The 5 Greatest Challenges for Parents”. I’ve collated a summary of the major points below, along with the relevant SchoolTV links for further information. 

Please note that there are many positive and targeted initiatives in place at Scotch for each of these 5 Challenges. In order to maintain the fidelity of Michael’s presentation, I have not added further detail outlining the College’s long list of initiatives in response to many of these points. My colleagues and I welcome questions and conversations on any of these points, or other matters pertaining to the wellbeing of young people.


Challenge #1 – Cyber Safety

Michael applauded the recent stance taken by the College re our Non-Mandated Personal Devices policy in classrooms. He additionally highlighted the rapid, ever evolving challenge technology provided for schools, families and young people. 

The important element is to teach regulation and how students can use technology in a safe, smart and responsible way.

It is important that schools and families work collaboratively to support each other, with the following simple tips being most pertinent:

  • Modelling best practice is essential, at Scotch, we recommend families:
    • Keep devices out of the bedroom
    • No device use between an agreed time (9:00pm to 7:30am)
    • Actively monitor by requesting use in common areas and taking an interest
    • Charge in a common dock
    • Discuss what to do if you see something they don’t like.
  • The eSafety Commissioner’s office is a helpful resource to stay up to date with latest trends and alerts – the parent component can be found here:
  • Family Zone is a helpful tool for monitoring device use by parents, which permits monitoring, though also the capacity to block out times
  • On Cyber Bullying, he advised that students:
    • Do not reply
    • Block those sending the unwanted content
    • Save via screenshot
    • Report – to and adult, the school, or the eSafety Commissioner’s office. It is worth nothing that many apps now have flag and report functions.

Relevant SchoolTV links include:


Challenge #2 – Sleep

Michael shared the alarming statistic that 90% of Year 10 to Year 12 students are not getting enough sleep. At that age range, there is a need for 8 – 9 hours.

Michael commended to us the following TED talk by Russel Foster outlining the neuroscience of sleep, which is linked here.

In addition, please see the informative SchoolTV edition on sleep and teenagers.


Challenge #3 – Communication

Each child navigates through a series of questions at this time. These include:

  • Who am I? 
  • Am I normal?
  • Where am I going?

Michael encouraged us to be the adults in conversations with our young people, remembering that their cognitive development is still taking place. A few strategies that can be used when emotions are high included:

  • You’re clearly upset, let’s talk about this at another time
  • Use active listening – e.g: “That’s a good question… help me understand what you mean when you say…. So what you are saying is…”
  • Apply relevant consequences in a calm manner, no yelling or shouting.
  • Focus on the issue at hand, it is best not to revisit past mistakes.

More information about connection and conversation can be found in the ‘Positive Parenting’ SchoolTV edition.


Challenge #4 - Alcohol

Michael strongly endorsed the College’s inclusion of Paul Dillon for Years 10, 11 and 12, along with Paul’s associate Kris Bobetic for Year 9 students.

Drinking in a hazardous way is the leading cause of accidents for young people. 

In terms of parenting conversations, he encouraged parents to make the family values, attitudes and belief are with regards to alcohol – and then stick buy them.

If presented with a situation where a child is going to a party, he provided with the following key questions to ask about your child:

  • Do they have a history of making good choices?
  • Do they hang out with people who make good choices?
  • Does my child have a propensity for Risk taking behaviour?

Using recent stories in the media can be an opportunity to discuss your expectations and attitudes on alcohol and other drugs with your child.

SchoolTV have a helpful edition dedicated to the topic of alcohol for further information.


Challenge #5 - Resilience

Resilience is the ability to face, overcome and be strengthened by adversity. Easured exposure to challenging experience is good for the development of a young person. There are 5 key characteristics / protective factors when it comes to resilience and young people.

  1. Charismatic Adult: Do they have a kind, charismatic adult in their lives? Someone who makes them feel safe and valued, listened to and who they can speak with and draw perspective and strength from?
  2. Social Emotional Competence: How well can your child understand, regulate and recognise emotions in themselves and others. A critical skill to develop and work towards.
  3. Self Talk: What is the internal narrative of your child? It is important to focus on accurate, balanced and helpful thinking strategies, rather than purely positive or negative thoughts. Be the world expert in your child and understand their internal narratives.
  4. Islands of Competence: What are the key skills and characteristics that make a young person feel able, competent and successful? Important to identify, support and encourage these ‘islands’ in young people as they form their identity.
  5. Sense of Meaning and Purpose / Spirituality: Being a part of something that is bigger than the self is a key factor in feeling connected. Young people can draw strength from Religion and Faith, though benefits can also be found when a part of community based groups – sports, performing arts and service based activities. Michael spoke about ‘religiously’ supporting Chelsea in the English Premier League as a source of identity, meaning and purpose.

A SchoolTV edition on resilience can be found at the link below

Michael closed the talk with the comment that it is easier to build strong and resilient young people than it is to repair broken ones. He acknowledges that in many cases he is the ambulance at the bottom of the cliff, which has a critical role to play in any society. The opportunity that schools and parents have is to build the robust fence at the top of the cliff to prevent the need for the ambulance in the first place.

Additionally, Michael identified 4 Key markers to consider when assessing any young child’s progress – particularly at the start of adolescence. If parents felt that their child is struggling in their capacity to achieve any of these 4 markers, it may be helpful to get in touch with the school or other professional services.

  1. Do they have a positive history in their ability to obtain, maintain and retain friendships?
  2. Have they emancipated from adult carers? Can they break the childhood bonds – i.e do they feel comfortable walking through the supermarket by themselves? Do they exhibit anxiety when required to act independently?
  3. What is their educational engagement like? Do they understand and enjoy school? 
  4. Do they have a spark? Is there something that they are passionate and fascinated by?

At Scotch there is a wonderful ecosystem of staff, students and parents to support the young people in our care. We openly welcome your questions on any of the above, as there is much to share about the people, programs, policies and procedures we have in place to support the students, though also the parents.

In addition, I trust you will find SchoolTV to be a useful and sometimes timely resource. The SchoolTV home page has additional topics for your perusal. Further editions will be communicated through eNews throughout the year.

Shawn Kasbergen
Director of Student Wellbeing