Monday, 24 February 2014

Proaction vs Reaction

Much has been made in the media over recent weeks and months about changes to legislation regarding alcohol trading hours, curbing binge-drinking behaviour and legal consequences for coward punches etc.

Of course we need to do something - that is not up for debate. Everyone has an opinion on how we should address the problem, but I am not going to get into what I think because there are a lot of people who know more about how to correctly 'react' to the issue and what measures should be put in place than I do.

What I will offer, however, is a suggestion for one way which might go some way toward changing the current culture of a minority of young people who think it's OK to throw a punch, and a somewhat larger number of young people whose sole ambition is to wipe themselves out on alcohol on weekends. Yes, we need the 'reaction', but we also need a strong dose, and a forward plan, of 'proaction'. 

I have heard several within the media propose 'education' programs for young people - tell them about the dangers of binge-drinking; teach them respect for themselves and others; help them become more responsible and less aggressive. Sounds good.....but just ask someone like Paul Dillon, director and founder of DARTA (Drug and Alcohol Research Training Australia who has been running programs for teens addressing these very issues for years. I have worked with him and heard him speak, and his warnings are very powerful and very clear.  How much impact they have made - only Paul could tell you.

In addition to the work that Paul Dillon and others are already doing in this area, I feel there is a great need for parents to be more skilled and knowledgeable in the area of child development. In an earlier blog, I referred to recent adolescent brain research - suggesting parents need to maintain their parenting role beyond the school leaving age of their children.

It is only part of a much bigger picture and plan, but state or federal governments should consider subsidising and providing mandatory (not optional) parent training. Until more parents are trained in understanding the critical stages of adolescent brain development, then we will continue to see parents step back, throw their hands in the air and say "He'll learn the hard way." Yes, he or she will - but it will be the wrong way, and the rest of society will be paying the price.

Clear and simple explanations can make a massive difference to how a parent views their child - and how they learn new ways to support, role model appropriate behavior and attitudes, and apply consequences for behaviour. I have seen the blinkers come off on so many occasions....and more importantly, parents are glad to have the chance to vent their frustrations and hear some possible solutions.

There's a lot to be said for the KISS principle - Keep It Simple, Stupid.  Just wondering if the 'simple' approach might be one worth considering.

photo credit: dmitri_krendelev via photopin cc

About Author:

Angie Wilcock is a highly regarded expert and speaker on transitions in education. She works with teachers, parents and students across Australia.

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