Smarter Parenting... Safer Children
Dr. Anastasia guiding the interactive activity in the Smarter Parenting...Safer Children workshop

What do we want for our children? What does it mean to “empower” them and why is this so important? How can we improve child care program and communication with our children? What are some common dangers we need to learn to prevent and protect our children from? These questions, plus many more, were addressed in the recent workshop “Smarter Parenting…Safer Children” conducted by our founder, Lama Younis, and education expert Dr. Anastasia Kamanos.

As a mother of two, ages 4 and 2.5, this workshop wasn’t just beneficial; it opened my eyes to so many different things. Dr. Kamanos has a beautiful style of drawing in the audience with her charm and humor as she spoke to us about the struggles of trying to understand our children’s needs in today’s fast-paced, technology-driven world and how important it is to educate ourselves on how to foster a parenting style that empowers our children.

The past generation of parents mainly focused their energies on the academic and career successes of their children, and that was enough for them. But we want more. We want our children to lead purposeful and rewarding lives, with their own developed identities and personal strengths – believing in themselves so that, in turn, they can empower others through their leadership skills. Dr. Kamanos emphasized the point that the act of empowering children is a process of guiding them to feel and believe they have the power to act. It is something that must be experienced rather than taught.

Modelling/Mirroring is a concept which has a great impact on instilling a sense of empowerment in our children. From the time they are babies, our kids are watching and mimicking our actions, words, and even beliefs. They are constantly picking up cues, so it is very important to model positive behavior. Toxic environments and people can have detrimental effects on the personal development of our children. Encouragement, which literally means ‘putting in courage’, allows our children to see themselves as competent and capable to do and be anything.

As parents, we want to keep our kids safe from all harm, hardships, and struggles. However, the reality is that they will have to face challenges and failures; so, the gift we can give them is the ability to tackle them head on. Empowering our children is so important because it nurtures their inner strengths and resilience and equips them to be able to face life’s challenges and hurdles with confidence and grace.

What are the Areas of Building Healthy Communication?

The second portion of the workshop conducted by Lama Younis, who brilliantly gets her points across with personal stories and anecdotes, focused on the area of building healthy communication with our kids as being the first step towards keeping them safe. Listening to them with interest, respecting their opinion, always listening to their side of the story, not ignoring the little things they tell you which may be warning signs, praising them for telling the truth and good behavior – these are all tips towards generating a strong and communicative relationship with your child. As parents, we know that this isn’t always the easiest thing to do especially with young children who constantly crave your attention and talk a mile a minute! Nevertheless, just some eye contact and acknowledgment of their opinions can do wonders.

Lama then educated us about preventive measures to take to avoid accidents such as burns, choking, bites, falls, and poisoning. Home, car, outdoor, and water safety was also touched upon. The touchy, yet the imperative topic of e-safety, strangers, and good/bad touching was discussed in detail which I think every parent must take time out to educate themselves on. It has never been so easy for sexual predators to gain access to children as it is in these times, through the widespread availability of mobile phones and the Internet, which is why we must be extra vigilant. Not only is it our duty to be aware of children’s activities and who they are interacting with, it is also our responsibility to educate and equip them in an age-appropriate manner as to how to deal with such situations. This ties in with empowerment.

On the whole, I feel this workshop equipped us with so many snippets of information, tools, and tips which will allow us to be more informed and aware parents. Through meeting other attendees, all from different backgrounds, professions, and walks of life – hearing their stories and thoughts – we were provided with a very enriching experience.