Heather frequently speaks to groups of parents, students, educators, executives, and administrators in school, business, conference, and community venues on a wide variety of parenting topics.
Talks range from modern day parenting challenges such as technology use, anxiety and stress, and the pressure on parents to timeless topics such as independence, motivation, resilience, and effective communication.
STRESS LESS, LAUGH MORE:
STRATEGIES FOR REDUCING STRESS AND INCREASING HAPPINESS FOR FAMILIES
Children and parents are under stress from many sources, including busy schedules, high academic expectations, numerous extracurricular activities, and peer pressure to keep up. However, our bodies are not designed to withstand chronic stress and as a result, the health of today's children (and parents!) is suffering. This talk will discuss factors contributing to stress on children and parents, give ways to recognize stress in children, provide strategies for reducing stress, and explain the key characteristics leading to long-term psychological health.
ANXIETY AND STRESS IN KIDS: HOW TO RECOGNIZE IT, COPE WITH IT, AND ALLEVIATE IT
The incidence of clinical anxiety in our youth is at record, epidemic highs, and most children experience some degree of stress and anxiety. Our society places many pressures on kids today. As parents, we need to understand what factors contribute to stress and anxiety, how we can help our children cope effectively with these inevitable emotions, and what we can do to reduce some of the tremendous pressures they face. The bonus is that by learning how to help our children, we also learn how to help ourselves!
IN OUR CHILDREN
Perhaps no single trait is as important to lifelong health and happiness as resilience. Research shows that the ability to bounce back from failure is essential to the willingness to try new challenges and to maintain psychological health. Most people would agree that resilience is important, yet parents often struggle with allowing children to experience the “successful failures” necessary to attain it. This talk will explain the concept of resilience and its link to authentic success and happiness. The “seven crucial C’s” of resilience will be highlighted along with strategies for parents to increase these characteristics in their children. There will also be a broader discussion of ways to parent with the goal of fostering resilience – what types of behaviors to encourage and what common mistakes to avoid.
INTRINSIC MOTIVATION, PRAISE, REWARDS, AND REINFORCEMENT: A PARENT’S TOOLKIT FOR MOTIVATED KIDS
Most parents would love to have children who are self-motivated and independent, who love learning, and who thrive in the face of challenges. No parents wish to undermine their children’s achievement or motivation, yet it often happens unknowingly. This talk will focus on intrinsic motivation – what it is, why it is so important, and how parents can increase or decrease it. It will discuss the use of praise, rewards, and reinforcement and explain how each can be used to foster or damage intrinsic motivation. It will provide parents with the tools to encourage their children to be self-motivated.
ASSESSING YOUR TEEN'S READINESS TO LAUNCH
Parents of teenagers have a great opportunity to take a close look at their child and evaluate his or her preparedness for their next stage of life after high school. There tends to be enormous focus on academic achievement but far less attention on the other characteristics that determine lifelong success and happiness. This talk takes a look at the stress teens (and parents) are under, the effects of that stress on mental health, and the ways parents can reduce this stress by taking a longer view. It also guides parents through the key psychological, emotional, and life skills necessary for college and beyond and explains how parents can use their remaining years with their children under their roof to fully prepare them for a happy and successful adulthood.
AUTHENTIC SUCCESS, PSYCHOLOGICAL HEALTH, AND HAPPINESS: PARENTING FOR THE LONG RUN
It is easy for parents to be so focused on the day-to-day challenges of raising children that they fail to take the time to consider the bigger picture of successful parenting. This talk takes the long view of child rearing to help parents envision their child as an adult and to determine what characteristics they really value for their child. It includes research findings on the factors related to healthy psychological development and highlights concrete techniques to achieve them. This talk will address the ways that our current culture promotes unhealthy levels of performance pressure, competition, and parental overinvolvement and will encourage parents to make informed and potentially courageous choices for their child’s well being.
As parents, we often experience the unpleasant results of our children’s struggle to express their difficult emotions, from frustration and anger to sadness and anxiety. The good news is that there are many ways large and small that we can help our children learn to identify, understand, and manage emotions in themselves and in others. In the process, we can learn ways to regulate our own emotions and how to utilize effective communication techniques that lead to more a harmonious family life for everyone.
FOSTERING INDEPENDENCE IN CHILDREN AT HOME AND AT SCHOOL
Virtually all parents share the goal of raising independent children. However, it can be difficult to know how to encourage it as our children grow. What are appropriate expectations and how do we as parents know how much help to provide? How do we balance our desire to raise independent children with our fears about our child falling behind, our jam-packed schedules, and our safety concerns? Just how much help should we give our kids with their school work, anyway? How can we use our time now to best prepare our children for the increased independence expected of them as they grow? Psychological research underscores the importance of independence as a key component of resilience and long-term happiness and success. This talk will highlight how parents can foster independence in their children and why it is so important to do so.
TALKING TO YOUR TEENS
ABOUT THE “TOUGH STUFF”
It can be uncomfortable and even scary to talk with our kids about the challenges and temptations that come with growing up. This talk will help you get past the eye rolling and awkwardness of starting the conversation and offer communication best practices and practical solutions to facilitate talks with your adolescents and teens about the “tough stuff” in their lives.
EMPTYING THE NEST: MANAGING THE TRANSITION FROM HIGH SCHOOL TO COLLEGE
Every family experiences an adjustment as a child graduates from high school and moves on to the next stage of life, but there are ways to smooth this transition for all concerned. Parents benefit from knowing what's in store for their new graduate on a social, emotional, and academic level and understanding how they can best support their child during this period of dramatic change. Parents also need to recognize the appropriate role of parenting at this stage and to learn strategies for effective communication and connection.
THE PRESSURES ON PARENTS
Parenting in today’s world can feel like a high-stakes race in which every single decision we make will affect our children’s lifelong happiness and success. Watching other parents work tirelessly to provide every possible enrichment, opportunity, or advantage to their kids can make us feel enormous pressure to keep up or else risk dooming our child’s future. Too often we function out of fear – fear of missing out, fear of messing up, or fear of not being good enough. Parenting from fear can create tremendous anxiety in us and in our families, and it is never the most effective route to raising happy and successful children. Learn how to identify and resist the pressures placed on parents so that you can raise your children according to your own goals, values, and dreams.
APPROACHES TO PARENTING: HOW FOLLOWING THE CONVENTIONAL WISDOM ON PARENTING CAN BE COUNTERPRODUCTIVE
Today’s culture emphasizes a focus on children’s achievement and performance as well as a level of social connectivity unseen in previous generations. While some aspects of this cultural shift can be positive, there are far more potentially negative consequences to parenting in the twenty-first century, and most parents are unaware of the problems that can arise just from following the conventional wisdom of modern parenting. This talk will discuss widespread parenting practices such as over involvement, over scheduling, over praising, over rewarding, and over protecting. These and other common ways of parenting will be examined systematically to contrast the parents’ good intentions with the negative effects on children and to explain ways parents can make changes to be as effective as possible.
THE UNIQUE PARENTING CHALLENGES IN AN AFFLUENT COMMUNITY
Children growing up in affluent communities have alarmingly high rates of anxiety, depression, substance abuse, eating disorders, cheating, and stealing and fare worse on most mental health measures than do their peers, even those raised in poverty. This talk will outline the specific challenges parents face when raising children in an affluent community and educate them to the hidden mental health crisis in affluent youth. It will explain the factors that lead to healthy psychological development and will explore the ways that affluence can affect this process. Finally, this talk will give parents of children of all ages strategies to avoid potential hazards of raising children in an affluent community.