How parents act may be more important than what they say to their children, say counselors at Cape Fear Academy – especially in the formative years when children are learning who they are and how to interact with peers.
“We should be mindful how we treat our friends and spouses. Our children pick up more on what we’re doing than what we’re saying,” said Elizabeth Gibbs, Cape Fear Academy Lower School counselor.
“When they see their parents have strong friendships and that they are open and honest with each other – that’s what they’re learning.”
Gibbs teaches a social skills curriculum to every student in the Lower School from 3 ? years old to fifth graders. “My advice to parents is to be strong role models to your children. It’s not just what we say to our children, it’s what we do,” she said.
Her colleague, Tobi Ragon, is the Middle and Upper School counselor. “What’s nice about Cape Fear Academy is we have counselors who can counsel instead of handling other administrative duties. My main focus is counseling students for their social and emotional needs,” she said. A separate academic counselor advises students about their classes and college placement.
“Middle School is interesting. It’s also very exciting. Developmentally, students are very egocentric. Friendships take on more of a role and they want to do less and less with their families,” she said.
She advises parents to keep trying to communicate with their pre-teens and teenagers and allow them certain privileges that give them the ability to make choices on their own.
“Be patient. They’re going to make mistakes. As a parent, especially parents who are new to the middle school age, you’re not responsible for his or her decisions. You are only responsible for loving and disciplining the child,” she said.