Academy Advice

LA Family Support--March

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Developmental Relationships: Provide Support

Getting Started: Ideas for Parents


Here are some ways moms, dads, and other parenting adults provide support to their kids:

  1. Offer information and practical help to solve a problem, or lend them something they may need.
  2. Show young people how to ask for help when they need it.
  3. Shift levels of support. Give more support when young people are struggling, and less when they are making progress. Step back as their skills and confidence build.
  4. When you teach your child a skill, demonstrate it by breaking it into smaller steps.
  5. When your children are not getting the help they need, find people who can address the issue.

Discussion Starters with Your Kids

  • Think about a recent time you were struggling with a challenge. What are some ways family members helped you?
  • Who is someone you admire who really encourages you to pursue your goals? What do they do that really matters for you?
  • What do you most appreciate people doing to support you when you’re working toward a goal?
  • What do other people do that builds your confidence when you’re working on important tasks or goals?
  • When has someone stood up for you and helped you get what you needed? How did you feel after they helped you with that?
  • How does setting limits or boundaries help us stay focused on our tasks or goals?
  • When have people tried to help you or support you when you didn’t really want it? How did you deal with that? What might you do next time?

Tips for Tough Conversations

Sometimes you need to have a hard conversation, or an everyday conversation becomes difficult. Try these tips to help it go well.


  • Talk when both you and your child are calm. People calm down at different rates. One person may be ready to talk but the other may not. Make sure both you and your child can speak calmly about the tough issue.
  • Act soon. Deal with tough issues as they arise, especially when they’re small. Don’t wait for the problem to get worse. Even though your relationship may get tense in the short term, that’s better than having problems grow too big to manage well.
  • Listen to your child. Too often, we focus on what we want to say, what we want to teach. Take time to really listen to your child. People are more likely to work through tough issues when both sides feel heard and respected.
  • Discuss the issue more than once. A tough issue cannot be resolved in one conversation. You may need to revisit the topic times over multiple weeks (or months or years).
  • Work together on the issue. Most parents don’t have all the answers. Work with your child. If you’re not making much progress, get others involved. School counselors and social workers often can provide helpful insights and solutions. Other parents may have suggestions. Ask for help. Keep asking until you get help that truly makes a difference.

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