All parents want to protect their kids, but teaching them how to fall and get back up again could be more beneficial than stopping them from falling in the first place.
That is the focus of a national conference that will bring together a panel of Australia's top child psychologists and cyber safety experts coming to Launceston on March 23.
The Resilient Kids Conference will be held in Launceston for the first time, as part of a number of dates and locations across the country.
A panel of national experts including Tasmania's own Steve Biddulph, Sunrise psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg and 'cyber-cop' Susan Mclean will all present to parents and educators on how to foster resilience.
Convener and speaker Sharon Witt said as a teacher of 20 years, and an author of 14 books on the topic she has never before seen children with lower levels of resilience than this generation.
"I started the Resilient Kids conference about three years ago because I just saw this need," she said.
"I realised that we were always talking about resilience [as educators] but the people who need to hear this message are parents."
Mrs Witt said resilience was defined as the ability to "bounce back after adversity" and that both parents and children of this generation were lacking in it.
In Tasmania, coping with stress was ranked as the top issue of concern for young people aged 15-19, according to the Mission Australia 2018 youth survey, released in December.
Almost four in 10, or 39 per cent, young people surveyed said they were either extremely concerned or very concerned about this issue.
Mental health was also a highly rated issue of concern, with 30.1 per cent of Tasmanian respondents saying that were either extremely or very concerned about this issue.
Mrs Witt said growing up as a young person in 2019 was a lot more challenging than in previous years, thanks in part to social media and the Internet.
"Kids today don't have enough time to play, or to find that spark that interests them," she said.
"Also, with social media, they don't get any downtime, they are connected to their peers 24-7."
The Resilient Kids conference aims to lift the lid on why resilience is important and what parents can do to foster that growth in their own children.
'Be their parent, not their friend'
Psychologist and regular television commentator Michael Carr-Gregg said resilience was key to addressing mental health issues in Tasmania and the country.
He said with one in four secondary school students experiencing significant mental health issues, and an increasing number of primary school pupils this generation of young people were the first in history to have worse mental health than their parents.
"It is well documented now that there are significant levels of psychological distress in young people," Dr Carr-Gregg said.
"One of the biggest problems [they are facing] is how to cope with stress."
Dr Carr-Gregg said he liked to think of himself as "the experienced ambulance at the bottom of the cliff" but the point of the resilient kid's conference was to teach parents how to "erect expensive and protective fences at the top of the cliff" to stop kids from falling into that spiral.
He said there were a number of factors that contribute to the poor mental health of young people, including social media and poverty but resilience was the ability to transcend those situations, whatever they may be.
There is also the reversal of the parent-to-child relationship in the pyramid of power.Psychologist Michael Carr-Gregg
"There is also, in some cases, the reversal of the parent-to-child relationship in the pyramid of power...kids are more in charge than they have been in the past," he said.
He said he had received a positive response from parents about the conference and about his session in previous dates because it gave parents a tool-kit to help build resilience levels in not only their kids but also themselves.
"We need to allow our kids to experience adversity...I think that there is a bit of a tendency to shield our kids, parents have become a bit over-protective," he said.
He said he had not been to Tasmania for about six years but was looking forward to presenting to Tasmanian parents and teachers.
"Tasmanian educators have realised that this is an important element to tackling mental health," he said.
In addition, he said Tasmania was home to his mentor Steve Biddulph, who is also speaking at the conference. Dr Carr-Gregg said he was looking forward to spending more time with Biddulph.
Technology's two faces
'Cybercop' Susan Mclean said one of the most challenging things facing young people and their parents in today's society is navigating the internet.
However, she said most of the confusion arose from a misunderstanding, or "not wanting to understand" the good and bad sides of technology. Ms Mclean was a Victorian Police officer for 27 years and now spends her days educating young people through school visits and forums on how to best navigate the internet and manage social media.
She said an important part of social media resilience was the ability for young people to 'bounce back' when bad things happen.
"What we need to do is to make sure young people understand the good and bad sides of technology," she said.
Cyberbullying should be taken more seriously by police officers, she said, to ensure support for victims.
"We don't need any new laws, new laws don't stop things, because otherwise, we'd have no drink driving or things like that," she said.
Mrs Mclean said she was aware of instances of children as young as in eight accessing pornography and children in grade three being cyberbullied online.
She visits Tasmanian schools regularly to educate young people on how to navigate social media and the internet successfully and how to respond when bad things happen.
- The Resilient Kids conference will be held at the Launceston Conference Centre, Glen Dhu. The Examiner will be running a live blog from the Resilient Kids Conference on March 23 for those unable to get there or secure tickets.
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