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Neighbors Growing Together | Mar 21, 2018

Tanager to host family education night

Thursday event aims to help adults talk to kids about tough topics
By Makayla Tendall, The Gazette | Feb 21, 2018

CEDAR RAPIDS — Tanager Place is hosting an event Thursday to help parents and guardians talk to children about mental health and other difficult subjects.

Family Engagement Evening will be from 5:30 to 7 at the Cedar Rapids Public Library, 450 Fifth Ave. SE.

The intent is for parents, guardians or professionals who work with young children or adolescents to connect to resources and learn how to discuss difficult topics with children, said Joan Hackbarth, Tanager’s director of advancement.

The event is the first of its kind for Tanager, a mental health and behavioral treatment center for children and families, and coincides with its commitment to mental health and its emphasis on discussing trauma-informed care.

Tanager Place will conduct a trauma-informed care symposium in May, Hackbarth said.

“It’s important that we have that total-health concept,” she said. “Through professional engagement, mental health can be treated in such a way that is successful and is a piece of something we know how to live with ... or we can say that’s a season in my life and I surpassed it.”

Part of encouraging conversations on mental health is to engage parents, said Abby Seyfer, clinical supervisor at Tanager. Seyfer oversees Tanager’s school-based therapists.

“There’s a lot of new discussion about trauma in the brain and how parents can connect with kids through relationships,” Seyfer said. “We thought this was the best platform to get that out.”

Sessions are planned for three topics Parents can attend 20-minute sessions on Thursday that cover three topics, the first of which is about connection-based parenting.

“It’s a different lens through which to view the parent-child relationship, and it challenges the more authoritative way of parenting,” Seyfer said.

“The presentation has roots in new research with brain and trauma and how kids are able to respond to structure.”

The second session will detail how parents can “set appropriate structures and expectations” for children’s use of electronic devices.

“It’s not that we’re telling parents to take it all away,” Seyfer said. “There’s more healthy ways we can go about it.”

The third session will center on how parents can talk to children about difficult topics.

It’s a timely discussion as more violent acts reach juveniles, such as the mass shooting at a Florida high school last week, Seyfer said.

However, discussion also will cover how parents can approach bullying and other difficult subjects.

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