Parents and Adolescents

Communicating Together

 

Programs for adolescents and parents to learn skills
for problem solving and strengthening relationships

 


 

 

home

table

The Parents and Adolescents Communicating Together (PACT) Program is a group program for adolescents and their parents to teach skills for resolving conflict peacefully. The program is designed to be run in secondary schools with all age groups or within community settings. This program comprises two sessions for adolescents (double period each), a parent evening plus a combined parentŠadolescent evening. Two facilitators are required for each session. Professionals with a background in psychology, student welfare teaching or counselling who participate in a one-day training workshop are able to facilitate the PACT program at their school or community agency.

Who is the program for?

The PACT program has benefits for schools, teachers, adolescents, parents and the community

Schools

To a large extent, ineffective conflict resolution comes about simply because we have never been taught useful ways to handle conflict. The more people are exposed to examples of peaceful conflict resolution, however, the more familiar these strategies will become. It is important, therefore, that effective conflict resolution skills become a valued part of our educational system in order to increase exposure to, and practice in, alternative ways of resolving conflict. Schools have a responsibility to help equip adolescents with skills for adult life.

Secondary school staff

Staff at all levels of the school system can benefit from learning how to resolve conflict more effectively. Staff who are trained in the model are not only better equipped to resolve conflict with or between students, but also bring to the school a new and effective way of dealing with problems at other levels of the school community. Student welfare staff and teachers are trained to teach the model in the classroom and also to parents.

Adolescents and their parents

Adolescence is a developmental stage that is often prone to conflict, particularly within families. An important task of adolescence is for teenagers to start separating emotionally from their families. It is how they learn to cope with being apart from the family and take a responsible role in life. We should therefore expect and welcome differences between parents and teenagers in terms of goals, wants and ways of doing things. It is how teenagers begin to learn to become independent and mature individuals. Commonly, though, these differences can be a source of family conflict. Establishing appropriate ways of resolving conflict that acknowledge the legitimate needs of adolescents to have increasing responsibility for making choices for themselves, and the needs of parents to ensure that their children are safe, is a very important skill for helping families to negotiate the adolescent years.

Who attends?

The program is for adolescents and parents who wish to enhance their relationship, practice their communication skills, and learn more effective techniques for problem solving and conflict resolution. Either or both parents are invited to attend.

How does the program fit into the school curriculum?

The program can be administered by teachers, with the adolescent groups included as part of the weekly curriculum. Two double periods, preferably a week apart, is all the time that is needed from the school timetable. The program is designed to be offered to a whole classroom of students whether or not their parents are able to attend the evening sessions. Students whose parents do not participate only attend the classroom sessions but not the parent-adolescent evening.

What happens in the PACT program?

PACT focuses on teaching adolescents and parents how to examine the needs and concerns that underlie their disputes or arguments. This technique acknowledges the legitimate needs of adolescents to have increasing responsibility for making choices themselves, and the needs of parents to ensure that their children are safe. The conflict resolution model that forms the basis of the PACT program is called the Wise Ways Model. The model is an evidence-based, proven and effective method of resolving conflict and improving relationships between individuals, families, professionals, and even nations!

The Wise Ways Model

Over the last 10 years this model has been taught to students in primary school, secondary school and at university level. The model has formed a component of the award winning Exploring Together Program for Adolescents. Books, posters, and a pantomime (Psychologists for the Promotion of World Peace) have been produced based on the model. The Wise Ways model forms a part of the VicParenting strategy for teachers, and has been taught as a part of professional development courses for psychologists, social workers and counsellors. On an international level, the model has been taken to the United Nations by one of the original authors, Connie Peck. Two-week residential courses based on the model are run for diplomatic staff to train them in dispute resolution and peace making. Currently, the model is being taught to parents as part of the National Illicit Drug Strategy, Funded by Commonwealth Department of Family & Community services. Developed by psychologists, the model has practical applications for all people at all stages of life.

What happens in the PACT training workshops?

The PACT training workshops is a one day workshop with the following aims:

  • improve professionals skills for resolving conflict
  • improve communication and understanding between professionals and adolescents
  • provide professionals with the knowledge and skills to teach conflict resolution to adolescents and their parents.

Participants are provided with a comprehensive manual detailing how the PACT program is run, session notes and handouts.

Description of PACT Program components

Sessions 1 and 2

These sessions focus on teaching the adolescents:

  • about conflict and common ways of handling it
  • differences between interest-based, rights-based and power-based conflict resolution
  • how to identify their own and the other parties' interests in a dispute
  • listening skills
  • how to manage emotions in a negotiation
  • how to generate multiple alternative solutions to a problem using brainstorming skills
  • how to set the scene and engage others in conflict resolution

Parent evening

This evening aims to:

  • provide information about developmental needs of adolescents
  • provide parents with an overview of the conflict resolution model taught to their adolescents

Parent-adolescent evening

This evening aims to:

  • help families set the scene for conflict resolution
  • provide families with an opportunity to try out conflict resolution skills on a particular issue

 

Training information page

contact us

Box 11, 607 Lygon St Princes Hill Victoria 3054. P 0438879360