Veteran educator and author presents strategies and tips for parents to help kids

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By Vicki Greene, Contributing Writer

Michael Delman, Author of “Your Kid’s Gonna Be Okay.” Photo/Beyond BookSmart
Michael Delman, Author of “Your Kid’s Gonna Be Okay.” Photo/Beyond BookSmart

Marlborough – Not many people would argue that technology is ubiquitous in our culture today. Michael Delman, M.Ed. calls it the “Age of Attention.” But while technology is undoubtedly a good thing, he notes, kids’ brains continue to develop until the age of 25 and as such, they need to learn how to stay focused and not get easily distracted.

That topic was the focus of a workshop that was presented to Marlborough parents Oct. 10 at the 1LT. Charles W. Whitcomb Middle School.

Delman is the author of the book, “Your Kid’s Gonna Be Okay: Building the Executive Function Skills Your Child Needs in the Age of Attention.” The father himself of two girls, he is the CEO of the executive coaching firm, Beyond BookSmart.

His presentation, based on his book, helped to explain how children develop executive function skills, why having these skills is important and how parents can help their children along in the process.

“If your child isn’t doing well in school it doesn’t mean you’re a bad parent. You all showed up tonight which tells me you care,” he first assured the audience members.

Delman defined executive function skills as having the ability to “manage emotions, focus, plan, prioritize, organize and reflect.”

“The younger they start working on these skills, the better,” he noted.

Two Marlborough mothers volunteered for a role play that Delman used to illustrate how kids feel when they don’t understand something and how parents can show empathy. Bel Thresher is the mother of a sixth-grade student at the Whitcomb School and Krista Barton is the mother of a ninth-grade student at the Advanced Math and Science Academy Charter School (AMSA).

Delman first asked Thresher a question with an obvious answer but then asked Barton a question that was nearly impossible to answer.

When asked how she felt about not being able to answer the question, Barton said, “This is harder than I thought. I’m embarrassed. I had a mental block.”

The intended result was realized. The audience let out a collective sigh and felt for Barton.

With the understanding of the importance of empathy, Delman acknowledged “We’re [society] getting more intelligent about intelligence. Competition in schools is fierce and parents get anxiety about being a bad parent.”

Following that statement, multiple hands went up in the audience. Barton said she was concerned about being “a helicopter mom” and asked, “How much do you let your child fail?”

“We need to let our kids make mistakes and we need to act as a consultant. We need to be there when they want our help and learn how to step back when they don’t,” Delman replied.

He went on to assure parents there are things they can do including show empathy, normalize an anxious or contentious situation, empower their child rather than taking over a project for them and helping them organize their work and schedule. Strategies included modeling positive behaviors, doing check-ins and then letting kids assume responsibility for their work and their actions.

The presentation was organized by the Special Education Parent Advisory Council (SEPAC) and Jody O’Brien, director of student services. For more information visit www.beyondbooksmart.com.