P&F Parent Forums

The P&F provide forums throughout the year which relate to adolescent health and wellbeing, academic outcomes, future options, and the maintenance of a positive parent-child relationships. Providing opportunities for parents to improve their capacity to support their children, is a fundamental strategy in the P&Fs vision.

Get some Sleep!

Oftentimes, a lack of sleep is the casualty of a busy lifestyle, yet there are a range of tips and tricks that that we can follow to improve our sleep.

In Term 3 the P&F Association hosted Sleep for Better Health, Resilience and Performance, a parent forum that tackled the age old problem of sleep and what we can do to ensure we are getting enough of it.

Guest speaker, Lisa Maltman, Director of The Sleep Connection, spoke to parents and teachers about the scientific and social reasons why sleep is vital to everyone, particularly teenage boys.

A good night’s sleep can improve our ability to process, consolidate, recall and store information. It also aids our glymphatic system to help clear our brains of toxins, improves our immunity, the growth and repair of muscle tissues, our decision-making, motivation and stamina as well as our energy levels.

According to research by Dr Andrew Rochford, people require several cycles of light, deep and REM sleep every night. Denying cycles during the night can cause us to perform well below our potential the following day. On average, the ‘normal’ adult sleeper needs between 7–9 hours with teenagers between the ages of 13–17 needing between 8–10 hours of sleep each night. Many of us know this, however, we seldom plan for it.

Why Sleep?

Sleep also plays a role in improving resilience, a priority of the school’s mission and Strategic Plan, by managing our moods, our ability to empathise, our self-esteem and increasing the ‘feelgood’ hormones, serotonin and dopamine in our bodies.

Why we might not get enough sleep

So what can we do to ensure we get enough sleep?

Lisa explained that one of the biggest thieves of good sleep is the use of technology before bed; therefore, screens should be off-limits at least one hour before bed. Other issues such as studying late, poor food choice, stressful situations and some medications can also impede a good night’s sleep.

If your son has difficulty waking, falls asleep at inappropriate times of the day, is less likely to exercise and depends on caffeinated drinks, then it could be a sign of sleep deprivation. This can lead to increased sickness, weight gain, being accident prone and clumsy, headaches and an increased risk of diabetes and heart disease.

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Helpful Tips

  • Prioritising sleep and have a strict bedtime
  • Have an electronic-free bedroom
  • Keep the bed for sleeping only
  • Exercise daily, but not too close to bedtime
  • Use a dim light in the evening and a brighter light in the morning
  • Limit sleep-ins to only one hour extra on weekends
  • Get rid of the snooze button on any alarm clocks to avoid training your brain to fall asleep again once you have woken.

Some tips for parents

  • Be a positive role model
  • Help your son plan his evening
  • Seek medical help if your son snores or has disrupted sleep.

As our boys’ wellbeing is central to their performance in all areas of their lives, good sleep habits need to become a priority.

What is Character growth?

Character growth requires schools to be specific about what is expected of students. This can revolve around making good choices, being responsible, modelling positive behaviour, showing kindness to others, engaging with community service, and modelling good character traits.

Research shows that follow-up with a Mentor is critical in promoting collective changes for the better. While simple consequences for poor behaviour encourage students to stop and reflect, a follow-up promotes lasting change.1

Dr Paula Robinson, Director of the Positive Psychology Institute Sydney, and guest speaker at a P&F Parent Forum, pointed out that identifying our main character strengths is important to our wellbeing. But what does that mean for discipline? In short, we must use discipline to help our boys understand and cultivate their different character strengths.

Being proactive is essential to character growth. Discipline should not just be about keeping students under control. Providing consequences for poor behaviour such as detention and demerits alone does not provide students with the self-reflection necessary to develop their character.

The VIA (Values in Action) character strengths are a good starting point for identifying these qualities. Rewarding our boys when they display positive character helps them to isolate and cultivate their unique strengths. We have introduced a system of character merits to explicitly reward this behaviour and to keep track of the boys who are displaying positive qualities of character at school. Academic merits will remain, but the following will be recognised:

  • Knowledge [creativity, curiosity, critical thinking, love of learning]
  • Courage [bravery, perseverance, honesty, enthusiasm]
  • Humanity [compassion, generosity, social intelligence]
  • Justice [citizenship, fairness, leadership]
  • Temperance [humility, self discipline]
  • Hard Work

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The Power of 'Flow'

Each of us relies on preferred character strengths. This is often subconscious, but research on ‘flow’ (performing a task in the present that we are totally engaged in) tells us that we often experience ‘flow’ when we are using our preferred character strengths.

Acknowledging good behaviour as well as calling out lapses and shortcomings, helps to balance our Merit/Demerit system towards positive discipline. This will motivate our boys to thrive and contribute to our community.