Parenting event discusses relationships from preschool to high school, Jan. 26 | VailDaily.com

Parenting event discusses relationships from preschool to high school, Jan. 26

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EAGLE-VAIL — The next installment of the Eagle River Youth Coalition's Eat Chat Parent learning series will take place today from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. at Homestake Peak School in Eagle-Vail. This class will focus on healthy relationships from the preschool years through high school.

"Let's be honest: Relationships and friendships can be challenging," said Carol Johnson, community engagement coordinator at Eagle River Youth Coalition. "We want to give parents the tools to help their kids have positive relationships and be able to recognize healthy friendships. It starts at a young age and can be built upon every year."

Fostering good relationships

Parents will have a chance to hear from a panel of experts and ask questions about fostering good relationships. Friends can fight — it's how they make up and get over the disagreement that cements a friendship. Those communication skills can, and should, start at a young age. Instead of teaching kids to say, "I'm sorry," help them to figure out why they are apologizing and how to be empathetic and a good listener.

“We want to give parents the tools to help their kids have positive relationships and be able to recognize healthy friendships.”Carol JohnsonCommunity engagement coordinator, Eagle River Youth Coalition

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Martha Teien, who holds an early childhood directorship and Master of Education in Montessori and is founding and executive director of Mountain Montessori in Avon, will share her 20 years of experience and expertise in childhood education.

Teien's portion of the evening, titled "Never Underestimate the Importance of Early Childhood Friendships — It's More than Taking Turns," will focus on friendships at a young age. Teien will explain which friendship skills kids are capable of from ages 3 to 6, how to help kids resolve conflict, what to do if your child is the aggressor and, really, how to support your kids at this stage in their lives.

Relationships change

Those who have children can hardly grasp how fast it all goes. Just when you feel like you have a handle on childhood friendships, children are in middle school and relationships feel entirely different. Enter Mike Santambrogio, youth violence prevention specialist with Bright Future Foundation, a nonprofit that is working to reduce instances of domestic violence and sexual abuse. Bright Future Foundation's programs EmpowerMENt and EmpowHERment provide safe, respectful and trusting environments where students can openly discuss their experiences with bullying, stereotypes, tolerance, conflict and healthy relationships, to name a few.

"Our main goal with our programs are to increase awareness, build confidence and work together so that we can prevent violence and strengthen our community," Santambrogio said.

He'll bring these skills to Thursday's event, where participants can engage in an activity, feel what a session is like and have the opportunity to reflect on their own feelings around the topic of healthy relationships.

After navigating preschool and middle school, high school relationships require just as much attention, said Megan Vogt, with Mind Springs Health. She will focus on brain development and friendships formed via social media; after all, almost all children have smartphones and relationships can be built or destroyed via the internet.

For more information on this and other upcoming events presented by the Eagle River Youth Coalition, visit http://www.eagleyouth.org.

If you go …

What: Eat Chat Parent “Relationship Status: It’s Complicated.”

When: 5:30 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 26.

Where: Homestake Peak School, 600 Eagle Road, Eagle-Vail.

Cost: Free.

More information: Dinner provided; live Spanish interpretation upon request. Email Carol Johnson, community engagement coordinator at Eagle River Youth Coalition, at cjohnson@eagleyouth.org or call 970-331-1487 to RSVP.