Social skills educator and author Brooks Gibbs works through a role-playing exercise at one of his speaking assemblies.

Social skills educator and author Brooks Gibbs works through a role-playing exercise at one of his speaking assemblies.

Photo provided by Brooks Gibbs


Parenting education fair promotes emotional resilience with ‘Raise Them Strong’

By: Jonathan Shead | C&G Newspapers | Published October 25, 2019

 Gibbs will give the  keynote address at the Western Oakland County Parenting Education Fair Nov. 2.

Gibbs will give the keynote address at the Western Oakland County Parenting Education Fair Nov. 2.

Photo provided by Brooks Gibbs

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OAKLAND COUNTY — Officials in the Walled Lake Consolidated School District, alongside several other Oakland County school districts, plan to host their biannual Western Oakland County Parenting Education Fair 7:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. Nov. 2 at Walled Lake Northern High School, 6000 Bogie Lake Road in Commerce Township.

Other school districts participating include Farmington Public Schools, the West Bloomfield School District, Oakland Intermediate Schools, Oakland Community College, Novi Community Schools and Bloomfield Hills Schools — the latter two are new participants this year.

This year the fair will feature keynote speaker Brooks Gibbs, an award-winning social skills educator and author of “Raise Them Strong,” who will speak about and teach parents how to raise emotionally resilient children who aren’t easily hurt or upset by the hostilities they may face at school or at home.

“Emotional resilience can be learned very easily. … It’s a lot easier to build up the emotional resilience of the child than it is to make everyone around the child nice,” said Gibbs, who is a former Oakland County resident. “Instead of parents trying to chase down every mean kid that comes across their child’s path, it’s best to build up the emotional resilience of their child so they’re totally unphased by that aggression.”

Gibbs said he’s excited to be back in the area and feels “tremendously honored to keynote such an important event.”

Gibbs takes a “playful approach to a painful problem.” In his 20 years of speaking about these issues, he’s found that role-playing games, trivia challenges and creative “mind hacking” are the best ways to teach children how to deal with the difficult people in their lives.

Following Gibbs’ keynote talk, parents will have the opportunity to participate in up to three breakout sessions on a variety of topics. The fair will provide education sessions for parents with students from the preschool level through 12th grade on healthy living and nutrition tips; strengthening communication with children; internet safety; screen time; coping skills; talking to children about racism, drugs and alcohol; and resolving conflicts in the home.

“Parenting is one of the few things you don’t have to have any type of degree or experience or knowledge to do. There’s no manual to be a parent,” Walled Lake Consolidated School District Community Relations and Marketing Director Judy Evola said. “This (event) provides a whole toolbox of skills for parents to learn. It’s also an opportunity for parents to network with other parents, whose children might be going through the same things, and talk about the best way to help them.

“We want our children to be strong. We want (them) to be resilient and successful in today’s society. We live in an ever-changing society, and we need to give our students the tools to handle that. I hope parents can leave saying this has been one of the most valuable things they did for themselves, their children and their family.”

The breakout session topics were chosen from topics that parents indicated on a survey that they wish they had more information about, and what administrators observe parents and students grappling with. Parents will be surveyed again to help inform the next fair’s topics.

While parents attend breakout sessions, students will have the chance at 10:30 a.m. to sit with Gibbs and learn important social-emotional skills on their own.

Overall, Gibbs said, learning emotional resilience is a skill from which everyone can benefit.

“Aggression is not a school problem. It’s a human problem. There’s aggression in every elementary, middle and high school; in every college and workplace,” he said. “Emotional resilience is a life skill that allows people to navigate those challenging relationships in their lives.”

Food trucks will be on-site during the lunch break. Child care will be provided for $3 for one child, and $5 for two or more.

Pre-registration is not required, though attendees who pre-register will receive Gibbs’ “Raise Them Strong” online curriculum free of charge. Pre-registration costs $15; day-of registration will cost $25. There is no limit on how many people can attend.

For more information on the fair, including the various breakout session topics and presenters, visit wlcsd.org/parents/western-oakland-county-parenting-education-fair.

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