It all comes down to communication…
I’m interested in all things to do with communication. If you look underneath any problem between human beings, there’s usually an issue of mis-communication, or a lack of communication which has led to it – and it’s good communication that’s needed to begin to solve it. It’s like the basic building block of human relationships; any sort of strategy you put in place to solve problems works better if you know what you want to communicate and how to do it. In all areas of human interaction, communication is key.
I love this word because it encompasses so much.
I’ve always been involved with the business of communication. After becoming a mother I trained to become an Accredited Instructor in Parent Effectiveness Training, a programme I was drawn to because it was the first bit of parenting advice I’d seen which was based on communication and relationship rather than just discipline and control.
I was one of the founders of Lewes New School, a small independent school in East Sussex, where I spent over eight years training staff and running courses for parents. I designed and implemented the school’s policies on bullying, respectful communication and behaviour management, taught Peer Mediation skills to Year 5 and 6 children, implemented a Playground Buddy system and also worked directly with the children in the classroom and as playground supervisor.
During this time I developed an interest in neuroscience, cultural and social psychology and cultural parenting practices. I matched what I was learning with real life, and through my experience with a wide range of children I gradually changed what I was teaching. Parents on my courses were reporting back to me that it was the skills I had developed myself which had the greatest positive effect, so I finally designed my own course Communicating with Kids in 2008, which I have been teaching ever since.
“The stuff Stephanie is teaching has been like a light going on. Small shifts in the way I listen and speak with the kids have made massive changes in how smoothly things run between us all.” ~ Kate
I have three sons and a daughter, and as my children grew up I began to notice more and more the cultural messages they were all continually exposed to, especially the difference between the way women and men are represented throughout the media. I also noticed how toys and books were becoming more and more gendered, which led me to research into socialisation and conditioning, and in particular how that holds back girls.
I worked on the successful No More Page 3 campaign for over two years during which time I became passionate about what our culture communicates to young people growing up in the UK, ways we can work to change that and how we can equip young people to critically deconstruct the messages behind the images they see all around them.
I am currently researching the recent history of parenting models and I am particularly interested in how parenting advice feeds into the idealised mother stereotype and the attendant guilt felt by mothers.