Head’s Corner

Sometimes the Answer is Right in Front of You.

At Wednesday night’s vaping discussion, the one question we could not answer very well was, “how do you tell your child not to do something risky, and have it stick?” The answers varied from “when I was growing up, my father said he would disown me if I smoke” to “my father told me which risky behaviors I could and could not partake in.” None of our answers were very satisfying or seemingly useful.

So what is the answer? How do we keep our kids from engaging in risky behavior? According to Kent Pekel, the CEO of Search Institute, relationships are the key. “A gigantic body of research shows that the relationships in a kid’s life are like the roots of a tree. When kids have strong roots, they can grow, they can thrive, they can withstand the storms life throws at them.”


The storms life throws at kids are things like drug use, a bad breakup, or peer pressure to vape. Pekel’s research suggests that the roots of relationships thrive in a healthy soil base that contains these five elements.

  • Express Care – Be someone I can trust
  • Challenge Growth – Expect me to live up to my potential
  • Provide Support – Guide me but also set limits
  • Share Power – Take me seriously and involve me in decisions
  • Expand Possibilities – Inspire me to see possibilities for my future

If these look familiar, they should. These elements are also the basic tenets of how Saklan operates with students every day. We know that we are most successful when we connect, we challenge, and we inspire. As a parent, I can tell my child not to do something, or they will be in trouble, as a teacher I can say to a student to study hard or they will get a poor grade. This approach is straightforward, but in the long run, it does not work well.

Whether I want a child to understand the causes behind WWI or I want them to make wise decisions when it comes to life’s storms, it’s the roots that count.

Check out Kent Pekel’s Ted Talk here.


Author: The Saklan School Friday Blog

The Saklan School is a private Pre-K through 8 school located in Moraga, CA. Our mission is to think creatively, act compassionately, and live courageously.

%d bloggers like this: