Kidsmatter 2 Us – Importance of Relationships

Recently KidsMatter and the Naperville Police Department co-hosted a Community and Parent Forum, “Protecting Our Children: Understanding and Monitoring Youth Mental Health.” The panel included Ryan Lauterwasser, LCPC, CADC from Linden Oaks Adolescent Inpatient Unit and Eating Disorder Services; Matthew Caston LCPC, CCTP from Fox Valley Institute; and Detective Theresa Stock, High-Tech Crimes Investigator, Naperville Police Department. The video of the presentation can be viewed on our website at
For me, a key takeaway was the importance of relationships. Ryan Lauterwasser shared seven behaviors that can help parents build relationships and invest in their children. These included supporting, encouraging, listening, accepting, trusting, respecting, and negotiating differences.

Mathew Caston shared how important it is to maintain open lines of communication and that children will be loved no matter what.

Three items shared by Detective Stock encouraged parents to get involved with their children’s online and social media use by asking them what apps they use, having them teach you, and playing their games with them.

While the focus of the forum was to help support parents, ideas shared can be great takeaways for all of us as we work to support young people in our families and community. Positive relationships are key building blocks for young people to thrive and build resiliency.

Recently I learned about a great check-in for kids called “1-2-3.” It is beneficial if they can list one afterschool activity that they are involved in, two friends, and three caring adults. I have been challenging myself to be more intentional about expressing care and providing support to the kids in my family and my community by spending time together, making a call, sending a text, or a simple smile or hello.

We all can remember an adult who made a difference in our life when we were growing up, someone who believed in us and encouraged us. It might have been a family member, teacher, coach, or someone in our faith community. Our simple actions and words can make a big difference!

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