Lesson: Talking To Kids About Gaming

Lesson:  Talking To Kids About Gaming

 

Gaming is a major part of our media culture and families need to understand the pros and cons of becoming consumers of this media. Children will be exposed to various forms of gaming from peers, family members as well as mainstream media. Parents need to understand and identify how they will address the issue.

Video games may have benefits such as creativity, problem solving, and cooperation in addition to negative effects such as addiction, hyperactivity, depression, and antisocial behaviors. Gaming can be a positive experience for families when everyone follows the rules that have been established.

It’s important for us to start talking before a child becomes too enthralled with particular games. This lesson is a great opportunity to educate yourself and your kids, as well as to have a great discussion about the positives and negatives of gaming.

Take the opportunity to listen to your kids! Understand why gaming is important to them.

Download the Lesson Here!

For Great discussions about using tech for good, understanding media and advertising, or improving your child’s body image, check out our children’s books. Available here.

Engaging stories, great discussions!

 

 

5 Ways Our Families Can Slow Down

5 Ways Our Families Can Slow Down

In Our Fast-Paced World, We Need to Be Intentional Online and in “Real Life”

 

By Dina Alexander, MS

In my parenting, I have a VERY hard time slowing down. I distractedly run from assignment to task to activity. As my kids get older, however, I am realizing that everything is moving way too fast. Time is slipping away through my fingers. In fact, my oldest child will be leaving for college in less than a year.  

Recently, I have implemented five important habits to help myself and my family slow down. In modeling these habits for my kids, it has been imperative to live what I teach. If we can be an example by being deliberate and intentional in our “real lives” and online behaviors, our kids can see it and follow suit.

5 Ways We Can Slow Down to Be Intentional:

Intentional: To be deliberate, purposeful, conscious of what you are doing.

 

Slow down when you start to hand your child a phone or tablet because they are bored or whining. This is also important to remember when you begin to install a new app for them or when you start to turn on a movie or video for them to watch. Ask yourself and your child, “Why do we want this app?Why are we watching this movie? Will this improve our family life?Will this make my kids smarter, more creative, or more kind?”

We can start teaching our kids, from a very young age, that phones and computers are not just distractions and entertainment. They are amazing tools. Perhaps the most important tools ever created. Smartphones have changed human interactions and relationships more than anything ever invented.

*We all have those moments of exhaustion, desperation, or illness. In those moments, just do your best, and give yourself a break. Don’t expect perfection from yourself or anyone.

 

Slow down in following trends or making purchases. It can be easy to get caught up in a trend or feel like you “should” buy a certain game, device, movie, or app for your child. Stop and consider the long-term effects to your family’s mental, financial, and intellectual health as you purchase various technology. If it will improve or enhance your child’s intelligence or creatively or contribute to the well-being of your family, go for it!

 

Slow down in your actions. When you start to post an angry rant, verbally tear someone down, or negate someone else’s opinions behind a screen, slow down #thinkbeforeyoupost. Then, teach your kids the same ethics to act, not react

 

Slow down to be real. Are you the same person online and in “real life,” or have you created a certain, filtered persona on social media? All of us, our kids included, can often be influenced by friends or what we think others expect of us. Teach your kids to stop, think, and be authentic in “real life” and online.

Initiate a discussion about the importance of being yourself and being honest with the world. Talk about the freedom of being the same person in “real life” as online, whether you think someone is watching or not.

 

Slow down and take inventory. Do you find you and your family are running in all directions and then continually reaching for your phones when you are bored, tired, or lonely? Are you and your family members distracted and growing more disconnected? If so, then slowing down and taking a good, hard look at where you spend your time will benefit you! Being intentional and deliberate with technology use (spending a predetermined amount of time, in designated locations, and with a purpose) is rewarding and provides a healthier, happier home life.

Let’s #bethechange and teach our kids through our words and actions to slow down and be positive and intentional in “real life” and online.

Need help with these discussions? For a great story, including discussions and activities, for kids ages 6-11, check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story about Using Technology for Good.  For older kids, try our Using Technology for Good on our Lessons Page.

Available in paperback or Kindle!

Dina Alexander is the founder and president of Educate and Empower Kids (educateempowerkids.org), an organization determined to strengthen families by teaching digital citizenship, media literacy, and healthy sexuality education—including education about the dangers of online porn. She is the creator of Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good, Messages About Me: A Journey to Healthy Body Image, How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and the 30 Days of Sex Talks and 30 Days to a Stronger Child programs. She received her master’s degree in recreation therapy from the University of Utah and her bachelors from Brigham Young University. She is an amazing mom and loves spending time with her husband and three kids. Together, they live in Texas.

 

Holding Family Meetings: A Necessity for Our Busy Families

Holding Family Meetings: A Necessity for Our Busy Families

By Kami Loyd

Growing up I was one of six children, and each of us had different schedules. From soccer team practice to piano lessons, every day of the week was filled. It often made us kids, and especially our parents, feel that sometimes we lived more in the car than in our own house. On top of the crazy schedules, my parents also dealt with sibling rivalries, children’s misbehavior, job changes, and all the other stresses of life.

One of the most important things my parents did each week to help them prepare and to reconnect us together was to have a family meeting. Our family meetings advanced over the years from simple scheduling sessions and settling sibling squabbles into deeper discussions about individual’s and the family’s needs.

As my husband and I created our own family, we have discovered that we too need these weekly, and sometimes more frequent,family meetings to help everyone stay on the same page. These frequent meetings almost always include the needs of our four small children and using our technology to schedule our fast-paced lives. Our family meetings do not currently have much input from our children, but as they grow, they will understand the pattern and organization that we have already established, allowing them to fully participate.

Dr. Barton Goldsmith from Psychology Today has said, “In my years of practice, [a family meeting] has proven to be one of the most effective and bonding things families can do to create greater harmony and experience more depth and connection with those they love.” I can’t think of anything most families want more than these exact things.

Some of the benefits The Center for Parenting Education has found coming from family meetings include helping children cope with problems effectively in other situations, increasing family cohesion, teaching children to see things from other perspectives, solving problems in a fair way,  and many others.

What steps can you take to hold an effective family meeting?

Russell Ballard’s book Counseling with Our Councils encourages families to have family meetings and to use a specific pattern. My husband and I have used these ideas as a template in our own family as we have created the pattern we use in holding our family meetings. Some ideas include::

  1. Planning before the family meeting – Parents should meet together and decide what points they will be discussing at the family meeting. This may be a good time to decide whether the issues the family are facing are only to be discussed as a family, or if they can be decided on as a family too. There are some issues like consequences for actions, family relocations for jobs, family house rules, curfews, etc. that parents must make decisions on. Although they can discuss these with children, they are not up for debate. Some topics that could be covered in your family meeting could include children’s grades, use of technology, healthy relationships, friendship and respect, drugs and alcohol, pornography, gratitude, and family vacations just to name a few. The more meetings you have, the more you’ll be able to customize each to your families needs.
  2. Turn off distractions and tune into each other – When you are starting your family meeting, one of the worst things that can happen is to get distracted by your son’s cell phone ringing, a text from the local pizza place with a 25% off coupon, or a television program from which your kids can’t seem to look away. Keeping distractions at a distance by turning them off, or at least silencing them, will allow you and your family to get more out of your family meeting and tune into each other as well as the issues you are discussing.
  3. Start your meeting by sharing your love for one another – Although your family shouldn’t hear “I love you” only at these meetings, beginning by telling family members how you feel can reduce animosity and help everyone to better listen to each other.
  4. Decision Making – Each person should be able to speak their mind concerning the matter without interruption from other family members. When a family decision needs to be made, after everyone has said what they feel is important to the discussion, take a vote. Although not every vote may carry the same amount of weight in decision-making, allowing children to feel their voice is heard and their opinion matters can reduce arguments and resentment when things do not turn out their way. Also, allowing children to make their case as to why their decision is the best option can help them think through the consequences of their choice before they vote.
  5. Remember that some decisions or family difficulties take time – Parents and children often want to know what is going to happen right now. Unfortunately, some of the reasons you may be having a family meeting will take thought, time, and effort before there is a clear decision or conclusion. These issues may need to be brought up in multiple family meetings, so remember you may not have to have an answer right now. Having patience during these times is essential!
  6. End with family time – After any meeting, it is a great idea to have a treat, whether you all get in the car to get ice cream, play a family game together, or have a snowball fight, etc. Having the release of time as a family and being able to express your love for one another again will help your family meetings to be happy memories instead of becoming dreaded time family members have to put up with.

Families have strengths and struggles as they grow and develop, but having family meeting can allow parents and children to address issues before they become overwhelming problems. Your first attempts may be awkward for you and your children, but with time these meetings will become easier.

Some great resources for family meeting topics are included in 30 Days to a Stronger Child, which are presented in a family meeting style, and a Lesson: How to Hold A Family Council. This resource has great family meeting topics and even a lesson for parents on how to hold a family meeting. As you use family meetings, they may become the treasured memories of weekly rich discussions between you and your children that draw you together even as life tries to pull you apart.

Need Help with Tough Topics? We got you covered!

 

Kami Loyd received her bachelors of Marriage and Family from Brigham Young University-Idaho. She and her husband have been married for four years, and she is the proud mother of four children. Her interests include reading, board games, and most of all her family. She is passionate about helping her children and others find joy in family life.

 

There are affiliate links in the blog post. When you use them to make purchases, we thank you for supporting Educate and Empower Kids!

Citations:

Ballard, M. R. (2012). Counseling with our councils: learning to minister together in the church and in the family. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Book.

Goldsmith, B. (2012, September 05). 10 Tips for Holding a Family Meeting. Retrieved September 26, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/emotional-fitness/201209/10-tips-holding-family-meeting

Holding Family Meetings. (n.d.). Retrieved September 26, 2017, from http://centerforparentingeducation.org/library-of-articles/healthy-communication/holding-family-meetings/

Self-Harm: A Major Concern for Parents in the Digital Age

Self-Harm: A Major Concern for Parents in the Digital Age

 

By Marina Spears

It had been a very long day. As I stood by the sink, I closed my eyes and relaxed a bit with my hands in the warm soapy water for a few moments. I suddenly heard my daughter urgently call me.  I ran upstairs to find her in the bathroom, blood dripping from her arms, blood all over the floor and sink. She was sobbing, “I’m sorry, I’m so sorry.”

“What happened? What happened?  How did you get so hurt? Did you cut yourself?  Did you just cut yourself?”  My body went on automatic-pilot-mom. I began speaking softly and did my best to comfort her; I cleaned and bandaged her cut up arms.  As my hands were working and my voice was speaking, my mind was spinning in a thousand different directions and my heart felt seized by fear and pain.

A few hours later, my daughter was asleep in bed, and my mind continued to race. I sat at the computer and googled “what does it mean when you child purposely cuts themselves?” I was astounded by the amount of information on “self-harming or “self-injuring” (SI) and how prevalent it is among the youth of today.

Self-harming or Non-Suicidal Self Injury (NSSI) is defined by the American Psychological Society as “deliberate self-inflicted harm that isn’t intended to be suicidal. People who self-harm may carve or cut their skin, burn themselves, bang or punch objects or themselves, embed objects under their skin, or engage in myriad other behaviors that are intended to cause themselves pain but not end their lives” (APA, 2015).

The information online was a revelation; up until that point I knew very little about self-injuring and I was very grateful for the vast array of resources available to parents. There are so many resources because cutting has become an epidemic. USA Today recently reported on a study that was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association which tracked a recent increase in emergency room visits for cutting, the largest among young girls ages 10 to 14.  In a span of 15 years cutting increased in this group by 166% and for girls 15 to 19 years old it increased by 62% (Diller, 2018).  

My daughter also turned to the internet during this time, but she was not looking at the same websites as I was.  What I soon discovered was a huge online subculture for those who self-harm, some of which is very encouraging and positive and a great support, while some is very dark and disturbing. She used both.

Websites can provide information on how to cut yourself (there are even YouTube videos), and some sites even glorify self-harming.  Instagram and Tumblr have some very intense blog posts from teens who cut, filled with graphic images. The images often depict cutting as a “better way” to deal with emotional pain, and some of the blogs present it as an artistic outlet for coping that most people just “don’t get.”  These websites can create a false sense of unity among those who cut, and encourage it as an viable option for dealing with deep emotional wounds.

At first, I was horrified that my daughter was looking at these pictures, but for her it was a step toward recovery. She found that looking at the pictures was enough to not cut herself.  What is important to understand about this example is not whether my daughter looked at Tumblr, but what the effect was and our open communication about it. She felt comfortable enough to be honest and share what she was looking at, and for her it was a positive thing. As a parent it gave me insight and understanding into her mindset and how she was coping.  

It is important to note that both she and I were going to a professional therapist to help us both navigate through this difficult time, and we employed many outlets to help my daughter channel her painful feelings and provide healthier coping methods.

The internet can provide information, support, and many other helpful resources, but it can also be detrimental and give access to images and ideas you do not want your child to see.  The balance beam we must walk through the pros and cons of the internet is our relationship with our child. It gives us as parents the perspective to make the best decisions for them and it gives our children a sense of protection and stability, even through the most tumultuous of times.

Suggestions For Helping a Child Who is Self-Harming

  • Keep your relationship with your child the priority and focus. Do not let the “issue” overshadow the bond between the two of you.
  • Get professional help for your child. Self-harming is an unhealthy coping mechanism for deeper issues. Those who use self-harm to cope often struggle with depression, lack of self-worth, distorted body image and could be experiencing bullying.
  • Find a support system for yourself. Have a person, perhaps a therapist, who you can turn to, so you can regulate your own feelings.
  • Be patient and positive. It will take time, but your child will get through this.  Most teens who self-injure do not continue into adulthood.
  • As a mom who has gone through this, I know it is not easy, but don’t “freak out” when your child self-injures; remain as calm as you can. It is important to create a safe place for your child, so they know they can come to you.
  • Above all else, love your child!  Remember they are in pain and they are handling things the only way they know how. Your love (as my daughter once told me) is a lifeline for your child; don’t underestimate its power.

There is light at the end of the tunnel. In time my daughter found healthier ways to cope. Be patient; things will get better.  For ideas to help your child find positive ways to cope with difficult times, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child, a fantastic resource in maintaining deep connections with your child and helping them to build resiliency.

Available in Kindle or Paperback.

 

Marina Spears is a single mother of five and is completing her degree in Marriage and Family Studies at BYU- Idaho. She loves to read and spend time with her family.

 

There are affiliate links in the blog post. When you use them to make purchases, we thank you for supporting Educate and Empower Kids!

Citations

DeAngelis, T. (2015, July/August). Who Self Injures? Retrieved from American Psychological Association: http://www.apa.org/monitor/2015/07-08/who-self-injures.aspx

Diller, L. (2018, February 28). Why are so many of my teen patients cutting themselves? We need to fix this now. Retrieved from USA Today: https://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2018/02/28/social-media-one-reason-my-teen-patients-cutting-themselves-lawrence-diller-column/376741002/

 

Lesson: Teaching our Kids Smart Clothing Choices and Modesty

Lesson: Teaching our Kids Smart Clothing Choices and Modesty

 

Dignity refers to the quality of being worthy for honor and respect. It’s also about our appearance, our intentions, our personal responsibility, and ultimately the extent to which we respect and represent ourselves. In regard to this lesson, we’re going to focus on clothing choices that help us have self-respect and feel comfortable and confident.

In the old days people called this “modesty” but we feel this term does not apply to kids now. It implies that a kid’s voice and clothing choices should be quiet and subdued. Instead, we want to focus on making smart, context-appropriate clothing choices that will empower them through a combination of self-respect and self-confidence.

Many families have different perspectives of what dignity is and isn’t. Some look at short-shorts and think “My child is never going to wear that!”, while other parents are just fine with the trend. The purpose of this lesson is to make sure your child understands how to make clothing choices that are appropriate for different occasions and to help them learn to respect their body and protect it.

Download the Lesson Here! 

 

Check out our book, Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story, A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image. Also, for boys, Messages About Me: Wade’s Story, A Boy’s Quest for Healthy Body Image. Both of these books discuss the messages kids get from media, friends, and other sources that can often affect body image. They also help kids recognize where we can find true self-worth and to see their bodies for the amazing instruments that they are.  

Messages About Me:

8 Things Your Daughter Needs to Hear From YOU

8 Things Your Daughter Needs to Hear From YOU

Eight back-to school conversations that will make your daughters developing sexuality easier on you both.

By Lacy Bentley

Whether we are talking about the birds and the bees, pornography and her developing brain, or her soon-to-arrive monthly visitor, there are things your daughter needs to know you know. She needs to hear from you about what’s going on inside of her, and how prepared you are to help her navigate it.

  1. That monthly visitor is coming, and it is a powerful gift. We all know it is a pain, and not always convenient, but it is also important. She’ll need to keep herself clean and have back-up hygiene needs with her. Now’s a great time to pick out a cute purse that will help her feel extra special, while providing a place to keep herself ready with anything she might need (mini chocolate bars included, just for fun!) A few of the big makers of hygiene for girls have super fun packaging now, too. If only we had that 20 years ago, right? Let her celebrate this potential to create life, while also understanding the responsibility that comes with it, when she is ready.
  2. Boys will start to notice her more, does she understand they don’t have a right to tease her, make fun of her, or touch her? If she knows she can come to you for a pep talk, a hug, and perhaps some action, she’s gain the confidence to speak up and hold her own sexual boundaries. Tell her what sexual harassment is in simple terms, then encourage her to talk to you and other safe adults. Help her make a list. This world normalized sexual harassment, innuendo, and rape. She is worth more and has every right to stand up for herself. Prepare her now but being her advocate, so she is ready if she ever needs to go to the police. Scary to think about, and you are her best defense. Using words like “teasing” and “not okay” are enough. Just knowing she doesn’t need to let anyone get away with touching her in any way that feels uncomfortable sets a good foundation. A special note for black girls: you already know others think they can touch your amazing hair without permission. The struggle is real. This conversation goes for every part of her, and she can say “don’t touch my hair” just like she can expect to not be touched anyplace else. Hair is part of her, and just because it is visible doesn’t make it accessible.
  3. She can’t lose you. Make sure she knows that anything she tells you is private and you can handle it. Tell her she won’t shock you or upset you, this is about her knowing you love her no matter what, and even if, she’s done something you may not agree with. (or even if someone else has talked her into, forced her into, or pressured her into doing something she thinks you will be upset about.) Her body is her body. No exceptions. Force or manipulation is never okay (and sexual harassment IS bullying). Explain what manipulation is (someone talking you into something you don’t want).
  4. You know what’s up. Let them her you are aware of how hormones, sex, pornography and those fun butterfly feelings when her crush is around work. If she feels it, sees it, or experiences it, you understand. You understand that they might feel different things, and whatever they feel is OK. You understand how it can come up by accident, but also how she and her friends might get curious or click on something that looked safe but turned out not to be. You won’t blame her for what other people do, and you will help her stand up for herself. She needs to know she can come to you no matter what.
  5. Make sure she has strong, emotionally healthy role models that look like her. Young women who are not white will struggle more to find these role models, especially if they don’t live in an area where ethnic and racial diversity abound. If she doesn’t have teachers and local leaders that look like her, she’ll need support finding others. Mom and Dad are great, so are grandparents and Aunties. But what about the rest of the world? Are there strong Hispanic, Asian, Black, or Polynesian women whose autobiographies, photographs, and image you can share with her? This is a little easier for white young women. You may need to go out of your way to help her find women to admire and look up to. Teach her what a positive role model is, and that just because she is a young woman of color does not mean she is not just as valuable, beautiful, or capable as any other young woman.
  6. You protect yourself too, and you intentionally try to become better by looking to role models. Use your own filters and let her know everyone in your home has them. Reassure her it’s not her you don’t trust, it’s just that things come up that are not healthy. Let her know this goes for violence, pornography, even mean or hurtful things that might show up. If she felt sad or other uncomfortable emotions, let you know so you can check the filters and talk her through what may have come up. This way she knows you are there to help her learn to protect herself. How do you imagine her role models and yours would stand up for themselves? How does she imagine they would handle it when others touch them in ways they do not like, or without their permission?
  7. It’s your job to protect her while she learns to protect herself. Make sure she knows you keep an eye on things, so you can protect those in your home, guests or residents. Be honest about the filters, that you check emails and texts, etc. It’s like if they were having a birthday party: you hang around close enough to make sure if someone gets hurt, or needs anything, you are right there. Same thing. Then hang around but give enough space for her to explore her relationships and personal boundaries. Step in to teach and guide when needed. If you are transparent about what you are worried about and your responsibilities as a parent, she will not feel she must hide.
  8. This is about her getting the truth about her value. Sex isn’t bad–it’s awesome, and she is not an object. She is a beautiful, capable, powerful young lady. Her wanting to understand how her body works isn’t bad–curiosity is necessary and wonderful! Reassure her you would rather answer her questions than have her go searching online for answers that will probably not be honest or helpful. Let her know you want her and her friends to honor, respect, and appreciate their own bodies and sexuality. Pornography will not teach them to do that, but you will.

This world is crazy, but you can teach her to protect and honor herself. Part of honoring herself is standing up for what she believes in and speaking up when she’s not comfortable. There are times it is better to speak up through walking away or getting parents or other authorities involved. She has value that can’t be changed by what she or anyone else does. She gets to create the kind of life she wants to live, and you are right there beside her.

As she learns to navigate, trust, and responsibly use her sexuality, she will become a powerful role model for others, and be ready to achieve her dreams. Don’t get overwhelmed, just take it one conversation, one situation at a time. The single most important thing you can do is teach her of her value, worthiness to be treated well, and power to become the woman she wants to become.

Need help navigating these talks? Check out our books, 30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 3-7, 8-11, and 12+!

Great lessons, quick and simple discussions.

 

Lacy is a women’s addiction recovery coach, best selling author, and mom of four teenage boys. She is also a former pornography and Hentai (pornographic anime) user, who used these sources to help her define what “desirable” and “real” womanhood looked like from the age of 13. Now, she knows better, and wants to help other women heal, while empowering parents to have the tough but necessary conversations with their daughters. For a free PDF copy of her book, email her at Lacy@HerRecoveryRoadmap.com, or sign up on her website by filling out the red box at the bottom: www.HerRecoveryRoadmap.com. Lacy also runs women’s online mentorship and recovery groups, and you can contact her about those through the email above.

 

Modesty and Smart Clothing Choices: Teaching Our Kids to Be Seen for Who They Are

Modesty and Smart Clothing Choices: Teaching Our Kids to Be Seen for Who They Are

By Jenny Webb and Mattie Barron

 

Let’s face it: we all feel better when we like what we are wearing. When I was a college student, I found that for me, if I went to class in sloppy sweats and a ponytail, I didn’t feel as confident throughout the day. I tended to be a bit sluggish and off my game. But if I made a point to wear an outfit that fit who I wanted to be—outgoing, confident, and attractive—then I felt like I could take on the world, even during finals!

It’s easy today to find a wide range of clothing styles and fashions. How can we teach our kids to make smart clothing choices that will help give them confidence and not distract them throughout their day?

In the past, people often referred to society’s rules and boundaries regarding clothing by using the term “modesty.” The word “modesty” is related to the idea of keeping something within “moderation”, or being “measured” in one’s approach, which doesn’t sound too bad. As the term began to be used to refer to how one dressed, it was often used to specifically indicate dressing in order to avoid provoking a sexual response in another person. Again, what’s the problem there, right?

Well, the problem is that using “modesty” this way tends to give some people the idea that they don’t have to deal with their own sexual responses, and historically, that has led to societies where people, often women and girls, have had their own choices about how they can dress and interact with other people socially restricted, or even removed completely.

This seems like an awful lot of historical and cultural baggage attached to one term. So let’s ditch the term “modesty” for these conversations with our kids. We want to help educate them so they can make smart, context-appropriate clothing choices that will empower them through a combination of self-respect and self-confidence!

What’s a smart clothing choice?

A smart clothing choice is one that “investigates” the context where the clothes will be worn, and asks Who, Where, Why, What, and How. When our kids understand how to be smart about their clothes, they can choose clothing that is functional, comfortable, attractive, and even an expression of their personal style.

Wait, doesn’t everyone have the same boundaries when it comes to clothes?

Well, yes and no. Even though fashion and culture vary widely throughout the world, for the most part, everyone agrees on one boundary: “cover your butt!” In other words, don’t expose your genitals. There are practical reasons for this—no one wants their genitals to be harmed! So unless you are currently living in a nudist colony, the one boundary everyone agrees on is to keep those genitals protected and covered.

BUT …

It’s important to recognize that the rest of the boundaries can vary widely depending on where you live and who you live with. Families can set their own boundaries regarding clothing. What’s ok in one family may not be ok in another. That’s fine. When we respect others’ clothing choices, we give them the freedom to respect our own clothing choices as well.

So, how do I talk about making these smart choices with my kids?

Start by reassuring your child that they are loved and worth protecting. That’s why you’re having this conversation to begin with. Then, teach them to run through the following checklist: WHO is wearing and seeing the clothes, WHERE will the clothes be worn, WHY are the clothes being worn, WHAT are the positives and negatives about the clothes being worn, and HOW well will these clothes work to meet their needs.

WHO: Who is wearing these clothes? Does the clothing fit them physically? Does it fit their personality? Who else sees these clothes?

There is, in my opinion, nothing worse than shoes that are just a smidge too small. They squeeze my feet, are uncomfortable, give me blisters, and keep me from walking around and doing the things I want to do. We need our clothes t fit well  rather than a pain and a distraction,and having clothes that fit our sense of fashion and style counts too!

As our kids grow and mature, they will become more aware that other people may notice their clothing choices. While we are not responsible for how others react to our clothing, it’s worth taking the time to think through whether we are comfortable with what is shown or emphasized by our clothing (this can be a part of the body, or a message or slogan on the clothing itself). Making conscious clothing choices helps empower kids to prepare for others’ reactions.

Talking Points

  • Wear clothes that you like, that fit you, and that express who you are
  • When we choose outfits that fit well in size, personality and style, we are showing others that we respect ourselves for who we are
  • (For older kids) How will you react if someone chooses to comment on your clothing?

WHERE: Where will the clothes be worn? Outside? Inside? What will the weather or temperature be like there?

Our clothes exist in the first place because our bodies need a little help to deal with the elements. We don’t wear shorts and t-shirts in the middle of a snowstorm because we would freeze. We don’t wear jeans and sweatshirts to swim in the ocean because we might be unable to swim effectively and it would be dangerous.

When we take the physical context where the clothes will be worn into consideration, we show respect for our surroundings.

Talking Points

  • Wear clothing that is appropriate for the physical environment you will be in
  • Wear clothing that lets you live your life without being adversely affected by the weather
  • Can you do the things you want and need to do in your outfit without worrying about your clothes?

WHY: Why are these clothes being worn? Does the reason match the event(s) they’re being worn to?

Different events have different purposes, and can require different clothing choices. Think about what we wear to a funeral. Now compare that to what we wear to a wedding. Are the clothes the same? Probably not, even if both were taking place inside a church. We change what we wear in order to signal respect for the various events we go to and to let others know that we understand where we are and what’s going on. When we wear something outside the expectation for the event, it can distract both ourselves and others from the event itself.

This is true even when the event is casual—think how you would feel if you went over to a friend’s house to watch a movie Friday night and you wore a professional business suit. I promise you’d be a bit distracted from the event of just hanging out!

Talking Points

  • Wear clothing fits the social norms and expectations of the event
  • It’s ok to ask for help if you aren’t sure what kind of clothes are usually worn at an event!

WHAT: What are the positives and negatives about the clothes being worn?

Everything has two sides: my son might love the look of his new Minecraft shirt, but the itchy tag might drive him nuts while he’s trying to concentrate at school, and as a result, he might spend the whole day distracted by his shirt and fail his spelling test. (Totally hypothetical of course …) Or my daughter might wear her favorite hoodie to the campfire, but then spend the whole evening worried about getting marshmallow and chocolate stains on it rather than simply enjoying the s’mores.

For older kids, this question can be another chance to think about the kinds of actions and comments others may have in response to their outfit. Sometimes we want a response—we want to make a statement!—and that’s part of the fun of choosing our clothes. Help teens think about potential positive and negative reactions to give them confidence in their clothing choices.

Talking Points

  • What we wear will always have positive aspects and possibly negative aspects as well
  • Mentally review the pros and cons in order to prepare for them

HOW: How well will these clothes work to meet their needs?

By the time your kids reach HOW, they should have a good idea about what their clothing needs to do for a particular situation. It should keep them protected from the elements, keep the comfortable and able to participate in the activities they have planned, not distract them, and, with any luck, help them enjoy the fun of self expression. Take this last moment to double check: have your kids ask themselves What do I need most out of my outfit today? and How well do my clothes work to meet that need?

Talking Points

  • Assess your needs: what do you need and want your clothing to do, and how well can it do it?
  • Are there any things you could modify or change that would improve your choice?
  • Is there anything else you might need later on?

Final Thoughts

It’s important to remember as parents that we are helping our kids grow up by teaching them to be thoughtful about their choices in life—learning to make smart clothing choices is a skill, and just like any other skill, it requires practice. There will be mistakes to learn from; it’s important that we react with love and encouragement to give our kids a safe space and room to grow. Under most circumstances, clothing choices are not a life or death matter, so keep things in perspective and empower your kids to make smart clothing choices!

Takeaway Tips

Compliment them when they make smart clothing choices—positive reinforcement!

Be a role model—make smart clothing choices in your own life.

Mix things up: have the parent who normally doesn’t shop for kids’ clothing take a kid out shopping for a different perspective.

Move, move, move when trying things on!

Take the time to talk as a family about your own family guidelines regarding clothing.

Additional Conversation Starters

Do your clothes distract you from what you have to do during the day?

Is it comfortable enough that you don’t have to think about what you are wearing?

Do your clothes distract others and are you ok with receiving that attention?

How will you handle things if you receive attention or reactions that you don’t want or that you are not comfortable with?

Are you meeting the basic boundary? (Are your genitals protected and covered?)

If you’re unhappy with your clothing, what would you change about it?

What are the reasons you selected these clothes to wear today?

What kinds of clothes do you like best and why?

What do your clothes tell people about you? That you are friendly? Respectful? Self-confident? Strong? Brave? Funny? Kind? Creative? Careful?

For more great conversation starters and ideas for connecting with your kids check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child, available on Amazon. The book includes great questions, lessons and challenges to help your kids learn to fill their emotional, intellectual, social, physical and spiritual “accounts.” Some of the topics include: respect, accountability, positive self-talk, empathy, addiction, gratitude, critical thinking, and many more–30 lessons in all. All our our awesome books can be found here.

Need Help with Tough Topics? We got you covered!

 

Jenny Webb is an editor and publications production specialist who has worked in the industry since 2002. She graduated from Brigham Young University with an MA in comparative literature and has worked with a variety of clients ranging from international academic journals to indie science fiction authors. Born and raised in Bellevue, Washington, she currently lives in Seattle with her husband, Nick, and their two children.

Mattie Barron is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho pursuing a Bachelor’s of Science in Marriage and Family Studies. She is from Tri-cities, WA and has a passion to help create and ignite strong families. She hopes to work in the school system and aid in the support of children and families.

 

There are affiliate links in the blog post. When you use them to make purchases, we thank you for supporting Educate and Empower Kids!

Sick Momo Challenge: What Parents Need to Know

Sick Momo Challenge: What Parents Need to Know

 

 

By Mary Bassett

There is a new dangerous and creepy challenge spreading across social media. The “Momo Challenge”, or the “Momo Suicide Challenge”, encourages kids to hurt others, themselves, and eventually to take their own lives.

The challenge has allegedly been the linked to the death of  a 12-year-old girl in Argentina (ANI, 2018). It was reported that she was communicating with the Momo social media account right before she filmed her suicide.

What is the Momo challenge?

Momo is social media account that can be found on Facebook, YouTube and Whatsapp.  When a person interacts with the account, they begin to receive pictures of Momo, a terrifying image of a bug-eyed toothless woman. Momo responds almost immediately with threatening messages and violent images to the user. “She” says that she knows personal things about the user and uses fear and threats to challenge the user.

Momo starts with simple challenges like waking up at odd hours of the night or overcoming a fear; then the challenges take on a very sinister turn, such as asking you to post photos or videos of cutting your arms or legs, jumping off of a roof, or other dangerous and risky activities.

As the challenges intensify, the last thing Momo pressures you to do is to commit suicide. If the user fails to accept or pass any of the challenges, Momo sends even more threatening and violent images and texts until the user is coerced into doing the challenge. If none of these pressuring tactics work, Momo threatens to visit you in person, or while you’re sleeping and curse you. This can be terrifying to young kids and teens. Others have reported that when they called Momo for a challenge, they heard screams in the background or other creepy noises (Foster, 2018).

Why are kids choosing to do this Challenge?

There are many reasons; first and foremost the Momo challenge preys on the vulnerability of our kids. The kids most at risk are those who suffer from depression, anxiety and low self esteem. They may be targeted by other kids to interact with the Momo account as a form of cyberbullying and they do not possess the coping skills to deal with the pressure–both from the challenges and from the bullies.

This challenge is especially dangerous because of the immaturity of children and teens; their brains are still actively developing and going through immense changes. They are much more susceptible to peer pressure and feel an intense desire to keep up with their peers or prove themselves. Teenagers are often curious and can feel as if they are unstoppable; they will engage in risky behavior for attention, to gain popularity, and just for the “thrill of it”.  

The face of the Momo Challenge: a grotesque image of a woman with distorted features.

What can you do?

Talk to your kids about the Momo Challenge. Ask them if they know what it is.  Have they heard of it? Have they tried it? If they don’t know about it, share the dangers associated with the challenge. Discuss a plan that includes what they can do if they receive a message with the Momo Challenge.

Check your child’s phone/ Ipod/computer regularly. The Momo challenge is not the first challenge to encourage kids to participate in dangerous activities (the Slenderman and the Bluewhale challenge are similar challenges that were popular several years ago), and it will not be the last. If your child or teen is engaging in the Momo Challenge, or any other similar challenge, they will probably not volunteer that information to you. Remember you are your child’s greatest protector and you have every right to know the apps your child is using and have every right to check their electronic devices.

Take social media seriously, do not downplay its power in our kids lives.  Social media can be a means of building friendships and connecting but it is also where most of our kids are bullied, lose confidence, feel isolated, and are exposed to porn and other unhealthy media. Even if they aren’t sure what the Momo Challenge is, they may come upon this in the future, or other bizarre or dangerous “challenges.” Educating our kids will empower them to stay away from challenges such as this, and even encourage them to help their friends.  

Keep your relationship with your kids strong and solid.  Spend time with them daily, allow them to talk with you about their interests, their friends and their fears. Keep the flow of communication open and consistent. Make sure they know and feel how much you love them.

Have a social media contract with your kids! If your child is on social media, they need guidance and accountability. Knowing what is appropriate to share, what photos to post, and how to respond to other’s social media postings takes practice–and parents are the right people to set an example and teach their kids. Check out our free, downloadable ebook: Social Media and Teens: The Ultimate Guide to Keeping Kids Safe Online. It includes a social media contract at the end!

Need help talking to your kids about bullying? Read Giving a Voice to Bullying Victims. or 5 Ways to Become a More Media-Savvy Parent so you can know what to say when the next social media challenge comes.

 

Mary Bassett currently resides in Washington. She recently graduated with her Bachelors of Science in Marriage and Family Studies from Brigham Young University of Idaho. She is currently an intern writer for the non-profit organization, Educate Empower Kids. She hopes to one day work as a Family Life Educator. She is passionate about educating families how important love is in the home.

 

Citations:

ANI. (2018, August 09). What is Momo challenge? – Times of India ►. Retrieved August 13, 2018, from https://timesofindia.indiatimes.com/india/what-is-momo-challenge/articleshow/65318768.cms.

Bergland, C. (2013, December 19). Why Is the Teen Brain So Vulnerable? Retrieved August 13, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/the-athletes-way/201312/why-is-the-teen-brain-so-vulnerable.

Foster, A. (2018, August 11). Story behind this creepy photo. Retrieved August 13, 2018, from https://www.news.com.au/technology/online/social/where-the-creepy-image-for-the-momo-challenge-came-from/news-story/535560edbd2ad95656216d626030fa29.

Inside Edition. (2018, August 07). What You Need to Know About the ‘Momo Challenge’. Retrieved August 13, 2018, from https://www.youtube.com/watch?time_continue=71&v=Jb3upXBzedc.

N. (n.d.). Warning to local parents about “Momo Suicide Challenge”. Retrieved from https://newschannel20.com/news/local/warning-to-local-parents-about-momo-suicide-challenge

Shaikh, M. (2018, August 6). Teen loses life as violent WhatsApp game Momo challenge goes viral. Retrieved August 13, 2018, from https://www.indiatoday.in/world/story/teen-loses-life-as-violent-whatsapp-game-momo-challenge-goes-viral-1306646-2018-08-06.

Back-to-School Anti-Bullying Strategies

Back-to-School Anti-Bullying Strategies

 

By Courtney Cagle

Going back to school is an exciting (and nervous!) time for both kids and parents. We worry about whether kids will do well in their classes, if they will get along with others, and if they will be friends with “good” kids. And of course, we often worry about bullying–not just face-to-face, but online as well. A recent study showed that more than 20.8% of students say they’re bullied, and even more kids don’t even report the incident (National Center for Educational Statistics, 2016).

Here are four steps you can take to help prevent bullying:

  1. Talk to your children about bullying and help them to understand what it really is. Unfortunately, many children don’t know what bullying is because we’ve gotten used to calling every rude behavior “bullying.” How can a child report they are being bullied if they don’t know what bullying is?

Kids need to have a clear understanding of what it means to be bullied and how to stand up to it. The next section provides question to help you discuss the difference between rude or annoying behavior and actual bullying with your kids.

Bullying can be emotional, verbal, physical, or digital. Explain to your children examples of bullying such as persistent name-calling, spreading rumors, teasing, hitting, writing cruel comments, especially anonymously on social media, or anything that is meant to harm or humiliate others  (‘How to Prevent Bullying,’ 2017). (For more guidance on this topic, check out this article: How to Raise a Bully.)

Help your kids understand that they can speak to trusted adults when they are bullied or if they witness others being bullied.

  1. Have meaningful discussions often (daily if possible). Children will often look to their parents or other trusted adults for advice. It’s important for children to know that they can turn to their parents in times of need and that the line of communication is open. This can be done by having basic conversations with your children about how their day went. It’s all about showing concern and love. It’s also important to talk about bullying with your kids, even if they aren’t being bullied. Here are some sample questions to help get the conversation started:
  • What does bullying mean to you?
  • What can you do if you see someone being bullied?
  • Have you ever encountered a bully?
  • What is the difference between someone who is being annoying and rude and someone who is really bullying?
  • Have you ever said anything mean to someone and hurt their feelings? What happened? Did anything positive result?
  • Have you ever seen something hurtful posted on social media about another person?

It’s important to show that you care and listen to whatever your kids have to say. Plan to sit down with your kids after school, at dinner time, at bedtime, or whenever works best for your family (Lehman).  

  1. Inspire your kids to do what they love. Helping children to participate in various activities, hobbies, or creative interests will help them meet friends. Participating in these meaningful activities will also help them gain skills and confidence which protect them from bullying and often give them the backbone to stand up to bullies. When kids see have a strong group of friends, see their skills improve, and/or have a chance to let their creativity flow, they feel more self-assured and comfortable in their own skin (Lehman).   

Remember, although team sports are great, especially in helping our kids to be               physically active, there are many other outlets kids should be encouraged to explore such as: dance, music, reading, drawing, pottery, jewelry making, community service,   STEM classes, hiking, biking, writing, scouting, etc.

  1. Be an example by showing them how to treat others with kindness and respect. Children learn far more from your interactions with others than from your words. They are always watching you to see how you handle different situations. If you treat others with kindness and respect, your children will learn how to treat others with kindness and respect. We can teach our kids so much by serving those around us, listening to others, cooking them a meal, or making them a card. Showing our children that we can be kind and respectful to everyone no matter their situation is key  (‘How to Prevent Bullying,’ 2017).

We have a responsibility to teach our children how to be kind online as well. When we use the internet, we must show our kids how we are being kind, deliberate digital citizens. When you post something helpful and informative, or text someone a thoughtful note, show your kids! Finally, take time to learn how you and your kids can use technology to be a force for good.

Practicing these steps will help our kids go back to school with confidence and empower them with knowledge. Sometimes, even if you do all that you can as a parent, it still doesn’t prevent the problem, and bullying still happens (‘How to Prevent Bullying,’ 2017). Check out this article, Giving a Voice to Bullying Victims, to better understand types of bullying and how to give your child a voice.

Check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child, to find more ways to prepare your kids for school and for their future. With great lessons about respect, assertiveness, empathy, self-confidence, and more, it’s a great resource for parents teach kids vital life lessons, while also opening the lines of communication. For a free, helpful, family time or classroom lesson on Kindness, Online and Everywhere, go here.

Available in Kindle or Paperback!

 

Courtney Cagle is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho graduating in Marriage and Family Studies. She loves kids and wants to help create a safe environment for all children to learn and grow.

There are affiliate links in the blog post. When you use them to make purchases, we thank you for supporting Educate and Empower Kids!

Citations:

Lehman, J. (n.d.). What To Do if Your Child Is Being Bullied. Retrieved April 26, 2018, from https://www.empoweringparents.com/article/is-your-child-being-bullied-9-steps-you-can-take-as-a-parent/

How to Prevent Bullying. (2017, September 08). Retrieved April 26, 2018, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/prevention/index.html

Lessne, D., & Yanez, C. (2016, December 20). Student Reports of Bullying: Results From the 2015 School Crime Supplement to the National Crime Victimization Survey. Retrieved April 26, 2018, from https://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch/pubsinfo.asp?pubid=2017015

 

Lesson: Learning Positive Self-Talk

Lesson: Learning Positive Self-Talk

 

In our image-obsessed culture, it is imperative that children learn how to talk kindly to themselves. Children must learn their self-worth should be based on who they are intrinsically, instead of their ability to fit into popular culture. Teaching this lesson will help you discuss your children’s current forms of self-talk and help you and them create goals for positive self-talk.

Alfred A. Montapert said, “The environment you fashion out of your thoughts, your beliefs, your ideals, your philosophy is the only climate you will ever live in.” Think good thoughts about yourself and others and you’ll find an inner peace that brings true happiness to you and your family.

It’s critical that we teach our children that we’re all imperfect creatures who need to recognize that our mistakes do not define us. When we slip up, we need to gently remind ourselves that our behavior was out of character, and we need to resolve not to repeat it. Our self-talk should not be “You’re an idiot!”, but rather, “Next time I’ll do that differently. Everyone makes mistakes.”

Objectives:

  • Discuss how others’ ideas about worth can be flawed

  • Define self-talk (see glossary)

  • Discuss how self-talk contributes to feelings of self-worth

  • Explain how to replace negative self-talk with positive self-talk

  • Point out positive characteristics in your child

Download the Lesson Here!

Looking for a fun, meaningful lessons that will bring your family closer together? Check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child. Filled with discussion questions and activities, you create wonderful connections with your kids and help them build resiliency!

Take time to strengthen your child! Available in Kindle or Paperback.