Praising and Correcting Our Kids in the Digital Age: How Much is too Much?

Praising and Correcting Our Kids in the Digital Age: How Much is too Much?

 

By Katelyn King

In our technology-driven lives we are constantly peeking, looking into, and stalking everyone else’s lives. Our children see a filtered life where people pick and choose the best party, best hairdo, best beach trip and perfect outfit to share with others. They get online and see that Rachel just made the basketball team and Tim is at a party they weren’t invited to.

Even if our kids are not on social media yet, they are most likely seeing our Facebook or Instagram feed. This constant comparing of their weaknesses with other people’s filtered lives can lead to feelings of sadness, loneliness, plummeting self-worth and even depression. Many feel that they are constantly shown that they are not pretty enough, not cool enough, and worst of all, not included.

So how can we parents help fortify and raise our children’s self-worth in this digital age? How can we help our children feel comfortable in their own skin, be resilient, and still push them to grow and thrive in life?

A recent study at Harvard University found that the best sales teams had between five and six positive comments for every negative one (Zenger, 2017). This supports Dr. John Gottman’s 5:1 ratio principle for a healthy relationship between couples (Lisitsa, 2012). Gottman’s 5:1 principle says that stable relationships should have 5 positive interactions for every 1 negative. This can be applied to any healthy relationship!

As a parent how often do you criticize your child? How often do you compliment them? It is so easy to see what is going wrong. I tend to criticize my son when he is picking on his sister, tell him he needs to do better at cleaning up and give him a hard time when he does not listen.

Parental criticism is important. Our children cannot change unless they know what they’re doing is wrong. But, how often do I praise my son for cleaning, for being kind to his sister, or doing something the first time I ask? Sadly, not often enough.

Criticism helps us recognize and overcome weaknesses, but too much criticism can bring us down and make us feel like a disappointment or failure. Our children already fight feelings of inadequacy every day surrounded by social media and peers at school.We need to take time to complement our children.

However, we also need to be cognizant of the way we compliment our kids. We need to focus on their inner worth, rather than focusing solely on accomplishments or outward appearance. We can complement their:

  • Compassion
  • Intelligence
  • Hard work
  • Problem solving
  • Service
  • Creativity
  • Listening Skills
  • Being Honest
  • Forgiveness

For more great ideas, check out “20 Ways to Compliment A Child That Have Nothing To Do With Appearance.”

This past week I went out of my way to complement my son more. Sometimes it was over something so small, like thanking him for putting the dishes in the sink. But I could not believe how much better behaved he was! As I complimented him, I helped him increase his self-worth and recognize the positive decisions he was making. When we acknowledge others’ good works we lift them up and make them want to be better.

For more ideas and activities to help build up your child and strengthen your relationship, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child. It has great activities and discussions to teach your child how to have inner emotional, intellectual and social strength. One of the lessons in the book is on love. It includes questions to ask, a discussion about what love is, and activities to teach your child how to show love toward others.

If we want our kids to compliment others and be kind we need to both set the example and teach them. Try complimenting your child more this week and make it a priority. You will be a better parent and start to have a stronger relationship with your child.

Available in Kindle or Paperback!

Katelyn King is a wife and mother of two children. She is a Brigham Young University-Idaho graduate, with a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies, and she is an advocate for parent child relationships.

 

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:

Lisitsa, E. (2012, December 5). The Positive Perspective: Dr. Gottman’s Magic Ratio! Retrieved August 19, 2017, from https://www.gottman.com/blog/the-positive-perspective-dr-gottmans-magic-ratio/

Zenger , J. & Folkman, J. (2017, June 27). The Ideal Praise-to-Criticism Ratio. Retrieved August 11, 2017, from https://hbr.org/2013/03/the-ideal-praise-to-criticism

 

Creating a Media Guideline for Your Family

Creating a Media Guideline for Your Family

A media guideline is a great tool for protecting your family from online dangers and excessive usage of devices.

By Caron C. Andrews

Cell phones, televisions, iPods, tablets, laptops, PCs—they’ve become a way of life and a way of communicating and relating to each other. They provide great sources of information and tools that make many formerly time-consuming tasks much more convenient. They’re also a gateway to a world of predators, pornography, and problems previously unseen. How can we sift the bad from the good and protect our kids on the internet?

What is a Media Guideline?

It’s a specific, personalized, and detailed guide and agreement within a family to determine what type of media, devices, timeframes, and protection tools will be used. It’s also a way for families to discuss specific issues such as appropriate versus inappropriate content, and broader issues such as family values and standards. It’s best if the family creates the guideline together so that each person has a voice in the process and so that there are opportunities for discussion.

Why Should My Family Create One?

Creating a media guideline is meant to protect each family member from online dangers and excessive usage. With so much information and so many images and videos at our fingertips, as well as so many ways to connect to strangers who might not be who they seem, it can be easy to be exposed to harmful material and people. A guideline helps to set limits and ensure positive media usage and gives less opportunity for harmful influences to enter your home.

What Should Be Included?

Each family must determine what their media guideline will contain based on their individual circumstances and needs. However, suggestions include listing all internet-enabled devices the family has collectively, time limits for usage, internet filters, location of computers and televisions in the home, rules for social media, what types of games are acceptable, sharing personal information, and rules for video streaming.

Accountability and Consequences of Breaking the Rules

The guideline has to address these issues in order to work. You have to discuss as a family how each of you will be accountable to stick to the guideline and what the consequences will be for breaking the rules. Set up as many built-in safety nets as you can through internet filters, locations where devices and computers will be used, use of computers outside your home, and what specific websites or social media accounts are not allowed.

Creating your family’s media guideline will ensure that each person feels protected and valued. It will set the tone for all of your media consumption and set clear messages on what you as a family will and will not allow into your home. It will help you establish and maintain family communication, and it will remind each of you that you are empowered to make good, healthy choices.

Check out Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure for a great story and more great talks on media, media illusions, social media, and more!

Also available: Messages About Me: A Journey to Healthy Body Image for a great story and great discussions about media and other messages that affect our body image.

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:

Educate families: a home-to-school program. Commonsensemedia.org. Retrieved from https://www.commonsensemedia.org/educators/parent-media-education/family-media-agreements

Family media guidelines. Womenfordecency.org. Retrieved from http://womenfordecency.org/family-media-guide.html

Family media standard. Fightthenewdrug.org. Retrieved from http://www.fightthenewdrug.org/images/uploads/articles/pdf/Family-Media-Standard.pdf

Tick Tock Goes the Social Media Clock: Finding Balance Between Social Media and Family Time

Tick Tock Goes the Social Media Clock:  Finding Balance Between Social Media and Family Time

By Katelyn King

Have you ever been checking your Instagram or Facebook while you should probably be paying attention to your kids or get something productive done? Or pinning away on Pinterest and time has just flown by?

I’m not trying to make parents feel guilty for using social media. Social media is a great way to keep up with friends and family, share good messages and learn from others. If we use social media for good it is a great tool, but it can turn into a tool of distraction, and quite frankly, a timewaster. Spending too much time in the digital world and not enough time being present in our own homes can be hard on our families.

A few weeks ago my phone made a notification sound and my 3-year-old son said “Oh no!” He then ran, got my phone and said, “You have to check it!” I remember thinking, my son thinks the phone takes priority. We were playing together and everything had to stop because I had a Facebook notification. This caused me to really reflect on how much time I am on my phone and what that means for my children.

Five Ways to Create a Healthier Balance:

  1. Have Screen-Free Time Every Day.  Kids are replacing physical play and social interaction with screen time. As parents, we need to make sure we are setting an example on how to spend time wisely. “Parents are children’s main role models, so it’s important for moms and dads to have healthy digital media habits. This means being conscious of setting down cellphones, turning off the TV and shutting laptops at night” (Middlebrook, 2016). Set some boundaries for media usage in your home. For instance, have a block of screen-free time each day  or make cell phones off limits at the dinner table or in bedrooms.

My husband and I have started enjoying screen-free time each evening when he gets home from work. We put our phones in a drawer on silent and spend time with our kids eating dinner, talking, playing, singing my son’s favorite songs, or having a crazy dance party. It has helped us grow closer as a family.

 

  • Limit Your Time on Social Media.  A recent study by Mediakix explored the average time spent per day on popular social media sites. They found that people spent 40 minutes on YouTube, 35 minutes on Facebook, 25 minutes on Snapchat, 15 minutes on Instagram and 1 minute on Twitter. (Cohen, 2017) These times vary for everyone of course, but on average two hours of our day is spent on social media and most likely this average will continue to increase. Keep track of your time on social media the next few days and set goals to cut back and replace some of that time with your family, friends and hobbies.

 

  • Delete Time-Sucking Apps off Your Phone.   A study was done where an app was installed on participants phones to track their social media usage. It was found that on average people opened their social media apps 85 times a day (Woollaston, 2015). People are spending twice as much time as they realize on social media than they think. Making it so it is not just one mindless click away could be beneficial for you and your family. Even if you just delete your social media apps for a week or two to help break the habit of overuse, and recognize when you are naturally, mindlessly checking.

 

  • Make Time Count.   Ask yourself: what are you using social media for? You may not need to get rid of social media, but maybe be a little wiser with your media use. “While some may be addicted to their social media networks, it is one of the best ways to stay informed.” (Agrawal, 2016) A majority of people are mindlessly scrolling and pinning. We can do things like following good organizations, read good articles our friends are posting, look up videos that cause you to think and learn. Pay attention to what you are using your social media for. Try an have the majority of your use be good. Seek out good organizations, raise awareness and get involved.

 

  • Fix Your Routine.   Pay attention to when you pull out your phone. Social media usage becomes a habit, an addiction. There is nothing wrong with setting time aside for social media, but pay attention to WHEN you are on social media. Try to figure out the best time in your day to have time and for how long. Setting boundaries to social media usage can help increase our productivity and time usage.

We need to set an example for our kids of being present and choosing to have a healthy balance between online life and our real life.. A great resource in helping our children learn about boundaries, community, empathy, honesty, friendship and more, is 30 Days to a Stronger Child. There are activities that can be done together as a family and for your children individually.

Teach your kids that there is more to life than technology. “Your child will follow your example, not your advice” (Wellington, 2016). We need to show them. Show your children they matter by setting goals and making changes.

Looking for a a great story that will teach your child how to use technology deliberately? Check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story about Using Technology for Good, available on Amazon.

Katelyn King is a wife and mother of two children. She is a Brigham Young University-Idaho graduate, with a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies, and she is an advocate for parent child relationships.

 

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:

Agrawal, A. (2016, March 18). It’s Not All Bad: The Social Good Of Social Media. Retrieved August 26, 2017, from https://www.forbes.com/sites/ajagrawal/2016/03/18/its-not-all-bad-the-social-good-of-social-media/#4432d70f756f

Cohen, D. (2017, March 22). How Much Time Will the Average Person Spend on Social Media During Their Life? (Infographic). Retrieved August 26, 2017, from http://www.adweek.com/digital/mediakix-time-spent-social-media-infographic/

Middlebrook, H. (2016, October 21). New screen time rules for kids, by doctors. Retrieved August 26, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2016/10/21/health/screen-time-media-rules-children-aap/index.html

Wellington, C. (2016, July 25). Your Child Will Follow Your Example, Not Your Advice. Retrieved August 28, 2017, from https://exploringyourmind.com/child-will-follow-example-not-advice/

Woollaston , V. (2015, October 29). How often do YOU check your phone? Average user picks up their device 85 times a DAY – twice as often as they realise. Retrieved August 26, 2017, from http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sciencetech/article-3294994/How-check-phone-Average-user-picks-device-85-times-DAY-twice-realise.html

 

 

 

 

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2018

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2018

By Marina Spears

I consider myself to be a pretty “tech savvy” mom. My children and I are friends on Facebook, Instagram, and Snapchat.  I thought I knew all about the dangers of Tinder and KIK and our family has solid rules about online behavior, so I felt comfortable. That was my first mistake: feeling comfortable.

Recently, my son finished his homework on a family computer and I felt prompted to check the history. Everything checked out except for a social media account that I didn’t recognize.  It was a private account and I just had a weird feeling about it. With a little bit of mother-sleuthing I was able to deduce that the account was his. I was really taken aback!

I usually keep track of my kids’ online behavior, but then I just … stopped. However, technology keeps moving forward and provides my kids with new ways to connect and communicate online, many of which–I am sad to admit–I had no idea.

We need to do better. We need to be aware of the apps that are available, because most likely, our kids already are. In fact my children knew about all of these, and had seen many of them on friends’ devices.

Do you know about these apps?


Amino: This app allows viewers to participate in online communities focused on similar interests, from Anime or Star Wars to Sexy Role Playing. It includes features for chatting, messaging, picture sharing, etc., all with strangers.

 

Live.ly: This is a live streaming app. Users create content and broadcast live to viewers that do not need to register any personal info or provide age verification. Anyone who has an account can access your child’s “live stream,” and your child has access to others’ live streams that often contain nudity and offensive language and behavior.

Musical.ly: This sister site to Live.ly is promoted as a fun app for “kids” to lip synch and create their own music videos to share. Just like Live.ly, there is no age verification. All you need to sign up is a phone number, Facebook, Instagram or an email (any of which are easy to fake). It allows easy access to your child’s profile as well. We have sexualized media, pornography, and cruel bullying on Musical.ly–and not just kid-to-kid, but adults bullying kids.

Omegle: This is an online chat forum in which two strangers are paired up based on similar interests and can chat via messages and video. The typical chat starts with “ASL”: Age? Sex? Location? This is one that my kids told me, “Don’t even open Omegle. You will not believe what you can see.”

 

Yubo: (formerly called Yellow) This is a free app allowing users to connect (flirt) with others in their local area, similar to Tinder. There is no age verification to use the app, and it links up with Snapchat and Instagram, allowing strangers complete access to profile information and pictures.

 

Hot or Not: A comparison and rating app. Users send in their picture to be rated by others, and have the opportunity to view the “hottest” users in their area and connect with them.

 

Ask.fm: This site has been linked to some of the worst cases of cyberbullying. It allows users to ask anonymous questions. There is no way to know who is following you or who posted the question.

 

Vora: This is a dieting app that allows users to track their fasting activity. It has become very popular with youth who struggle with eating disorders. The app has a social media feature that connects the user with other fasters by creating profiles. Through the Vora Facebook page, users encourage each other to extend their fasts.

Hiding Apps: Some examples that fit into this category are Private Photo (Calculator%), Gallery Lock Lite, Best Secret Folder, and Keep Safe.  These apps allow a person to hide messages, pictures, etc., but show up as an innocuous icon, such as calculator or clock when someone else logs into the phone.

 

Social Media Apps: These apps include Snapchat, Instagram, Tumblr, Twitter, and Pinterest.  It is important to keep in mind that most apps have inherent risks. Messages and pictures on Facebook/Snapchat/

Instagram are easily deleted after being received or sent. It is also becoming very common for kids to create fake accounts on Instagram (and other social platforms) called “finstas.” Pinterest and Tumblr can have very questionable material as well, not just of a sexual manner, but in relation to self-harm, suicide, and other violence. Just because something has been around for awhile does not reduce dangers!

What can we do to keep our kids safe?

  • Educate yourself and stay up to date with new apps.  Every few weeks do a quick online search for “new social media apps.” Get familiar with the apps before your kids. Don’t allow yourself to get too comfortable and don’t shy away from technology you don’t understand.
  • Discuss the apps/sites you find with your kids, ask them what they know, and keep the lines of communication open. Have monthly meetings with your family dedicated to all things involving the internet, apps, device usage, etc.  You can even assign older kids to report on certain topics. Try having a family council to discuss this.
  • Set appropriate parental controls, age restrictions for downloading apps, time restrictions, etc.
  • Check your kids’ devices frequently and thoroughly. Connect to all of the apps from your child’s device. View the child’s activity, messages, contacts etc. Some companies, like Bark, offer software to help you monitor kids’ activity on phones and apps.Be aware of of your kids’ friends online and offline.
  • Educate your children on the dangers of “oversharing” online. Teach them that every move we make does not have to be documented online, and remind them that social media is not a diary or a personal photo album.
  • Most importantly, maintain a connected relationship with your kids. Spend time with them, tell them you love them, and express your appreciation for them.  Rely more on your relationship with them than filters and other safeguards!

For a great book with an engaging story and fabulous discussion questions and activities about cyberbullying and using tech for good, check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good.

Looking for conversations starters about social media, sexting, predators, healthy sexuality and other vital topics? Take a look at 30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 3-7, 8-11 and 12+.

For more information about apps:

The Most Dangerous Apps of 2017

10 Dangerous Apps  Every Parent Should Know About

 

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

 

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.

 

 

Stop the Mom Shame! Three Ways We Can Be Kinder to Ourselves

Stop the Mom Shame! Three Ways We Can Be Kinder to Ourselves

 

By Kami Loyd

Abraham Lincoln is quoted as saying “All that I am, or ever hope to be, I owe to my angel mother.” Although as mothers we may want this same sentiment from our children, especially on Mother’s Day, it can also leave us feeling inadequate.

As women we often compare ourselves to others when assessing our value. When we see another mom volunteering each week in her twins’ classroom while patiently and happily taking care of her quadruplet toddlers we feel intimidated. But we feel equally intimidated by working moms, stay-at-home moms, moms of multiples, moms of newborns, moms who foster, moms who adopt, single mothers, and the list goes on.

Simply put, the problem is our mindset. We think we don’t measure up, and although it may come as a shock, we never will live up to our own expectations! The issue with measuring ourselves against others is we as women tend to measure their strengths with our weaknesses. Although we may see other mothers’ challenges we feel that they are surviving with grace, because we overlook or justify their frustration, tears, short-lived anger, etc.

In his book Forget Me Not, Dieter Uchtdorf says, “Many of you are endlessly compassionate and patient with the weaknesses of others. Please remember also to be compassionate and patient with yourself.” How then can we be as compassionate and patient with ourselves as we are with other mothers?

Here are three ways we can learn to be kinder to ourselves:

First, we must change our mindset. If we see our motherhood as a competition with other mothers, we will most likely end up feeling like the loser. If we instead see it as a journey of growth and learning, we will fare much better.

When my husband and I first married, I was incredibly disappointed in my parenting skills when my then three-year old stepson didn’t want to eat vegetables at dinner. I would watch my nieces and nephews eat their vegetables and compare my parenting skills to my sister’s. Usually I’d wind up in tears with thoughts like, “If only I was a better mother, he would like vegetables!” or “Why can’t I parent like she does?” The problem with this thinking is I didn’t take into account that my son had his own opinions. I hadn’t considered that his dislike of vegetables had nothing to do with my parenting skills.

By changing my mindset I have learned and grown as a mother, and I have come to recognize that comparing my parenting skills to anyone else does both me and them a great injustice. It gives no merit to what I am accomplishing and no value to the struggles the other mom has gone through to get where she is.

Next, we can be grateful. The Harvard Mental Health Newsletter (2011) stated, “Gratitude is strongly and consistently associated with greater happiness. Gratitude helps people feel more positive emotions, relish good experiences, improve their health, deal with adversity, and build strong relationships.” No one will ever have the children that we have, the experiences that we have, or the opportunities that we have.

Although it is extremely difficult to be grateful for a toddler that will not stop throwing a tantrum because you won’t buy her a new doll, we can be grateful that our child is strong-willed because this can benefit her in the future. We may not enjoy being grateful for the hardships that we face as mothers, but we can be grateful for the teaching opportunities we have, the experiences we have been given and the growth that we gain from our children.

As our children see us practicing gratitude, even as we struggle, they will learn to be grateful. (For great ideas to teach your kids gratitude see the lesson “Gratitude” in 30 Days to a Stronger Child and A Simple Lesson on Gratitude found on on our Lesson Page.)

Lastly, we can be present with our children. When we are busy comparing ourselves to other mothers, it is easy to disengage from our children and our lives worrying more about how to take the perfectly framed picture to post on social media than actually getting down and playing with our children.

Instead of trying to post the perfect picture, we can engage in having fun with our children. Haley Hawks said, “Your life is utterly beautiful, amazing, redeeming, and lovely. You don’t need to filter and photoshop to achieve the perfection the world demands. Show the world who YOU are and what unique things you have to bring to the table.” Rather than worrying about what others will think or may say, have fun, run, laugh, play, parent your kids and if you get a couple pictures along the way, that’s great!

Comparing our parenting to anyone else will be anything except beneficial. So this Mother’s Day instead of comparing ourselves to others around us, let’s change our mindset, exercise gratitude and participate in our kids’ lives because this will help us to see that we are the best mother they could ever have. Then our kids may one day echo Abraham Lincoln’s sentiment and we will feel fulfilled and joyful as mothers.

For amazing discussions and activities that help connect you to your kids, check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child, available on Amazon.

Available in Kindle or Paperback!

 

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.

Citations:

Harvard Health Publishing. (2011, November). In Praise of Gratitude. Retrieved December 28, 2017, from https://www.health.harvard.edu/newsletter_article/in-praise-of-gratitude

Hawkes, H. (2017, November 06). Four Simple Ways to Let Go of Social Media This Holiday Season. Retrieved December 28, 2017, from https://educateempowerkids.org/letting-go-social-media-holiday-season

Uchtdorf, D. F. (2012). Forget Me Not. Salt Lake City, UT: Deseret Books.

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

Talking With Your Kids About Puberty: You Got This!

Talking With Your Kids About Puberty: You Got This!

 

By Spencer Loyd

Recently, I was speaking to a friend who has a twelve-year-old son. He told me of an experience he had where he walked in on his wife and son speaking about puberty. He overheard his son asking his mother about some of the more intimate details of puberty. My friend told me that he felt “awkward” and quickly tried to get out of the conversation and the room.

You may feel the same way as my friend. Talking to our kids about puberty can be awkward! But it doesn’t have to be! Tackling tough topics with your kids shows them that they can talk to you about cringy subjects without you freaking out. And talking about puberty can often lead to more meaningful discussions like relationships and healthy intimacy. To help parents feel more comfortable in their approach to teaching their children about puberty, here are a few tips:

  • If you feel awkward, your kids probably will too. Developing a sense of comfort while speaking about puberty is more of a skill than it sounds. It takes practice. Learn how to speak openly to your kids about their bodies and changes they see from a young age. If your kids know they have a penis or vagina at the age of two or three, and that they can talk to you about it, as they get older it may be easier for a conversation about puberty to take place.

In addition, if you are a parent that does not understand puberty, or would like a refresher course, do research. The more you know about puberty, the more you may feel comfortable discussing it. A great resource is our book 30 Days of Sex Talks for ages 8-11, which has a section dedicated to puberty and has several other helpful, short lessons on anatomy, healthy relationships, sexual identification, and more. There are also a plethora of websites and other resources dedicated to teaching others about puberty.

  • Don’t overload your children. You are more likely to make an impact on your kids using brief, frequent conversations about puberty instead of one lengthy lecture. Melanie Greenberg, Ph.D. teaches, “When parents go on and on, kids tune them out”. Parents are often known for giving “the talk” to their kids. However, if we want “the talk” about puberty to actually mean something, we should make it “the talks.”

You may also find it useful to have a small plan of what you would like to talk about. This will help you feel prepared and keep the discussion to a few important talking points.

  • Timing is everything. Dr. John T. Chirban states, “Appropriate boundaries are crossed by giving too much information. When too much information is given, we push our children into a level of sexual understanding for which they’re just not ready” (2012, p. 91). Most parents want their children to have all the information they need to succeed in every aspect of their lives. However, it is important to teach to your child’s ability to understand. Just like parents do not expect their children to have a college education at age ten, we should not expect a five-year-old to understand puberty in its entirety. It takes short conversations over a long period of time to help our children fully understand puberty.

 

  • Start simply. There are some aspects of puberty that may be easier to bring up than others. It is a good idea to casually bring up things like hygiene, teaching kids to use deodorant and bathing regularly. By doing this, parents give themselves an opportunity to open conversations about puberty. For instance, if you just explained to your ten-year-old boy how important it is to use deodorant, this might be an opportunity to explain that his body is starting to change and he may even notice things like hair growing under his arms and pubic area. These short explanations can lead to future conversations about different, more complicated aspects of puberty.

 

Puberty can be a delicate topic for many parents but it doesn’t have to be difficult. Following these tips can help a parent build confidence.

It might be helpful to start with a handbook like 30 Days of Sex Talks, which includes three separate volumes written for different age levels:  

30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 3-7: Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy (Volume 1)

30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 8-11: Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy (Volume 2)

30 Days of Sex Talks for Ages 12+: Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy (Volume 3)

Just remember “Don’t Freak Out!” It may feel a little awkward at first, but practice makes perfect. I have found great success in these tips with my kids, and know that you can too!

 

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

Spencer Loyd is the father of four amazing children under the age of 10. He attended Brigham Young University-Idaho and studied Marriage and Family Studies, and currently works as a substance abuse counselor at a correctional facility. Spencer has a passion for music, especially creating his own with his family and binge watching scary movies with his brothers. He also enjoys helping others succeed and seeing the joy this brings.

Citations:

Chirban, J. T., & Andrews, A. (2012). How to talk with your kids about sex. Retrieved November 3, 2017, from https://books.google.com/books

Greenberg, M. (2012, September 18). Worst Mistakes Parents Make When Talking to Kids. Retrieved November 03, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-mindful-self-express/201209/worst-mistakes-parents-make-when-talking-kids

 

How to Get Kids Off Anime and Other Sexualized Media

How to Get Kids Off Anime and Other Sexualized Media

 

By Lacy Bentley

As parents, it is normal to worry about what our children watch, and how it might be impacting their developing sexuality and understanding of life. As with any important step in raising kids, changing things up requires a few key components.

  1. Be on the same page with the other parent. When there is ambiguity, kids pick up on it. They usually are not trying to cause trouble; they just want what they want, and are creative at finding ways to get it. When both parents are not in agreement about a particular type of entertainment, like anime, it sends a message of inconsistency and confusion to the kids involved. Have conver-sations and do your research in private, then present a united front to the kids. They may not like the decision, but it will be easier to accept if they know they cannot push one parent into giving in.

The two of you (as parents) might need to work with a therapist to determine the best way to move forward. I’ve talked to moms who fell on both sides of this debate and know that it often comes down to a “good-cop/bad-cop” scenario. One parent is considered too rigid and controlling, while the other is considered permissive, and to the kids, the cool parent. The biggest issue then becomes a parent-parent and parent-child trust issue, putting the more conservative parent in the hot seat. This kind of triangulation will eventually destroy relationships. Don’t do it.

  1. Get curious before making decisions, especially decision that will have a big impact on current habits. By gathering as much information you can early on, the need for later adjustments can be avoided. This saves confusion and stress for everyone involved. Find out why your kids like this particular game or program. Spend some time checking it out for yourself. Can you employ safeguards within the game that make your concerns a non-issue? The decision is yours, but you need to make it wisely. Once a boundary is in place, kids will push back, argue, even ignore it. You need to know where you stand and why, so that you can stand firm.

Parents do not owe kids an explanation, but when an explanation makes sense and is well thought out, you and the kids can trust that decision. If you aren’t sure why, and make snap decisions, it will come back to haunt you. Curiosity didn’t kill the cat, it informed him so he could protect his kittens!

  1. Set clear and reasonable boundaries. Discuss the rules with the kids and anyone who tends them. Have clear conversations and do so with the other parent fully involved. (Remember rule #1, be on the same page!) This sets a tone of unity, which will be to your benefit if the arguments and negotiations escalate. You do not need to engage the argument. Hear what the kids have to say if you feel it may be helpful, take notes if there are things to talk about with your partner, and reassure the kids that this decision is for their protection and emotional health. If there are considerations for the parents to discuss, let the kids know when you will all revisit the conversation.

The kids need to know they will have their day in court, and when. Otherwise, they will drive you batty with questions as they try to manage the lack of resolution. Remember though, parents are the guardians of what comes into the home. If you don’t teach them to install internal filters and set boundaries for themselves, no one else will.

  1. Acknowledge the discomfort involved for all. Kids, especially teens, like what they like. They do not enjoy being told a particular movie or whole genre (anime) is no longer considered appropriate. If you are asking them to stop watching anime at home and away from home, there may be social repercussions for them to manage. Remember what it was like to be their age, and how you wanted to fit in? Help them navigate the family rules while also acknowledging their concerns. Validate the loss, the frustration, and their need to fill the void left by removal of a favorite past-time. Just because it is good for them, does not mean it is easy to swallow.

As you feel questioned, even harassed, talk to another parent with similar values, or who can at least respect yours. Change is hard for everyone involved. Adjustments take time, so be patient with yourself and your kids as you get used to the new normal. Resistance is not always rebellion. In fact, resistance is rarely more than open communication of discomfort. See it, validate it, and hold your boundaries.

  1. Be consistent regardless of location. Talk about the temptation to “just go watch it at Jennie’s house” while reiterating that the rules apply wherever they are. Yes, it may be uncomfortable to tell friends about a new family rule (or an existing one that has been resurrected). It’s no fun to be the odd man out. If your kids know you expect and trust them to make good decisions that honor family standards, they will be more likely to hold themselves accountable. This may mean consequences for not upholding family standards. Sharing your wishes with the adult on duty at Jennie’s house can be helpful.

Ultimately, we are trying to teach our kids to do what is right for the sake of doing right, not because moms talk. If your kids know you are aware of the temptations they face, it provides a sense of understanding and safety. Keep the lines of communication open. They might get grumpy because you “want to know everything!” Let them get grumpy, then reassure them that you will always be curious about how they are doing with their duty to protect themselves from harmful messages. It probably won’t be tomorrow, but someday they will understand.

  1. Be ready with replacement strategies. Removing a beloved game, TV series, or social media channel can create a vacuum. This is especially true if the kids spent a good deal of time on it. You will need to help fill that time with something more constructive. Times of natural transition are helpful, like when school starts, at the start of soccer season, or at other times when natural distractions are available to fill their days in more constructive ways. Ultimately, they are looking for connection and entertainment. They might need to relax. Know what purpose the program serves in order to help provide a comparable replacement.

 

  1. Pick your battles and be specific in your message. You might need to make concessions, too. The miniskirts and fantasy life may need to be separate battles from the eyeshadow and child-like voices. It is a fine line between self-expression and self-exploitation when dealing with anime and a sexualized culture. The hope is, your kids will know you love them and are concerned for their safety and sexual, emotional, and social wellbeing. When parents are able to convey this message, even if boundaries are being set, more changes naturally occur over time.

The chances your daughter will still talk like a 6-year-old and wear pigtails into adulthood are pretty slim. As she feels cared about, loved, and held to a high standard, it will make things easier on both of you. Conversations where she has a say, and you are curious about why she does certain things, encourage trust. Heavy handed orders barked from another room about her clothes will not help her see herself as the valuable, powerful force she can be for good. Is your line of questioning curious or condemning? Is the message one of loving concern or manipulative parent? She will feel the motive, no matter how you try to hide it, so come from a place that conveys what you truly mean.

  1. Trust your gut. Ultimately, it is your call what does and does not take root in your home. If something feels off, gather more information and pay close attention to what is happening. A parent’s gut feeling is usually right, even if we don’t always know why right off. You know your kids best, and the decision to protect them is a serious one. If you worry about being too protective, too controlling, too demanding, check it out with the co-parent, a therapist, or a trusted friend with similar standards. What might be okay for one family may not be for another. If red flags are going up for you, take those feelings seriously. Your gut feeling just might save your kid from unnecessary pain later. Trust it.

Raising kids has never been easy. Doing the job well takes intentional effort and insane levels of patience. You can do this, though. Focus on what you do want and stay curious about why they do what they do. Along the way, you just might learn a thing or two that will help the relationship blossom into one of reciprocal love and trust.

Want a fun, easy way to talk to kids about all types of media, including anime? Check out our new children’s books:  Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure and Messages About Me: A Journey to Healthy Body Image available on Amazon.

 

**If you are willing to do your part, you can have the relationships you want, with the connection you and your kids need. I have written a book that includes many of these skills, and would like to give you a copy. It focuses on personal responsibility and new, healthier relationship dynamics. While it is written for my audience of women in recovery for relationship or sex-based compulsions and addiction, I think you will also find it helpful. It is available free for a short time. Visit www.HerRecoveryRoadmap.com and input your information in the pink box at the bottom of the page. You will receive a link to a free PDF download and a free kindle version on or around May 8. You can take me up on one or both! Additionally, you can email me directly with questions at Lacy@HerRecoveryRoadmap.com.

Lacy Bentley is a concerned mother, a Women’s Recovery Coach, and an author. She has helped women overcome compulsive behaviors since 2000. She now does one-on-one coaching and runs groups for women ready to overcome fantasy, relationship, or love addiction. If you would like a free copy of her book, “Overcoming Love Addiction” you can request one by visiting: www.HerRecoveryRoadmap.com and scrolling down to the yellow box, or emailing her directly at Lacy@HerRecoveryRoadmap.com.

 

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

Positive Things We Can Teach Our Kids to Do on Social Media

Positive Things We Can Teach Our Kids to Do on Social Media

 

The technology around us has so much potential, and we can teach our kids to be better, learn more, reach out to loved ones, and be more involved in our communities with it. But first they must understand that our ripples affect those around us for better or for worse. We can ignore situations or actively participate.

We can choose to uplift or tear down. We can choose to post useless or useful information. We can choose kindness in the face of an argument or we can choose to escalate.

The following discussions will help your kids understand that their online and “real life” actions always matter:

Potentials of Technology

What are some things you can do with a smartphone, tablet, or computer?

What can you learn, teach others, and create?

What are more ways we can help and uplift others to create positive ripples with technology?

How can small actions online change friendships and family relationships?

How could you change the world using technology?

For more information, check out, Teach Your Kids About Online Ripples: Our Actions Always Matter.

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 free, downloadable lesson on Using Technology for Good  available on our Lessons Page.

Great story, great discussions!

 

Helping Our Kids Overcome Tech Addiction

Helping Our Kids Overcome Tech Addiction

 

By Katelyn King

 

Technology helps us connect in ways that never would have been possible even just a decade ago. There is so much good that comes from all these advances in technology, but balance and moderation is important. Our families, parents included, are quickly becoming addicted.

And most adults and kids are not managing their time properly. “Because people can’t handle the allurements that come with all the advancements of society, they have developed unhealthy and addictive triggers around technology” (Hardy, 2017).

We are not sleeping well. We are overstimulated. We are worrying about what we might be missing in the cyber world and are often glued to social media or impulsively opening apps without real thought or intent. In fact, kids are spending on average of 9 hours a day on social media (Wallace, 2015). None of us seem to be taking time to relax, rest, and reset.

Worse, most of us are losing true connection in our lives. We don’t seem to have the close friends we used to, and our kids are getting a bit too comfortable being at home, “alone” with their phones.  How would you fare if you lost your phone? How would your child react to losing their phone? Would they feel as if a limb or piece of them were missing?

So as parents how can we help? What can we do to keep our children from losing control? We want our children to enjoy the advantages of technology but also to be deliberate in their actions with tech.

Here are 8 ways we can help kids develop healthier tech habits:

1) Switch up your child’s routine

If you are noticing there is a time of day where technology is becoming a time waster, switch up the routine. For example, if at 4 pm every day your daughter is spending an hour on Instagram, at 4:30 have her help you prep dinner or fold laundry and use that time to talk about her day.

2) Have regularly scheduled screen-free time

Too much screen can overstimulate the brain. On the other hand, screen-free time can help us recharge. Every family has different schedules, so this set time will vary for everyone. The point is to be developing healthy relationships with your children and your children with one another. In my family when my husband gets home from work, we have dinner as a family, no TV or phones. Then we spend time together without using technology. Some days that’s going outside, talking, or playing a game inside. After that hour, my husband may play a video game with our son, or we will use Spotify to have music while we clean. Technology is not bad; it just needs to be balanced and used well.

3) Help them use tech for good

When we spend too much time mindlessly scrolling through social media, we are not learning, growing, or achieving like we could. This is why we need to sit down and help our children learn to be mindful when they are using technology. We want them to learn, make a difference, and find joy in work. We also want to teach them to see the needs of others, rather than only focusing on themselves, and technology is a great way to practice that skill.

For example, on social media it might be tempting to just gloss over pictures of friends, but we can teach them to use the opportunity to compliment and uplift their peers. Or if they have a specific interest, like animals or the environment, we can show them how to set up a petition or service project online to help make a difference. Here is a great article that lists 10 ways children can use technology for good.

4) Help them find healthy extracurricular activities

Activities such as sports, music, dance, scouting, or art create opportunities for our kids to interact with peers without technology. This is healthy. Our children need to know how to have healthy relationships offline–sports, art classes, and any activities where they can interact with others in a stimulating environment will help them do this. Let them try new things, and help them find something they like!

5) Set time limits on devices

All of us have experienced getting side tracked online and not realizing how much time has actually passed. There is so much we can do on our devices, and it can be easy to spend a little too much time on something. When we give our children screen time, we should give them a limit. This limit will be different in every family. The important thing is you hold your children accountable and help them manage their time. Maybe your son finished his homework, and you tell him he can play a video game for 30 minutes, or your daughter just finished helping you around the house, and you give her 30 minutes of social media time.

Here is a great article on creating media guideline for your family that can help you do more than just set time limits for your children.

6) Have a “no tech in bedrooms” policy

This is something that cannot be stressed enough. There are so many reasons this is a must. First, when your kids are alone in their bedroom, that is where they will not be monitored. They have a greater chance of viewing porn or reading things you might feel are not appropriate. You will not be able to monitor their time usage either.

On another note, tech in the bedroom is horrible for our sleep. Did you know smartphones, laptops, tablets, and TVs emit a blue light that causes our brains to interpret it as daylight? This causes overstimulation and makes it harder to fall asleep. Technology in the bedroom can make it difficult to get restful sleep and can even cause insomnia. This is a helpful article to learn more about the effects of technology in our rooms at night.

7) Plan tech-free activities

Our children need to know even though technology is beneficial in so many ways, there is more in life to enjoy. Make sure you are helping your kids see the world around them. Go on a picnic or hike. Go to a sporting event or a play. Find somewhere you can serve together in your community.

Here is an awesome article with ways to be connected to others without a screen.

8) Be the example

You cannot tell your child to put down the phone, go outside, or talk to a friend face-to-face if you don’t. Our children need to see us having time away from technology. They also need to see that when we are using technology, we are not just constantly wasting time.

We can live in a technology run world without being addicted. We just need to be aware and to not let it take over our lives. Try these tips! You can strengthen your family relationships, and help your children know how to be a good friend and contributor to society. Start setting goals and making changes.

For more ideas and great conversation starters, check out our read-aloud children’s book, Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Tech for Good.

 

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

Katelyn King is a wife and mother of two children. She is a Brigham Young University-Idaho graduate with a Bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies, and she is an advocate for parent child relationships.

Citations:

Aratoon, K. (2015, December 18). Is Your Smartphone Ruining Your Sleep? Retrieved October 22, 2017, from https://sleep.org/articles/is-your-smartphone-ruining-your-sleep/

Hardy, B. (2017, October 30). Free Will And Willpower Are Becoming A Thing Of The Past. Here’s What You Can Do About It. Retrieved March 02, 2018, from https://thoughtcatalog.com/benjamin-hardy/2017/10/free-will-and-willpower-are-becoming-a-thing-of-the-past-heres-what-you-can-do-about-it/

Wallace, K. (2015, November 03). Teens spend 9 hours a day using media, report says. Retrieved October 22, 2017, from http://www.cnn.com/2015/11/03/health/teens-tweens-media-screen-use-report/index.html

 

Lesson: Kindness: Online, Face to Face, and Everywhere

Lesson: Kindness: Online, Face to Face, and Everywhere

 

Kindness is an attribute that we can each develop further! Children need parents to help them understand that kindness is not just a quality to have with their friends or family, but at all times. This includes being authentic in all contexts, including social media, email, texts and other interactions.

Kindness is an action that is motivated from feelings of empathy and compassion. Today’s culture teaches children that being overly critical of others is a positive thing. Websites dedicated to “shaming” others (i.e. People of Walmart, Lamebook, Awkward Family Photos, Youidiot.org, etc.) number in the hundreds, if not thousands, and some celebrities, like Joan Rivers and Kathy Griffin, have even become famous simply because of their public criticisms.

 

  • Define kindness (see glossary) for your child and give some of your favorite examples.
  • Help children understand the need for kindness.
  • Discuss how kindness is more than just a feeling: it includes our thoughts, actions, and words.
  • Discuss how we need to be kind to others in person and online.
  • Discuss how bullying is never acceptable.

Discuss how empathy can help us to choose to be kind to others…

Click Here to Download this Lesson!

 

Looking for a great book about being kind online and using technology for good?

Check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story about Using Technology for Good