Bullies: When the Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

Bullies: When the Apple Doesn’t Fall Far From the Tree

By K. Parker

Bullying has always been a problem, but with the anonymity of the internet and the ease of being cruel behind a screen, cyberbullying has become all the more rampant. When I was fifteen, I had my first experience with this, both in-person and cyberbullying. A girl my age who had been my friend decided to alienate and lie about me, for reasons unknown to me. Despite these lies, her parents believed her and their reactions and choices made the situation worse, not better. I received cruel messages online, lost a fair number of friends, and was more or less shunned for things I hadn’t done.

I learned later that she didn’t get enough attention from her parents, namely her mother, and lying about being a victim of bullying herself got her a lot of attention from her parents. She never really apologized in the end, but all I feel for her now is pity. She was simply a fifteen-year-old girl who was starved for attention, so she went to extremes to get it because she didn’t know of any other way.

I’ve had a harder time forgiving her parents for their behavior, however. Instead of trying to intercede and understand the situation, they resorted to bullying my parents, which likely only encouraged this girl’s behavior. The girl’s dad called mine and verbally abused him, while her mother ensured that my mom was shunned from their social group. They used unrelenting hostility and power-moves to get back at our family while never attempting to find out if there was truth to their daughter’s claims.

Now that I’m grown, I know that there are ways of dealing with this better than my parents or I had known, and I wish such resources had been available to my parents.

Encourage Honesty and Open Discussions With Your Kids

  • Teach your kids about what bullying is, and how to treat those around them with kindness and understanding.
  • Make your home a safe environment where your kids will feel they can share their feelings and thoughts openly.
  • Take a step back from the situation and think about it as objectively as possible. Don’t automatically believe everything your child says, but don’t discount their fears and concerns either. We live in a world where so many parents don’t want to give their kids the opportunity to be responsible for their own behaviors and feel the benefits of positive self-worth when they do make good choices.
  • Be honest in your own life and teach through words and example on how important it is to be honest with everyone.

Talk to Personnel at Your Child’s School/Church/Sports Team, Etc.

One of the routes my parents took was arranging meetings with ours and this family’s congregation leader, asking him to be a mediator between us to help resolve the issue directly. I believe, had the parents of this girl tried to understand what exactly was happening, this method would have worked. Communicating effectively can solve a multitude of problems.

Still, this is the best route prior to legal action that can be done to put a stop to it. 

  • Talk to an administrator at the school, a church or community leader, or a coach. Help he or she understand the situation so that he or she can be a better mediator.
  • If possible, sit down with the parents of your child’s bully and gather information, while discussing the situation in a civil and compassionate way. Try to find understanding without accusations.

Record and Report Abusive Behavior

Knowing what I know now, there were absolutely legal actions my family could have taken against this family based on not just the cruel messages I received online, but also the fact that my dad was being verbally abused on a regular basis over the phone. Getting a No-Contact Order or a Restraining Order may seem a little extreme, but there are times when it’s necessary and can bring peace of mind. Sometimes legal help is the best method to stop these behaviors from abusers.

  • Take recordings or pictures of abusive language being sent to you or your child for evidence
  • Research or talk with a law enforcement officer about what can be done

Through this experience, I learned that it’s so important as parents to teach and guide your kids through situations like this, and teach them beforehand about bullying and how to avoid it, especially teaching kids how to avoid becoming a bully. 

Our book Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age is an excellent resource to build deeper connections with your kids and start tough conversations about bullying, integrity, overcoming fears, and much more. Check it out!

K. Parker is a writer and editor for Educate and Empower Kids, and a graduate from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Professional Studies in English. She is excitedly pursuing a career in copy editing as she grows her little family. 

Building A Better Body Image: 4 Ways to Boost Yours and Your Kids’ Self-Worth

Building A Better Body Image: 4 Ways to Boost Yours and Your Kids’ Self-Worth

By K. Parker

How many moms out there deal with low self-worth and body image issues? I know too many to count. We live in a world where that’s very much a sad, sick rite of passage thrust upon moms, putting yourself down and looking for ways to better yourself. In the end, you never feel like you’re enough. 

We can do better than this for ourselves and our kids! Let’s learn to love what our bodies can do and show this to our children. Showing them that you feel so down on yourself tells them that this is how they should feel about themselves as well. As a new mom myself, I want to do the opposite as I raise my daughter. 

Here are a few ways to help boost your own self-esteem and help prepare your kids to fight back against these pressures in the first place:

Don’t let negative thoughts run rampant

My mom always struggled with her self-esteem and body image. I watched her go on diet after diet, and never see herself as the beautiful woman we kids saw her to be. Having this example to live by, it made me see myself the same way by the age of 13 or younger. Even now, I struggle with my self-image from all those years of feeling that way. My mom tried her best, but she was often so down on herself, it was hard not to see. And not to mimic. 

If you find yourself constantly putting yourself down for your size or other “imperfections,” nip that in the bud now. Nothing tears you down faster than negative thoughts directed towards yourself. It’s time to focus on replacing our negative thoughts with positive, healthy ones.

  • Practice positive self-talk. Write sticky notes to remind you. Put a reminder in your phone. Make a list of all the amazing things your body can do and share them with other moms. 
  • Encourage the women around you to be positive and say nice things about themselves. By teaching others to be positive about their bodies it will reinforce your ability to do so for yourself as well. Think of the revolution we could create if we learned to like our bodies!
  • When complimenting or praising your kids, focus not just on appearance, but on personality traits, on intelligence, kindness, work ethic, and so forth. 
  • When posting on social media, do not over filter your photos or crop them in such a way that only shows an ideal you think others want to see. Be an example to others of liking yourself just the way you are.

A focus on appearance alone instigates that unhealthy relationship with your body, and that’s what we want to avoid teaching our children in the first place. 

Be grateful for your body and what it can do

What amazing things has your body done? Well, if you gave birth to your child, a major one is to create life. 

  • Think of the strength in your arms and legs as you care for your kids. Or work hard everyday to accomplish your goals. Our bodies are miraculous. For me, I like how long and healthy my hair is, I like how my body feels when I go running, I think my eyes are pretty, and I’m grateful for my stocky build that lets me utilize the strength I have. 
  • Try writing down at least five things each day that your body can do. 
  • Do this with your kids, show them our bodies are something to be grateful for. 

Improve your relationship with food

A lot of the time, an issue of weight is the cause of an unhealthy relationship with food. Extreme dieting tends to make such a relationship worse, not better. 

  • Focus more on health and what’s actually good for you without depriving yourself in the extreme. That extreme mentality always seems to result in bouncing back and giving in to cravings in excess. 
  • Portion control and activity are almost always the most effective in maintaining health. Work with your doctor to find what will work best for your unique body.
  • Bring the whole family in to try eating healthier and doing healthy activities together.
  • Join a body-positivity group of other moms dedicated to overall health and not just weight loss. These can often be found on Facebook or other platforms.  If you can’t find one, try starting one yourself!

Don’t compare yourself to others

This is especially prevalent with online media. Ads and actors and social media stars looking perfect in each post are not a realistic view of a person! Comparing your struggle to someone’s filtered, curated, unrealistic images isn’t fair to yourself. Much of this media is designed to tear you down and sell you something to make a profit. The important part of this scheme is to tear you down in the first place so that you may think if you buy a certain beauty product or clothing item that your life will be better. Don’t let these false comparisons continue anymore. And educate your kids to see past counterfeit media messages and to be happy as themselves. 

  • When you slip up and say something mean to yourself, stop and then replace that thought with a compliment to yourself.
  • Think well of the person you might compare yourself to. Compliment them outloud or just in your head, but avoid thoughts that they have something you wish you had. 
  • Understand that someone else’s successes or good looks do NOT diminish you or your successes.
  • Avoid media that might set you into these negative thoughts about yourself. 

The only way to lift our kids up and give them a better chance against the world trying to tear them down is to lift ourselves up and teach them from the start. Don’t let feelings of poor self-worth add to what the world already wants to do to them. Be better not just for your kids, but for yourself as well. 

Ready to chat with your kids about healthy body image? Check out our books Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story, A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image and Messages About Me: Wade’s Story, A Boy’s Quest To Healthy Body Image for a great story, discussion questions, and activities to build up your child while you journey to build yourself up as well. 

K. Parker is a writer and editor for Educate and Empower Kids, and a graduate from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Professional Studies in English. She is excitedly pursuing a career in copy editing as she grows her little family. 

6 Reasons Kids Cyberbully and What to Do About It

6 Reasons Kids Cyberbully and What to Do About It

By Lauren Groff

As children’s internet access has increased, so too have incidents of cyberbullying. Cyberbullying can be defined as bullying behaviour that takes place via a digital medium such as a social media site, messaging apps, or texts. So far, society has mainly focused on how to protect the victims, but now the spotlight has begun to shift to the cyberbullies themselves in the hope that understanding the motives behind the actions can help to solve the issue.

1.  Seeking Revenge

Cyberbullying is sometimes used by victims of bullying in an effort to ‘right the wrong.’ In this case, the cyberbully may target their own bully, or victimise an individual who they see as ‘weak.’ These kids may think that their behaviour protects them from being bullied again, and that their actions are justified due to their past experiences.

Children who become a cyberbully after having been the victim of bullying themselves are often experiencing very difficult emotions; it can be easier to perpetuate the bullying rather than processing these feelings.

Sometimes, when kids feel bad about themselves, it’s easier to harass or shame someone else than it is to deal with their feelings and to make needed changes. Low self-esteem, and the related issues of anxiety and depression, are thought to be prevalent in many cyberbullies and can occur for a myriad of reasons, from having been a victim of bullying to dealing with a break-up at home.

2.  Feelings of Boredom 

It’s easy now to access the internet as a source of entertainment. Some children cyberbully due to boredom, and because of the ease with which the web can be accessed, it’s an obvious go-to. Some kids turn to the internet if they feel deprived of attention at home. With just a few clicks, cyberbullies can instigate drama as a way to receive the attention they feel they are lacking.

3.  Pressure From Peers

It can be exceptionally difficult for a child or teenager (or adult, for that matter) to take a stand when they witness behaviour from their peers that makes them uncomfortable.  Pressure from classmates or friends to join a cyberbullying culture, where things like increased trolling or flaming can be very powerful.

Peer pressure is a powerful motivator for kids to cyberbully.  As things like online stalking and spreading malicious rumours over the internet have become a seemingly common practice, kids who are at the ‘top’ of their peer group may feel the need to engage in these behaviours in order to fit into a perceived norm and protect their status.

4.  Inability To Properly Empathise

It can be difficult to put yourself in someone else’s shoes, and some kids simply have trouble in today’s digital world with conceptualising how their actions or comments online can cause real distress for someone in the real world. It’s easy to create a different persona online – and that actions taken online are somehow not tangibly ‘real.’

5.  Mental Health Issues

Some kids are living with mental health problems that may have gone undiagnosed, and cyberbullying may be symptomatic of these issues. Speak to your child’s doctor if you’re concerned about these issues, as some mental health problems that are characterised by a lack of empathy include serious personality disorders.

6.  The Shield Of Anonymity

The ability to remain anonymous can be a powerful factor in why children get involved in cyberbullying; anonymity can lead kids to believe they have the power to act and comment without limitation, and also that they won’t be caught and held accountable. 

“The very nature of cyberbullying keeps your true identity masked,” says Edith Frazer, an education expert at Bigassignments. “We are increasingly seeing children participate in digital harassment who would probably not bully in ‘real’ life.’”

What You Can Do

As you learn these 6 reasons why children cyberbully, it’s also important to look for possible signs that you can start observing today:

  • Immediately hides or switches screens on their device(s)
  • Doesn’t like talking about what they do online
  • Becomes unusually angry and/or toxic when they can’t use their device(s)
  • Is suspected to have multiple online accounts, or has someone else’s account

If you see any of these signs, then it’s time to talk to your children about what they’re doing online, even if they insist that everything is okay. 

Understanding The Perpetrator

It is natural to think of cyberbullies as individuals who need to be caught and held accountable – and this is largely true. However, there is a bigger picture: in order to eradicate online bullying, we also need to look at the motivations behind the action. The bullies themselves may be experiencing significant difficulties that require support. 

That’s why it’s important to offer your children support – NOT in cyberbully – but in loving and caring for them. If there are any issues that they might be facing, then get to the bottom of it and see to it that they’re resolved. But again, be loving and caring for your child. Remember, those who are hardest to love need love the most.

It is this support and understanding that could hold the key to making the online world a safer place for our children!

For additional information and resources, check out our books, Noah’s New Phone:  A Story About Using Technology for Good and Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age

Lauren Groff is a content writer at Paper writing service and Coursework writing service, and an editor at Essay Help.  Lauren writes book reviews.  She is interested in, and has written widely on, education and business.

Pornography: 7 Tips for Arming Your Home Against Its Damaging Effects

Pornography: 7 Tips for Arming Your Home Against Its Damaging Effects

By Sarah Fairbanks

When my son was about 8 years old, he quietly knocked on the door of our bedroom one night. We invited him in, and I could sense his unease. “Mommy, I think I did something bad.” The tears began to flow as we scooped him up and inquired over his supposed misdeed. “I was watching a music video and I saw a man’s bum. It was naked. I’m so sorry.” He believed he had viewed pornography. He was a sobbing mess, but my mommy-heart melted over the admission because we have always been honest in our home about the damaging effects of pornography. This meant it had sunk into his little mind and heart. Even a naked bum sent his conscience reeling. He believed he had viewed pornography. And he was right, accidental as it was. 

While this event might seem minor in the grand scheme of what could have been available to my son in the world of pornography, it’s still no small matter. It’s a rare occasion that users of pornography jump straight to “hard-core porn”. It usually starts inadvertently and small: a naked rear, for example. Most exposure happens early, with the average first age of exposure at 8 years old. One Australian study reports that by age 14, nearly 94% of youth have seen pornography. This is troublesome on many levels. This is a crucial developmental period when an under-developed prefrontal cortex makes children and youth less capable of making rational decisions. My son fit the demographics to a tee, and we count ourselves blessed that he had the good sense to look away and come talk to us. 

Many of you, like me, are parents with unsuspecting, innocent children. You love them, care for them, and want what’s best for them. You’d do anything to protect them. But the pornography industry is crafty. They don’t care about protecting your children. Your children are seen as potential consumers for their product. And they will do anything to hook them. Pornography is nicely packaged these days. A popular magazine, lyrics of a catchy song, popup ads, or a music video. It’s easier than ever for your child to be exposed and hooked. 

Some argue the benefits of porn, some of which include sexual education, sexual satisfaction, and sexual release. But with the ability to get such education from safer, structured environments rather than pervasively addictive porn, many of these “benefits” become moot, especially when the other side of the coin correlates to rape, aggression, and sex-trafficking, among other issues in future relationships and their views of themselves.

Think it would never happen in your home or that your child has never been exposed? Think again. A recent report by the BBFC reports that while 75% of parents believe their children have never seen porn, 53% of those children actually have. Your children could be among those. 

While those numbers can be discouraging, it doesn’t mean that we can’t do something about it. We can take charge in our homes today to protect our children against pornography exposure and its damaging effects. Here are seven things that have worked for our family:

  1. Do the talking before someone else does. The pornography industry is eager to get to your children before you do. Don’t give them the satisfaction. If pornography exposure starts early, then talking needs to start early
  1. “This is a safe space to talk.” This is a mantra in our home. We emphasize to our children that they can ask us anything without unfair reaction or judgement. Children need to know that they can have their questions answered lovingly and honestly. If your child has a question, let them ask and then do your best to answer. If you don’t know, say so, and schedule a time to talk again once you’ve found answers. Keep your word and follow up. 
  1. The discussion about pornography must be ongoing. I cringe when I hear parents say that they’ve successfully given their children “the talk”. This is not a “one and done” event. Discussing important things like sex and pornography must be ongoing. Your children are growing and developing. This includes their understanding of and curiosity about pornography. Keep talking.
  1. Set rules as a family. We found that our children are more likely to keep rules that they help make. We also found that they are more willing to make rules when they understand the reasons behind them. Tell them how damaging pornography can be. Then trust them to help you make rules to keep the family safe. They will surprise you!
  1. Have a healthy dialogue about dating, marriage, love, and sex. Pornography distorts a child’s view of what real love is. Pornography teaches a child to objectify another person. When parents talk positively and honestly about dating, marriage, love, and sex, we teach them that people are for loving in real ways. Sex is an expression of that love and is most satisfying within a devoted relationship. There is no room for pornography in a healthy relationship because it teaches us that people are to be used instead of loved. 
  1. Talk about your body and the bodies of others in uplifting, positive ways. Pornography will challenge the self-worth of a person because of its ability to distort the reality of the human body. Let them know how beautiful and amazing the human body is and that it should be treated with respect. Bodies are not perfect and come in all shapes and sizes. Speak kindly about your body and the bodies of others.  
  1. Watch for warning signs. Is your child unusually stressed, tired, depressed, secretive, or removed? While this might indicate many different types of problems, it might also be time to ask about and reevaluate their digital habits. They may be struggling with an addiction to pornography. Be supportive and ready to help. 

While we can’t safeguard our children completely, these small steps can help continue the battle against pornography. 

For more resources to refer to when approaching these topics, try our book How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography or try one of our family night lessons on the dangers of pornography, healthy body image, or using technology for good.

Sarah Fairbanks is a student at Brigham Young University-Idaho. She is majoring in Marriage and Family Studies with an emphasis in Human Services. She will graduate in December 2021. She resides in Northern California with her husband and three children.

Protecting Your Kids from Cyberbullying: The Quick And Essential Guide

Protecting Your Kids from Cyberbullying: The Quick And Essential Guide

By Elizabeth Hines

Bullying is scary, especially for kids. And with the introduction of the internet into society, cyberbullying is one of the most pervasive forms of bullying. From harassment, to threats on social media or in a chat room, to points of embarrassment, it takes its toll on kids. 

According to the statistics found by the Centers of Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), cyberbullying is an epidemic in schools during these kid’s most crucial developmental years:

  • 33% of it happening in middle school
  • 30% happening in high school
  • 20% in combined schools
  • 5% in primary schools

While these numbers are devastating, there’s still hope. In this article, we’ll discuss how cyberbullying affects kids, and how you – the parent – can help protect them from it. 

Signs and Effects Of Cyberbullying

“Children and teens might not talk about the cyberbullying right away,” says Jacob Binney, a psychology blogger at Boom Essays. “Chances are, they’ll feel ashamed of coming forward. Therefore, take note of any changes in your child.”

Here are some important red flags to look for:

  • Unexpectedly refraining from using their device(s)
  • Feeling uneasy when using device(s)
  • Feeling uncomfortable about going to school (or even outside)
  • Withdrawn from social gatherings
  • Avoids talking about online activities
  • Feeling overly sad or depressed
  • Taking their frustrations out on a sibling or parent

Many children are given smartphones and tablets these days, which are breeding grounds for online bullying. It can cause severe anxiety, isolation, and can culminate in other more extreme behaviors such as self-harm or even suicide.

When and How to Intervene

If you suspect that your kids may be getting bullied online (or anywhere else, for that matter), don’t wait to intervene. Talk to them immediately. If they don’t want to talk about it at first, then spend more time with them, let them know you’re there for them and want to help. Eventually, they’ll be comfortable with talking about their bullying situation. When they do, be loving and supporting of them. The key here is to be persistent in obtaining information and understanding of what they’re going through. 

“Once you intervene in the situation, you’ll need to take the necessary actions right away,” says Mia Palmos, a parenting writer at liahelp.com. “While it’s devastating to hear about your child being cyberbullied, you should still be there for them physically, emotionally, and mentally.”

More ways to help protect your kids:

  • Encourage them to take a break from the computer or device.
  • Discuss several options in dealing with the situation and don’t assume you know the best way to deal with the bullying before getting a full picture of what is going on.
  • Remind them often that you love and support them, regardless of any situation.
  • Contact your kid’s school about the matter.
  • Document the harassment, so that there is a record if and when it needs to be reported.
  • If you see that the cyberbully is another child (especially from the same school), speak to that child’s parents about the situation. If the parents fail to see their child’s ill behavior, then go to the authorities ASAP.

What Kids Can Do To Stay Safe

The basis of bullying is to gain control over another person. As a parent, you’ll need to combat this by taking control away from this kind of predator, even if it happens to be another kid.

Educate your kids in doing the following to prevent cyberbullying: 

  • Walk away. If your kids get uncomfortable with someone online, they should sign off the computer, and walk away.
  • Don’t feed the bully. Cyberbullies will poke and prod at your kids to get a reaction. In that case, they should refrain from responding or retaliating. Make sure they know they have the right to block anyone that they feel is being mean or makes them uncomfortable. They can also delete any suspicious messages without reading them.
  • Save and print suspicious or harmful messages for evidence. In the event that the harassment doesn’t stop, you or your child should save and print messages from the bully so that you can build a case against the offenders. Your child has the right to report cyberbullying.
  • Reach out to the right people. No one should be alone in this situation. Encourage your child to talk to you, a friend, or family members about the harassment. They can also talk to a trusted adult, which can be a teacher, a school counselor, a police officer, etc. 

Cyberbullying has no place in your child’s life. If cyberbullying occurs, take the necessary steps to stop it as soon as possible. 

For more information and how to talk to your kids about difficult topics, try our books 30 Days to a Stronger Child or Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age.

Elizabeth Hines is a writer and editor at Do my coursework and Paper writing service. She is also a contributing writer for OX Essays. As a content writer, she writes about the latest tech and marketing trends, innovations, and strategies.

Simple and Effective Ways to Help Your Teen Have a Healthy Body Image

Simple and Effective Ways to Help Your Teen Have a Healthy Body Image

By Fiona Leikness

With all the luxuries of living in the digital age, there seems to be one particular burden that is hurting our children and teens more than anything else. So much exposure to altered or filtered images is taking its toll, specifically on teens. Feeling good about oneself, seeing the world as it really is, or being satisfied with one’s living situation has now become challenging if not impossible for many. 

Comparison and huge feelings of insecurity are bombarding us and our kids, especially when it comes to their body image, so it’s imperative for you as a parent or guardian to promote a healthy body image in your kids throughout their younger years. Those formative years play a critical role in personal development, especially as teens. It’s essential to help them navigate their way through puberty and teach them how to appreciate and like their body as it is. But with a little assistance, you can help your teen avoid experiencing many of these negative feelings. 

Here’s how:

Talk About Media Engagement & Online Activity

The technological advances in today’s society contribute a lot to the problems around body image and self-esteem. It’s important that you are open with your teen about the dangers of spending too much time on the Internet and social media

Although you shouldn’t discourage the use of it entirely, you may want to consider talking to them about how they engage with the content found online and their online activity. Opening up the floor to have these types of discussions can make it easier for them to confide in you and protect them from common abuse in the digital age.

Encourage Self-Care Routines

Encouraging your teen to develop and practice daily self-care routines can be a tremendously beneficial step towards building a positive body image and healthy self-esteem. Building these routines early on will also help ensure that your teen will have lasting, healthy habits that he or she can keep throughout adulthood. 

Some ideas for a new self-care routine might include:

  • Washing his or her face each morning and evening
  • Laying out clothes to wear the next day
  • Daily yoga or meditation
  • Setting aside time each day to engage in a hobby
  • Saying out loud at least one good thing about his or herself each day

Self-care doesn’t have to be something big and complicated. It can be as simple as washing your face each morning and evening. The time your teen spends caring for his or her body will help him to develop a more positive relationship with his body.

Set a Good Example

Lastly, be sure that you act as a role model for your teen and set the right example. Having an adult figure to look up to, such as yourself, will allow your child to see firsthand just how impactful it can be to limit time online and engage in self-care routines. Remember that seeing is believing, so if you aren’t demonstrating behaviors that you are teaching, then your teenager will be unlikely to either. 

Empowering your children starts by evaluating the relationship you share with yourself and working to be the change you wish to see in them. If a positive body image is something you’ve had a difficult time dealing with in the past, communicate that with your teens. Tell them how you were feeling during that time, what you did to combat those feelings, and how you’ve worked to improve since then. Doing this will allow you to improve your relationship with your daughter or son and communicate more effectively.

Be sure to check out our book Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age for more discussions and information about this topic. For kids ages 6-12, your family may enjoy our other books, Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story, A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image and Messages About Me: Wade’s Story, A Boy’s Quest for Healthy Body Image.

Fiona Leikness is an editor for Educate and Empower Kids and student at BYU-I. She is currently studying English with an emphasis on creative writing and editing.

Improve Your Relationship with Your Daughter – Here are Four Ways to Better Communication

Improve Your Relationship with Your Daughter – Here are Four Ways to Better Communication

By K. Parker 

I had a difficult time talking to my dad when I was younger. Like so many other dads, my dad struggled with words, though he tried to make up for that with his actions.

A strong foundation for a father/daughter relationship begins with caring. My dad and I definitely had that going for us, but because the building blocks of a father/daughter relationship roll right into the kind of dating relationships and marriage a girl might have, you need more than just unspoken loyalties. The following are ideas to help dads to truly connect: 

Four Tips to Help Dads Connect with Their Daughters:

  1. Communicate your love clearly

Much of the time, my dad showed his love through the activities I was interested in. I’m a singer and musician, and my dad has always been my biggest supporter. He made me feel like I was talented and special, he’d even find shows on TV— singing competitions and the like where we’d sit and analyze the techniques and such. All of this pushed me to follow my heart and grow my talents more than I would’ve on my own. But what I didn’t understand and what a lot of kids don’t always understand is that, without words, the meaning gets lost— especially when it’s hidden behind a love language they may not share with their dad.

  • Dads, say “I love you” frequently
  • Tell her you’re proud of her often
  • Listen to what she has to say and keep that line of communication open 
  1. Apologize frequently when in conflict

A couple things I learned from my dad are the things he isn’t able to do well. He has a bad temper and it is hard for him to admit when he’s wrong. These are things that I learned I didn’t want in a husband, and I ended up marrying a man who does not have a short fuse.

Of course mistakes happen, and tempers always flare when it comes to kids testing your patience, so make sure to be quick to apologize if you were in the wrong. If you want your kids to learn how to say they’re sorry, then be that example. 

  • Be quick to apologize before giving your reasons for your actions
  • Admit when you’ve made a mistake and own up to it
  1. How to talk to a teenage girl about puberty 

My dad really had a hard time communicating his actual feelings. It was difficult watching him struggle with his temper and yell at things when they didn’t work properly. Or how he couldn’t be serious and give a genuine apology when it made him feel awkward, and he’d try to joke it off instead of just straight up saying sorry. All of this made having personal conversations practically impossible— especially during the teenage/puberty years. 

Don’t make your daughter feel awkward by being too distant in your everyday communication so when she grows up and her body changes, you can talk to her about more personal things. Girls often feel uncomfortable and scared at those natural changes in their bodies. 

  • Reassure her in these changes and help her feel beautiful, and help remind her that it’s her intelligence and kindness that matter the most
  • Don’t stop hugging her, she will notice
  • Treat periods as the natural process they are. If you act uncomfortable about them, then she will feel they are something to be ashamed of
  1. Support her interests 

When I began dating, I didn’t have anything specific in mind as to what kind of guy I was looking for. I didn’t really have a type other than someone I clicked with. Thinking about it now, I can see that many of the traits I found I enjoyed— someone kind who I can share interests with— my dad has too. He likes sharing interests, he’s a fun person who likes to make people laugh with his stories, and he is a genuinely kind man. The man I married is all those things as well. We enjoy many similar interests and support each other in those interests. He likes making people feel welcome and at ease in our home. He’s kind, as well as goofy. 

Be excited for your girl beyond just going to events and such. Get involved and make her feel special and proud of her talents, and show that those talents matter to you. 

  • Learn about her interests, be it sports, dance, a TV show or book series, etc. so you can engage in a genuine conversation with her about it
  • Listen when she talks about those interests
  • Tell her you’re proud of the hard work she puts into improving her talents and skills

The relationships you create with your children are something that will stick with them for the rest of their lives. I’m grateful for the good people my mom and dad are, and that I’ve learned so much from them. They’ve both taught me the different kinds of ways to love another person. 

Along with that, I’m glad I’ve been able to get to know my dad as I’ve grown up, and I can more easily understand where he was coming from. I can see that he was communicating his love to me all along, it was just harder to see when I was younger and more self-centered. Help your kids see a little clearer when they’re young. Even if you feel like you keep making mistakes, keep trying.

For more advice on how to communicate effectively and build strong, healthy relationships with your kids, check out our books 30 Days to a Stronger Child and Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age

Parker is a writer and editor for Educate and Empower Kids, and a graduate from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Professional Studies in English. She is excitedly pursuing a career in copy editing as she grows her little family. 

6 Strategies To Help Your Child Develop A Healthier Relationship With Screens

6 Strategies To Help Your Child Develop A Healthier Relationship With Screens

By George Newton

Electronic devices and screen time are a common aspect of daily life. As with most things, screen time in moderation can be beneficial. Since screens are likely going to continue to be a significant part of our kids’ lives, we as parents need to perfect our strategies to help combat the detrimental parts of having such constant exposure. To help create those strategies, here are six tips that you can use to help your children develop a healthier relationship with screens.

1. Set Daily Limits

Yvonne Bennett, a journalist at Brit Student  says, “Establish a clear daily limit and make sure that you are consistent and stick to it.” It’s hard to find the balance of how much time your kids should spend on screens, and it can oftentimes be even harder to stay consistent with such rules. But these kinds of restrictions are crucial to helping our kids learn how to engage with the world around them in a meaningful and healthy way. Being absorbed in screens only restricts that growth and makes it harder in the future. 

Help your kids transition from being on screens to getting off. Giving kids a clear time limit, and prior warnings (about 5-10 minutes before it’s time to get off) will help that transition go a little easier and will hopefully minimize any tantrums that might occur. Getting your kids their own individual devices might help to reduce fighting between siblings in the short-term, but having them take turns instead can help with moderating the time they spend on screens as well. Set a timer for how long each kid has, and make sure they stick to that to create a fair and controlled screen time experience. Having your kids take turns will also help them practice the basic principles of sharing with others.

Bennett also suggests, “Another way to track children’s screen time is to use an app. Many of the apps available also allow parents to set daily limits, meaning that once your child has reached it, the device turns off or no longer provides internet access.” This will help to further solidify that screen time is limited, and will help kids to branch out and find other means of entertaining themselves, which is very healthy for their growing imaginations.

2. Create No-Screen Zones

Having multiple places within your home that are strictly no-screen zones is not only beneficial, but it is also crucial for kids to learn how to balance their activities and relationships. Designate specific areas or zones in your home to be no-screen areas. For example, this could be bedrooms or the dinner table. You could also set up a desktop computer for the kids to take turns using in a communal living space where the screen time can be monitored more easily. This will also come in handy during schoolwork hours since you will be able to ensure that they don’t drift into playing games online.

Along with no-screen zones, create no-screen times such as during meal times or at bedtime. You might even plan to have one day out of the week with no-screens, which will continue to help kids learn how to engage their imagination and find alternative ways of entertaining themselves. Overall, it’s important to be consistent with these rules and to follow them yourself. 

3. Watch Things Together

Not only is it important to share fun activities with your kids, but parents who are aware of what content their children are consuming online are in a better position to provide kids with important and more specific information about online safety. Engaging with your kids while they’re using the electronic devices also provides an opportunity to connect and find those common interests.  

“Instead of just letting your child watch a video or program alone, sit and watch it with them. If you have young children, watch high-quality shows with them and be actively involved, reinforcing educational content and sharing the experience together. You even extend these interests into non-screen time, through imaginative play or storytelling,” says Paul Marson, an educator at Origin Writings.

Watching stuff together can also reinforce specified screen times. Make it exciting to watch together, and show that you’re eager to see what happens next, so when you need to step away to accomplish other tasks, the kids know that you’ll continue watching later, and they can look forward to it. This also helps them practice patience.

4. Discuss What Content Your Kids Are Consuming

It’s important to talk to kids of all ages about online safety and the dangers they might come across. Even with younger kids, it pays to be mindful of what they’re watching or listening to, including adverts or auto play videos. To avoid inappropriate content, it’s important to ensure that you have active parental controls or filters installed on all the devices your kids use. 

Along with filtering controls, have open conversations with your kids about the content they’re watching, what to do if they come across inappropriate content, or if someone is making them feel uncomfortable online. Similarly, many children also experience bullying on social media platforms, so encourage your kids to regularly talk to you about their online life as well. Set yourself up as approachable and understanding of their interests, and your kids will feel more willing to open up and come to you when they do come across these kinds of content.

5. Video Calls

Video calls are a great example of how screens can be used to connect with people and strengthen bonds. However, it’s also important that we teach our kids about what is and isn’t appropriate to share on a video. Talk to your kids and encourage them to consider their behaviour and the potential consequences of sharing inappropriate or explicit images or content when talking to their friends or family online.

Having these discussions  will also let them know what kinds of things to look out for if someone tries to show them inappropriate images or discuss with them inappropriate topics. Make sure to have that open communication with them where they can come to you if they come across something inappropriate or someone behaving this way.

6. Be A Good Example

Children learn so much from watching what the adults around them do, especially their parents. If we want our kids to develop a healthy relationship with their screen use, then we have to start by evaluating our own screen use. Lead by example and model healthy habits when it comes to screens. 

  • Create and maintain no-screen zones in your home
  • Limit your own screen time
  • Avoid using your phone or tablet during family time or dinner time
  • Plan quality family time outside the house
  • Prioritize one-on-one time with your kids

Kids definitely see when effort is made to connect with them and have meaningful conversations. Screens really are one of the most major distractions from creating those crucial bonds, both in kids and parents alike. Make your kids feel important by setting that example of prioritizing relationships over distractions.

In order to help children develop a healthy relationship to screens, reassess your own behaviour and begin by being a positive role model. Have ongoing, open conversations about your kids’ use of and interaction with screens and ways to stay safe. By creating an open atmosphere in which you clearly and consistently share your logic for screen usage and behaviours, the more likely your child will be to respect these and be willing to follow them.

For more ideas on how to approach these discussions and build important guidelines with your kids, check out our book Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Discussions for the Digital Age.

George J. Newton is an experienced business development manager at Write my research paper and PhD Kingdom. He also regularly writes for Cheap coursework. George has been married for ten years and enjoys spending his spare time playing video games with his family.

How Dads Can Prepare to Discuss Pornography with Their Daughters

How Dads Can Prepare to Discuss Pornography with Their Daughters

By Balint Horvath

Photo by Caroline Hernandez on Unsplash

When you think of your daughter, you might think of the old Mother Goose nursery rhyme. “What are little girls made of? Sugar and spice and all things nice.” As a father, the last thing on your mind is that one day you’ll have to talk to your daughter about pornography. 

Today’s article discusses a very sensitive subject, but as a father raising a precious little girl in a very different world, I feel it’s necessary to give this topic its due diligence.  Let’s look at why it’s important to have these discussions and how exactly we should go about them. 

Why Is it Important to Speak to Your Daughter About Pornography?

Children today are becoming exposed to the internet at much younger ages. With the many devices and constant exposure to screen time, it’s only a matter of time before your daughter is exposed to something unsavory on the internet. 

Not only is nothing private or sacred anymore, but our culture has become increasingly hypersexualized. Social media, internet chat rooms, and social applications are only a few examples of where your daughter could be exposed to pornography. 

Now, I know what you’re thinking. Perhaps if you ban the internet in your home you can minimize the risk. However, that train of thought will do more harm than good. Remember that almost every child has a smartphone and an internet connection these days. 

There’s a very powerful quote by Doug Flanders that reads, “No parent can child-proof the world. A parent’s job is to world-proof the child.” It reminds me of the countless hours I spent baby-proofing cabinets and drawers when my daughter was a baby. While I wish I could run out into the world and remove all the bad things from her path, I know that I can’t. But I can do the next best thing, which is to prepare her to deal with those bad things. 

Create a Foundation of Trust with Your Daughter

The first step in discussing pornography with your daughter is by creating a foundation of trust. Healthy teamwork in sports requires trust, just like in the case of a family. This process begins as early as the toddler days. Engage in conversations with your little one about topics that include their bodies, which areas are considered private and why, what consent is, and general health and well-being. 

You aren’t going to be too graphic with your three-year-old, but this is when and how you’ll want to start the conversation. As your daughter grows up, the conversation will continue to grow based on what you’ve already taught her. As she grows older she won’t be as hesitant to ask questions because she feels comfortable discussing such topics with you. 

Let Your Daughter Ask Questions!

Encourage your daughter to ask questions about pornography and related topics. Remember that this topic should be in the form of a conversation between you and your daughter with two-way dialogue back and forth. There should always be room for questions, no matter how awkward or uncomfortable they might make you feel. Approach it as part of a general discussion about women’s bodies, necessary boundaries, healthy relationships with herself and others, and what a healthy body image is. Ideally, you and your partner should both have these types of conversations with your daughter on an ongoing basis.

If there are any questions she asks that you don’t have the answers to, table the question for a later time and do research into the topic to help her learn safely and accurately. It’s important to find the relevant answer and provide her feedback, all the while making her feel her questions matter to you. This builds on the trust relationship that you need to build with her.

Keep Your Tone Approachable and Casual

Avoid having a stern or overly anxious tone when discussing pornography or any other sex-related topic. A stern tone might make her feel uncomfortable or as if she has asked something wrong. These sorts of interactions will scare her and will shut off any future opportunity for such a conversation between you. 

Discuss the Importance of Consent

From an early age, it’s important to teach your daughter about boundaries and personal space. It’s important to establish that no always means no. Regardless of the situation, no should always mean no. This should apply not only to her own personal boundaries, but when she associates with others as well.

Mistakes to Avoi

Since pornography isn’t on the list of top topics we want to discuss with our daughters, we might often try and avoid the conversation altogether. Or at the very least, postpone it as long as we can. This is the opposite of what you want to do.

I’ve listed a few of the more common mistakes parents should avoid when talking to daughters about pornography:

  • Not Talking About Pornography At All: Ask yourself the following question: Do you want your daughter receiving accurate, concise information from you or from strangers, other kids, or the internet? Engaging in the conversation will help you control the type of information she receives. Don’t avoid the topic! 
  • Not Preparing Before Discussing Pornography with Your Daughter: Discussing such a sensitive and controversial topic shouldn’t be done from one minute to the next. Firstly, you and your partner need to discuss what you define as acceptable and what you find offensive. You need to establish common ground. Both parents need to have the same answers and standpoints. Having different opinions on the subject will be confusing. Research your approach and practice the way you would answer certain questions so that you aren’t caught off guard. 
  • Not Listening to Your Daughter’s Thoughts About Pornography: As I’ve mentioned before, encourage questions. It’s important to specify that no topic is off-limits. Make a point of finding the answers to questions you might not have the answers to. It’s okay for you to not know everything!
  • Not Monitoring Internet Use: Monitor your daughter’s internet usage. There are a lot of questionable topics and websites that are only a click away. Monitor social media accounts, chats and the use of applications. Ensure they are age-appropriate. 
  • Not Discussing What Healthy Relationships Are with Your Daughter: You need to constantly have conversations with your daughter about body image, body shaming, and the aspects of healthy relationships between people. Discuss what is acceptable and what isn’t. Help her establish her own self-worth. 

Final Thoughts 

When you discuss pornography with your daughter, approach the topic as you would any other topic. Allow for questions and answer as scientifically and accurately as possible. There’s no need to sugarcoat the topic. Always remember that your information could safeguard your daughter as she gets older. 

Every time you feel like you want to avoid the topic, remind yourself that if you don’t discuss it with her, a stranger might. Approach the subject as part of a much broader topic. Start a conversation about body image, boundaries, and healthy relationships. Once you start the conversation it’ll become easier to build on it. Empower your daughter and “world-proof” her against the world!

For more information on communicating successfully with your child on a number of difficult topics, check out How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography and  Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age. Available on Amazon.

Balint Horvath is the founder of Projectfather. He’s a first-time father and when his daughter doesn’t occupy him, he is a productivity coach. He started the site to share his lessons learned, research he has made along his journey. His Mission Is to help Dads in A-Z of Fatherhood.

Simple Ways to Protect Your Child from Common Abuse in the Digital Age

Simple Ways to Protect Your Child from Common Abuse in the Digital Age

35-year-old math teacher Brian Robeson initially began meeting privately with 14-year-old student Anna under the guise of mentorship. Soon after, he hosted private lunches with Anna in his classroom during school. Then he kissed her on her forehead during a school field trip. Finally he turned to email, using the platform to keep in contact with Anna 24/7. Her parents had no idea (Dejka, 2019).

The rise of the internet, smartphones and tablets, and hundreds of apps have created a dangerous situation for the children using these platforms. Without the direct supervision of a parent, children can find themselves interacting online with people they don’t know or worse, people like Brian Robeson who are looking to take advantage of the ease of online communication platforms. It’s critical for parents to understand that it is usually NOT a stranger in the shadows talking with their child online; most often, it is an adult they interact with in their daily life looking for an easy way to isolate and manipulate their victim. 

According to Darkness to Light, nearly 90% of child abuse victims know their abuser. This staggering statistic forces parents to rethink who exactly is the greatest risk to their child online. And while apps like Kik and Whisper can connect children with thousands of strangers, it is also a possibility that an abuser who already knows the child will use online portals to have direct contact with their victim. This direct and unsupervised contact also enables institutional abusers to take advantage of public trust, like the churches and schools that employ them, while still creating abusive relationships with children online. By moving the manipulation online, abusers are able to maintain trust with the victim’s family and other adults in their life by seemingly behaving appropriately in the real world. 

This reality can seem overwhelming, but there are ways parents can be active abuse prevention partners in their child’s internet experience. The best defense is keeping your kids off smartphones and social media until they are in their last one to two years of high school. Yes, all your friends are giving their kids smartphones sooner, but we have yet to hear of ANY parent who is glad they gave their child a smartphone or access to social media when they did. EVERY parent we have ever talked to, all over the country wishes they had waited!

But if you are not able to do this, you must gain a thorough understanding of the internet and it’s specific codes and acronyms. This can help parents quickly identify potentially dangerous individuals communicating with their children. Once you have an understanding of what the online world looks like for your child, it’s incredibly important to establish an open dialogue concerning internet safety. Honest and specific conversations about who your child is allowed to contact, what kind of communication they’re allowed to have, and what to do if your child comes across something like nudity or other explicit content online, is the foundation of a healthy online experience. 

In addition to educating yourself and creating an honest dialogue, the following are simple steps parents can take to respectfully monitor their child’s online presence

  • Place the computer or gaming system in a common area where their use can be easily monitored
  • Use monitoring apps like Circle Go to see where and how much time your child is spending on social media apps, certain games, and other online activities
  • Spend time with your child online and see who they really are online
  • Talk to your kids often about online dangers 
  • Listen carefully and respectfully to what your child says about their online habits—even if they seem unimportant—so your child will feel comfortable bringing up potentially serious issues with you 

The internet age and all of its offshoots can often make parents feel like they are fighting a losing battle. However, the risks of letting your child have free reign over their online world requires active, informed parent involvement. This involvement doesn’t have to be a chore as finding fun, interactive things to do online is totally possible for both parents and children. Plus, any excuse to develop a foundation of honest communication between you and your child is a positive experience and building block of a successful parent/child relationship. 

For more information on communicating successfully with your child, check out Conversations with My Kids: 30 Essential Family Discussions for the Digital Age on Amazon. If you are looking for information about taking with your child about sexuality, check out 30 Days of Sex Talks, Empowering Your Child with Knowledge of Sexual Intimacy (available for 3 age groups: 3-7, 8-11, and 12+).  

Citations: 

(2020, February 06). Child sexual abuse statistics. Darkness to Light: End Child Sexual Abuse. https://www.d2l.org/child-sexual-abuse/statistics/

Dejka, J., Nitcher, E. (2019, December 18). Emails, hugs, promises: Teen victim describes how OPS teacher groomed her for sexual abuse. Omaha World-Herald. https://omaha.com/news/education/emails-hugs-promises-teen-victim-describes-how-ops-teacher-groomed-her-for-sexual-abuse/article_0137a540-e2c0-59ae-b370-6c2a134e1649.html