Body Image: Is it Mom’s fault or the Media’s?

Body Image: Is it Mom’s fault or the Media’s?

 

By Kami Loyd

Like most little girls, I grew up wanting to be just like my mom. I thought she was the prettiest, smartest, best person ever born. However, she didn’t feel this way about herself and it had a great impact on me that I didn’t quite understand until I was an adult. One of my earliest memories is my mom weighing food on a scale to help her lose weight on her new diet. I also remember my grandmother only eating a single piece of toast with a glass of hot chocolate so she wouldn’t overeat.

In my teenage years I developed a very negative body image that was in small part due to media portrayals of unattainable female perfection and in large part due to the many women in my life who had a negative body image.

Although the women in my life’s words said that I was pretty and healthy just the way I was, what I was learning from their actions was that if I was not perfect looking, I had no value as a person. Unfortunately, I carried this body image with me for years, until I met my husband who helped me to see past my negative body image and begin to appreciate myself inside and out.

Unfortunately, my experience is not unique. A study done by P.A.C.E.Y. found that some children starting as young as 3-years-old struggle with body confidence. The study also found that childcare workers had heard 31% of children label themselves as fat. The research also found that 47% children between 6-10 years of age have body image issues. Another online study found that 66% of teenage girls struggle with body image, and although the results for boys are better 30% of men ages 13-64 also struggle.

What can parents do to help our children, besides simply telling them they are attractive and/or healthy? Here is a list of helpful tips to help our children and ourselves as we struggle with body image.

Recognize when you are struggling with body image. Our children are much more likely to “hear” our actions, whether positive or negative, than to hear our words. Take this short quiz to see if you struggle with negative body image.

  1. Have you found yourself picking apart every picture taken of you, untagging yourself from a friend’s picture because you look “fat”, or even trying to avoid being in a picture all together?
  2. Do you choose clothes to hide all of your “bad parts” like your rolls, ugly toes, patchy skin, etc?
  3. Do you compare your body to models, your next door neighbor, your best friend, a family member and find yourself generally lacking?
  4. Are the thoughts you think about yourself and especially your physical appearance generally negative?

If you answered yes to any of these questions or even maybe, then you are probably struggling to some degree with a negative body image. Nicole Hawkins, PhD (n.d.)  has said “negative body image is a serious problem and has damaging effects on women’s self-esteem. It can lead to depression, as well as an eating disorder.

Changing our world starts with me. Self-love and respect, and the end of prejudice start with one person at a time.” If we are struggling with body image concerns we can acknowledge them and then work to overcome the problem in ourselves. One thing parents can do as they are striving to overcome their own body image concerns, is to set a family goal to live a healthy lifestyle then let your children help you accomplish these things by suggesting exercise ideas, helping create healthy menu options, finding healthy snack options for the whole family, etc. As parents and children work together, negative body image perceptions will begin to change.

Help your child understand the difference between a healthy lifestyle and the nonexistent “perfect body”. Bodies come in different sizes and shapes, and all can be attractive when properly cared for. The pamphlet Help Your Child Grow Up Healthy and Strong (n.d.) reminds parents, “make healthy eating and daily physical activity fun, to help children learn good habits to last a lifetime”(p. 3).

Teach your kids to have body gratitude. It seems that many children and teenagers embrace the notion that only one body type is desirable, which can lead to negative self body image. Yet if they are taught body gratitude, both of these children can learn to be healthy and happy. Parents can do this by having discussions aimed at helping children recognize what they can do. Asking questions to younger children like “what can your hands do that help you to be you?” or “what can your legs do that help you to move?” may need help discovering what their bodies can do such as walk, jump, color, play an instrument, etc . Older children can be engaged by discussing what bodies are  capable of doing regardless of physical appearance, such as having children when they are ready, which will help them to be grateful for their body.

Talk to your children about what they see and what they hear. Even if we are consistently modeling positive body image, our children receive messages from peers and media. To help parents do this, Educate and Empower Kids has some great resources including two books, Messages About Me: Wade’s Story: A Boy’s Quest for Healthy Body Image and Messages About Me: Sydney’s Story: A Girl’s Journey to Healthy Body Image, a lesson on Healthy Body Image, and the article 20 Ways to Compliment your Child that have Nothing to Do with Appearance. Using these resources, especially reading these books with children and trying out some of the discussion in the workbooks can help parents have meaningful, open conversations with their children about body image.

Consistently teach your children to love themselves. Showing our children in actions, words, and deeds that they are worth loving and helping them to discover that worth in themselves is essential! PBS’s The Whole Child (n.d.) declares, “How your children feel about themselves is one of your greatest responsibilities and biggest challenges. People who have a positive sense of self feel like they have something worthwhile to contribute and a sense of internal worth.”  Modeling positive self-talk can help our children learn to love themselves. Sometimes as parents we may not have the best positive self-talk, but we should practice consistently to help ourselves and our children. A great resource to teach children positive self-talk is the lesson entitled “Positive Self-Talk” in our 30 Days to a Stronger Child book.

As parents we have the opportunity to foster in our children a love of themselves, which can lead them to feelings of self-worth. Having self-worth will help them to understand their value, that they are unique and their perspective is as valuable as another person’s. Parents can do this by encouraging their child’s healthy habits and reminding them to not be as concerned with what the scale says as with how they feel. This will help their child to love themselves because they will understand their value isn’t based on a number but on what they can do.  

Although it may seem that having the “perfect” body is overemphasized in our culture, we can remind ourselves and teach our children better. The examples that I set for myself and my children matter because they are watching. Although I have just had a baby, I am seeking to set a good example for my children by teaching them how amazing it is that my body could grow and care for him, instead of worrying about losing the baby weight. As parents we have the responsibility to nurture our children’s self-worth. We don’t have to fit into society’s ideal, but we do need to teach our children to live happy, healthy, and productive lives.

Take time to strengthen your child! 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.

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:

Department of Health and Human Services, Department of Agriculture & Department of Education. (n.d.). Help Your Child Grow Up Healthy and Strong [Brochure]. Author. Retrieved November 3, 2017, from https://www2.ed.gov/parents/academic/health/growhealthy/growhealthy.pdf

Hawkins, N. (n.d.). Ways to Overcome a Negative Body Image. Retrieved November 03, 2017, from http://www.byui.edu/counseling-center/self-help/eating-disorders/negative-body-image

Miller, K. (2016, January 03). The Shocking Results of Yahoo Health’s Body-Positivity Survey. Retrieved November 03, 2017, from https://www.yahoo.com/lifestyle/the-shocking-results-of-yahoo-1332510105509942.html

PACEY. (2016, August 31). Children as young as 3 unhappy with their bodies. Retrieved November 03, 2017, from https://www.pacey.org.uk/news-and-views/news/archive/2016-news/august-2016/children-as-young-as-3-unhappy-with-their-bodies/

PBS. (n.d.). I’m Glad I’m Me: Developing Self-Esteem in Young Children. Retrieved November 03, 2017, from https://www.pbs.org/wholechild/parents/glad.html

Celebrating the Bests Dads: Fathers that Inspire Us to Be Better

Celebrating the Bests Dads: Fathers that Inspire Us to Be Better

By Kami Loyd

If I listed the plethora of amazing attributes of my dad, you would think I am exaggerating or describing a fictional character. Some may think “that’s nice” or “you’re lucky” and I agree that I am. But thankfully there is more than just one amazing dad in this world and I would like to introduce you to some of them so we can learn from them and be better parents.

The Balancing Father

One friend I asked commented that her dad and husband both had a way of interjecting into child vs. mother arguments without getting involved in the argument itself, while at the same time expressing that the argument was becoming disrespectful. Wise fathers have the ability to help family members recognize when they are being disrespectful of the other without resorting to abuse in any form. Alice Crider said, “Whatever form of discipline you choose, administer it with respect. Your child will learn nothing if you lose your cool. If you want him to be respectful, then you’ll have to model respect.” As fathers model respect, their children will see it and will choose to be respectful in return. Then the whole family will benefit just as my friends family has.

The Serving Father

Another friend talked about how his dad was always willing to serve others even when it was difficult or inconvenient. “He just serves others,” he said “family, friends, anyone. It doesn’t matter to my dad, he just wants to serve.” But why should we teach children to serve? Marilyn Price-Mitchell remarked, “one of the most important outcomes of [serving] for children is the potential to develop into more empathetic and caring young people.” Service is a quality that many parents want to teach their children because it fosters in them feelings of love, gratitude, respect, and caring for others. Emulating my second friends’ father will show our children the importance and value of service.

The Dependable Father

A third friend discussed how her father was always there for his children. She said:

“To this day he is the one person I know I can count on when I need help or an ear to listen…I can’t tell you what it means to me…to have him tell me he’s proud of the woman and more importantly the mother I became.”

Why is dependability important? Children need to know someone will always be there for them even when they make mistakes. Having a dependable father teaches them that there is always someone to have their back, help them as they deal with consequences, etc.

The Teaching Father

My first friend also commented how her father taught her. “I learned thing differently from a dad than a mom”. Most parents understand that each child is different and that teaching them all, in the same way is a futile effort. But it is also true that for different tasks, children may learn better from their dad than from their mom. Brett Copeland was quoted as saying “Fathers encourage competition, independence, and achievement. Mothers encourage equity, security, and collaboration.” Children need dads who teach them these important life skills.

The Perfect Dad

Each of my friends has had the perfect dad, just as I did, for them. The common element in all of these dads is that they engaged their kids. Yes, they all made mistakes in parenting and some took longer to learn the attributes I have described but each made an impact in their child’s life because they were interested, involved, and engaged. There are so many great dads around and at this time of year, we should celebrate them for who they are, what they teach and what we learn from their shining examples.

Ready to be one of these parents? Check out our book 30 Days to a Stronger Child for more information to help you raise capable, confident children

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.

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:

Crider, A. (2009, Aug. & sept.). Handling Disrespect. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from https://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/effective-biblical-discipline/approaches-to-discipline/handling-disrespect

Loyd, S. (2015, June 03). Why Kids Need Their Dads. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from http://www.parenting.com/article/why-kids-need-their-dads

Price-Mitchell, M. (2015, June 11). Grow a Child’s Empathy in 3 Easy Ways. Retrieved December 29, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/the-moment-youth/201506/grow-childs-empathy-in-3-easy-ways

 

How to Create Healthy Relationships

How to Create  Healthy Relationships

Strong, healthy relationships are the foundation of society. Everyone has multiple relationships with family members, friends, acquaintances, work associates and others. And when these are unhealthy individuals may suffer. Relationships can become unhealthy from abuse, neglect, mistreatment, or apathy.

Teaching children how to build healthy relationships will enable them to recognize when a relationship is unhealthy, build healthy relationships, and allow them to help others to foster healthy relationships.

Children and adults have various relationships such as those between peers, teacher-student, parent-child, siblings, boss-employee, romantic partners, etc. A healthy relationship is one where both individuals are invested, caring about the other, and there is reciprocity of positive emotions, actions, and thoughts.

Within this lesson, you will find great discussion questions and a fun quiz to help kids determine what makes a healthy relationship and how to foster them.

Download the Lesson Here!

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

Available in Kindle or Paperback!

8 Ways to Help Your Kids Put Down Their Phone

8 Ways to Help Your Kids Put Down Their Phone

By: Courtney Cagle and Melody Bergman

 

It’s happening all around us: the zombie apocalypse. What’s that you say? You don’t hear chainsaws or see gory corpses staggering through the streets? Ah, but look more closely…

On a recent beach trip I saw them, a flock of teens staring eerily ahead–not at the balmy seaside, but at the glowing little boxes in their hands. They’re everywhere. On the street, in the mall, walking to school, in restaurants. With that blank stare and those stumbling steps. The little glowing boxes slowly sucking out their BRAINS!

Now in all honesty, our kids are not the only ones addicted to their phones. We know that. But they are definitely the ones who are at the most risk, especially because their brains are not fully developed. In fact, technology has developed so fast that the research about how it actually affects our brains is having trouble catching up. In essence, the rising generation is the guinea pig generation. We are just starting to see the effects of tech saturation in the statistics that are beginning to surface. And the news isn’t good.

According to national surveys, our children are more anxious than ever before, and juvenile depression and suicide rates are skyrocketing. Incidentally these statistics correlate with the invention of the smartphone. And although there is no proof of direct causation, many mental health professionals suspect these little glowing boxes are at least partly to blame (Mansfield, 2018).

Of course, at Educate and Empower Kids, we are not anti-technology. We strongly believe that tech–including phones–can and should be used for good. But just like all good things, our phones should be used in moderation.

Sometimes phones can get in the way of life for adults, but for kids a phone can end up controlling their lives. They become obsessed with social media and texts from friends, which they depend upon to show them how much people “like” them. They become addicted to the alerts from their phone and every time they hear it, they have to pick it up (Ungar, 2018). In this way, the phone doesn’t just get in the way of life; it starts becoming their life.

When it comes to our kids, we need to be smarter than the smart phones. We need to set boundaries and rules–it can’t be a free-for-all. As we work together as a team, we can help our kids break bad habits with their phones before they become an addiction.

Here are 8 ways you can help your kids put the phone down:

1. Lead by Example

Actions speak louder than words. Kids are more likely to follow what you do, not necessarily what you say. And they are always watching. They see your behavior with your phone, and they will copy what you’re doing. If you’re constantly texting, scrolling through Facebook, or checking emails on your phone, then they will think it’s natural for them to be on their phone a lot too. Even if you are using your phone for work, all your kids see is that you’re on your phone. Try to set restrictions for your own phone usage. You can do this by:

*Timing yourself

*Setting your phone aside when you are talking to your kids

*Not texting and driving

*Making and following rules for yourself about phone usage, etc.

You may not think that your kids are watching what you do, but they are. You are their role model. If you want to see them using good behavior on their phones, then you need to be willing to set the example. (Kwan, 2016), (Whelan, 2017).  

2.Set Boundaries Together

When you’re creating rules regarding phone usage, make sure to involve your kids in the process, so that it feels like a team-building experience rather than a punishment. Kids use phones to communicate with friends and stay connected to the world. At times it might be necessary to take away their phone as a consequence for inappropriate behavior, but when they are constantly losing their phone, it can damage your relationship and set the phone up as a “forbidden fruit.”

You want to set boundaries WITH them and make the rules WITH them to establish more trust and help your kids feel included and invested in these rules. They will also be more likely to follow the rules if they participate in the process. By setting rules with them, you are giving them the chance to explain why they believe they need a phone at certain times (Whelan, 2017).

3. Have Family Meals With No Phones

Family mealtime is a great time for everyone to put their phones away and connect with one another. Help your kids understand that when anyone at the table has their phone out, it sends a message to everyone else that they are not as important as the phone.

My dad would always have us put our phones on the counter before eating dinner at the table. This allowed us to great conversations as a family, because we were free from technological distractions.

You could also start a communal tech bucket where everyone places their phone before sitting down at the table to eat. This way no one will be tempted to look at their phone while sitting at the table. Make sure the volume is off so that if it rings or beeps, no one picks it up.

You can make it a little more interesting by making the first person who picks up their phone clean all the dishes or do another household chore. Maybe your kids won’t mind the cleaning if they get their phone or maybe they will try not to be the first one. Try it out and see (Kwan, 2016), (Whelan, 2017).

4. Set Time Limits

Most kids use their phone too much, too early in the morning, too late in the evening, or all of the above. It’s becoming an epidemic. However, there are ways to set time limits on phone usage.

Try creating a family charging station where everybody, including parents, places their phone to charge at night. This can be done in a public area of the house, so no one has access after bedtime. Set a specific time where everyone has to plug in their phones. You can also filter or monitor their phone. For more information on filtering and monitoring phones, check out this article.

Some filtering and monitoring apps, like Disney Circle and OurPact also allow you to control the kids’  phones with your phone. You can set times that you’d like the phone to turn on and off, whether it be at school, when they go to bed, or both. You can also turn their phone off with the app instantly if they aren’t listening when you call them downstairs. Apps like these may also include a time lock and an app blocker. It’s important for kids to get their sleep, so having a system where their phones are not with them or turned off with the click of a button is a great way to help enforce bedtime (Kwan, 2016), (Whelan, 2017).

5. Create a Reward System for Reduced Phone Time

Kids love positive reinforcement. So why not create a reward system to help regulate phone time?For example, you could have your kids go two or three days without screen time to earn a fun weekend outing of their choice. If you think they will choose something expensive, maybe create a list of possible fun outings and have them pick from that list. You can also invest in annual passes to the zoo, a theme park, or any other place in your area that they can choose from for their fun weekend. This will help them to stay off their phones and also allow the family to do something fun together (Kwan, 2016).

6. Have Them Earn Technology Time

One way to ensure more productivity is to make kids earn time spent on technology. For example: for every 30 minutes straight spent doing something productive, like homework, reading a book, or playing an instrument, they can earn 30 minutes of tech time. After they use the technology of their choice, like a phone, then they need to do another productive activity in order to earn more tech time. This is a great way to teach kids they have to work hard to earn something they want. It also helps them spend more time doing  important, productive activities (Kwan, 2016).

7. Give Kids a “Dumb” Phone

If your kids’ phone usage is getting out of control, don’t be afraid to downgrade and give them a flip phone that only texts and makes phone calls. You are the one who purchased the phone, and they need to respect that. If they can’t live by the rules, maybe they can’t handle the responsibility that comes with a smartphone. Teach your kids that they need to earn your trust by respecting the boundaries you have set together. After they have demonstrated that they can obey the rules, you might decide to provide a way for them to earn back the smartphone. (Whelan, 2017).

8. Help Kids Make a Schedule

When we help children plan out their day, they are less likely to constantly turn to their phones. Busy children accomplish more. They are happier and more confident. Help your kids fill their schedule with options that don’t involve a phone, like playing an instrument, reading a book, going on a walk, playing outside, drawing, crafting, or other activities that bring them joy.

You can teach your kids great life lessons through something as simple as spending less time on their phones. It takes time and effort to lead by example, to set boundaries and consequences, and to put some of these systems in place. But the rewards are worth it: healthier, happier, more mentally stable kids. And a few less zombies walking the streets!

Here are some great resources to help teach kids how to use technology for good:

Available in paperback or Kindle!

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

Melody Harrison Bergman is a mother and step-mom of three awesome boys, founder of Media Savvy Mamas, and a member of the Prevention Task Force for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications and has been writing and editing since 2002. Her mission is to motivate leaders and community members to educate and protect children and families.

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

Citations:

Kwan, M. (2016). 8 Creative Ways to Get Your Kids Off Their Phones. Retrieved May 25, 2018, from https://cellphones.lovetoknow.com/cell-phone-guides-how-tos/8-creative-ways-get-your-kids-off-their-phones

Mansfield, B. (2018, March 24). The scary truth about what’s hurting our kids. Retrieved June 4, 2018, from https://www.yourmodernfamily.com/scary-truth-whats-hurting-kids/

Ungar, M. (2018, January 16). Teens and Dangerous Levels of Cell Phone Use. Retrieved May 31, 2018, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/nurturing-resilience/201801/teens-and-dangerous-levels-cell-phone-use

Whelan, C. (2017, February 10). How to Get Your Kids Off Their Phone. Retrieved May 25, 2018, from https://www.rd.com/advice/parenting/get-your-kids-off-their-phone/

 

Creating Purpose in Summertime: Simple Online Ways to Serve

Creating Purpose in Summertime: Simple Online Ways to Serve

 

By Katelyn King and Melody Bergman

Now that school is coming to an end, many parents are trying to find good ways to keep their children busy. Family vacations, pool days, getting outside and camps are usually on the list. But why not try something different this year?

We can also use summertime to teach our kids to serve others. As children serve, they will learn to show love for others, see the world from a new perspective, appreciate their blessings, and gain empathy for others. Best of all, we can show them that service can be fun!

Some examples of good service opportunities might include volunteering at a soup kitchen, donating clothes, organizing a food drive, having a bake sale or car wash for charity, or writing letters to soldiers. If you search the web, you can find idea lists like this one with hundreds of ways to serve.

Many organizations, like the ones listed below, have built-in search engines to help you locate service opportunities specific to your area, interests, and specific needs. You can also search for great ideas on social media platforms like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter. .

Check out these organizations for great service opportunities:

 

Points of Light Foundation

Points of Light helps distribute nonprofit donations and can also help you find volunteer opportunities. Their search tool allows you to browse service opportunities in your area, and you can even select the distance you are willing to travel and type of service. Other search options include different age groups (children, teens, seniors, etc.), group service opportunities, and specific interests like the environment or helping animals.

 

Facebook: @beapointoflight

Twitter: @PointsofLight

Website: www.pointsoflight.org

 

AllforGood.org

Each month, All for Good hosts 150,000 local volunteer listings from feeds in major cities around the world. You don’t need to create an account to find ways to volunteer. You can simply click the “Find Ways to Volunteer” tab at the top of the page, and then type in your city and state or zip code to see what is going on around you. However, if you do decide to create an account, you can also start projects and look for volunteers in your area.

Facebook: @allforgood

Twitter: @All_for_Good

Website: www.allforgood.org

 

VolunteerMatch.org

Volunteer Match makes it easy for people and good causes to connect. When you log on, you can see what people are posting on their pages and visit their website. You can also enter your zipcode to see what is happening in your local community. You can even narrow down your search to include issues you are interested in, such as advocacy and human rights, art and culture, and children and youth.

 

Facebook: @VolunteerMatch

Instagram: @VolunteerMatch

Twitter: @VolunteerMatch

Website: www.volunteermatch.org

 

Unitedway.org

United Way has great information on donation opportunities. The goal of the organization is to  “fight for the health, education, and financial stability of every person in every community.” Their facebook page keeps up with current struggles and disasters and includes a link to their website where you can find local opportunities to help. They often share articles and opportunities that you can share or participate in with just one click. Although the main social media pages tend to focus on global donations and issues, many local chapters have set up social media accounts as well. We recommend finding and following the page created for a major city near you.

 

Facebook: @unitedway

Instagram: @unitedway

Twitter: @UnitedWay

Website: www.unitedway.org

(There are also local United Way pages.)

 

Goldenvolunteer.com

A fairly new volunteer website geared toward teens and young adults, Golden encourages people to download their app which can make finding local volunteer opportunities especially easy. A great feature on their website and app is that you can add volunteer needs that you know of in your area.

 

Facebook: @goldenappla

Instagram: @goldenapp

Twitter: @goldenapp

Website: www.goldenvolunteer.com

Once you have found a volunteering opportunity you are interested in, you can use social media to share it with others! Here are a few ways to share:

  • Post about service opportunities on your personal pages to let your friends know about them. Keep in mind that if you want more volunteers, you need to invite–not just inform..
  • Send personal messages inviting friends to contribute to a cause, and encourage them to share with friends they might feel might be interested.
  • Post on community pages and private groups to help spread the word.

This summer, our families can use social media for more than selfies and family vacations. We can teach our kids to use tech for good. We  can use it to make a difference and pay it forward.

For more ideas on teaching kids to #UseTech4Good, check out our children’s book, Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good. Join Noah as he learns how his actions with technology can cause a ripple effect for everyone around him–for good or for bad. We have the power to choose!

 

Great story, great discussions!

 

Katelyn King is a wife and mother of three 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.

Melody Harrison Bergman is a mother and step-mom of three awesome boys, founder of Media Savvy Mamas, and a member of the Safeguard Alliance for the National Center on Sexual Exploitation. She has a bachelor’s degree in communications and has been writing and editing since 2002. Her mission is to motivate leaders and community members to educate and protect children and families.

 

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

 

I Don’t Want My Child to Even Know the Word “Pornography”

I Don’t Want My Child to Even Know the Word “Pornography”

By Spencer Loyd

Do you have children who are starting to learn things you did not teach them? Whether it’s at school, with friends, at church, or from their older siblings, this can be nerve-wracking. You might be wondering, “What are they being exposed to?” and “How can I stop it?”

Recently, my seven-year-old son and I were watching a Disney movie and a man and woman kissed. Immediately, I heard my son say “Great, now they’re going to have sex.” It hit me like a ton of bricks.

My first thought was, “You don’t know what sex is! Why would you even say that?” After a couple seconds, I realized I had just given him one of the sex talks and explained the basics which is what had led to his comment and then my temporary freak out.

Many parents don’t want their kids to be introduced to the topics of sex or pornography and when it does happen they freak out, just as I did. This seems reasonable. Pornography can have detrimental effects, including reduced gray matter in the brain, the increased need for stimulation, behavioral addictions similar to drug addictions, “altered sexual tastes, less satisfactions in [relationships], and real-life intimacy and attachment problems” (Zimbardo, 2016). Based on these effects why would parents even allow their children to know the word pornography?

When your child has heard the word pornography, because children are curious they may be tempted to Google it and then be exposed. Therefore, many parents fear that once their children know the word “pornography,” it might lead to pornography use.

However, it is important to remember that no matter the circumstances almost everyone will be exposed to pornography at some point. According to Rob Jackson (2004), “Some researchers have stated that the average age of exposure to pornography is down to 8.” This is partially because our society is accepting of pornography. It is everywhere, including the internet, social media, television, magazines, books, and music! Teaching what pornography is and preparing kids to deal with exposure instead of choosing to view it, is one of the most important things we can do as parents.

As a father, I have found there are many effective ways to teach children to reject pornography. Children have different capacities for learning based on age and development, so parents will need to adapt to fit their child’s needs.

Here are some tips to help parents when addressing pornography:

  • Discuss with your spouse your beliefs on what constitutes pornography (ie. people posing in underwear, verbal sexual innuendos, or pornographic sites) and determine if your definitions of pornography are the same. Rob Jackson (2004) said, “If a child’s parents are divided about pornography, [teaching children] will be more difficult”.
  • Don’t try to shield your children from the word “pornography.” Educating your child isn’t taking their innocence; it is empowering them with knowledge and an understanding of how to behave. Teach your children what pornography is, the consequences of viewing it, your family’s rules regarding it, and what they should do if they are exposed to pornography.
    • Teach your child what body parts are and how they are used (i.e. breasts naturally feed children, penis includes a man’s urethra to urinate)
    • Look at advertisements in a magazine and discuss how the media uses a model’s body to appeal to consumers.
  • Monitor family members’ media use to avoid pornography.
    • Have all computers including laptops available only in public areas of the home, and monitor media usage including television programs, internet sites visited, and phone apps for content and usage.
    • Use site blocking software like Disney Circle, Net Nanny, SpyAgent, Qustodio, etc., to block and monitor your family’s online accessibility to porn sites.
  • Have open, honest, age-appropriate conversations often with your children about healthy sexuality. It is better for a child to be aware and prepared for the consequences of sex than to be unaware and be subjected to the consequences.
  • Talk to your kids about pornography. As parents, we may feel awkward to start these conversations but they are essential to helping our children understand why they should stay away from pornography.
  • If during your discussion you discover that your child has already been exposed to pornography, take Josh Gilman’s advice. In his article, When Your Child Has a Porn Habit, he discusses the importance of not shaming them. He says :

“The first thing you need to know is that your child needs you to not freak out. The truth is that nobody enjoys porn. Yes, it fires off dopamine like crazy, and yes, their brain is demanding that they watch it again. But every person who watches it also has that uncomfortable feeling in their stomach. As violent and disturbing as today’s porn is, despite every craving, there is also shame, and when you freak out you are only falsely confirming to them that they are shameful and they are disgusting.”

  • One of the most important things we can do is to keep communicating with our children about sex and pornography. As Amanda Grossman Scott said in her article, Your Child Has Seen Porn Now What?:

“Follow up. Frequently. The older your child gets, the more he or she won’t be under your direct supervision. Let your child know YOU haven’t forgotten the discussions you’ve had and that you are always available for follow-up questions. This is the best way to keep the lines of communication open and ensure that your child knows you are dependable.”

Following these tips can help parents clearly teach their children what pornography is and how to avoid it. Then instead of freaking out, you and your children can have effective discussions.

As a parent, I know that it is difficult to begin but you can do it!  Eventually, you’ll gain a closer relationship with your child even as you discuss issues as difficult as pornography–which is what has happened in our family, as my wife and I have tackled tough topics with our kids.

Great book, vital discussions! Available on Amazon

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.

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:

Jackson, R. (2004). When Children View Pornography. Retrieved November 21, 2017, from http://www.focusonthefamily.com/parenting/sexuality/when-children-use-pornography/when-children-view-pornography

Zimbardo, P., Ph.D. (2016, March 01). Is Porn Good For Us or Bad For Us? Retrieved November 21, 2017, from https://www.psychologytoday.com/blog/hero/201603/is-porn-good-us-or-bad-us

 

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