Instagram, Kick, Facebook, Tumblr, Vine, Twitter. There are so many different social media sites, it seems impossible to keep up. But as a parent we MUST! It will be tough, but so worth it.
We live in a world where a teen can never really escape classmates. Just about everything that happens is recorded in some way and then shared for everyone to see. Once it’s out there, it can never really be gone. We need to help teens understand this but also realize mistakes will be made. Helping your teen have positive self-esteem (see previous entry), will help them from over-posting.
Notice I say teen throughout this. It is my belief only teens should have access to social media and even then only with supervision. Young brains are still developing and some things (like social media) they are just not ready for. I’ve yet to hear a reason that would warrant someone 12 and under having access to social media.
Once you allow your teen to have social media, you need to put some safe guards in place. First you need to join whatever site they are on and have access to their site. You may ask “How do I know what site they are on.” You should have access to whatever devices they use (computer, phone, tablet, etc). You should have all passwords and check them frequently and randomly. Then, join the sites they are using and have access to your teen’s posts, pics, etc. If your teen does not want you to see what they are doing, you should be asking why and having a talk with them. Remember, it’s okay if they are unhappy with this. When they are twenty-five and trying for a promotion, they don’t want something from their teen years popping up online and ruining it for them. (You probably won’t get a thank you for it though)
Think about limiting the number of social media sites they are on. We are losing the ability to talk with one another and share in an authentic way. More social media will not help this!
Think about having social media free days.
Definitely have a cut off time where your teen has to bring their phone to you for the night. Let it charge in your room. There is too much temptation to check the phone.
Some of these tips may seem over the top, but, unfortunately, I’ve seen firsthand the negatives that can happen.
Bonus: A lot of these tips you could follow too!
“I’m ugly” “I can’t do it” “You don’t like me” “I don’t want to try”
Hearing these words from your child are heartbreaking. As a parent of three ranging from ages 2-8, I can say that I have already heard these phrases. Even my two year old frequently says “I can’t.” The way I respond makes a difference.
I want all of my children to grow up to be confident, independent, caring adults. In order for that to happen, I need to help them build positive self-esteem. I also need to balance that without over-inflating their ego. Here are some tips I follow:
Praise when they really deserve it. This means really looking at what they do and praising them for a job well done (age appropriate of course). For example, my two year-old colors inside a large circle and I say, “Great job staying inside the circle” and give a high five or hug. If my five year-old drew a circle and then colored in the circle, I could say “Awesome” and again give a high five or hug. If my eight year-old drew a person with clothes, I could say “Terrific” and (surprise) a high five or hug. Notice, I not only give verbal praise but some sort of physical affection as well.
Notice what your kid enjoys doing and point it out, even if they have not mastered it yet. For example, I may hear my eight year-old singing but doing so slightly off tune. I may say “Hmmm, you seem to really like to sing.” That’s it! I won’t say “Beautiful singing” if it is not true. That’s not helpful. Just commenting on what she seems to like to do will make her feel good.
Teach your child how to do something you are good at. For example, for a little one show her how to hammer using a toy. Then as she ages, teach her how to use a real one. Mastering skills builds confidence. Have patience while doing this. Remember it can take numerous times.
Don’t do everything for your kids. If your child says “I can’t,” help them but make sure they are still the one doing. For example, if my son says he can’t go across the monkey bars by himself, I provide physical support but he still has to use upper body strength.
Let your child teach you something. This can be something such as a song, how to draw something, or even something they learned at school. You may be surprised at what they know.
Lastly, encourage your child to take a break when frustrated but then return to the task. Giving up shouldn’t be an option.
These same tips work for all ages. No matter what age or what your child says, everyone wants their loved ones positive attention. (It works for adults too)
Next blog: How to navigate the social media world with kids
JENNIFER EULBERG, MA, LPC
Welcome Jennifer, our new blogger!
Jennifer is a counselor at Sandhill who specializes in depression, self-esteem, and grief & loss. Get to know Jennifer as she shares her perspectives on life, contemplates value themes, and offers gentle encouragement.
THANK YOU to Stefanie Pisarkiewicz, LPC for her blog contributions from November 2014 - February 2019!