· A 13 year old boy sends a photo of his private parts to a 16 year old girl who shares it amongst her classmates. He is left feeling humiliated.
· A group of 15 year old boys take a photo up the skirt of their teacher in the classroom and post it on social media. They are expelled from school.
· A 14 year old girl takes a photo of her friend’s legs while she is wearing PE gear and posts it with the comment – “Look at her fat legs”. The school’s attempt to resolve the issue fails and the parents of the child in the photo remove her from the school.
We’ve all heard stories like this. Can parents set things up better to make it less likely to happen? Let’s assume these parents already had conversations with their kids about what not to do . The next thing parents usually do is to remove the device and impose a punishment. The problem with a punishment is that kids don’t learn anything that would help prevent the same problem from happening again.
Kids brains aren’t wired to think about the consequences of their actions. We need to do some more to help them prepare for success.
We set our kids up well for other things that are potentially dangerous. We don’t let them drive on the road without plenty of training. We give kids devices with little or no training. Can we really expect a child to make good decisions about what to share based on a short contract we get them to sign or a conversation about being careful?
Parents need good skills to create a relationship with their children in which they can get them talking and most importantly thinking about the consequences of their actions. This is important training to help children make good decisions in their life. So what can parents do to set their kids up to shine?
The main thing to remember is that we need to get our kids talking and the first step is to be quiet and listen to them! Here’s a few ideas to get you started:
DON’T react to opinions you don’t like. Let them have a chance to say what they think and why. Remember they are reflecting the current view of their peers and you can expect that it won’t be what you think or agree with. As the flexible understanding adult we are responsible for creating a relationship in which they keep talking to us, about this and other things.
DON’T threaten to take the device away. You will scupper any chance of them telling you things you will want to know, like when they are being bullied, because they are worried you will take it away.
DO get kids talking by being very positive and open about the topic and getting them to say what they think about it.
DO encourage them to have conversations with you about all sorts of things that “might” come up e.g. what if someone asked you to post a nude picture online?
You’re going need to have a lot of little conversations over time to get kids thinking about the consequences of their actions. And try to do some actual listening, kids know your opinion on every topic by the time they are 12 so you don’t have to tell them again. We learn more about this in our courses and consultations and if you’d like to know more about how to get kids talking just email me: Justine@gtgparenting.co.nz