Gone are the days when sex was the dreaded topic any parent least wanted to discuss with their kids. Today, it's all over the internet, and with it comes even more challenging topics that any wise parent may want to get ahead of before the internet washes away your child’s beliefs.
Talking to kids
Kids in this age group of seven to 12 can read and write, and they get exposed to age-inappropriate content often. But at their age, they are still a little malleable on what's real and what's pretend.
Sadly, little kids now learn about horrific subjects as early as the age of two years. Cultural norms and traditions have becoming diluted by the morally flexible western ideologies. In the last decade alone there has been an influx of graphic pornography, volatile LGBTQ issues, a change of the place of religion in schools, homes and the public. The main propagator being, the internet and availability of smart gadgets.
As parents, it is time to put things in perspective, field questions, and search for answers together. Prepare your children mentally for real things that will affect them in the real world or largely virtually now or in the coming future. If you think drugs are your only problem, think again.
As they gain abstract-thinking skills, real-world experience, and the ability to express themselves, they alienate from their parents, enter into puberty, and interact with media more independently the approach would have to be different as discussed below.
Therefore, they need to be able to talk about these without feeling awkward. As a parent, it is your role to;
- Wait for the right moment
- Create a safe space for discussion
- Find out what they know
- Provide context and perspective
- Address their curiosity
- Be sensitive to their emotions and temperament
- Encourage critical thinking
- Look for positives
This is effective at that age because young children don't have enough life experience to understand some of the elements involved in complex, difficult topics. They equally don't have a firm grasp on abstract concepts and cause and effect. Since most of them are affected by their immediate relationships (mom, dad, siblings, grandparents -- even the family pet).
Talking to teenagers
The biggest challenge is in engaging with teens and informing their opinions as they are probably already engaged in media independently. They are constantly consuming through reading, interacting with it, and even making and sharing their opinions. They often hear about difficult subjects in the news or from other places, such as in video game chats or on social media, without your knowledge.
Encourage them to find media that can enrich their knowledge and ask questions that prompt them to think through their arguments. For instance, you can,
- Encourage open dialogue
- Ask open-ended questions and ask them to support their ideas
- Admit when you don't know something.
- Get them to consider the complexities in difficult subjects.
- Share your values.
- Talk about "their" news
- Ask what they would do if they were in a really difficult situation
- Get them to consider solutions
Get ahead of it. If anything, why should your children rely heavily on the internet to inform their point of view? Truth is, your kids have seen it and are struggling to decide whether it’s a bad thing or not so talk to them. It is important that you get your child mentally armed to make the right decisions regarding their lives.
Featured Image: CSI Fond du Lac County