** The following article was copied from www.allprodad.com
When I look back at childhood, I think about my decisions when I came into my adolescence. The early years were perfectly happy and normal, but the later years led me to places that make me cringe when I think back on it. I can pinpoint the triggers that caused the good and bad choices. But a 10-year-old boy has no ability to understand what is happening in the moment.
As parents, it is an important duty to monitor our child and their activities. This allows us to decipher what paths they are headed down. When you just focus on punishment and not the root of the issue, there is a good chance he or she could become a problem child. Here are some of the common signs of a child heading the wrong direction. It is important to recognize these and take the appropriate steps to guide your child back down a positive path.
1. Mood Swings
Everyone experiences the occasional change in moods. Teenagers with exploding hormones, in particular, are prone to ups and downs. The key here is to determine if the lows and highs are too excessive, or if your child quickly shifts from euphoria to depression seemingly without cause. Be empathetic and a source of stability. Be calm. Adding to the drama will only make things worse. Finally, try to get your child to communicate what he is truly feeling in the moment.
Not every child is a social butterfly, but that doesn’t mean there is a problem. However, if you see signs of withdrawal it could be cause for concern. Watch for signs of depression, lack of confidence, and if he feels rejected by other children.
3. Hiding Things
When you find out they have been hiding something, even if it’s trivial, it should tell you that they have entered into suspect behavior. At the very least they are creating habits of secrecy. It either says they are fine with bad behavior or they don’t trust you. Each of those is dangerous.
4. Dropping Grades
If a child is getting lower than normal grades, something is wrong somewhere. It could be a learning disability, laziness, need for more instruction, or any number of social or domestic issues. It could also be a sign of depression or discontentment. Get to the core of the matter instead of just punishing.
5. Sudden Change of Friends
Making new friends is a good thing. A red flag is when they stop spending time with one friend group and start hanging out with a totally new group of people. It’s important to find out what they are drawn to with the new group and what the breakdown was with their former friends. Relationships have a complexity and kids need their parents help in navigating them. Breakdowns in friendships hurt. Wounded hearts often gravitate to unhealthy coping mechanisms to numb or distract from the pain.
6. Fluctuating Weight
Sudden weight loss and gain are normally associated with an unhealthy desire to control. Being a child can feel turbulent and unstable. As a way to deal with the stress, eating disorders or mass consumption can emerge. With these dysfunctional coping strategies, food can easily be replaced by drugs and alcohol or cutting as a way to control feelings of fear, anxiety, and insecurity.
7. Personality Changes
Puberty is bound to bring some personality changes, but keep an eye on it. When a generally upbeat kid becomes more pessimistic or an outgoing kid becomes quieter, there is something driving the negative change. Perhaps they are doing things they know you wouldn’t approve of or they are being bullied at school. Maybe they are desperate for approval they aren’t getting. Ask them questions such as, “Do you feel like your world is changing a bit? How do you feel about that?” You may also try, “You know when I was your age I had a hard time. How are you coping with the changes going on around you?”
8. Changing The Way They Dress
It’s fine to experiment with new looks. After all, kids don’t develop a full sense of identity until their mid-twenties. However, a sudden change in dress and image could be more than experimenting. It may be a deep sign of insecurity. Starting to wear more revealing clothing tends to be a step towards sexual activity, while baggy/over covering can be a sign they are hiding something. For example, when a kid always wears long sleeves, even when it is warm, they are usually hiding scars from self-cutting. As it has been said before, get to the heart of the issues. Ask questions and be a safe place for your kids as they try to navigate life.
** The following article was copied from samluce.com
As a child of the 70’s I grew up 80’s where baby boomers were loving life, loving love and loving themselves. This translated to every area of life including their parenting. The seeds of self-esteem were laid by my parent’s generation and have taken full root in my generation. It’s this idea that kids need to have a positive outlook in life, they need to love themselves. While in limited ways this can be true the pervasiveness of this idea is killing the collective conscience of our country and is ruining our kids.
My parents were not primary concerned with my self-esteem for that I am thankful. I remember my mom saying something to me when I was younger that always stuck with me. She said that her and my father were not concerned with how our peers felt about us they would always watch how adults interacted with us and would listen for the assessments adults had of us. Why? Because my parents were more concerned with our self-awareness than our self-esteem.
How kids interact with adults is a great (not perfect) indicator of how self-aware your kids are. So many parents today are concerned with their kids having friends, their kids having the right kids of friends, their kids not getting their feelings hurt by their friends because they want their kids to have good self-esteem because they love their kids. They are doing their kids a disservice. Parents today take their child side over the word of another adult because they don’t want to crush their kids. In doing this they are eroding the very things that will make kids successful in life. I am all for good self-esteem and smarts in school but what makes you successful in life is self-awareness. And here is the truth that parents so often totally miss that when you raise a kid who is self-aware you get self-esteem thrown in, but if you try to raise a kid with your primary goal being good self-esteem you get neither.
3 Reasons why self-awareness should matter to you as a parent.
1. Self-awareness produces confidence in your kids and confidence produces self-esteem.
2. Self-awareness makes your kids other focused because you are confident and understand their strengths and limitations it allows them to flourish and not have to pretend, lie, cheat or steal to be something they wish they were and not who they really are.
3. Self-awareness allows your kids to see themselves as the desperate sinners they are. When you are aware of who you are in Christ you have a desperate confidence. You understand that you are a desperate sinner but have a confidence in a sinless savior. The cross is not a boost to your self esteem it doesn’t feel good to talk about the cross. Kids whose awareness is understood in light of their shortcomings and Christ’s sufficiency, glory in the Cross. Kids who have learned to nurture their self-esteem run from the cross those who are self-aware run to it.
** The following article was copied from theparentcue.org
What would your kid do if, while at a friend’s house, someone offered them a beer? What would your kid do if a friend started playing an inappropriate YouTube video and expected them to watch, too?
We all want our kids to make good decisions in the face of peer pressure. But for a 13-year-old or 17-year-old just trying to fit in, making good decisions can be a daily challenge.
As a small group leader for the past ten years, I’ve had the opportunity to walk with dozens of middle school and high school students as they navigate potentially compromising situations. Underage drinking, cheating on tests, watching inappropriate movies, pushing boundaries with a girlfriend . . . students are consistently facing peer pressure that can lead to poor decisions.
And if there’s one thing I’ve learned working with students, it’s that they need a plan—an escape plan. They need to know how to escape those pressure-filled moments. Because the truth is, most teens don’t wantto cave into peer pressure, they just don’t know how not to.
This is where you—the parent—come in. As a parent, you have the opportunity to work with your teenager to create an escape plan—a plan to help them avoid those poor decisions. Here’s what that escape plan might include . . .
For escaping the big situations—like a party that’s gotten out of hand or an inappropriate movie that just started playing—there’s the X-plan. If you’re not familiar with it, the X-plan encourages kids to text “X” to a parent if they find themselves in a compromising situation. When a parent gets that text, they know their kid needs to be picked up immediately. (Read more about the X-plan here.)
But what about escaping the spur-of-the-moment situations when there’s no time to send an emergency text? Like if a friend offers your kid a beer, asks them to help cheat on a test, or asks them to watch an inappropriate music video? A student only has a few seconds to respond in these situations.
For these moments, preparing a few “escape phrases” that a student can use in a pinch can be instrumental. And you can brainstorm with your kid what those escape phrases could be.
If your kid is still growing in their faith, convictions, and decision-making, the goal might be simply getting out of a tough situation. If a friend offers a cigarette, the escape phrase might be, “No thanks. My parents would be able to smell it on me and I’d never get away with it.” Or if a student is trying to get out of cheating, the escape phrase might be, “Sorry, if I get caught cheating even once I’m off the soccer team, and I can’t let my team down.”
If your kid is maturing in his or her faith, though, it may be time for them to more closely stand by their convictions and beliefs. If someone asks them to watch an inappropriate YouTube video, maybe their escape phrase is, “Sorry, I really try to avoid watching this kind of stuff. I just don’t see any upside to it. Can we watch something else?” Or if someone offers a beer, maybe their escape phrase is, “No thanks. I really don’t think it’s wise to drink alcohol in high school. I’m going to stick to soda tonight.”
Your teenager will be far more likely to resist peer pressure in a difficult situation if they’re prepared. And you have the chance to discuss with your teen what that escape plan looks like.
It may be tempting to assume that these ideas only apply to teens that are running with “the wrong crowd.” But the truth is, all students run into these situations every now and then. And it only takes one poor decision to send a kid down a destructive path.
Preparing an escape plan with your teenager probably won’t be easy. It’ll require time and effort on your part to get your kid to open up and have a conversation about this. And they’ll probably never come home and say, “Mom, I used one of the phrases in our escape plan and it worked!” But there will be situations that make your kid uncomfortable, and these phrases will come to mind. And it will have been worth it.
* This article was copied from fulleryouthinstitute.org
How to talk to your kids about sex (with as little awkwardness as possible)
Nervous to talk with your kids about sex?
You’re not alone. Especially if faith is important to you.
According to two different sets of data, the more important religion is to parents, the more difficult it is for those parents to talk with their kids about sex.
That’s both sad and ironic. As followers of Christ, we should be at the front of the line to talk with our kids about sex. We know that sex, as something God created, is good—really good. And yet somehow with sex (as well as other controversial topics), our families have been robbed of healthy, balanced, scripturally guided conversations, the type of conversations that foster good decisions and strong faith.
This Valentine’s Day, topics of romance, love, and intimacy are bound to be at the forefront of our teenagers’ minds. Furthermore, young people today are inundated with notions and standards that fall short of God’s good intentions for sex—and they need us to help them discern what is true and what isn’t.
So how can we leverage Valentine’s Day, or other cultural references, as springboards for better conversations about sex with our kids? Here are four suggestions to help you have better “sex talks” at home.
1) It’s about listening, not lecturing.
It’s the rare teenager who looks forward to talk to their parents about sex. Not only is talking about sex with parents awkward, it usually devolves into a lecture.
Parents who are best at talking with their kids about sex bite their tongues—sometimes literally—when they feel tempted to lecture their kids. The reality is that your kids probably already have a hunch about what you might say about sex. So do your best to let them do the talking.
2) It’s about asking, not judging.
Wondering how to get them talking? Most teenagers won’t launch into a monologue about sex, so if we’re going to help them do the talking, we have to ask questions. And it’s best if we avoid the “What are you thinking? You must be crazy!” tone of voice when we ask.
In one of the parental interviews we conducted for The Sticky Faith Guide for Your Family, one amazing dad described inventing a family game called “What do you think will happen next?” During car trips, over dinner, or at bedtime, the dad would give a challenging ethical situation, often involving sex. And then ask his kids, “What do you think will happen next?”
So if he wanted to talk to his daughter about date rape drugs, he’d start with, “You go to a party and are handed a cup. You’re not entirely sure what is in the cup and you don’t know the guy who handed it to you very well. What do you think will happen next?”
His daughter would give her best answer. And then he’d follow up with, “Okay. So what do you think will happen next?”
She’d answer. And he’d ask the same question again.
He would do this for as many rounds as his kids would play along because he had one main goal: He wanted his kids to think ahead. And he used questions to help them learn how.
3) It’s about them, not me.
Maybe asking, “What do you think will happen next?” would never work in your family. If so, then take the cue from wise parents who use what’s happening to other people to launch their families into discussions about sex.
The bad news is that sexualization has infiltrated our culture from top to bottom. The good news is that gives us all sorts of conversation fodder.
Valentine’s Day cards. Movies. Music. What’s going on with your kids’ friends. Politicians. YouTube videos. News headlines. Clothing choices. School policies about dating.
If asking kids directly what they are thinking and feeling about sex feels too pointed and all too likely to cause your kids to shut down, start by talking about all of these topics—and other people (whether they are your kids’ friends or media celebrities)—and see if the conversation organically progresses to get more personal.
4) It’s a process, not an event.
Are you gearing up for “the sex talk” with your kids? Looking forward to crossing it off your list? Maybe even planning on having that discussion this month?
Well, it’s not about one sex talk. It’s about lots of them.
With both of our two older kids, and we’re about to do this with our youngest, we’ve bought them a book and read through it with them together—two chapters per week. Dave and I read through it first, underlining the portions we want to discuss with them, and then our child reads it.
We have intentionally made those discussions about book chapters as natural as possible. We’ll have them while we’re talking in our child’s bedroom, or sitting on the couch in our living room after dinner. We want talking about sex to feel as normal as possible.
If you want to do a special weekend away or purity ritual, by all means go ahead. Just don’t view it as a one-time event. It’s more like a series of conversations, because sexuality involves a lifetime of choices.
What other steps have you taken to leverage cultural references for better discussions with your kids about sex?
 Those two data sets are the National Study of Youth and Religion and the National Longitudinal Study of Adolescent Health. Mark D. Regnerus, Forbidden Fruit (New York: Oxford University Press, 2007), 60-73.
** This article was copied from crosswalk.com
3 Areas in Which Parents Must Persevere
At the beginning of a new year, we often think about the things we want to do well for the next three hundred sixty-five days. We often prove ourselves to be great at applying ourselves to our resolutions for a season, but we struggle to persevere in doing these things for the long haul.
There are few areas of our lives in which we struggle more than we do with perseverance in parenting. For a while, we spend quality time with our kids, and then we get into a busy season where our kids start getting the short end of the stick. We have consistent family devotions, then suddenly cannot remember when the last one was. We discipline them consistently, taking the time to talk to them about their behavior and not letting offenses slide. Then, we go through a period where we overlook misbehavior and then lash out in frustration because they aren’t listening to what we say.
The hardest part of parenting is not knowing what to do. Knowing how to teach and pray for your kids is not as hard as you think it is. Often, our instincts about the best way to discipline our children are usually correct, and most parents want to spend quality time with their children.
The hardest aspect of parenting is often not our lack of understanding, but our failure to persevere. As parents, what we need the most is to continue doing the little things every single day.
There are three particular areas in which we need to persevere.
Persevere in Quality Time
Our children want us more than they want stuff from us, but how often do we give our children things so they will occupy themselves so we can have time alone? We need time to recharge and spend with our spouses. Our children must know how to entertain themselves, but we also have to recognize how much our children crave time with us. Fishing, hiking, reading, playing a game, throwing a ball, or sitting around a fire to roast marshmallows provide great opportunities for us to connect with our children each day.
Our children will be more receptive to our discipline and teaching when we spend regular time with them because it flows from our relationship with them. As Ted Tripp points out in Shepherding a Child’s Heart, we parent mainly from authority when our children are young. If we find them touching something they shouldn’t, we can take it away from them or pick them up and move them somewhere else. As they grow older, we still parent from our God-given authority, but our relationship with them becomes a much larger aspect of our parenting. They tend to listen more and be more receptive to our parenting when we spend consistent time with them.
We often find that this is a joy to us as well. Our children are a gift from God. Spending time with them often leads to fun, laughter, joy, and lasting memories. Each of our children has unique personalities and are fun and funny in their own way. Spending time together brings this out, so stop thinking that you will magically “find time” to spend with them and make the time.
Persevere in Teaching and Discipline
The Bible calls parents to teach and discipline our children. Moses’ words fromDeuteronomy 6:7 provide insight into how we do this. “You shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise.” Much of our parenting takes place in the context of ordinary life. We teach, correct, instruct, and discipline our children while we are doing the things we usually do every day.
In addition to teaching as we walk through life, we need to set aside time for teaching through family devotions. When we hear about family devotions, we shouldn’t picture Dad preaching a twenty-minute sermon to the kids. (If your kids are small, it can’t and won’t be this.) In his book Family Worship, Don Whitney offers a simple method for family devotion anyone can do whether they know the Bible well or not- read, pray, sing. Read a portion of the Bible. If your kids are small, this can be from a children’s Bible like The Big Picture Story Bible or The Jesus Storybook Bible. When they get older, progress into reading a section from your favorite translation. Depending on where your children are, you can work on memory verses or a catechism together. Then spend some time in prayer together and sing a song. These can be children’s songs like “Jesus Loves Me” or simple hymns like “Come Thou Fount” or “Be Thou My Vision.”
We must also discipline our children. Truthfully, I find it difficult to separate discipline from teaching because they go together hand in hand. We do not discipline our children to punish them for what they have done, but to instruct their hearts so they will be different in the future. Discipline should not look the same all the time, but we should tailor it to the situation and the bent of our children. While how we discipline is a matter of wisdom at the moment, disciplining our children is not up for debate. God commands children to obey their parents, and we should expect them to obey the first time that we tell them to do something. Anything other than their first-time obedience must result in discipline for the sake of your children’s souls and your future sanity.
Persevere in Prayer
Finally, parents need to persevere in praying for and with our children. Pretend for a second that you could do a perfect job parenting your children. You always kept your cool when they disobeyed and told them exactly what they needed to hear in every situation. You read the Bible to them every day and spent the perfect amount of quality time with them. You led them to friendships with the right kids and gave them every opportunity they needed. Even if you did all these things correctly, it would not guarantee that your child would become a Christian or behave properly. Only the grace of God can take your parenting and make it effective, so you must pray.
We should pray for our children and for our parenting every day. Pray God would cover our efforts with grace, forgive us where we fail, and empower us to persevere in our parenting. Pray God would change our children’s hearts by the power of his Spirit and raise them up to follow him and bring him glory. We need God, and our children need God, so we must daily plead for them before the throne of grace.
Not only should we pray for our children, but we should also pray with our children. By doing this, they learn how to pray and what subjects we bring before the Lord in prayer. They get to see our family pray for needs and how God answers those prayers. Also, our children should hear us pray for their salvation. Our prayers teach them what we value the most and by praying for their salvation, they will consistently hear about their need for Christ.
** This article was taken form AllProDad.com
Picture yourself hustling in the mall to get some Christmas shopping done. You’re hungry, tired, scrambling – and your kids are with you. They want lunch in the food court. You just want to get done and home as soon as possible. While you’re holding up a necklace, wondering if your wife will like it, one of your kids asks a question out of the clear blue sky:
“Dad, what does God have to do with Christmas?”
“Wha… um… what did you say?”
“What does God have to do with Christmas? I heard somebody say, ‘He’s the reason for the season.’ I don’t get it.”
“Uh, can this wait for your mom?”
“I heard somebody say that he was born in a manger, but I didn’t think God was born. And if he wasn’t born, where did he come from? And if he’s a baby in a manger, then how can he be everywhere because isn’t God everywhere?”
Are you ready for one of life’s big questions right in the middle of a shopping mall? Want a couple of suggestions, just in case you don’t have all the answers? Here are some things to know when you talk about God with your kids.
1. Don’t panic.
It’s OK not to know everything. The last thing you want to do is make stuff up. Talking about God is a serious conversation, and if you don’t have the answers at the tip of your tongue, say so. “What a great question, kiddo. I don’t know the answer to that. But we should go figure it out.”
2. Know where you can find some answers.
The Bible records Jesus’ birth and the Christmas story in Luke chapter 2. This chapter can help provide some basic answers to “what” “when” and “how” kinds of questions your kids might be asking.
3. You don’t need to answer what they’re not asking.
For any dad, talking about God or what He is like or questions of faith can make you feel out of your depth. You know it’s important, so you want to give a great answer. However, you might have to fight the temptation to over-answer. Maybe a simple answer might suffice. For example, if your kid is asking what God has to do with Christmas, instead of talking about the history of Christianity or giving a short comparative religion course, you might simply say, “Christmas celebrates how God sent Jesus to live on earth. That’s a big deal.” Then you can see where the conversation goes. Or maybe that will satisfy their question for the moment. You don’t have to fit everything that ever needed saying into one conversation.
4. Make space for the conversation.
Maybe the mall isn’t the right place for the conversation. Maybe you really do have to get home soon. If you can’t give an answer to the question right then, do honor their curiosity and tell them when you’re going pursue the conversation with them. For example, “Great question, kiddo. I’d love to talk about that with you, but that’s a conversation for sitting down at home, not running around shopping. How about if we talk about this when everybody is together tonight at dinner?” Make sure you follow up at dinner!
5. Be a learner alongside your kids.
Maybe even follow the cues of their curiosity. [Tweet This] One of the interesting features of the Bible’s story is that it teaches that we are supposed to come with faith like a child. Ever notice how concerned adults are with their image and reputation? We try to be so sophisticated. Kids aren’t that way. They ask open-hearted questions and enjoy mystery and wonder. If you find yourself struggling to answer your kids’ questions about God at Christmastime, follow their example in being child-like as you find answers. It’s an incredible story. One that can change your whole life.
Here’s one video that explains what God has to do with Christmas.
For some of us that can be a really scary word. It conjures up images of long phone calls on tech support with a stranger on the other end of the phone walking us through troubleshooting the latest must-have gadget that promised to make our life easier. We think about paper jams at the office and “404 Not Found” error codes… what do those even mean anyway? At its worst, technology brings up thoughts of cyber bullying. Pornography. Access to strangers. Lions. Tigers. And bears. Oh my.
If you’re a kid, technology is an exciting word. It means communicating with your friends. Anytime. Anywhere. It means downloading the latest games. Taking pictures. Emojis. And being connected to the world around you in ways that were never possible before. Technology means freedom. It means fun. And they can’t wait to get their hands on it.
Technology freaks you out. But your kids are eager and ready to jump in. So, what can you do? We’ve got it. Stick your head in the hand and hope it all goes away. Yes, that’s it.
No! Our highest calling as parents is to engage. If you are a parent that is reading this we celebrate your desire to do just that. We want to help you. So, if you are ready… read on.
How is technology affecting us?
Overexposure to technology is associated with:
decreased ability to self-regulate
Overuse of technology is associated with:
problematic child behavior
71% of teens have done something to hide their online activity from their parents.
9 out of 10 boys and 6 out of 10 girls are exposed to pornography online before the age of 18.
What good is technology?
Sounds scary, doesn’t it? In reality, there are many benefits to healthy use of technology. With each new iteration of technology there is a promise of more meaningful ways to connect with others, new ways of being entertained, of interacting with the world around us, access to information that helps us learn and new ways to help keep our loved ones safe and secure. These are all good things. In fact, you might say that healthy use of technology is marked by its ability to help us enhance our real lives. Technology can make our lives better. However, if this is true then unhealthy use of technology would necessarily detract from our real lives and cause us to become isolated. Technology has the potential to make our lives worse. Its all about how we engage with it.
Quick Fix versus Long Term Game
We often look for easy answers to questions. Tell us what to do and we’ll do it, right? When it comes to technology though what is often required is intentional, consistent, ongoing dialogue to help our children develop a healthy relationship with technology. In the next section we will attempt to answer some of the most commonly asked questions about technology. Be prepared for answers that will require you to be actively engaged with your kids and up-to-date on what they are doing to help them navigate this new world.
At what age should I give my child a phone?
Instead of looking at your child’s age, we would suggest that you consider a few other factors. Specifically, you may consider whether they need a phone, whether they are responsible enough to have a phone and if they would benefit from having easier access to their friends.
Do they need a phone?
If your child is playing after school sports, walking home from school, going to the movies with friends on the weekend or if they need to be in touch for any other reasons a cell phone may be a good idea. Although they may ask for the latest iPhone, you may consider that your child’s first phone does need to be a smart phone. Their are many inexpensive phones that would give your child the ability to make calls
and send texts that would address the need to be connected. This could allow you to have the convenience and peace of mind knowing that your child is simply a call or text away without giving them full access to the world of information they may not yet be mature enough to handle.
Are they responsible?
This one is pretty easy. If your child is constantly losing things like their backpack, homework or toys then it might stand to reason that they
could lose their very expensive phone too! Additionally, if they have a
habit of not taking especially good care of their things… well, you get the idea.
Are they missing out on any important social interactions?
Whether we like to admit it or not, the way kids communicate with each other has changed. Kids plan the weekend activities via text, they talk about what happened at school via text, they send pictures to each other via text, they do everything via text. In fact, a recent study found that young people between the ages of 18 and 24 send and receive an average of just over 128 text messages per day. That is an average of 3,853 per month!
So, when you child says that they are not getting invited to things, that they are missing out on what’s happening with their friends at school and that they are feeling left out their may be some truth to their concerns. We’re not suggesting that you need to get your child a phone or their future social life is doomed… but this is factor you may want to consider.
What is an appropriate amount of screen time?
The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) guidelines previously suggested that zero hours of screen time for kids under age 2 and two hours between the ages of 2 and 18 was most appropriate. For a long time, this was the gold standard. But as technology has evolved, newer guidelines have been updated to incorporate the changing technological landscape and to address findings in more recent studies as well. Among the most important changes is the idea that not all screen-time is created equal. For example, on any give day your child may participate in any of the following:
Watching TV, reading, and listening to music
Playing games and browsing the Internet
Video-chatting and using social media
Using devices to make digital art or music
We all understand that using a computer to make digital art is inherently more beneficial than watching TV and so greater emphasis on the way that screen-time is being used should be taken in to consideration.
You might also ask how screen time (or lack of screen time) affects your child’s behavior. For example, if after spending an hour watching TV your child is more irritable, tired or temperamental you may consider having them spend less time watching TV. Here are a few questions that will help you make the best decision for your child:
Are they using high quality, age appropriate media?
Is their behavior appropriately positive?
Is their screen time balanced with plenty of healthy screen free time?
If the answer to these questions is yes then you are likely on the right track.
Most importantly though, be sure to model appropriate use of technology. Have healthy boundaries for yourself. At the end of the day, regardless of what rules you put in place… the best predictor of your child’s future relationship with technology is what they see you doing. So, if you have agreed upon tech-free times, locations, etc. be sure an honor those rules as well. If your technology use is getting in the way of authentic relationships with the people in your life, some changes are in order. Don’t just say it. Live it.
How can I monitor screen time and what my kids are doing on their devices?
For starters, always have access to your child’s phone. No need to be secretive about it. Know their passcode and check their phone often. Recently, a parent suggested that they couldn’t check their child’s phone because they changed the passcode. Their child wanted privacy. You wouldn’t allow them to change the lock on their bedroom door, would you? You are the parent. More than likely, you pay for the device. You might even say that its your phone. You simply allow your child to use it. So have courage. Have conversations up front about the kind of access you want to the device. You can do it. We promise.
If you are concerned about what your kids may see online their are some steps you can take to help protect them. First, consider contacting your internet service provider to see what protections they can offer on your home network. Second, research and implement how to setup parental controls on the device itself. And finally, you may want to consider a monitoring service that will allow you to have further control and oversight of your child’s device. Their are many good options and any internet search will yield some great information. We checked out a number of these services and would suggest that you give these few a look:
FamiLoop — https://www.familoop.com
Netsanity — https://netsanity.net
Disney Circle — https://meetcircle.com
It is important to remember that these tools are simply conversation starters. If these services make you aware of some troubling use, go talk to your child about it. Remember, no one solution is perfect. The best protection your child has online is you.
Additionally, be curious about what they are doing. Use the device together with your child. If they are playing a game, sit down and play with them. If they want to download a new app, download the app and use it with them. Be prepared to have lots of conversations.
If you are not sure how to start those conversations, here are a few tips to help you get started.
Always remember to ask open-ended questions. In other words, ‘have you seen anything bad online?’ does not lend itself to a conversation. The answer is either yes or no. Ask questions that will spark a real dialogue. We’ve found these questions to be extraordinarily helpful:
What have you seen recently that was really interesting?
What’s the craziest things you’ve seen your friends doing?
What is something that has surprised you?
Can you show me how? Let your kids be the expert!
You will be amazed at what your kids will share with you. Remember, they are just as curious about what’s out there as you are. Its a great big world out there. Don’t send them off alone to figure it out. Commit to go on the journey with them.
Encounter. Formation. Expression.
One of the things we talk about at Port City Community is the idea of Encounter, Formation, Expression. The basic concept is that what we encounter in life will help to form what we think and believe. What we think and believe will inevitably show up and be expressed in what we say and do. As parents, part of our job is to help our kids maneuver in a world that is ever changing and build a solid foundation in Christ. When i comes to technology, we need to remember that what they encounter is forming who they are. We can’t protect them from having bad encounters, but we can help them think through how these encounters are forming their identity. The only way we’re going to know about some of the things they encounter is to have a real relationship with them and ask them questions. When the door seems to be shut, we need to keep knocking so we can let our kids know that we love them and want what is best for them.
Get a PDF of the seminar recap – parenting-through-technology-and-social-media-re-cap
Get the digital book “Right Click” – right-click-digital-edition
- This article was copied from theparentcue.org
Want to know how to engage with your kids about the subject of social media?
I have two words for you, “Be curious.”
Want to know how to do that? My approach is simple and so short it’s smaller than a tweet: “Read less minds, ask more questions.”
So often as parents, we put tremendous pressure on ourselves to guess what our kids are up to. Like CSI detectives we take clues from their lives and try to piece together what we think is really going on in their tiny little heads and hearts.
Instead of investigation though, let’s start with conversation.
I have four questions you can ask your kids.
And because parents are some of the busiest humans on the planet, I’m going to keep this quick and short, knocking out one question per blog post.
Let’s jump right in with the very first question you should ask your kids about social media.
How are you using social media right now?
Start off by just taking a casual, informal survey of what sites or platforms your kids are using. Are they reading blogs? Are they using snapchat? Are they texting? (Remember, social media is bigger than just twitter. It’s any technology that lets you share a piece of your life with someone else.)
When you ask this question, make sure your kid knows there’s not a right or wrong answer. You’re not trying to start a cross examination, you’re trying to start a conversation.
If they’ll share how they’re using social media, ask them what they like about it? Be curious about why they use it. Is it to connect with friends? Is it to learn about new music? Are they expressing a hobby or interest through social media? Do they even use it? There’s a million ways your kids can answer this question, but one thing is for certain, they won’t answer it unless you ask.
If they don’t answer at first and open up a long, meaningful conversation that involves Chamomile tea, you should probably give up and assume you are the worst parent ever.
Or, you can admit to yourself that parenting is a marathon not a sprint. If we’re going to be curious about what our kids care about, we have to be patient.
If you get a grunt response, a “nothing” or a “I’m a toddler, I don’t use social media mom,” that’s OK.
Stay curious, and let your kids know you’re here to help them navigate the ins and outs of growing up in a connected world of social media.
Curiosity might have killed the cat, but it’s the secret to starting conversations with your kids about social media.
It’s on us as parents to take the initiative and create a space where our kids can openly talk about the way they are engaging in this wildly engaging technological phenomenon.
In the first post we learned to ask the question,
“How are you using social media right now?”
Today, we’re going to dive into question number two: What do your devices do?
When I was a kid, if I wanted to play Excite Bike on the Super Nintendo with my friend Dave Bruce, Dave Bruce had to come over to my house. In college, if I wanted to play Goldeneye on Nintendo 64, no one could be Oddjob that’s cheating, I had to have friends come to my dorm room. Now, if your kid wants to play Call of Duty with someone in Japan they can.
We live in the age of the connected device, but sometimes we parents forget that. We forget that you can play Minecraft with complete strangers. We forget that an iPod Touch might not be a phone but it can still be used for social media. We forget that even websites designed for kids might offer them access to email.
That was a wake up call for me. My daughters were using two sites that were about dolls. One site let them email other members of the site with pre-written messages like, “Have a good day!” or “Hooray for rainbows.” That’s harmless for an 8-year-old. But the other site let them write their own messages. Without me realizing it, my kids had received their first email address. I’d love to think that every other member of that website is a kid with the best of intentions in mind, but I’ve spent too much time online to trust that.
I didn’t know about that email address until I asked my kids a few questions.
In addition to having this conversation with your kids, you should also ask Google “What do my kids’ devices do?” Spend a little time researching to get a better sense of what’s really going on with the fun devices that your family has.
The days of playing Mike Tyson Punch Out alone in my living room are over. The colors of the ’80s might have made a comeback, but the isolated devices won’t. We live in the age of connectivity. Find out how your kids are connecting by connecting with them.
The Bible is pretty clear about the exact age that you should give a kid a phone. King David gave one to Solomon when he was thirteen. Joseph and Mary gave Jesus one at eleven, but he was the son of God, so he could probably handle the responsibility of an iPhone better than your kid. If you add up those two ages and divide by two you get 12, so easy to figure out.
I’d never tell you the exact age a kid should get a cellphone, laptop or tablet in the same way I wouldn’t tell you what age your kid should get their license. Some kids are ready when the state says they are ready. They are mature and able to make you feel safe the minute they get behind the wheel. Other kids need more time to mature beyond the “jump-the-car-off-a-huge-dirt-piles stage.” (The poor Duke brothers from Hazzard county never reached that level of maturity.)
So today’s post won’t focus on the question, “When should your kid get a phone?” but instead will focus on a different question you need to ask your own children, “Which of your friends have devices?”
Why do you need to ask this question? Because not every parent thinks the same way. You might decide that in your house, no one gets a smartphone until they’re in high school. Your daughter’s best friend got one in the fifth grade though. So although your child might not have a phone with access to all the wonders and woe the Internet offers, she does now via her friend. You might think you don’t need to talk about technology to a fifth grader but if the friend whose house your son is sleeping over has a tablet, you need to talk about it. Earlier than you think.
So sit your kids down and ask that question, “Which of your friends have devices?”
As with any question about technology, start a conversation, not an accusation. You don’t want your daughter to think just because her friend Jill has an iPhone, her parents have made a bad decision. Or that Jill has done something wrong.
I asked my daughters this question recently and it started a great conversation about technology. They don’t have phones yet but we were able to discuss their expectations and come up with a rough plan for the future.
Stay curious. Ask questions. You don’t have to be a technology expert, but you do have to be invested if you want to stay connected to your kids.
The other day, my 11-year-old daughter added a stock quotes widget to the dashboard of my wife’s laptop. Without talking to either one of us, she figured out how to track four stocks her class is studying.
When I asked her about it she said, “It was just easier with a widget instead of going to the NYSE all the time.” I nodded my head in agreement as if that was the most obvious thing in the world, all the while thinking to myself, “Someday I am going to work for her.”
Our kids come by technology naturally. Have you ever seen a 3-year-old use an iPad? It’s incredible. They scroll and swipe and expand like they were born with the devices. That often makes us nervous. We worry that as they get older, technology will become a dividing factor in our homes. We envision teenagers stuck on their devices, wearing headphones and being physically present but emotionally absent from family vacations as they refuse to look up from their devices.
But what if there was a simple way for us to connect with our kids who are online? I believe there is and it’s the 4th question parents should ask kids about social media. Here it is:
“Have you seen anything interesting lately?”
This question makes the Internet a two way street and I actually learned it from my own children. Right now, they often ask me if anyone has posted new cat videos on the Internet. That is without a doubt their favorite use of the Internet. Every few days they ask me that, hoping that someone in the world wide web has filmed a cat doing something humorous.
I assure them the answer to that question will always be yes. For the rest of their lives they will always be able to find a new cat video online. But as they get older, and continue doing things like tracking stock on their own, the question is bound to shift.
I will be the one asking it. I will be the one asking them if they’ve seen anything funny or silly online. I will be the one asking if there’s a song they like or a blog they’re reading. I will be the curious one.
Maybe for you and your son it will be about extreme sports. You’ll have a shared interest in videos of people doing ridiculous motocross jumps. Maybe it will be music focused with your daughter or sports scores or any number of things.
It’s a big Internet with a lot of possible connection points. If we’ll ask the right questions.
If your kids are online or using the Internet at school already, flip the tables on them and be curious.
Don’t wait for them to start a conversation. Start one of your own by asking,
“Have you seen anything interesting lately?”