Two weeks ago I was invited to be a part of a mom blogger panel that interacted with John Walsh of America’s Most Wanted and some of the teens who were a part of the Teen Summit on Internet & Wireless Safety presented by Cox Communications. I consider myself a very tech savvy mom and we have rather strict rules in our home about the Internet, television and texting. I have seen teens in our circle of friends who have rung up cell phone bills in the thousands of dollars and their parents say it is uncontrollable. My son was a victim of cyber-bullying, we know what is out there. I was glad to take part in this discussion with Mr Walsh and the phenomenal teens who were part of the summit.
If I were to summarize the information shared in this conference call as to what we as parents can do it is this-Communication. We must have open communication with our children. They must trust us and know that we have their best interest at heart. They must not fear coming to us with anything that concerns them. They need to know we have their back. Kids also need to know where the line is and that if that line is crossed-there will be consequences. Parents who do not follow through with consequences may as well not set any rules and allow anarchy to reign at all times.
from the Teen Summit on Internet & Wireless Safety presented by Cox Communications
Want to improve the lines of communication with your children? These ten tips will help you get started immediately.
Listen to what your child is expressing and try to understand what’s going on with them internally. Don’t make assumptions.
2. Don’t Interrogate
Ask open-ended questions but avoid excessive questioning. Use general conversation starters like “How is it going?” or “What’s going on?” and then be silent. Most kids will tell you what you want to know if they don’t feel bombarded.
3. Be Honest
Practice honesty and respect. If a child asks something and you don’t know the answer, be honest. Say you don’t know and then find out. Conversely, if you do something inappropriate or make a mistake, be willing to apologize and admit it.
4. Keep Calm
Avoid yelling, making threats or using “labels” to describe your child or their friends.
5. Skip the Lecture
Don’t lecture your child or repeat the same thing constantly. Those tactics usually cause kids to tune you out.
6. Pay Attention
When your teen is talking, give them your complete focus. Stop whatever else you are doing and use eye contact.
7. Be Gentle
Avoid power struggles. You might hold the power, but you lose ultimately when you break your kid’s spirit.
8. No Judgements
Express your opinions without being judgmental. Remember to be concise so your comments don’t turn into a lecture.
9. Use Positive Reinforcement
Don’t dwell on your child’s mistakes. Focus on their accomplishments to demonstrate support and build self-esteem.
10. Take a Walk
Create situations that allow you to communicate with your kids. Whether it’s riding together in the car without playing the radio, running errands together or taking a walk after dinner, this one-on-one time will strengthen your relationship.
If you do not have a good relationship with your teens/tweens that is the place to start. The saying goes “They don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” is very true. Take some time over the next week to get to know your teen/tween, get on their level. At first don’t talk about the issues that divide you, focus on building them up. Talk about what they like, what they are good at. In my 20+ years of working with youth I see so many parents that don’t even know their kids, and it is sad. Yes, it takes time, parenting takes time. The benefits of taking the time to get to know and build up your kids are huge.
Spend time with you teen this week. In the next few weeks we will talk about television and the media, cell phones-texting and sexting, social media and more.