Kids are so precious. If you are reading this, it is likely that you want to devour information about your children because you realize that it is all trial and error and that you need as much support as you can to raise them to be strong healthy adults. The truth of the matter is that it takes a keen awareness of what they are doing to provide them with the best supervision imaginable. This can be a daunting task when there are so many tasks in a day and so many things to oversee and attend to as you navigate through your daily routine with your children.
This column is a reminder to keep it simple and give yourself permission to slow down your life. When you stay in the moment, you will likely stay aware of what your children are being exposed to and how to handle it when you find that they have experimented with things that go against your family mores and values.
Keep it simple
Yes, I know there is a lot of pressure to provide your children with the many opportunities to “broaden their horizons” in sports, academics, and social situations, but in the time they spend with you is far more valuable so give yourself permission to say no to many of the outside activities and find ways of cuddling up with them on the couch or laying on their bed when they are working on their tablet and just be with them. They need your presence because ultimately they are going to want to experiment with things that you need to be aware of so that you can help them make the right decisions.
Use compassionate parenting in difficult situations
It is not uncommon for parents to get really scared when they find out that their child has been exposed to something that is wrong or unhealthy for them. Perhaps you found your middle child looking at images on his computer that were “rated X.” These are the kind of situations that can make you scared and worried because you are not sure how your child has been effected. TThere is no play book as to what to say or how to react.
Whenever you experience difficult situations, it can be helpful to use compassionate parenting regardless of the situation. If you catch your child viewing adult images, you sit them down and you tell them that it is your job to protect their brain and the things that they were looking at were not safe or healthy for growing brains and so you will need to help with monitoring them to keep them safe. You don’t necessarily want to shame them because it is normal and natural to be curious about seeing things they have never seen before. You tell them that a good rule of thumb for whether they should be doing something is whether they would look at that stuff with Mommy or Daddy in the room. They may not answer you, but they know instinctively that it feels wrong. You have taught them that although you understand their fascination, you want them to be guided by their own internal sense of right or wrong. You then explain that you are going to put controls on the tablet to make sure things are safe and you will be checking in from time to time to “protect their brains.”
Sending clear messages without using shame is always the best choice.
Carol Juergensen Sheets, LCSW PCC is a psychotherapist and personal life coach. SHe does motivational speaking and empowerment trainings locally and nationally. To find out more about her services, contact her at www.carolthecoach.com or call her at 317-218-3479. You can watch Carol the Coach segments on WTHR's Channel 13 Wednesdays at 12:50PM.