We often assume that if our child has a problem they would come to us no matter their age. But often a child/teen might hold back from talking with you about something important because they do not want to add to your burden. It is imperative, especially in these times when we are under stress, that we remind our children that we can handle whatever it is they want to tell us, even if it seems terrifying to them.
With the increased use of technology, children and teens are being exposed to higher risk of online exploitation. It is also important to emphasize that they will not be in trouble for telling you something that happened online or in the real world. Many kids report that they never told their parent about online relationships for fear of getting into trouble. You want them to be able to come to you immediately if they feel they have given away too much information or are experiencing cyber bullying or sexting issues.
Remind them that even if they are terrified, that you will all get through it together.
Set Aside 10 Minutes
Individual time with a trusted adult is one of the best ways to prevent a child being harmed! Ten minutes a day is all that is needed to ensure that you have empowered your child to come to you for help with their personal safety. The goal is to make this a daily routine. Use this time for play, laughter, heart to hearts, reading, but most importantly, use this time to listen. Ask your child open ended questions. For example, “That new game you are into sounds interesting – tell me more.” Or “You haven’t mentioned your friend ‘Katy’ in a while.” Then take a long pause. Long pauses (also a great time to practice our breathing) show the person you are speaking with that you are giving them your full attention. Keep technology out of this 10 minutes. Everything else can wait. Be aware of your responses. When a parent becomes afraid, it is difficult to remember to keep a calm poker face. It is tempting to react with statements like “I told you not to play that game. Now you come to me with a problem?” A better response is “Always remember that I am here to listen and help you no matter how big the problem. I am glad you told me.”
Once your children and teens know they have this designated time with you they will soon use it to speak about what is on their minds. What a wonderful opportunity for you to be their go to person.
Tell us other ways you stay ‘connected’ with your kids.