There’s nothing easy about seeing your child experience grief. It’s hard enough for adults to process losing someone we love. So we often wonder how their little minds are handling something so hard to understand. How can you help our child out?
First, you need to know a few things about grief and children.
Grief is usually brought on by losing something valuable, a source of support, security, or endearment. Kids can grieve over all kinds of losses, from the death of a family member to a pet that runs away, a friend who moves, a missing stuffed animal, or parents separating. If it’s a significant loss for them, it’s a big cause of grief.
We usually associate grief with pain. If that’s all it was, it’d be a terrible thing we’d want to avoid.
But these feelings are only a part of grief. As a whole, grief is the process of working through the loss. Some call this moving toward “acceptance” or “back to normal.” However, healthy grief moves us beyond acceptance, and things never quite go back to normal. Grief done well causes us to be different than before the loss, perhaps more resilient or having a greater perspective on life.
Healthy grief helps us grow. We need to keep this in mind when helping our children through grief.
Here’s another thing to know: the grief process isn’t predictable with kids. There are no steps. Every child (and person, for that matter) grieves at their own pace, in their own time, in different waves and intensities of emotions. This makes it challenging for parents like you and me, who’d love to know what we can expect. You need to walk with your child through the process of grief at their pace.
Understand that it’s not our job to take the grief away. That’s tough, I know. We often feel what our kids are feeling. We see the pain, the hurt, the tears, the confusion — and we don’t want our child to experience that. But it is part of the process.
So how can we help our children process grief?
Let your child open up and talk about what they’re feeling or thinking. Kids often don’t have the vocabulary to describe their deep feelings, so you may have to help your child find the words. If you can help them name their feelings, they can start to process what they feel. Another way to do this is to ask them how their feelings feel. Stick with me here:
So how are you doing since Grandpa passed away?
I’m feeling sad.
I know what you mean — I feel sad, too. What does sadness feel like to you?
It feels like everybody I know is going to go away. And that makes me scared.
That must be scary. Let’s talk about that some more.
Letting your child know that you are grieving can be reassuring to them. If they know that you also feel hurt, sad, and sometimes cry, it helps them feel normal. They may have intense feelings they’ve never felt before, and that’s hard for them to understand, too.
It’s tempting to try and rationalize the loss with your child.
Grandpa lived a good, long life.
Friends move away sometimes, and we can make other friends.
There’s nothing wrong with this; it can help children begin to understand the reality of loss and death. However, keep in mind that loss or death is rarely rational to anyone who is grieving. If these kinds of ideas don’t comfort your child, don’t be alarmed.
As I said, every child grieves at their own pace. However, your child may struggle with grief for an extended time or have dramatic mood or personality changes. In that case, it might be time to get help from a professional counselor.
All children will experience loss and grief. At the risk of sounding cliché, it’s just a part of life. But we can help our kids work through grief in a way that allows them to gain a healthier perspective of life, loss, and themselves. And walking with your child at their pace will help them grow in a healthy way through the process of grief.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/04/ksenia-makagonova-9y6oH2qHai0-unsplash-scaled-e1617812473794.jpg20481365Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2021-04-07 12:21:332021-04-13 12:07:26How to Help Your Child Deal With Grief
How they spend their time in front of a screen matters.
You’re a good parent. You wouldn’t call yourself one. You’re truly humbled by how much you don’t know about parenting. Sometimes you feel overwhelmed. Often, it’s like you’re flying by the seat of your pants. But you care. You’re trying hard at this parenting thing.
So, you invest time in reading about health, nutrition, and child development. As a good parent, you’re concerned about the effects of technology and screen time on kids, especially for your child. There’s alarming but also alarmist info out there. So, let’s set the record straight. Maybe this can clear up some confusion or lift lingering guilt.
In an NPR interview, Fiona Bull, the chairperson of the WHO team that created the guidelines, said, “We’re concerned — and the evidence shows — that extended periods of time passively watching screens is detrimental to health, particularly for very young children.”
Case closed, right? It’s easy for parents to read such edicts and come away with the idea that screens are a radioactive toxin.
But there are two phrases here that need to be unpacked and examined::
“Extended periods of time.” (The report uses qualifiers like “hours,” “sedentary,” and “restrained.” Translation: A child lying around or being strapped into something, in front of a screen for over an hour.)
“Passively watching.” (This is in contrast to “actively engaging.” Especially engagement accompanied by a parent.)
Maybe the case against screens isn’t closed. Let’s focus on case management instead. Here are three types of screen time the WHO report is NOT addressing.
Video Chatting. This is the time you let your child interact with a person like Daddy or Grandmom on a screen. This isn’t “passively watching.” Instead, this is engaging and is just as developmentally appropriate as talking, reading, or singing to your child.
Screen as Pacifier. Yes. Life happens. Your child is wailing with an intensity that has you considering the pediatric benefits of exorcism. Still, you aren’t quite finished with a work Zoom meeting. Or you just need a quick shower. Or it’s a 15-minute car ride. This is real life. Trust your parenting survival instincts. Your phone is no different than a pacifier or toy you would use to occupy your child. Don’t let the WHO guilt you on this. Note: This is a screen as a short-term pacifier, not a screen as a free babysitter.
Co-Viewing. Joint media engagement. Anytime you’re interacting with your child and a screen is fine. Point out shapes and colors. Count things. Identify animals in an interactive storybook. Move items on the touch-screen. This is not the sort of thing the WHO is discouraging, so snuggle up. (Academic guilt relief, here and here.)
You’re a good parent. Think of screen time like sweets. Little treats, especially shared, can be just the thing to get your child, and you, through the day.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/pexels-ola-dapo-3521937-scaled-e1617219512640.jpg321900John Daumhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngJohn Daum2021-03-31 15:38:422021-04-13 11:45:303 Reasons To Let Your Child Have More Screen Time
Developing a framework can allow your family to prioritize what you value.
Every time I stand in line at the grocery store, I look at the magazines near the register. I often pick up one that has a headline about being organized on its cover. As someone who is not naturally organized, I’ve worked hard to understand the importance of being organized and having routines or schedules. Learning to juggle my family’s many plans has helped me embrace the need for routines. I’ve even found routines help our family be less stressed. If there’s one thing I need less of, it’s stress. Can you relate?
Through trial and error, I realized that routines provide a structured framework for my family (even for someone not naturally organized). The habits and plans you create for your family should be based on what works best for you. As a result, your routines will look different from other families, and that’s perfectly normal.
When building your routine, allow for flexibility and adaptability over time. For example, your work schedule or your kids’ activities may change, so things will look different for each family. And you’ll probably have to adapt over time.
Here are a few ways that having a routine contributes to a happy, healthy family. Routines…
1. Provide a flow for the day.
Your children learn what’s coming next. They begin to look forward to activities such as helping with dinner, storytime, or quiet time.
2. Create space for intentional family time.
You may have movie night or family game night. One night of the week becomes breakfast for dinner night.
3. Foster brain development in your children.
Children can recognize signals for what’s happening next. When the lights are turned low, your child sees that the bedtime routine is beginning. When you walk to the bookshelf, they recognize storytime is starting, and they go to your “reading chair.”
4. Promote social and emotional development in kids.
Children learn how to clothe themselves, brush their teeth, and clean up after themselves once routines are established. (Hello, independence!)
If you’re ready to create (or redo) a routine that works for your family, consider these things:
Times that naturally lend themselves to routines.
There are specific times in the day that make having a routine more manageable. Routines around bedtime, storytime, playtime, dinner, or the mornings are a great place to start. Make it as simple as possible, with only a few steps.
Things you can remove from your routine.
In creating the routine that works best, take a look at what you may need to remove from your schedule. When you write down your activities in order of importance, it will help you decide what no longer fits your plan.
It’s a work in progress.
Your routine may be ever-changing because your children continue to change and grow. The routine you create may work for a while but be open to tweaking it when you need to.
Having a routine doesn’t mean you need to fill all the time slots or that you’ll be the most organized family on the block. The intent is to provide a framework that allows your family to be healthy and happy, and to prioritize what you value. You may love quality family time, reading, or play. If so, build those things into your routine. But remember that your plans don’t have to be written in stone and followed like the law; routines are meant to serve you — not the other way around.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/cute-family-playing-summer-field-scaled-e1617045231528.jpg351900Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2021-03-29 15:14:052021-04-08 09:56:434 Ways Having a Routine Contributes to a Happy, Healthy Family
I was 5 and mad at my mom. I forget why. But I do remember I was packing my bags and hitting the road. In a rockstar parenting move, my unshakable mother began packing sandwiches for me to take on my run-away trip.
“Whhattt?” you may scream. “How could she?? That’s so… mean… insensitive… emotionally unsafe!”
Emotionally Safe. What does that even mean, anyway?
For some, it means parenting so that their kids never think badly of them and try to run away. (Spoiler alert: That’s impossible.)
For others, it means they try to never be angry — even when their kid draws dinosaurs on the white couch with permanent markers. (Honestly, if you have children — why have white furniture??)
So let me offer you a working definition:
Emotional safety means parenting in a way that your child feels safe enough to be themselves.
That’s it. It’s not rocket science. Kids who are safe to be themselves may be, well, quirky. They’re encouraged to explore who they are, to formulate their world. They dress themselves (sometimes weirdly). They use their imagination (again, often weird). They’re on the road to discovering their personality, likes and dislikes, sense of humor, fashion, and overall mojo.
Now, emotional safety doesn’t mean parents don’t set boundaries for their child. And it doesn’t mean kids may not experience sadness, or disappointment, or anxiety. And it certainly doesn’t mean you’ll never be angry or hurt by them, or not pack sandwiches when they want to run away. That’s just real life.
So how can you go about helping your kids feel emotionally safe?
Research can give us a little insight into this. (Hang with me here — I promise it won’t be a term paper.)
Psychologist Don Catherall says a person (like your child) needs two things to feel emotionally safe with someone (like you, the parent):
One: To feel a healthy sense of connection to the person.
And two: To develop a healthy sense of security in themselves.
In other words, your child needs to feel close to you and (at least to be developing the skills) to feel good about themselves.
This means developing an appropriately close relationship with your child while giving them opportunities to build self-confidence. Ironically, building self-confidence often involves doing things without you. Notice the balance?
Here’s another way to look at it:
Some researchers say the healthiest families strike a balance with a couple of tensions:
1. Constant over-attachment versus total disconnection.
The need to feel overly-involved in every single aspect of their child’s life can quickly become what researchers call “enmeshment.” Parents can’t separate their child’s emotions from their own. Boundaries are unclear. It’s a false sense of emotional safety which, in reality, focuses on the parent’s unhealthy need to be connected or overprotective. Disconnection is the polar opposite, of course. Neither extreme fosters real emotional safety.
2. A rigid, overly-structured family environment versus one that is absolutely chaotic without rules or boundaries.
Too many parents buckle under the need for their kids to like them. As a result, they compromise rules and structure in an attempt to offer emotional safety. On the flip side, others go overboard with stringent rules, consequences, and schedules. Unfortunately, either extreme tends to have the opposite outcome.
The main point: Emotionally safe kids thrive when there’s a balance.
Want to be an emotionally safe parent?
Be the parent, not the friend. Stay connected, but don’t smother. Build confidence in your child. Challenge them to go beyond what they think they’re able to do. Set boundaries. Own your emotions and let them experience theirs.
Fortunately, my 5-year-old self didn’t make it past the mailbox with my bologna sandwiches. And my mom never faltered with her parenting techniques, even if I wasn’t happy about it. She was savvy enough to understand that it was okay for me to be upset. She didn’t need to overreact, and I would eventually make my way back, knowing a little more about my weird self, emotionally safe and all.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/tim-mossholder-FIdkkBWmF7Y-unsplash-e1617038296336.jpg428900Chris Ownbyhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngChris Ownby2021-03-29 13:18:282021-03-30 09:45:05How to Be an Emotionally Safe Parent
These tips can help you navigate this trying time.
Every parent wants to see their children grow to live happy and successful lives. This is why it can be difficult to watch from the sidelines as their marriage is falling apart. Many parents have stayed up at night trying to think of how they can best help their adult children, or even if they should help at all.
Determining what you should and shouldn’t do can be tricky. A lot depends on the nature of your relationship with your adult child and their spouse. What permission have they given you to speak into their marriage?
In matters that may involve abuse, violence, or anything that threatens personal safety, take swift action to ensure everyone is safe. *The National Domestic Violence Hotline number is 1−800−799−SAFE(7233)
However, if, by “falling apart” you mean issues such as an inability to communicate or connect in any meaningful way, growing distant, despising each other, constant arguing, or pure self-centeredness by one or both people, then this is for you.
What can you do about it?
Know your limits. You will always be a parent to your child. Pam Johnson, marriage therapist, says, “You know them as a child, but not as a spouse.” Without being married to that individual, you can’t know the fullness of their experience.
Encourage them to work on their relationship. Give your adult child some things to think about when selecting a marriage counselor. Suggesting a marriage counselor you have a strong relationship with may not be the best move, especially if you’re concerned the counselor won’t be objective because of the familiarity.
Set boundaries… Particularly for what you will and won’t listen to. Johnson encourages parents to avoid conversations that would make it difficult to forgive their child’s spouse. Often the adult child is sharing their perspective because they want you to take sides. It would be helpful to say, “You need to share that, but it’s best for you and your marriage for you to share with an objective third party.” As much as you want to be unbiased, the emotional closeness between you and your child can drive a bigger wedge in the marriage.
Support their relationship and them getting help. You might babysit to give your child and their spouse time alone, help pay for marriage counseling or do other things that strengthen their relationship. Tell them about Maximize Your Marriage.
Encourage them to be adults about their situation. In other words, encourage them to give all they can to work it out, hear and understand one another, and learn to be a team.
A few don’ts:
Avoid deciding you know best. Should they stay together? Should they divorce? That’s not the question you need to answer for them. And likely, they won’t let you answer it for them anyway.
Don’t make it easy for them to give up. As I mentioned earlier, with safety and health issues, help them get into a safe situation. But for many other instances, Johnson notes that making it easy for your child to leave their marriage and come home and stay with you isn’t helpful.
Don’t counsel. Expert counselors often won’t even give advice about their child’s marriage. It’s so easy for emotions to get involved.
Don’t take sides. There are always two sides. Encourage them to do all they can to clearly understand each other’s perspectives.
Don’t try to control. You can’t control their thoughts, actions, or intentions. Even when we see the mistakes they may be making, we have to allow them to be adults and make their own decisions.
Our children will inevitably make decisions that we disagree with and mistakes that could’ve been avoided. Ultimately, just like the coach has to allow their players to make the plays on the field, our kids have to make their plays in life. To love, accept, encourage, and give them space (even if you disagree with them) may be the secret to having the positive impact you desire.
***If you or someone you know is in an abusive relationship, contact the National Hotline for Domestic Abuse. At this link, you can access a private chat with someone who can help you 24/7. If you fear someone is monitoring your computer or device, call the hotline 24/7 at 1−800−799−7233. For a clear understanding of what defines an abusive relationship, click here.***
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/kelly-sikkema-DzgRvB-4Lrk-unsplash-scaled-e1615986227556.jpg244600Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-03-17 09:03:572021-03-22 23:11:09What to Do When Your Child’s Marriage is Falling Apart
From the moment you announce your pregnancy, it seems like everyone offers you parenting advice. You’re inundated with opinions about everything from sleeping and the right kinds of diapers to preparing you for the terrible twos. (By the way, that actually lasts from 18 months until about 3. You’re welcome.)
Actually, I believe there’s no such thing as the terrible twos. I call this age a “magical time” when many developmental leaps take place. It’s a time of significant growth and development for you and your child.
The time between 2 and 4 is foundational as kids change physically, emotionally, and intellectually. They’re also learning and becoming their own person. It’s a time to look forward to and anticipate because the skill developments in this timeframe benefit you AND your child.
Here are a few things to remember as you deal with this “magical time.”
This is a necessary stage of growth and development.
I had a friend who shared that when their child was in this stage, they believed they did something to “break” their child. Gone was the calm, sweet infant they brought home. It seemed to happen overnight.
I could bore you with all the human growth and development theories, but I won’t. Suffice it to say, this stage of development is necessary and expected. Yes, they have tantrums and cry. But it’s usually because they don’t have the words to effectively communicate what they want or how they feel. Plus, they don’t have the skills to control their emotions. This is when the magic happens.
It’s critical to decide what’s truly important versus what you can let go of during this time. Part of the magic is setting appropriate boundaries. Everything doesn’t have to be a fight or power struggle. Remember, you are the authority, so no need to struggle.
For example, safety is paramount. Things like holding hands while walking in a parking lot are NON-NEGOTIABLE. Other things, you may choose not to fight. Mismatched socks or wearing a Christmas sweater in May shouldn’t ruffle your feathers.
Try to prevent bombarding yourself with thoughts about how something makes you look to others. This is about you and your child growing and learning together. You may need to create a saying to remind you that this phase is necessary for growth and becoming the person they were made to be.
This “magical time” lays the foundation for your future.
It may be hard to believe that your child will one day be a teenager or adult. You may be wondering, “Why are you talking about the future when I’m struggling in the present?” Believe it or not, your present struggle is preparing you for the future by developing your character, strength, and skills as a parent.
MAGICAL TIME teaches you skills like:
Staying calm in a crisis or the middle of the toy aisle when your child is pitching a fit
What works best for your particular child
How to guide rather than dictate or control (because can you really control anyone?)
MAGICAL TIME teaches your child skills like:
How to identify and regulate emotions
How to make decisions (age-appropriate)
Independence and autonomy
How to speak for themselves
As you’re learning and growing, your child may still cry, yell and throw tantrums.
YOU ARE NOT ALONE.
You aren’t the only parent who has gone through this.
More importantly, you aren’t the worst parent in the world. In reality, you are learning new skills. So, give yourself a break!
Through these words of encouragement, I’m not trying to blow smoke or try to make it seem like magical time is without challenges or some tears from both of you.
Yes, it can be challenging, frustrating, and feel never-ending. But no matter what, it will be worth it. You’ll learn about yourself and how to be the parent your child needs. You get to choose how to see this time. Will you see it as magical or terrible?
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/pexels-william-fortunato-6392803-scaled-e1615985855992.jpg235600Gena Ellishttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngGena Ellis2021-03-17 08:58:342021-03-22 22:41:04How to Deal with the Terrible Twos
You can help them navigate the world of online relationships.
Take a deep breath. You may have just realized that your child might be a cyberbully. Ugh. And now you’ve got to a) Find out if it’s true, and b) If it is, try to address it so that it stops.
Whether you read a social media post, heard from another parent or teacher, or overheard a conversation, something has made you wonder if your child is cyberbullying. It doesn’t mean you’re a terrible parent if your child is being aggressive online. While it’s healthy to think through anything you may have done that could contribute, it’s essential to focus on helping your child, because cyberbullying harms young people. Addressing it and dealing with it can promote the safety and wellbeing of your child and those they come in contact with.
So, what even is cyberbullying? It’s using an electronic device to intimidate, threaten or humiliate another. This most often involves being aggressive online toward people from school or the neighborhood.
What are some warning signs that your child may be a cyberbully?
While there’s no substitute for ongoing conversations between you and your child, this list from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services may be helpful.
Dramatic changes in technology usage. Yes, some kids seem to be glued to their devices. Keeping an eye out to see if they are on their devices more than usual or suddenly seem to not care if they are on an electronic device could raise some red flags. They may be super interested in seeing how others respond to them or even feel some guilt and not want to know. Either way, this may be a sign of bullying behavior.
Are they jumpy, hiding devices, or changing screens when you enter the room? Savvy kids can try to hide behavior and screens from you. Learning how to look up search history and digital usage can unlock their electronic behavior.
Unwillingness to talk about what’s on their screens. Maybe they give one-word answers; they avoid the topic or ignore the question. Pay attention when they’re unwilling to answer questions about what’s on their screens. This could indicate involvement in harmful online behavior.
Let’s be honest. Most of these bullet points probably sound like normal teenage behavior on a regular basis. It’s difficult to accuse your child of cyberbullying when you’re not 100% sure.
However, these tips can help you address the issue whether you just suspect it or want to prevent it from happening.
Dig deeper to get a feel for what’s going on in your child’s heart and mind. Look at pictures, posts on social media, text messages, etc. Try to find out what’s happening behind the scenes in their life. Many times, the digital trail will give you quite a bit of insight and greater understanding.
Think through what it takes for you to be open, honest, and vulnerable with someone. Then think through what it takes for your child to be open, honest, and vulnerable with you. Be that person when you talk with them. This will increase your chances of working together to overcome the situation and form an open, honest relationship of accountability for the future.
Don’t be surprised if your child gets defensive. Children can be persuasive when it comes to avoiding “trouble.” They’ll say things like, “I can’t believe you’d think I would do that!” Focus on ensuring that bullying behavior isn’t acceptable by anyone in your home, but also look for the “why” behind the behavior. Your relationship with them is about so much more than punishing them. Your goal is to guide them where you’d like to them be and lead them to make healthy choices.
Ask your child if they’ve ever done something that might be considered cyberbullying. Or if someone has cyberbullied them in the past. Help them think it through. You may talk about how easy it is to take things (especially in a text) the wrong way. Sent a message that made someone feel uncomfortable? Made fun of someone and hurt their feelings?
Help your child think from the other person’s perspective. Putting ourselves in someone else’s shoes to understand what they may be feeling can build empathy.
Talk about your family expectations regarding online conduct and how to treat people at all times. Set the standard. Your children must know precisely where you stand regarding any kind of bullying by them or toward them. Discuss and enforce consequences for engaging in any type of bullying behavior.
Many forms of cyberbullying violate schools’ zero-tolerance policy and may be addressed by a school counselor. If you find yourself in this position, it’s important to encourage your child to do as they’re asked at school and use the situation as an opportunity for growth instead of a form of punishment or unfairness. Let them know you’re on their team and you’re there to work through it with them.
Oh, and one more thing.
Many bullies target others because of something they have experienced themselves, and they may have never told anyone else about it. Professional counseling may help your child work through issues that trigger the cyberbullying behavior. Your child needs to know you are there for them, and that you will do what it takes to support their growth as they navigate the world of online relationships. They won’t get it right every time, but they can move forward with your help.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/daria-nepriakhina-_XR5rkprHQU-unsplash-scaled-e1615477364330.jpg288900Reggie Madisonhttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngReggie Madison2021-03-11 10:42:552021-03-11 12:29:00I Think My Child Is Cyberbullying… What Do I Do?
Cyberbullying has been on the rise for a while, but it has escalated during the pandemic. And it’s no wonder, due to virtual school, increased technology, and the flexibility parents have been giving to digital boundaries.
Our kids are highly active online. They’re digital natives. This is the world they are growing up in. Safety is always a concern, just like it was for us. I want my kids to be safe when they are online, so I want them to be aware of cyberbullying.
Cyberbullying is using an electronic device to intimidate, threaten or humiliate another. It’s bullying in a digital world, and it can be done 24/7.
According to a recent Pew Research survey, 59% of U.S. teens have experienced some form of online harassment. Teens reported six common types of abusive behavior:
Spreading of false rumors
Receiving explicit images they didn’t ask for
Frequently being asked where they are, what they’re doing, or who they’re with by others
Having explicit photos of them shared without their consent
As parents, we need to proactively watch for signs of cyberbullying. Ninety percent of teens surveyed believe cyberbullying is a problem that affects people their age. A majority of them felt their parents were doing a good job addressing online harassment. Let’s keep it up.
Signs of cyberbullying
Here are some signs that your child is a victim of cyberbullying. They:
Suddenly stop using their computer, tablet, or phone, even though they’ve always enjoyed it.
Seem nervous when receiving a text or notification.
Shut down their devices when family members approach them.
Allude to bullying without directly saying they are being bullied. Maybe your child talks about drama at school or their lack of friends.
Withdraw from technology, friends, or family.
If you see these signs, don’t just assume they act this way because they are teens. While that may be the case, something deeper may be happening.
Steps you can take to help your child
The first step is to talk to your child. As parents, we know our kids best. When you see a change in their attitude or demeanor, ask some questions. If you sense they’re being bullied but won’t open up about it, share a story from your childhood about when you were bullied. Your child’s safety is your top priority. You want to make sure they feel safe and know they can talk to you about anything. You both want the same result: to stop cyberbullying.
If you don’t already have ground rules in place for technology usage, now’s the time to start. You should be able to see where and who your child has been interacting with online.
Collect evidence. Print out or take screenshots of cyberbullying instances.
Work with the school. Talk to the administrator about their bullying policy.
Do not contact the bully’s parents. While this is often our first thought, we don’t want to escalate the situation. We, as parents, usually take our child’s side and don’t like to listen to accusations about their behavior.
Contact the content provider. Websites, apps, gaming networks, etc., all have terms of service that cyberbullying violates. It’s in all those disclaimers that we often just click “I have read and agree” without reading. (Guilty!) Even if your child can’t identify their bully, the provider can do something about it.
If necessary, seek counseling. Remember your child’s well-being is the top priority. Bullying can have long-lasting effects. Speaking to a counselor may help them.
If there are physical threats, contact the police. It may be an empty threat, but do not wait to find out.
Cyberbullying can be a severe threat to your child’s well-being. They deserve the opportunity to learn and develop without fear. The best step you can take is to be proactive. Be engaged in their digital lives and build an environment of trust and transparency.
https://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2021/03/pexels-rodnae-productions-6936070-e1614858302454.jpg344900Mitchell Quallshttps://firstthings.org/wp-content/uploads/2020/01/ftf-logo-300x186.pngMitchell Qualls2021-03-04 06:45:132021-03-09 08:58:00What to Do if Your Child is Being Cyberbullied