Today's youth are under pressure — now more than ever — in schools, in our communities, and online.
How many times have you whispered to yourself, “I’m so glad social media wasn’t around when we were kids”. Most of us seemed to live in a simpler time when we were kids. We could go outside to play and wander the streets without worry, we weren’t attached to a phone (unless you were one of the lucky ones with your own personal phone line in your room), there was no evidence of something we did that would be blasted all over the internet.
I take a look at kids these days who seem to grow up too fast and are addicted to technology and it makes my heart ache. Every time I hear a child under 12 talk about a Tik Tok video or when they have to practice a school shooting drill at school- it reminds me that times are definitely different and as parents we have to learn how to support our kids through something we don’t have experience with.
There are so many different types of social pressure and external interruptions that we have to figure out how to support our kids through. So how do we do it all?
Three pieces of advice I have are:
Trusting Your Instincts:
As much as we were able to choose our kids’ friends and environment when they were little, as soon as they go to school you no longer have a say as to who they make friends with. From my experience, that sometimes means your kids are exposed to a completely different set of family values and rules. My kids have learned more things this year that I was unprepared to deal with but had to learn how to navigate.
If you have that nagging feeling that your child is being picked on, is acting more sensitive, or even talking in a way you’ve never taught them- listen to it! You know your child best, so if something’s off make sure you trust those instincts and figure out how you want to handle the situation. This leads me to my next piece of advice, open communication.
Keep Open Lines of Communication:
This one is so important in my opinion. We just moved to a new town this year and therefore the kids started a new school. New school means new kids that I don’t really know. They have learned so many things this year that I frankly didn’t even know kids under 10 years old knew. We don’t let our kids watch YouTube, Tik Tok or even have their own phones because in my opinion they are too young but they were starting to talk about things they had seen on these channels so I knew they were still gaining access elsewhere.
I had to sit my kids down and talk with them about why we didn’t let them watch these things and even when they weren’t home, it wasn’t okay for them to watch either. We had to lay down the truth that the internet can be a scary place for kids to be and it’s not appropriate for them to be on certain unmonitored channels. Every time they go over to a friend’s house where I know the rules are more lax, we have to remind them about our rules and that they need to be followed even when they are elsewhere.
Keeping the lines of communication open with other adults in your kids life is equally as important. When one of my kids was struggling at school with behavioral issues I wasn’t given much information and had to initiate conversations with the teacher and counselor to see how I could help from my end. If your values don’t align with your child’s teacher, their friends’ parents or whoever, make sure to share and openly communicate your values and how you would appreciate some consistency so your child doesn’t get confused by all the different sets of rules.
Lean On A Friend:
This has probably been the most helpful thing as a parent thus far. If you have a friend whose kids are just a little older than yours, they have probably already dealt with the situations you are about to stumble upon. Lean on them for advice on how they handle this new world our kids are growing up in. It’s a wild new world our kids are growing up in so any advice from someone who’s already been through it is extremely helpful.
If you feel like your child’s mental health is affected at all please know you have support available. Helping your child find the support they need to navigate through their struggles will help them flourish into thriving adults.
The Olivia Caldwell Foundation is proud to offer a mental health support group for parents and caregivers of children with a mental health concern. Take advantage of this free resource to see how you can support them. Find out more information on our website http://www.oliviacaldwellfoundation.org/support-groups.html
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.