The explosive growth of cell phones, texting, computers and online social sites have created a modern day problem that you as a parent of a teen or tween must face and hopefully overcome – cyberbullying.
Remember when a tiny note rolled up and passed along in class could be devastating to you or your best friend? Or someone changing tables in the cafeteria as you sat down could be a message that hurt for months? These sorts of events were awful and children were known to cry themselves to sleep over such innocent slights and hurts. Certainly I had a few tears growing up and you probably did also.
Just magnify that by 1000, and you get closer to what today's kids have to deal with. The New York Times recently updated us on the typical nightmares that many kids of today face and also the difficulties that schools have in curbing much of it. After all, schools of today, just as 30 years ago, can't control what happens after school or on the weekend. As a psychologist and school psychologist I take very seriously what is happening to today's kids and I am sure you do also.
You know as a parents that you are on the front line of your child’s development. Here are some practical suggestions for you:
* Make yourself available to your child as often as possible, at meals, in the car, in the evening and on the weekends.
* Whenever possible, don't use cell phones, phones, or computers when your child is expecting and may need connection, help, advice or simply love. Research shows that kids don't like it when their parents are only giving them partial attention.
* Refuse to talk on a cell in the car when the child is in the car unless of course, an emergency is going on. Try not to bring phones to the dinner table, and don't answer the phone during mealtimes, except again, during emergencies.
* Make certain to have meals with yourchild at least three nights a week or at least some down time, even ten minutes during the evening so you child can open up about school and other problems with a sense of comfort and that you are listening..
* Plan weekend time as a family. During that time, whether a picnic or a visit to a relative, set aside only brief times when anyone uses technology.
This information, spoken elogquently by a teenager, is still so relevant today.Maeve Cannon, a 14-year-old eighth grader advising younger people how to avoid bullying, was quoted as saying in the New York Times, "If you're under 13, you shouldn't even be on Facebook."
"If you child is under 13,” she stated, “he or she should be so tired at night from school work, hobbies, studying an instrument or taking a sport, helping with chores, socializing with family and friends, that the very thought of lifting a finger to talk on a keyboard, without the human input of a smile or a grimace, just wouldn't make sense!"
She further states: "Bullying is often the outgrowth of excess emotions and energies that are not more wholesomely directed. Feelings and thoughts can run amuck in anyone, particularly youngsters already experiencing so many emotional and bodily changes, when they are not challenged, encouraged and taught how to make good use of their time."
Words of wisdom from a teenager can only remind us of our important and special job we have as parents.