Do you sometimes wonder if your parenting efforts make a difference? Are you curious whether all the rules and reminders you put into place really sink in? You’ll certainly have a chance to evaluate once your child reaches adolescence.
Living in a Social Media World
I recently read a story about how social media affects the brain.
In our world of LIKES and SHARES and the preoccupation with technology, our kids have become trained to constantly search for feedback.
According to Lauren Sherman, lead researcher at UCLA’s Brain Mapping Center, “When teens learn that their own pictures have supposedly received a lot of ‘likes,’ they show significantly greater activation in parts of the brain’s reward circuitry.
Reward circuitry. The more ‘likes,’ the more a feeling of being rewarded and valued. Let’s admit it – we all like to be ‘liked.’ But can these new teens control their urges?
Your Parental Influence Does Make a Difference
I want to remind parents that this is the time when your parental influence DOES make a difference. Your kids will be put in situations when they have to make serious choices. They will feel peer pressure, and they will find themselves considering their family values – and your reactions – as they make decisions about who they are and how they want to be viewed by others.
I often talk with parents who say, “My six-year-old is just out of control. He runs our house!” I listen and then ask a few pertinent questions that hopefully lead them to reconsider their own actions in the role of parent. Being nice and loving is not enough. You are not there to collect ‘likes.’
We all know the longing for approval is especially strong when kids reach adolescence. Will I be the one who won’t take a sip? How can I not laugh at that chubby girl when everyone else around me is?
If you have laid a strong foundation of love, empathy, sensitivity and openness for your child, your guidance and their conscience will kick in and help them make smart choices. They will value your approval above that of their friends.
Building that Strong Foundation
I have written what I call a “Handbook” for Parents (and one for Grandparents) that includes 10 simple suggestions for facing the hard challenges that parenting poses.
There is no definitive recipe for how to raise kind and responsible kids but I think that these suggestions, when coupled with your own common sense, will get you on the right path. And more importantly, they will get your kids on the right path to knowing that following their conscience rather than the total number of “likes” of a photograph or post is the goal.
Start early to help and support your kids and their choices. Be the involved parent; be the teacher and the guide that your child needs. Don’t let your kids run your house.
And, by the way, whether on Twitter, Snapchat, Instagram or simply because you are reading this, I really do ‘like’ you.