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7 Ways to Unwind and Connect with Your Kids–Without Screens

By Andrea Marks

Has it been a long day? Have your co-workers been out-of-this-world annoying, your boss completely misunderstanding, and you can’t seem to get one thing to go your way? Perfect! Now it’s time to go home where your kids will need your full attention!

This scenario doesn’t happen every day, but when it does, it’s important to find a way to destress while also being an involved parent. Your first instinct might be to hand your kids a tablet and go straight to the TV or Facebook. But you know the consequences to this aren’t worth it, and with too much tech, your kids tend to get whiny, uncooperative, or worse.

While it can be tempting to just let technology entertain your kids, you’re hopefully already trying to get your kids to take a break from too much technology. Let us help with a few useful solutions for this dilemma.

Here are 7 alternatives to heading straight for screens after a rough day:

  • Have an afternoon (or evening tea)
    • Establish the routine of sitting down to a cup of tea after work with your kids. You could talk about your day, tell them your plans for the next day, or share funny stories.
  • Go on a walk
    • A walk isn’t going to the gym and doing an entire workout, but it is relaxing and gets you outside. Even if it is just to the end of the street and back, your kids can expend a lot of energy running ahead and running back. Aerobic activities help children focus more and be less impulsive (Dewar, 2016). Just think how tired and ready they’ll be for bedtime!
  • Set a timer for personal time
    • With kids who constantly demand focused attention, you could set a timer. After you get home from work, tell them in 30 minutes you’ll spend time with them. You could use that 30 minutes to decompress in your room, scream into your pillow, or take a quick nap.
  • Share a hobby
    • This could be putting a puzzle together, fixing up a car, playing a card game, going to the gym, or hiking. Any hobby you enjoy can be shared. It might require more patience on your part, but before long you will have created a special bond with your kids in a way unique to you.
  • Read Together
    • According to the American Time Use Survey of 2017, parents only read to their children for an average of three minutes per day (Average Hours, 2017). We spend longer in the bathroom. One of the greatest memories of my childhood is my father reading to us. He would do funny voices, and we would talk about how the book made us feel. Studies show reading with your kids can actually improve their cognitive, emotional, and social development (Klass, 2018).
  • Cook or Bake With Your Kids
    • Time spent together cooking can help you bond and accomplish something you already were planning to do anyway. Also, the sooner kids learn to cook, the faster they can have dinner ready for you when you come home!
  • Quiet Time
    • Your kids have probably had a long day too! After school they were rushed straight to soccer practice, barely made it in time for piano lessons, and have been doing their homework for an hour. Kids need to destress just as much as parents do (Hong, 2012). Each kid relaxes in different ways. Find out how your child likes to relax without screens (coloring, reading, playing outside), and help them make time for this.

While it’s tempting to just plop down in front of the TV or get lost in the world on your phone when you’re tired from a long day, your kids need you. Help them avoid distracted living by being an example. Get to know each of your children better and understand their world.

Need fun, simple ideas to spend meaningful time with your kids? Check out 30 Days to a Stronger Child. A few minutes each day will change their lives! Choosing to connect with your children after work can be tough, but they will remember it for years to come.

Andrea Marks is earning her degree in Family Life Studies. Andrea is an avid reader with a love of the outdoors. She hopes to one day work with children in crisis. She believes the way to change the world is in the home.

America After 3PM Infographics. (2014). Retrieved November 17, 2018, from http://www.afterschoolalliance.org/AA3PM/infographics.cfm

Average hours per day parents spent caring for and helping household children as their main activity. (2017). Retrieved November 17, 2018, from https://www.bls.gov/charts/american-time-use/activity-by-parent.htm

Dewar, G. (2018). Parenting Science – The science of child-rearing and child development. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from http://www.parentingscience.com/

Hong, C. (2012, October 28). Kids need time to relax. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from https://www.citizensvoice.com/news/kids-need-time-to-relax-1.1391013

Klass, P. (2018, April 16). Reading Aloud to Young Children Has Benefits for Behavior and Attention. Retrieved November 17, 2018, from https://www.nytimes.com/2018/04/16/well/family/reading-aloud-to-young-children-has-benefits-for-behavior-and-attention.html

Making Christmas Last All Day Long: Fun and New Traditions for this Holiday Season

By: Amanda Kimball

We live in a fast-paced world. Our kids are accustomed to getting everything they want right when they want it. Then they move on to the next activity astonishingly quickly. It seems as if they are incapable of taking a minute to slow down and enjoy the moment. Christmas is a great example of this. How many of us wake up at 6:00 am to start the festivities only to conclude at 6:30 am with a mess of wrapping paper and gifts strewn about the house?

There is always one Christmas that stands out as the brightest and most memorable of all my childhood Christmases. It was the year my mother decided to do something different, very different. We still received plenty of gifts, but she didn’t want our present opening to fly by like it usually did, in a short-lived whirlwind of unwrapping and often with a lack of enjoyment and gratitude.

Instead, she did this.

Every gift we received was given an exact time we were allowed to open it. Yep, that’s right! There was a time written on each present. Each time was separated by 30 minutes to 1 hour, and we had to wait until the time written on each present to unwrap it. Now, before you think my mother was a Grinch, I should explain that everything in our stockings was fair game. No time limit was placed on them.

At first, my brother and I were horrified by this idea. We had to wait to open our presents. What was Santa thinking? We could not believe we had to wait, and we definitely complained at first. But after opening the first few gifts, we didn’t mind so much. My brother and I got to work digging under the tree to find all the presents so we could line them up in time order. We didn’t want to miss out on any time for our presents. At this point, we realized we had some designated times that were the same and some that were different. There was even a huge space in between the times to allow us to go visit our family on Christmas Day.

Each time we opened a present, the time gap allowed us time to play with it. We were able to admire the gift we were given and not just pass it over to open something else. As the time grew closer to the next gift in line, we were able to try to guess what it could be. The thrill and anticipation of opening the next gift were amazing, and it made the entire day beyond exciting. When the last present was opened just before bedtime, we found Christmas had lasted all day long. Not many other kids could say they were opening presents until it was time to go to bed.

This is one of my favorite family memories. That Christmas reminds me to count my blessings, enjoy the gifts I receive, and be grateful for what I have.

This Christmas I challenge you to take on a new tradition. It does not have to be as dramatic as what my mother did, but it should include the whole family.

Here are 9 more ideas for new traditions you could start.

  1. 25 Days of Books. Create a new way of doing an advent calendar. Instead of a small treat or toy, open up a new book or an old favorite. This creates wonderful bonding time for you and your kids as you can then sit and read the books together.
  2. Family Breakfast Before Presents. This can be a great new tradition to start when your kids get older. Instead of ripping into the presents on Christmas morning, have the whole family join in on making a fun, festive breakfast. Take your time and enjoy the spirit of Christmas.
  3. Only Stockings are From Santa. Santa only fills the stockings and brings one gift that he places next to the stocking. When the kids wake up before the parents, they are allowed to get into their stocking and the present from Santa. No other gifts can be opened because those gifts are from family and friends. Mom and Dad want to be there when those gifts are opened. This gives Mom and Dad some extra time to sleep. This works well when some food like an orange or Pop-Tarts are in the stockings.
  4. No Names on the Presents. “Each kid gets their own wrapping paper – none of the gifts are marked, and in order to know which gifts are theirs, they have to find the tiny piece of their wrapping paper in the bottom of their stocking. It’s a little last-minute excitement as they see the gifts but don’t know which belongs to who” (Pinterest, n.d.).
  5. No Electronics. The only time electronics can be used is to take a picture or video, or to call/video chat with family and friends. Posting to social media and playing games on the phone or tablet can wait. Spend time together as a family, and don’t let the media get in the way. Other possible exceptions could be a family game on a console or a family movie.
  6. Christmas Movie. After the excitement of opening presents is done and all the phone calls have been made, wind down Christmas with a movie. Pick out a fun movie to watch together, and enjoy each others company. Don’t forget some snacks and popcorn.
  7. One Present at a Time. Instead of everyone unwrapping all their presents at once and being done quickly, take your time. One person opens a gift, and the others get to watch. Enjoy watching each other open gifts and the excitement they have when they open their presents. Teach your children to recognize the feelings they get when they watch another person opens a gift.
  8. Santa’s Helper. Santa leaves behind his hat along with the name of the person who is chosen to be Santa’s Helper that year. They are given a big job to do. They are in charge of handing out the presents that are under the tree, and they need to make sure everyone gets their gifts.
  9. The Night Before Christmas Box. On Christmas Eve, there is one present the kids get to open. This is a box that may be filled with new pajamas, snacks, and/or a Christmas movie or book (The Whoot, n.d.). Share the story of Christmas and the reason for the season.

Make Christmas last all day long, allow your kids to be grateful for what they are given, and above all make happy memories. When we spend time with our family, we are building lasting connections and creating a strong family bond.

We have many children’s books that make great Christmas gifts. Our books are entertaining and educational. They provide many opportunities for you as a parent to connect with and teach your children.

Amanda has just earned her bachelor’s degree in Marriage and Family Studies at Brigham Young University – Idaho. She is a mother to three children and married to a loving husband of 12 years. She loves to take long walks on the beach with her family during the summer and cuddle up for an old classic movie in the winter.

Helping Young Children Avoid Porn Addiction

By Katelyn King

No one wakes up in the morning and decides, “Today I am going to get addicted to porn”, especially not a 5th grader. But it can happen, and it does. It happened to my own brother.

When my brother was in 5th grade, his best friend showed him a picture of a naked girl. He felt uncomfortable and quickly told him to put it away. He considered telling our mom but was too afraid of getting in trouble. His friend kept pressuring him to look at porn with him, and each time my brother began to feel less and less uncomfortable. In fact, my brother began to want to look and found ways to look at porn whenever he could. He rationalized, “It doesn’t hurt anyone else”, and before he knew it, he was addicted.

It took my brother years to see how his addiction to porn was negatively affecting his life and hurting those around him. He would make sexist comments, and had developed a skewed view of women and relationships. He eventually wanted to stop and would make commitments to himself that he would never look at porn again, but he just couldn’t do it. All he had to do was open his phone and there it was. It had become a part of his life of which he could not control. He finally confessed his addiction to our parents because he knew he needed help. The path to recovery was not easy. He worked hard and had to force himself to keep going even when he faltered. It was a long process, but he did not give up and has been free of his addiction for 2 years now.

The brain responds to porn like other addictive substances such as cocaine, heroin, and tobacco. Porn, like addictive drugs, releases dopamine without regulation. This leaves the user wanting more and more in order to get the same “high”. Pornography also causes new pathways to form within our brains. In other words, it actually rewires the brain. These pathways create more tolerance, leading to desires for more intense porn (Wilson, 2015). (For additional details and information on the effects of pornography on the brain click here.)

Viewing pornography changes the users’ beliefs and attitudes about themselves and others, affecting identity and relationship expectations. Porn encourages violence, compulsiveness and risky sexual behavior (Owens et al., 2012).

Did you know that the average age of exposure to pornography is age 11 (National Center on Sexual Exploitation. (n.d.))? Kids are being exposed to pornography much earlier than most parents realize, sometimes as early as age 8. What can we as parents do to help protect their children avoid the possibility of exposure and addiction?

Here are 7 things parents can do to help protect their kids from falling into porn addiction.

Define It: Teach your children what pornography is and why it is bad for them. A great resource for this is How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography.

Name It: Help your kids understand that when they see porn, they should identify it as porn. For example, you could be out with your child and both see an inappropriate advertisement. Instead of just pretending it is not there and avoiding the conversation, use that opportunity to point out that the ad is not appropriate. Talk to them about why that ad is not ok.

Get away from It: Teach your child to remove themselves from situations where porn is present. Let them know they can and should tell their friends “no.” Give them a way out, like a code word they can text you if they need your help getting out of an uncomfortable or unsafe situation.

Discuss Feelings: Help your children understand that they can and should come to you if they see porn. Ensure that they understand that they will not be in trouble and that you are not mad at them. If a child lets you know they saw porn, talk to them about it. Let them share how they felt and help them understand these feelings.

Deconstruct Images Together: Help them realize that porn is a fake representation of what sex really is. Point out that they are actors. Teach them how it dehumanizes individuals.

Prevent Further Exposure: Discuss ways to avoid seeing pornography in the future.

If your child saw it at a friend’s house, discuss the exposure with the parents. Also, ask your child to discuss the issue with their friend. Sometimes it might be best to avoid going to that friend’s house again depending on the situation. It is important to do what you feel is best for your child.

Help your children have healthy relationships by teaching them the negative effects of pornography. Establish a R-U-N Plan, so if they have a similar experience to my brother’s, they will not hesitate to talk to you.

To download A Simple Lesson for Teaching Your Child About Pornography, Ages 3-7. To find further information about preventing and helping kids overcome porn exposure see our book, How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography.

Katelyn King is a wife and mother of two children. She is a graduate of Brigham Young University-Idaho, in the Marriage and Family Studies Program, and is an advocate for parent-child relationships.

National Center on Sexual Exploitation. (n.d.). White Ribbon Against Pornography: Harms to Children. Retrieved from https://endsexualexploitation.org/wp-content/uploads/WRAP-harms-to-children.pdf

Owens, E., R. Behun, J. Manning, and R. Reid (2012). “The Impact of Internet Pornography on Adolescents: A Review of the Research.” Sexual Addiction and Compulsivity, vol. 19, no. 1-2: 99-122.

Wilson, G. (n.d.). “Your Brain on Porn: How Internet Porn Affects the Brain.” (2015, May). Received October 28, 2015, from http://yourbrainonporn.com/your-brain-on-porn-series.

Lesson: Teaching Your Kids Healthy Boundaries

Boundaries are an important part of any healthy relationship. That is why it is imperative that parents teach their children what boundaries are and how to create healthy boundaries for themselves. Boundaries can be defined as the space between you and another person, and the unspoken rules of how you will treat someone and how you expect to be treated.

When healthy boundaries are not establish, the relationship as well as those involved suffer. Boundaries help us to communicate respect and love by allowing us to express ourselves; our wants, desires, beliefs, likes, and dislikes. Sharing these things with those we care about helps create a mural respect within the relationship and allows space for growth.

The objectives of this lesson are:

  • Teach children and teens what boundaries are, how to create healthy personal boundaries, and how to label and define behaviors that make them uncomfortable.
  • Help kids to understand the importance of trusting their gut; if a situation does not feel right to them, let them know they should trust their instinct.
  • Teach your child what they can do when boundaries are crossed and who they can go to for help.
  • Help kids make the connection that boundaries go both ways; how we want to be treated is how we should treat others

It is important to help your child understand that all relationships should have healthy boundaries. Remind them that this includes their relationships with their family, friends, and associations.

he following books provide age appropriate information and discussion question to address intimacy, healthy relationships, body image, and consent and boundaries.30 Days of Sex Talks, Ages 3-7, 8-11, and 12+.

Online Bullying: What to Do!

How Parents Can Prevent And Deal with It

By Ariane Robinson

It’s true, kids can be cruel. I still vividly remember the insults thrown at me by a group of “popular” girls at my junior high. Their ridicule made it hard for me to attend school, but I knew at the end of the day I would be able to escape from it and return home where I felt loved and safe.

Unfortunately, bullying today is not something that’s confined to schools or only known about by a small group like it was for me. Cruel comments can spread in a matter of seconds on social media, and children can be bombarded with messages not just at school, but in their homes at all hours of the day. Once these messages are shared, they may never be erased, and it can be hard to track down with whom they have been shared.

Cyberbullying is used to harass, threaten, humiliate, or otherwise hassle someone. It is dangerous for our children because it leads to low self-esteem, suicidal ideation, anger, frustration, and a variety of other emotional and psychological problems (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018).

As parents, this is something we must have on our radar, as it is likely our child will either be the victim of cyberbullying, have a friend who is being bullied, or be a bully themselves. Studies have shown that about one out of every four teens has experienced cyberbullying, and about one out of every six teens has done it to others (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018). Articles like The Most Dangerous Apps of 2019 can help parents be aware of apps where cyberbullying might occur. Below is a list of some signs parents can look for to help their children.

SIgns your child may be experiencing cyberbullying are if he or she:

  • unexpectedly stops using their device(s)
  • appears nervous or jumpy when using device(s)
  • appears uneasy about being at school or outside
  • appears to be angry, depressed, or frustrated after texting, chatting, using social media, or gaming
  • becomes abnormally withdrawn
  • avoids discussions about their activities online

Signs your child may be cyberbullying others are if he or she:

  • quickly switches screens or hides their device
  • uses their device(s) at all hours of the night
  • gets unusually upset if they can’t use device(s)
  • avoids discussions about what they are doing online
  • seems to be using multiple online accounts, or an account that is not their own

In general, if a child acts in ways that are inconsistent with their usual behavior when using these devices, it is important to find out why (Hinduja & Patchin, 2018).

Experts offer these guidelines for parents and children if they are faced with a cyberbully (Smith, 2014):

  • Take a screenshot or save a text message.
  • Block or unfriend the bully.
  • Report the bully to the website.
  • Tell a trusted adult, like a family member or teacher.

What parents can do if they find out their child is the bully (Sizer, 2012):

  • Find out what happened — Ask your child to tell you, in his own words, what happened and what his role was in the incident. Joel Haber, Phd says, “Kids have to take accountability for their behavior.” If your child tries to push the blame onto someone else, be firm and reiterate that you want to know what their role was in the bullying.
  • Encourage empathy with the victim — After you find out what your child’s side of the story is, ask them to imagine if they were in the victim’s shoes. How would they feel if someone did the same thing to them?
  • Have your child make restitution — This may be challenging if the bullying happened online. Barbara Coloroso, the author of The Bully, the Bullied and the Bystander, notes the nature of the Web means that “rumors on the Internet can be hard to fix.” In extreme cases, she recommends that cyberbullies be forced to pay for a Web scrubber, which helps bury nasty Web pages in Google search results.
  • Try to get to the root cause of the bullying — Get to the bottom of what might be causing your child to be a bully. Are they looking for some type of acknowledgment, attention, or control? Do they fully understand the pain and ostracism they are causing?
  • Involve the school — Keep close communication with your child’s guidance counselor and teachers. Let them know you do not support bullying, and to notify you if there is any behavior at school of which you should be made aware.
  • Be a role model — Parents need to make sure their behavior is not sending a message to their child that it is ok to make someone feel bad about themselves. For example, do you gossip and spread rumors? Do you roll your eyes when you hear something you disagree with? Are you curt with salespeople? These types of parental behavior can give kids the idea that it is ok to bully others or put them down.

Parents can teach their kids about appropriate online behaviors just as they teach them about appropriate behaviors offline. Bringing Digital Citizenship Into Our Homes helps parents navigate this conversation if they are not sure where to begin. They can reinforce with their child how and why others should be treated with dignity and respect online.

It is vital that parents work to maintain an open, honest line of communication with their children, so their children will want to reach out when they experience something upsetting online. If you are looking for an easy way to begin talking to your child about cyberbullying and using tech for good, check out Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good.

Ariane Robinson is the mother of five children. She is a Marriage and Family Studies major and a certified facilitator with PREPARE/ENRICH. She enjoys working with families and helping to strengthen their relationships.

Hinduja, S. & Patchin, J. W. (2018). Cyberbullying Identification, Prevention, and Response. Cyberbullying Research Center (cyberbullying.org).

Smith, N. C. (2014, August 19). Watch out, cyber-bullies: Kids have new tools to fight back. Retrieved from https://www.cbsnews.com/news/watch-out-cyber-bullies-kids-have-new-tools-to-fight-back/

Inspiring Kids to Choose Their Own Body Image

By Hannah Herring

Growing up, my hair was almost always long. By the time I was twenty, I had allowed my hair to grow past my hips. One day, I woke up and announced to my roommate that I was getting my hair cut. We found a salon and walked in. I informed the hairdresser that I wanted it chopped off at about my jawline. I thought she was going to fall over from shock. She looked at me in surprise and after asking some more questions, put my hair in a clip and cut it off. Snip snip snip. I was free.

When we walked out of the salon a little while later, I realized that, for years, I had been carrying around all of that weight (literally) because other people liked my long hair. Suddenly, I was free. Since then, every time I get my haircut, I feel a similar freedom. People can say whatever they want but I love my hair now, more than I ever had before!

In the book Messages About Me: Wade’s Story one of the characters says, “I’m happy being me, and my parents say I’m pretty awesome just the way I am.” That is the kind of body image that we should want our children to have! We need to build our children’s self-image in healthy ways so that they can stand on their own, ignoring the peer pressure, negative media presence, and comparisons that social media feeds us. But how do we do that?

Here are 3 ways to help kids develop a positive body image:

  1. Have healthy discussions together. Ask questions or give prompts that help your kids remember what is good and beautiful about their bodies. For example:
    • “What have you done today that took some effort from your body?”
    • “Look at how far you ran! Aren’t your legs amazing?”
    • “Tell me about something kind you did for someone else today. How did you have to use your body to assist them?”
  2. Be a good example. Even if you struggle with your own body image (as many of us do) try to speak positively about yourself. Through our children’s habits and quirks we often see the things we fault in ourselves. Why? Because a child will do what we do, not always what we say. So speak positively, act positively, and be optimistic! Express gratitude for your body every day, especially when you are feeling particularly bad or down about it. Our words and actions are POWERFUL! If we begin a habit of complimenting ourselves, we will start to feel better about ourselves and even change the way we think (Cuddy, 2012). For example:
    • “Wow! I got such a good workout today! I love that my body allows me to run every day!”
    • “I love this shirt! I think it’s super flattering on my body. I love my body!”
    • “I’m really grateful for my body. I am so blessed. Look at everything that I got done today. All because my body is healthy and works well.”
    • “I’m so glad I’m healthy. That’s what is important! Don’t worry about your size. Take care of your body and your body will take care of you.”
    • “I think that you have a beautiful body. When people make fun of you or tease you, tell yourself that what they’re saying isn’t nice and that their words do not change how beautiful you are. You can do so much! What are some of your favorite things to do with your body?”
  3. Teach them to be critical thinkers. Encourage your children to talk about why they decide to dress or act a certain way. Did they see something on TV? On social media? When you hear them saying negative things about their bodies, ask them why they said that. Help them to recognize how the media and peer pressure are affecting their perceptions of concepts like “beautiful”, “good-looking”, “handsome,” or “perfect.” For example:
    • “That’s a new style. I like it. What made you decide to try it out?”
    • “Did you do your make-up differently today? Do you like this new way? I think it looks nice. It accents your eye color well. Where did you get the idea?”
    • “You just said that (name of a girl/teacher in a class/social setting) is gorgeous. What makes her so pretty? Who else do you think is pretty? What makes a person truly beautiful?”
    • “Wasn’t that a great movie? I loved it! The guy was pretty muscular. Do you think that’s attractive? What do you think makes a man good-looking? Do you think they may have used a computer to enhance the way his muscles looked?”

You have a huge influence on your children’s self-image. Help them remember what’s great about their bodies and about them. Speak positively about your own body. Encourage your kids to talk about their reasons for dressing, acting, and reacting the way they do. They will begin to see that they can choose for themselves how to see their body–despite what media or others around them say. Let’s help them see that they have that ability! It takes practice, but it’s worth it!

Hannah is from Utah and is a graduate student at Friends University studying Family Therapy. She plans to go into counseling with an emphasis in addiction recovery and trauma. From a large family, she loves children and their protection and education is top priority.

Citations:
Cuddy, A. (2012). Your body language may shape who you are. Retrieved from https://www.ted.com/talks/amy_cuddy_your_body_language_shapes_who_you_are?referrer=playlist-the_most_popular_talks_of_all

Social Media and Kids: 6 Tips for Curbing Isolation and Loneliness

By Ariane Robinson

Thanks to social media, video chatting, text messaging, and emails it’s easy to connect with friends and family. All-day long we text, post, and comment. Wouldn’t that mean that we are closer and more connected to others than ever before? According to recent research, this is not the case. In fact, the opposite is happening, we are feeling more isolated and alone. Studies show that rather than feeling connected by social media, young people who use it are actually more likely to feel socially isolated and lack a sense of belonging. (Pawlowski, 2018)

As parents, it is important that we teach our children the importance of face-to-face interaction and how to build healthy relationships beyond these screens. Otherwise, our children may end up experiencing the side effects of what some researchers have referred to as the “loneliness epidemic” (Pawlowski, 2018). While all of us may experience some feelings of loneliness in our lives, prolonged feelings of loneliness can become a real issue with serious side effects. These side effects are comparable to “smoking up to 15 cigarettes per day, obesity, physical inactivity, and air pollution” (Holt-Lunstad, 2010).

How can we be lonely, when we are literally in communication with people all day long? One explanation could be, that as humans we are social creatures who need to experience the real companionship of others. A screen cannot replace these interactions and experiences.

If you suspect your child may be experiencing loneliness because of too much social media, then it’s time to talk!

Here are six strategies to help:

1. Limit Alerts. Encourage your children to turn off the alerts on their phones. This will enable them to be present in the moment instead of constantly dividing their attention. It can be very hard to interact with people if you are constantly distracted by the alerts you are receiving, and what is happening on social media (Pawlowski, 2018). If someone is constantly checking their phone when you are having a conversation with them, it can make you feel like they are not that interested in what you have to say.
2. Limit Social Media Platforms. Studies have found that using more than two social media platforms can increase depression and anxiety. The reason for this is because we end up getting overwhelmed with all the posts and information, (Pawlowski, 2018) not to mention the amount of time it takes to be actively involved on numerous platforms.
3. Encourage More Face-to-Face Contact. Have your child visit friends from time to time, rather than just texting. Talk to them about the importance of making eye contact, smiling, and having a conversation (Pawlowski, 2018). You can be a great example for your child, by putting your phone down when they are talking to you, and making sure you are fully present in the moment.
4. Prohibit Social Media Before Bed. Using social media before bed has been shown to cause poor sleep. Encourage your child to have at least 30 minutes without their phone or device before bed, so their mind can wind down and prepare for sleep (Pawlowski, 2018). It may be helpful for your child to keep screens out of their bedroom, so they are not tempted to use them and disrupt their sleep. Loss of sleep can make us feel low, and slowly chip away at our feelings of happiness.
5. Set Time Limits for Social Media. It’s easy to get trapped into mindlessly scrolling on social media. Talk to your children about setting a specific limit on how much time they can spend on social media. (Pawlowski, 2018) It may also be helpful to sit down in your family and create a media plan for the whole family. Once again, parents need to set a good example for their children by adhering to limits and sticking to the plan established by the family.
6. Help Kids Avoid the Comparison Pitfall. On social media everyone’s lives seem so much better than our own. Help your kids understand that what we see on social media is not always an accurate reflection of what’s really going on in someone’s life. Our book Petra’s Power to See: A Media Literacy Adventure, can be a great tool to help parents teach their children how to decipher the images seen on social media and other media sources.

As a parent, if you ever feel concerned that your child’s loneliness is not improving, or they are showing signs of depression, don’t hesitate to contact their doctor for help. In some cases, your doctor will refer you to a specialist who can provide them with the help they need.

Ariane Robinson is the mother of five children. She is a Marriage and Family Studies Major and a certified facilitator with PREPARE/ENRICH, a program designed to help couples develop skills to improve their relationships. She enjoys working with families and helping to strengthen their relationships.

Andrews, C. (2018, May 22). Creating a Media Gu >

King, K. (2018, May 14). Tick Tock Goes the Social Media Clock: Finding Balance Between Social Media and Family Time. Retrieved from https://educateempowerk >

Pawlowski, A. (2018, April 23). Feeling lonely? How to stop social media from making you feel isolated. Retrieved from https://www.today.com/health/how-stop-feeling-lonely-social-media-can-worsen-loneliness-t127466

Holt-Lunstad, J. (2018, January 02). Potential Public Health Relevance of Social Isolation and Loneliness: Prevalence, Epidemiology, and Risk Factors | Public Policy & Aging Report | Oxford Academic. Retrieved from https://academic.oup.com/ppar/article/27/4/127/4782506

Van Orden, T., Alexander, D., & Melody, B. (2017, September 20). Suic >

Social Media Bullying: Understand It. Stop It!

By: Courtney Cagle

Amber was browsing Instagram when she saw an unappealing picture of one of her school peers. Curious, she started going through the comment section to see what her friends were saying about the picture. Her friends were posting comments such as, “Could you cover up any less? #slut,” and “That boy better stay away from her. Her STDs are so bad you could catch it from the air she breathes.” Amber laughed at the comments and decided to join in.

She didn’t stop to consider how her actions would affect the girl in the picture, she just wanted to impress her friends. After typing out a few messages, she decided on, “Yeah, she must have been drunk to think this was actually a good pic!!” The next day at school, Amber saw the girl from the picture as she was walking down the hall. As soon as the girl noticed Amber she turned and quickly walked away. Amber then realized that her comment must have hurt the girl’s feelings, but her feelings of guilt quickly disappear when her friends mentioned how funny her comment was.

Stories like this happen nearly every day in American high schools. More than one in three teens have experienced cyberbullying online. 25 percent of these kids reported repeated bullying through their phones alone. Although most parents believe cyberbullying can be easily stopped by blocking someone online, many teens have reported that their cyber-bullies will simply create new accounts and continue to relentlessly bully them no matter what precautions are taken (Cyberbullying Statistics, 2015).

As a parent, you might feel helpless in a cyberbullying situation. The first thing you can do is know and watch for warning signs that your child might be being bullied. Some of these signs are:

  • Feeling sick or faking illness
  • Difficulty sleeping or nightmares
  • Changes in eating habits, binging, or skipping meals
  • Sudden avoidance of social situations
  • Loss of interest in hobbies or school
  • Decreased self-esteem

If you suspect bullying, you may wonder what your role is? How can you help decrease the effects of cyberbullying? While it can feel difficult to approach your child to ask if they have been cyberbullied it is important to support and help.

Here are six things you can do as a parent to help prevent bullying:

  • Be media literate, especially social media literate. Most of us have a very limited ability to “read” media, especially social media. Sometimes can be difficult for us to accept that everyone, our family and friends included, are “selling” a message through their social media. We need to be savvy enough to see the underlying messages of all forms of media including social media, fake news, and online ads. A great resource to help you and your family become media literate is Petra’s Power to See, A Media Literacy Adventure. Although it’s geared toward kids ages 6-12, I guarantee you and your teen will learn A LOT from this book!
  • Talk to your child about the incredible potential in technology. If your child feels like you are discounting the good things about social media, they may not feel open enough to talk about the risks of social media. They need to know you understand that technology isn’t all bad. When discussing technology remember to cover both the dangers AND the positives. Teach them to use technology for a healthy, deliberate purpose (Johnson, 2017). For more information on how to teach your children how to use technology for good, check out our book Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good.
  • Be upfront and honest with your child about the risks of social media. Educate and help your child understand that social media can be dangerous. Explain the risks and what they should do if they encounter something harmful. This will arm them with knowledge and help them be safer while using social media.
    • It is also critical for your kids to know that they can come to you if anything happens. When you talk about the risks of social media, ask them about what they have encountered and remind them that they can always talk to you if they need to. (Baron, 2017). Check out our Ultimate Guide to Social Media for everything you need to know!
  • Be thoughtful about how you approach the conversation. Make sure when you talk to your child you use language in the form of facts, i.e. something that you personally saw or heard. Refrain from using judgmental language like, “You’re rude,” “That was stupid,” or “It’s ridiculous to talk like that.” Judgmental language can lead to negative emotions and prevent open communication from happening with your child (Baron, 2017).
  • Establish firm rules and boundaries with your child. Create a media guideline with your kids. Make rules with them and allow them to take part in establishing boundaries. Including them in the process will make it easier for them to follow and accept what has been decided. If they know and understand the rules, it won’t be as hard for them to show you their social media feed or text messages when you suspect they are being bullied (Andrews, 2016). Make sure your child knows that you reserve the right to look at their technology if you are worried about their safety or mental health. Remember, if you believe your child is being cyberbullied, you should ask to look at their social media and their messages. Our Ultimate Guide to Social Media has a helpful Social Media Contract to help establish firm guidelines.
  • Have meaningful, daily communication with your child. If you are communicating with your child on a daily basis, it shows them you are willing to listen.. Ask them questions about their life, how they are feeling, what they did that day, etc. You want to dive deep and learn about them so you are best able to help them. Make sure they are comfortable to share when they’ve been bullied online or elsewhere. It’s important to open the lines of communication and allow them to come to you with their concerns.

We must know what is going on in our children’s lives. Cyberbullying is going on all around us, and it’s important to keep your children safe as well as educated. For more information on bullying, signs, and what you can do, check out our article, Giving a Voice to Bullying Victims.

As you continue to talk with your kids about bullying and social media, it may be helpful to learn about the most dangerous apps of 2019, some of which your kids might have. Remember, don’t just focus on the dangers and negative aspects of online behavior; teach your kids how to use technology for good. Our book, Noah’s New Phone: A Story About Using Technology for Good, is a great place to start.

Engaging stories, great discussions!

Courtney Cagle is a senior at Brigham Young University-Idaho graduating in Marriage and Family Studies. She loves kids and wants to help create a safe environment for all children to learn and grow.

Andrews, C. (2018, February 12). Creating a Media Guideline for Your Family. Retrieved June 20, 2018, from https://educateempowerkids.org/creating-media-guideline-family-2
Baron, J. (2017, December 12). Talking to Your Kids About Cyberbullying Part 1: Tools for Parents. Retrieved June 16, 2018, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/blog/2017/12/12/talking-to-your-kids-about-cyberbullying-part-1.html
Cyber Bullying Statistics. (2015, July 07). Retrieved June 16, 2018, from http://www.bullyingstatistics.org/content/cyber-bullying-statistics.html
Johnson, J. (2017, September 13). Teaching My Children to Be Great Digital Citizens. Retrieved June 20, 2018, from https://educateempowerkids.org/teaching-children-great-digital-citizens
Warning Signs for Bullying. (2018, February 07). Retrieved June 16, 2018, from https://www.stopbullying.gov/at-risk/warning-signs/index.html

5 maneras en que los niños pueden usar los teléfonos inteligentes para bien

Por Haley Hawks

Traducido por Luis Antonio Mayen Castellanos

Nací en 1995, y me pareció que estaba en medio de una gran revolución tecnológica. Recuerdo cuando mi escuela pasó de no tener computadoras, a clases obligatorias de computación, con papeles escritos a mano, literalmente, algo del pasado. Recuerdo cuando pasamos de proyectores de video a una pantalla de proyección más sofisticada. La ciencia salta y avanza cada día. No quería comprar un teléfono, computadora o videojuego porque sabía que al día siguiente, o la semana, o el mes, otro competidor lanzaría uno mejor.

Pero si pensé que mi generación estaba llena de pantallas, eso no es nada en comparación con la tecnología que nuestros hijos tienen hoy.

Según un estudio realizado por Common Sense Media, los adolescentes pasan casi nueve horas al día en línea y los pre-adolescentes pasan un promedio de seis horas en línea sin contar la tarea. De hecho, el 24 por ciento de los adolescentes informan que están en línea “casi constantemente (Lenhart, 2015)”. Con tanto tiempo en línea, puede ser fácil para los niños y adultos olvidar sus modales, perder el tiempo, volverse apáticos con la realidad y dolor de los demás, o incluso convertirse en acosadores. ¡Podemos cambiar el rumbo de estas tendencias desastrosas!

Aquí hay 5 maneras en que podemos enseñar a los niños a usar el tiempo de pantalla para hacer del mundo un lugar mejor:

  1. Enseñar altruismo
    • Una vez, un amigo mío señaló que el Internet está aquí para quedarse, lo que significa que debemos aprender la etiqueta y ser activamente civilizados en nuestra comunidad de Internet, al igual que nuestras comunidades reales. Con demasiada frecuencia, las personas no parecen comprender el concepto de que lo que sucede en línea ES realidad. Debemos enseñar a nuestros hijos a interactuar con cuidado, amabilidad y respeto, ya que las personas con las que están interactuando están justo en la sala con ellos.
    • Si etsan en las redas sociales, enséñales a:
      • Publicar buen contenido
      • Difunde la felicidad felicitando amigos y siendo positivo.
      • Anímalos a unirse a grupos que tienen un propósito en el que creen.
  2. Promover el aprendizaje independiente
    • ¿Tu hijo a menudo olvida cuando se deben entregar las tareas, incluso cuando se las escribes y se las recuerda? Una forma de facilitarlo tanto a los padres como a los niños es descargar una aplicación como Class Manager que actúa como planificador y planificador de tareas. Hay muchas aplicaciones geniales como esta que te permite:
      • Introducir todas las tareas.
      • Links de tareas a una clase específica.
      • Establecer listas de prioridad.
      • Recibir notificaciones de cuando se vence la tarea.
  3. Voluntario, Voluntario, Voluntario
    • ¿Alguna vez has querido que tus hijos estuvieran más involucrados en temas sociales? ¿Has considerado usar internet? Casi todos los tipos de organizaciones en las que tu hijo pueda imaginar o estar interesados ​​están en internet. Tómate una tarde para investigar juntos qué tipo de grupos sociales les interesa promocionar. Por ejemplo, simplemente pueden consultar justserve.org, que tiene muchas oportunidades locales increíbles. Ellos pueden:
      • Unirse a un movimiento
      • Fomentar un movimiento a través de las redes sociales y en la vida real.
      • Educarse y ser empoderado para aprender más y enseñar a otros
  4. Ver su teléfono como una herramienta
    • Ayuda a tus niños a ver que su teléfono no es su amigo, no es su fuente constante de entretenimiento, sino una herramienta maravillosa para el bien. En lugar de usar las redes sociales, enséñales a usar aplicaciones como Charity Miles, que dona dinero a una organización benéfica por cada milla que camina, corre o monta en bicicleta. Esto no solo fomenta las donaciones caritativas sino también la salud física. Otra aplicación es Acts of Kindness, que ofrece pequeñas sugerencias sobre cosas que puedes hacer todos los días para marcar una diferencia positiva. ¡Dale a tus hijo la posibilidad de cambiar el mundo hoy con sus teléfonos!
  5. Fomentar el ingenio en línea
    • Tu hijo es un hotbox de nuevas ideas. Los niños están constantemente viendo y experimentando el mundo de nuevas maneras. Queremos que compartan esas primeras experiencias con ojos brillantes. Si les damos a nuestros hijos los recursos y les enseñamos el camino, pueden ser grandes instigadores para la positividad digital. El internet necesita nuevas positividades y creatividad. Nuestros hijos nacieron para cambiar el mundo para mejorar con la tecnología.

Pero para que esto suceda, necesitamos apuntarlos en la dirección correcta. Antes de enviarlos a esta aventura, debemos asegurarnos de que estén preparados para controlar su propio comportamiento. A medida que alentamos a nuestros hijos a usar el tiempo en pantalla para bien, se convertirán en mejores ciudadanos digitales y en miembros más fuertes de la sociedad. Podemos ayudarles a tener confianza y a defender las cosas que creen con coraje, compasión y esperanza.

Haley Hawks tiene una licenciatura en ciencias en estudios matrimoniales y familiares de la Universidad Brigham Young de Idaho. A ella le apasiona aprender, especialmente cuando se trata de relaciones y de la vida familiar. Ella espera poder algún día educar en un entorno mundial para promover la bondad en la familia y destruir los ideales que dañan a la sociedad.

Informe de referencia: los adolescentes de EE. UU. Utilizan un promedio de nueve horas de medios por día, los adolescentes de seis horas. (2015). Common Sense Media. Obtenido de https://www.commonsensemedia.org/about-us/news/press-releases/landmark-report-us-teens-use-an-average-of-nine-hours-of-media-per-day

Lenhart, A. (2015). Adolescentes, redes sociales y visión general de la tecnología 2015. Centro de Investigación Pew. Obtenido de http://www.pewinternet.org/2015/04/09/teens-social-media-technology-2015/

No tengas “La Charla de Sexo” con tu hijo: ¡tengan muchas!

Por Amanda Grossman-Scott

Traducido por Luis Antonio Mayen Castellanos

La primera vez que tuve una conversación sobre sexo con mi hijo mayor, probablemente le di demasiada información. Todo comenzó cuando asistí a una proyección para padres de la película que muestran a chicas de cuarto grado sobre la menstruación. La enfermera que presentó la película dijo muchas cosas, pero lo que realmente me llamó la atención fue esto: los niños confían en la fuente de información que escuchan de primero. Si al principio dudaba de esto, era creyente al final de su charla. Señaló la forma cómica en que los niños pueden estar completamente convencidos de algo simplemente porque un amigo les ha dicho que es así o porque en su experiencia limitada, así son las cosas.

La gran charla

Mi hijo tenía seis años y recuerdo haber pensado: “Dios mío, ¿y si llego demasiado tarde?” Esa misma noche fui a casa e imprimí un diagrama anatómico de un niño, preparé notas … para hablar con mi hijo de seis años. La noche siguiente le mostré el diagrama y le pregunté si sabía qué era el sexo. Me miró y dijo con orgullo: “¡Tengo 6 años mamá!” Está bien … ¿tal vez empezamos con vocabulario? Nombré las partes del cuerpo, las diferencias entre niños y niñas, expliqué lo que significan las palabras como “sexo”, “esperma” y “huevo”, y contacto físico positivo y negativo. Su respuesta fue un ceño fruncido y algunos gestos de incomodidad. Pasé difícilmente el tema del sexo. Después de unos diez minutos, preguntó si podía ir a jugar. Así que la “gran charla” terminó, ¿verdad? Ni siquiera estuve cerca.

A qué edad comenzar a hablar del tema

He oído que hablar con un niño a los seis años es demasiado joven como para abordar el tema del sexo. Pero creo que estas conversaciones deberían comenzar tan pronto como un niño pueda comunicarse. Cuando lo bañamos, le enseñamos el término correcto para su pene y otras partes del cuerpo. Cuando estaba embarazada de su hermana, él se preguntaba cómo mi cuerpo cambió así.

Cuando su hermana llegó a casa del hospital con diferentes “partes privadas” que las suyas. Estas son grandes oportunidades que utilizamos para enseñar actitudes saludables sobre el sexo y la imagen corporal. Los padres nunca deben omitir una oportunidad de enseñanza: es un buen momento para responder preguntas y tener una comunicación honesta y apropiada para su edad con los niños.

Seguir hablando

Aproximadamente un año después de la “gran charla”, mi hijo preguntó sobre sexo después de escuchar a un niño en la escuela mencionar la palabra “sexo”. Me había estado intentando creer que mi hijo estaba bien informado hasta este momento. Mi objetivo era perder el tiempo. Le pregunté si podía esperar hasta que papá llegara a casa para que todos pudiéramos conversar juntos. No le importaba.

Esa noche, todos nos sentamos juntos. Mi esposo y yo le explicamos las relaciones sexuales usando la terminología correcta y nunca diciendo “Mamá y papá hacen esto …” porque sentimos que deberíamos mantenerlo más abstracto: “el pene entra dentro de la vagina”, etc. (Tampoco lo hicimos, para no poner alguna imagen en su cabeza de mami y papi, ¡Rayos!).

Y hablando…

Después de esa noche, decidí que quería estar más preparada para futuras conversaciones. Tengo un libro para niños sobre sexo y sexualidad. Ahora, cuando es hora de hablar con mis hijos o hacer preguntas, utilizo “el libro”. ¡Es bueno tener una ayuda visual y está mucho más a su nivel que mi diagrama anatómico original! Hemos tenido innumerables conversaciones (breves y largas) desde esa noche y siempre aprovechamos la oportunidad para revisar y asegurarnos de que nuestros hijos entiendan cosas que hemos visto en el pasado, tales como: formas apropiadas de mostrar afecto, contactos físicos positivos y negativos, higiene adecuada, de qué está bien hablar con amigos, etc.

A medida que crecen, abordamos nuevos temas, como la forma en que cambian sus cuerpos, los hábitos alimenticios y de aseo, la forma en que se sienten acerca de sí mismos y de los demás, la pornografía y los problemas de privacidad. En todo momento tratamos de mostrar respeto por el tema y por los sentimientos de nuestros hijos. Si quieres que tu hijo sepa que respetas su opinión, ¡pídela! Lo hará sentir empoderado e independiente.

¿Dónde puedes encontrar todas las respuestas correctas?

El hecho es que no hay una sola fuente que te diga exactamente qué decir o cómo responder perfectamente a cada pregunta que tu hijo pueda tener. Pero puedo decirte esto: cuanto más hablamos de sexualidad, más cómodos podemos estar hablando de sexualidad con nuestros hijos. Algunos niños están mucho más abiertos a hablar sobre eso que otros. En otras situaciones, es posible que tengas que forzar la alimentación de la información que consideres necesaria, antes de que se escapen gritando con las manos sobre los oídos.

¡Pero no dejes de intentarlo! No siempre lo dirás correctamente, esto está garantizado. Pero alimenta la curiosidad que tienen y hazles saber que el sexo y la sexualidad son partes naturales, hermosas y normales de la vida y deben ser tratados con respeto.

¡Echa un vistazo a nuestros libros 30 días de conversaciones sexuales para iniciar conversaciones increíbles sobre este y otros temas a veces difíciles!

Grandes lecciones, discusiones rápidas y simples.

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