Sometimes, the world seems scary. Things such as global warming, crime, famine, war, disease make us want to keep our kids indoors or to hire a private investigator to follow them around all day. According to the latest statistics, more than 2ooo children are reported missing every day.
Despite these horrible facts, it’s nearly impossible to forbid your kids to play outside on the plastic playground, spend a night over a friend’s house, follow Kim Kardashian on Instagram or dye their hair. They might do all this without you knowing it. Well, eventually, you will see their rainbow hairstyle.
According to PDPlay, playing outside contributes to cognitive and emotional development, improve sensory skills, and increase attention spans in children.
Kids want to explore, become part of the community, and express their individuality. They are going to do something not very thoughtful anyway ( just like you when you were a kid). Making mistakes is part of the learning process. As a parent, you should figure out whether you want to be with them when they are in danger, or you want to be the last to know about their ‘adventure’.
Indeed, monitoring your kids is like walking on thin ice. On the one hand, it would be great to know every little thing about your children in order to help them avoid getting into trouble. On the other hand, they will never agree to you reading their diary just the way you read your Sunday paper.
Get to know their friends
Being aware of what your kids are doing and who they are hanging out with is the first step. Most kids want to be social because that’s the way they learn and explore the world. You will not always like their friends, but it doesn’t give you the right to speak badly about them and forbid your child from playing with them.
Make sure to invite their friends to your house from time to time. Also, don’t hesitate to get to know their parents. First of all, you might be able to find friends for yourself. Secondly, being on good terms with other parents makes the monitoring process easier.
If you see that your child’s friend behaves inappropriately (swearing, stealing, lying, etc.), talk to your kid about it. It shouldn’t be a negative conversation. All you need to do is to describe the situation and ask your kid about their honest opinion. That’s how you can help your children understand where the line good and bad is and develop their critical thinking.
Have an honest discussion
If you really want to protect your children, warn them about the potential danger. For instance, small kids should be aware that their body parts are private, and no one except a doctor can touch them.
Also, tell them what to do if a stranger starts speaking to them on the street and offering something. Before you start this kind of conversation with your child, tell them that you love them, and want to protect them. It is a much better tactic than using a commanding tone.
Be their friend
The best way of keeping track of what’s happening in your child’s life is to build trust and become their friend.
Make sure to have one-on-one time with them every day, accept them for who they are, and involve yourself in their interests. It’s important to listen to what they are saying even though you are not the biggest fan of Justin Bieber, Monster High, or League of Legends.
Also, if you want to know your child’s secrets, consider telling them yours as well.
Talk about the media
Some kids have their Instagram profiles before they learn how to walk and speak. Your child is going to have an online presence one day. Maybe they already have, and you just don’t know about it. So, before they create their first Facebook or Instagram account, let them know what they should be aware of. If your child is not even twelve, you might want to ask them for their passwords. Once again, don’t be bossy and respect their decision (in case they refuse to give you their social media account passwords).
Explain to them how they should behave on the Internet. Let them know that they should keep their personal information private, avoid sending their photos to strangers and repost when someone else misbehaves. Encourage them to think twice before they text, post, and share content. The ugly truth is that everything people do on the Internet might stay there forever and even go public.
Consider monitoring programs
If your kids go to school alone, consider installing monitoring programs. Before you do that, let them know about it. If they don’t agree to this, suggest to ‘spy’ on you as well (so that your kids are going to see where you are).
The bottom line
If you want to protect your kids without spying on them, make sure to establish a trustworthy relationship and become their best friends. Consider inviting their friends to your house so that you can get to know them better.
It’s essential to warn your kids about potential danger and explain to them why you forbid certain things. Before they create their social media account, teach them how to behave online, and how not to develop a social media addiction. Also, consider installing monitoring programs so that you know where your kids are playing.
Parenting is a real challenge, but you should know that you are doing a great job so far!