Let’s be real honest here: when it comes to parenting, it’s much easier to react in the moment to things rather than be proactive from the beginning. For example, it’s easier to give a toddler cookies for dinner because he’s throwing a major fit than to teach him on the front end that you need to eat some healthy things first, then MAYBE you can get a dessert at the end.
Proactive parenting takes time, discipline, and patience, but it’s the wisest choice.
So how do you proactively parent (versus reactively parent) a digital kid?
What do we mean by digitally proactive and reactive parenting?
Proactive vrs Reactive Digital Parenting
- Make sure to be as safe as you can on the front end (set safe settings on all devices, set smart and reasonable boundaries, form a routine of talking with your kid about their online activity (be sure to break the routine a few times too…keeps everyone on their toes!).
- Know your kid’s strengths and weaknesses and appropriately address concerns you may have terms of their online usage; better to be upfront than to tell them on the backend.
- Show them the pitfalls that other kids/teens have on social media (gossiping, porn, screen addiction, Cyberbullying, cheating in school, talking with anonymous sexual predators, etc.).
- Encourage your kids to use technology as a tool for good: encouraging others, learning how to be creative, working on time management skills, help a friend who’s hurting, how to start building a positive online image for future college and career opportunities, etc.
Being digitally proactive means you intentionally start and stay involved in your kid’s online life before they ever seem to experience a problem.
Typically when parents find out that their kid has done something digitally negative (posted/viewed something inappropriate, crossed an agreed upon boundary, making unwise choices online), they can come off controlling, super aggressive, and dictator-like. Their reaction can seem hateful, hurtful, and harmful. These reactions are natural, but we can train them to be calmer.
And one simple, yet sometimes challenging, way to keep your cool in the midst of negativity is to take a step back: verbally, emotionally, spiritually, and physically.
- Take a step back and revisit the issue in the next hour or day or week.
- Most problems don’t HAVE to be solved immediately.
- Take time to process what you’re going to say, how you will say it and the heartbeat behind it.
When you do this, your kid will feel respected and heard, and they will see you as a safe place; just because you were calm in a negative situation. And when they see you as a safe place, your kid will start coming to you more and more with issues instead of hiding them from you (which is what you want deep down!).
So choose to be digitally proactive in your kid’s life. Don’t just wait until something bad happens or a problem arises; make an effort to be socially safe and smart right now. Please consider joining the Be Socially Smart Community as we navigate this ever-changing, digital journey together.