Last week I introduced you to the book, “Love Yourself(ie), Life Lessons For Building Kid Charisma” by Andrea A. Lewis, and as promised, this week I’m bringing you an interview with Dr. Julie Carbray to follow up with children’s mental health, how children can help others they see being bullied, and how we can help children (ours and others) in difficult situations.
How can children learn self-acceptance and feel confident to stand up for their own convictions without buckling under peer/societal pressure?
Children need to feel confident in who they are-this is something which families can support through example, coaching, and their support. Family discussions, role playing, and even using other’s examples for common peer scenarios can help arm children with effective skills for what to think to themselves and say to others when faced with these pressures.
For instance, the story of “Love your Selfie” provides an example parents or children can use to think through what they would think and do in the same situation. Using these “as if” scenarios helps the child to have a plan and response that holds their own values and character with strength. These skills are almost like having lip balm in your pocket in anticipation that there will be windy days and you may need it for protection.
What can children do when they see someone being harassed or treated unfairly, especially without feeling like a tattle tale?
In the moment they can respond, if they are comfortable. The best response is one that helps the victim and creates a place of safety for them all-often this can be as simple as saying ” lets get out of here” and showing support in this action. If these actions become more frequent, then a parent or teacher should be told in confidence.
Sometimes harassment or bullying needs a more systemic response that only the adults can craft, but parents can help arm their children with options already thought through should such situations happen.
We can’t prevent our children from the sting and hurt they may feel when seeing this type of harassment-but can equip them with some skills to navigate them with strength and foresight.
How can parents help children, especially if it isn’t their own child that is having problems, without overstepping the bounds?
Parents can model positive behaviors with their children and communicate their kindness and compassion for the children of others as well. In my view, situations that happen with other children always pose a potential discussion point with your own children:
- What would you have done in this same situation?
- Who would you ask for help?
- How would you do it?
Respecting the bounds of other parents and teachers is important, parents should do this as appropriate while at the same time modelling positive interactions themselves.
Do you think there is a connection between technology and the rising rates of teen and childhood mental illness (depression, eating disorders, etc.)?
We do not know yet how the world of technology has affected mental health or illness. There is an accumulating body of research that shows both the positives and negatives of having children engage in more technology.
We do know that the children of today are tech natives-they are growing up with a level of technological sophistication we may have never imagined. Technology brings quick answers, validation or rejection, as well as a world of information and interactions with others which can be positive or negative depending upon where the child surfs.
As with any other behavior, what seems to be important is the balance of technology use with the other demands of childhood (school, play, peer interactions, family relationships, and developing sense of self). Parents can work with their children in assuring this balance is there.
How can parents help shield children from cyber-bullying? It’s not just at school anymore, but where ever you go.
There are a few ways parents can shield their children from cyber bullying: our three Cs in the social media tips we develop really get at the core of it. When children take care in what they put out into the social media world, control how they take in information others send their way and confidence in who they are they will have armor against cyber bullying.
Parents need to have regular discussions about their child’s social media world and to discuss in advance with their child how they might manage such cyber bullying events. In working with families, this is really done most effectively when the family has open communication and a plan for if cyber bullying occurs and can range from deleting a comment or “friend” to notifying a school or even the police.
Again, as with having a “real” friend come for a play date, parents can talk and plan with their child prior to inviting the social media “friend” into their lives.
It’s always great to have an older sibling to turn to; but what advice do you have tor the eldest who is paving the way?
The first child is always the hardest-as the parents and child are both new to this turf. Talking with other parents whose children went through the same phase is always helpful along with having your child share the experiences of their friends.
As with any new independence, starting with more “fencing” around technology use and then letting looser as time and trust permits tends to be the most common and effective field for those trailblazing first children.
Dr. Julie Carbray is a clinical professor of psychiatry and nursing at the University of Illinois at Chicago’s Institute for Juvenile Research. A proponent of building resilience in preteens, Dr. Carbray has endorsed the book, Love Your Selfie (affiliate link) and written accompanying tips to help parents build character strength while guiding social media use. You can find Dr. Carbray’s tips here.