Technology and E-Safety Tips for Parents

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I’ve had so many discussions with parents talking about how the internet and social media seems to have taken over the world.  If we take a stance and use technology blocking as a consequence for unacceptable behaviors, we watch our children transform in what can only be described as addicts going through withdrawal.  Parents are often astonished by this, thinking, “Back in my day, I would be outside being a kid and playing. What has internet done to this generation?!”  The generation referred to is called Gen Z, meaning born between the years of 1995-2009.  Gen Z-ers can be described as highly intuitive and confident, due to the ability to access a borderless world of information at all times with just a couple of clicks.  Gen Z-ers have no concept of what the world would be like without the internet, as they were too young to remember its arrival.  This lack of concept can create an unanticipated wedge between youth and their parents.  The reality is, the internet is here to stay so instead of fighting or denying this shift, parents need to educate themselves and learn how to educate and support their children to hold a healthy, positive relationship with the worldwide web.

According to Psychologist Jocelyn Brewer (2020) the term ‘Digital Nutrition’ as a way to push back against advertising technology as solely negative.  What this means is acknowledging positive aspects of technology if one is able to find a healthy balance.  This concept was borrowed from the idea of health foods and eating habits, for example chocolate addictions.  If we have a healthy balance with chocolate, we can treat ourselves on occasion, however, would not tend to have large amounts of Hershey bars readily available in our home.  The three Ms of ‘Digital Nutrition’ including being MINDFUL of what we use technology for and how it affects your well-being, being MEANINGFUL of what we post or read and assess if it provides purpose and clarity, and finally MODERATE the use of technology.  Moderation is crucial in finding a healthy balance.  Risk factors parents should keep in mind when assessing if your child’s relationship with technology is beginning to become unbalanced are being withdrawn, having nightmares, having a loss of interest in other things they used to enjoy, preferring online friends versus real friends, and expressing anger about not being able to access technology.  Here are some tips on how to encourage youth to understand internet safety:

  1. Discourage the use of personal information in usernames, including first and last name, birth date, phone number, or location and let them know how the information can allow people to track their location.
  2. Have them consider the potential impact of what they say online and how it is equally, if not more important than what is said offline. Remind them what they put online is out there forever, regardless of if it has been deleted.
  3. Download the apps your youth has to educate yourself on privacy restricts, age limits, and content that is accessible on them. It’s okay for parents to request to be “friends” with their children on social media accounts, as this can encourage accountability without completely restricting access.  Youth will be less likely to be secretive about what apps they have, if they feel like there is a level of trust between child and parent.
  4. Play with your children! This gives you an opportunity to learn about what the game and determine appropriateness.  It is also a way to have fun and connect with your child!  My children and I love playing Roblox together.
  5. Encourage youth to ignore negative messages and block abusive individuals. Talk with them about cyberbullying and let them know they can come to you if they feel like they’re being bullied.  Assuring them the internet will not be blocked if they tell you, as many youth may be hesitant to tell you fearful their internet access will be restricted.
  6. Seek professional help if you notice you child exhibiting risks factors listed above or if there are any concerns with your child being cyber-bullied or harassed and they are not opening up with you about it.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Brittney Engelhard, LBSW

Raising Grandchildren

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The number of grandparents raising their grandchildren continues to rise in the United States.  In fact, in 2018, there were over 2.7 million grandparents raising their grandchildren (United States Census Bureau).  Grandparents raise their grandchildren for a variety of reasons including a loss of job for the child’s parents or military deployment, removal from home due to safety reasons, mental illness, incarceration, or death.

Raising grandchildren can be an overwhelming task.  Grandparents may face a plethora of emotions when in this position.  Some of these emotions may include grief, embarrassment, resentment, anger, and sadness.  Grandparents may also experience health concerns, as such as higher rates of depression, sleeplessness, feelings of exhaustion, and health conditions like diabetes and hypertension.  These grandparents may also feel isolated, as they feel there isn’t enough time to spend with other family members, their friends, and even as a couple with their spouse.  Grandparents also may feel they’re not equipped with enough resources to raise their grandchildren.

It is normal to feel a multitude of emotion and uneasiness when taking on a new role.  Seek out resources that can help in this new role of raising grandchildren.   A therapist can help process the many emotions that may be experienced.  Continue doctoring to help catch any health conditions that may come about with the different stressors you’re experiencing.  Connect with support groups, such as a group geared for grandparents raising grandchildren.  Connect with other parents, both young and older, who might be of encouragement when moments are tough.  Reach out to the community in which you live in for child care so you can take a bit of time to recoup.  Reach out to your Post Adopt Coordinator, as your coordinator can help with connecting you to resources that may be beneficial to check out.  Most importantly, know that you’re not alone, and what you’re doing is so very valuable.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Darcy Solem, LBSW

References:

United States Census Bureau. 2019. https://data.census.gov/cedsci/table?q=grandparents%20raising%20grandchildren&tid=ACSDT1Y2019.B10002&hidePreview=false

Family Bonding

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Participating in bonding activities with your child can help develop a sense of trust. The type of bonding depends largely on the age of the child. Bonding with an older child can be more challenging, while bonding with a younger child may be an easier task. Bonding can create trust, increase positive classroom experience, and so forth. Bonding can also travel through generations, which means that “when a caregiver shows love and compassion towards their children, the child is more inclined to show the same amount of love towards their children,” according to Asoaka (2018). Some of my favorite family bonding activities when I was growing up included going to the lake with family and friends, going to Minneapolis for Labor Day weekend, family vacations, and Holiday traditions.

The suggestions below provide and discuss different ways that bonding can occur, with or without participating in a planned activity. Included are a variety of different activities to help meet the needs of different ages within your household.

  • Open communication: It is so important to have open communication with your children, especially your older children. Having open communication can help your child feel as though they are part of the family and have a say in different family decisions, if age appropriate.
  • Developing routines: Kids will thrive when they know what is happening next and what they can expect to happen. Knowing what to expect with routines can help give kids a sense of control. Routines can include a morning and night routine, work and/or school routine, and different family routines such as meal times, homework times, or family time.
  • Starting family traditions: Family traditions don’t need to occur just around the holidays. Different tradition ideas can include a family game night, movie night, family outing on a special day, participating in a fun family sporting event, and so forth.
  • Baking and/or cooking: Below is a baking and cooking recipe for you to try out!
  • Family movie night: Get out the blankets, pillows, popcorn, candy, or favorite family treat and enjoy a fun evening together.
  • Family trip or outing: Even if it is somewhere close by, getting away and out of the house as a family can create new experiences and memories.

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW

References:

https://www.all4kids.org/news/blog/the-importance-of-bonding-with-an-adoptive-child/

https://adoption.org/can-bond-adopted-child

https://www.adoptionchoices.org/bonding-with-your-adopted-child/

Trauma and Control

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As a previous foster care case manager, I have supported and worked with families and youth who have experienced trauma and have seen firsthand the difficulties that come along with parenting these children and youth. There is no doubt that the aggressive outbursts, hour plus long emotional tantrums, and stress of everyday life can start to take a toll on your patience and understanding. One piece of advice I have is to try your hardest to not engage in a “power struggle” with your children. What is a power struggle? A power struggle occurs when someone competes for control in a certain situation. Although it is easy to do, engaging in a power struggle is not helpful when it comes to parenting children with trauma (and without trauma). Engaging in a power struggle can make the situation more escalated and prolong the disagreement or what initially caused the situation. Below are some ideas on how to decrease the frequency and timeframe of power struggles:

  1. Give choices: providing choices allows children to have some control of the decisions they are making. When a child is allowed to make a decision from provided choices, it makes it difficult to for them to come back and say they never have control or decisions over a certain topic or situation.
  2. Ignore what can be ignored: this can also include walking away from the situation if you feel that those involved are too upset or escalated to engage appropriately and safely. If everyone in the household is safe, it is OK to walk away from the situation and ignore the negative behaviors. Not giving into the negative behavior will show the child or youth that the situation is not up for debate. Explain to the child that you will engage when they are calm and ready to discuss their frustrations.
  3. Explain your reasoning for a certain answer: explaining your yes or no answer is important in helping children and youth understand why you gave the answer you did. Simply just saying yes or no does not provide the explanation needed and will not help them understand.
  4. Don’t take the behavior personally and actively listen to your child: typically a behavior occurs due to something that is bothering them or from something that happened in the past. You are their safe person, resulting in most behaviors being taken out on you when they feel safe.

 

This blog post was written by Post Adopt Coordinator, Jaclyn Stroehl, LBSW

 

Sources:

https://waldenfamily.org/avoiding-parent-child-power-struggles/

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