Written by Michelle Martucci, Erie Family Center Prevention Specialist
Why are our kids growing up so fast? Is there a way we can slow them down? How much of this is our responsibility? The answer is that it is a combination of the media, peer pressure and permissiveness that prompts kids to lose their innocence so quickly these days. As the influential adults in their lives, we can help determine how quickly they lose their innocence. We’re not as powerless as we might think.
Knowledge is power!
The more we know about our kids, the better we are at helping them make good choices.
These seven tips should help to navigate the minefield of adolescence.
Know their hangouts
Where do they spend the majority of their time? The only way to help them make good choices is to direct where they spend most of their time and what they’re exposed to. Check out the places yourself. This is a foolproof way to determine if a place will be help or a hazard to your child.
Know their friends
How do we know what affect their friends have on them if we don’t know who they are? Drive the kids to events; spend time with them and their friends. Volunteer at school and get to know their teachers and coaches.
You rule the home front
No matter what happens outside in the world, you should control what goes on at home. Enforce common sense rules and practices to preserve their innocence. Keep your home life PG.
Restrict their media time
Keep TV, computer, and game exposure to only a few hours a day. Monitor what they’re watching on TV or the Internet. Watch TV as a family so you can control what they watch, and that way you can address issues and answer questions as they arise.
Set a Good Example
Refuse to give kids a bad example to follow. Stick to positive influences. Purchase only age appropriate items and avoid profanity. By enforcing age appropriate behavior, we’re putting limits on things that rush kids out of childhood, such as wearing makeup, having a cell phone, getting a job, and Internet use.
Play with them
Have a family night and do an activity together. Observe their behavior. Learn their strengths and weaknesses, their likes and dislikes. This will enable you to determine what environments are helpful or harmful for them. Every child is different, and what’s helpful for one is not necessarily best for another.
Giving kids too much too fast is like letting them eat too much candy. It feels great at first, but in the long run it hinders their health, both physically and mentally. By setting limits and boundaries, we give kids something to look forward to. Instant gratification sets kids up for frustration and disappointment because, as an adult, they won’t always get everything they want, when they want it.
In all these ways we demonstrate that maturity is a process, not something that happens all at once. We should use these not only as markers of growing up, but as opportunities to start something new with our kids, all the while building a beautiful relationship and memories to last a lifetime.