Rising above the gloom
IF you’re raising kids today, it can be easy to focus on the negative. And it’s no wonder: Thanks to the 24-hour news cycle, social media, cell phone notifications – and even Instagram and YouTube – kids are immersed in doom and gloom.
Consider their world: The suicide rate is up, cyberbullying is rampant, and people are now live-streaming murder and suicide. So it’s understandable if you don’t feel like putting on a happy face every day and keeping your kids optimistic about the future.
But don’t give up. Here are six ways to find the silver lining in every cloud.
Put things in perspective
When tragedy strikes somewhere in the world, we relive it every time we turn on the TV, open our social media or read a headline. Parents understand that the media amplifies things for eyeballs and clicks.
But kids don’t necessarily get the relationships among sources, sponsors, and audience.
How you respond to news makes a difference in how kids process it, too. Help your kids put things in perspective by explaining that the loudest voices capture the most listeners.
When you “right-size” things, it lessens kid’s fears and restores hope.
Talk about what you’re grateful for
Counter defeatist attitudes by nurturing your kid’s character. Strong character grounds your kids when the world feels chaotic. Take the time to share what you’re grateful for. Encourage them to persevere against obstacles and to have compassion for others.
Fight fake news
A lot of kids say they can’t tell the difference between what’s real and fake online. Confusion, doubt, lack of trust – these things get in the way of being optimistic. But kids can use online fact-checking tools to discover the truth (or at least uncover the fraud). They can refuse to contribute to the spread of false information by not sharing stuff they can’t verify.
Stand up to cyberbullies
Teach your kid that the buck stops with them. When they see someone getting bullied, they shouldn’t just stand by. While they should never do anything that would endanger themselves, they can do a lot to assert their support of others. They can call out cyberbullies, report them, stand up for the victim, or just private-message the victim and tell them someone cares. It’s not tattling. It’s truly everyone’s responsibility to keep the internet a positive, productive place.
Standing up to cyberbullies shows you believe you can make a change.
Stamp out hate speech
Online anonymity can have some unintended consequences. For example, people think they can spew hateful language or share insulting images without fear of being discovered.
Hate speech hurts people, contributes to an overall negative environment, and is sometimes a cry for help from someone in crisis.
Explain how to handle hate speech: Don’t respond to it, block people who do it, report offenders, and don’t share it.
Tune out the world for a while
Grab your family and shut everything else down. Simply being together recharges you and sends your kids the message that family time takes precedence over everything else. Experts recommend this kind of self-care because the build-up of bad news can be overwhelming and even debilitating. By managing your media and reclaiming your family time, you show your kids what’s really important. – Common Sense Media/ Tribune News Service