Ris­ing above the gloom

The Star Malaysia - Star2 - - Family - By CAROLINE KNORR

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

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