Editor’s Note: Dr. Kathy Koch will be one of the presenters on The Colson Center’s upcoming online short course, “Making Sense of Media: Clarity and Discernment.” It begins April 17. For more information and to register: https://www.eventbrite.com/e/colson-center-short-course-making-sense-of-media-clarity-and-discernment-tickets-44398711742
Just yesterday I learned of another friend who had to block someone from his Facebook account. They had been “friends,” but this person wasn’t cooperating when my friend asked him to be more considerate when posting on a particular thread. My friend chose to block this former “friend” to protect his family and other Facebook friends from the hate.
Everyone today seems to have opinions. Maybe that’s always been the case, but today, search engines provide easy information and can cause people to think they’re experts. Then social media platforms make it easy to share. Although we have the right to speak about anything to anyone, it doesn’t always mean we should. Nor does it mean we must persuade everyone to agree with us.
Technology, and social media in particular, also has the potential to increase tendencies toward self-centeredness, selfishness, and pride. We’re asked, “How many likes did your post get?” We know, “Twenty in just a few minutes, and some people commented that it was brilliant!”
In the past few hours, one of my posts on Facebook received 25 likes, one share, and three comments. Is that enough? What’s “enough”?
It’s easy now for our worth to be wrapped up in being right. And in being popular because we are right. This increases arguments, even at home, over things not worth debating.
Protect your children from all of this. Raise them better than this. To improve communication and decrease self-centeredness, argumentative behavior, and bully conversations, will you make time to do the following?
- Teach kids the differences between opinion and instruction – how to provide them and how to receive them.
- Teach kids how to back up their opinions with information and illustrations that will speak to others.
- Teach kids the language of persuasion and how it differs from manipulation and arguing.
- Teach kids how to recognize and determine if someone has expertise and credibility.
- Help kids distinguish between beliefs that are unchangeable-I’ll-die-on-this-point and the ones they can be flexible about.
- Teach kids to be teachable and open to other people even if they’re not able to be open to their ideas.
- Whether speaking or listening, help them learn to disagree and end conversations well while respecting others and themselves.
- In this day-and-age, when numerous ideas about this-and-that exist and are proclaimed, it may be more important than ever before to teach kids to believe what you want them to. Don’t assume. Teach. Practice the language of persuasion yourself and present your ideas and family’s beliefs in ways that make it easier for your children to understand and, therefore, agree. Help them move from “I agree because my parents said so” to “I agree because I also think it’s right.”
- Choose to unconditionally love your children and support them even if they do believe something different from you.
What do you think? What did I miss? Which one will you begin with? Children can learn these principles in teachable-moment conversations that simply occur. And, as you observe life, bring up these ideas. Let’s do this!
Dr. Kathy Koch is the president of Celebrate Kids! Her books include Screens and Teens: Connecting With Your Kids In A Wireless World.