Parents of tween today are in an unusual position when it comes to balancing how their children interact with social media. When we were adolescents, we didn’t have to navigate an online world. That means, like your tween will happily tell you, we really don’t understand what they’re going through.
Kids today have grown up using technology in many aspects of their lives. They make use of these tools in ways we, as parents, simply couldn’t imagine when we were kids ourselves.
Unfortunately, kids learn how to interact in a social media environment long before they develop the skills needed to balance those messages against life in the real world. This can leave many tweens struggling with self-esteem issues at an already challenging time in their lives.
The family at Gabb Wireless understands that having easy access to calls, texts, and social media is convenient, but also has the potential for harm. Parents can rely on Gabb Wireless for high quality phones that give parents more control over how their kids interact with the digital landscape. Tweens are still learning how to navigate complex social connections with peers and others. Boosting their confidence and strengthening their decision-making skills helps them move closer to a happy, healthy life.
Self-esteem in a digital world
Never before have kids had so much access to communication. Social media makes it easy to find a community and connect with others. Unfortunately, it’s also almost completely unregulated, which means kids are exposed to pressures and viewpoints that aren’t easy to navigate.
Tweens have always struggled with social challenges. Bullies and mean kids have been around for generations. However, social media emboldens people to say things they would never say in person. This exponentially increases the negativity that tween are exposed to.
Some kids seem to navigate social media with ease. For others, engaging in social media is a significant source of stress and pain. Some kids develop serious mental health issues based on their focus on social media.
Parents can help by building up their tween’s self-esteem. This arms them with the tools they need to see beyond the bile and noise often found online. Here are some habits you can easily incorporate into your daily life.
Listen more than you talk
Parents of little ones get used to being the only ones in charge. After all, grade schoolers need nearly constant instruction and direction. However, as your child enters the tween years it’s important to empower them to begin caring for their own needs.
Make a concerted effort to listen when your tween talks about social media. They need a trusted adult to act as a sounding board.
Ask questions, then listen to their answers. Try to refrain from being judgmental about harmless aspects of social media. This increases the chances your tween will come to you when something more serious arises.
Communicate unconditional love
You might be certain your tween knows you love them no matter what. After all, you’re always there for them, even when they break the rules or don’t meet expectations.
But kids aren’t always the best at reaching logical conclusions. Be sure you tell them that your love for them isn’t tied to grades, accomplishments, or errors in judgment. Then tell them again…and again.
Help them learn to do something new
Tweens are innately suspicious of adult advice. But they are highly attuned to patting themselves on the back when they accomplish something.
Find ways for them to expand their skills by learning something new. It doesn’t have to be a huge endeavor. But search for opportunities that are outside of your child’s normal area of focus.
Once they’ve completed a new project or demonstrated a new skill, praise the effort and the outcome. Make sure your child hears you tell friends and family about the accomplishment, too.
Spend time helping others
Kids are so often on the receiving end of efforts by family, teachers, and other adults that they don’t always learn how good it feels to help others. Find opportunities for your tween to be of service to others.
Even a one-day commitment to volunteer has benefits. Organizing and following through on a charitable project is a great opportunity for older kids.
Helping others gives kids a sense of worth that can’t be obtained in other ways. It also teaches them to focus outward at a time in life where most of their thoughts are self-oriented.
Embrace and normalize failure
Nothing significant gets accomplished without a healthy dose of failure. Kids tend to embrace a very black-and-white view of the world, and give themselves little room to fail.
But failure is part of learning how to improve. Talk as a family about failure, and note examples where you tried something and it didn’t work out. Then talk about how that led you to try something new.
Incorporate discussions about failure into your family routines. There are excellent books on the subject. Encourage your tween to share things they’ve learned after something falls through or is disappointing.
Self-esteem is a journey, not a destination
Tweens are bombarded with a load of expectations at home, at school, and in social settings. Building self-esteem isn’t a one-time event or a short-term project.
It takes time for kids to learn how to value themselves in an ever-changing world. Your role as a parent is to find ways to empower your child and model good self-esteem in small doses. Over time they’ll incorporate those habits and ways of thinking.
Great self-esteem creates a strong defense against the steady stream of negative messaging tween kids face in the world.