We stumbled upon this article and love its theme that the words we use have a profound effect on children. The author, Amanda Morgan, has some great insights and thoughts we wanted to share with you. You can check it out here.
By Paula Bowlby, Associate Early Childhood Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
“I don’t agree with you.” “I feel differently than you do.” “Have you thought of it like this?” Sometimes it is hard to say those words. Other times, it is very easy to say those words. The question I have been asking myself, especially when I am on social media is: how do we model to our children respectful disagreements. Respect is the key word for me.
How do we, individuals who are trying to the best of our ability to be Kingdom Followers, have our own opinions and have healthy discussions about the opinions without tearing the other person down? Do we always have to be right? What is our motivation in the discussion? Most importantly, what are we modeling to our children when we speak, in our actions and in our body language? Little eyes seem to see and hear everything. As a parent, as a volunteer or as a family member, you are being watched. How do you handle the responsibility? How do we model?
I did a little research to see what the experts were saying on this topic. I found some good reminders for myself, what I would like to model. Here is a small portion of what I found:
- Model – challenge yourself to use a calm and neutral tone. Stick to facts, your feelings or what you have observed; no name calling.
- Permission- our kids need to know that they don’t always need to agree with others but do need to show the love of Jesus in how they disagree, which, again, means no name calling. Help them see the value of teaching in love while doing nothing out of selfish ambition.
- Give the words – help your child work out with appropriate words for disagreements. You can even do this with younger children by teaching them to say that made me sad. This helps them identify how they are feeling, teaching them to identify early what is causing an Older kids can be encouraged to use phrases like, “This is what I think,” or “Can I tell you how I feel?” as great starters. You modeling this will help them even more.
- Be willing to listen – if your child is making a good faith effort to respectfully disagree, listen. Help them build the skill.
- Don’t fix it – let your child know you heard them with your words but don’t simply step in and take care of things yourself. Help him/her work out the situation using love and respect.
- Teach and practice – help your kids see that you will not always agree and that is okay. Teach them that those who see the world differently have value and are loved by God.
- Help your child learn that his/her identity comes from God, not others. This lesson is good for us all but is sometimes very hard to remember.
As we move into 2017, let’s love and model love. Let’s respect and respectfully disagree. Let’s let Jesus shine through us and be different.
By Patrick Showers, Associate Elementary Pastor
Woodland Hills Church
I’ve managed to avoid this topic for years while my children were younger and none the wiser. Now I have two preteens in my home and they have access to a whole host of social media outlets from texting to Instagram. As they get older, their peers are engaged in social media activities also. They see friends who text, post pictures on Instagram, and even have their own Facebook accounts.
Social media is a great place for friends and family to stay connected and engaged in each other’s lives. For years, our kids have been stars of our Facebook accounts and other media sharing sites. Our extended families are many miles away and enjoy updates about our kids’ daily activities, special events, milestones, and pictures. Our children enjoy seeing what we post and being stars of attention from loved ones. This first taste of social media has set a norm regarding posting and sharing about their personal life in a digital stream.
Social media has also become a quagmire where people share too much, cyber bullies and predators stalk, and where normal social inhibitions are forgotten without face-to-face contact. Where data never dies, once something is posted digitally, it will always be out there somewhere, even if deleted.
As parents, my wife and I have found a few things are helpful for teaching our kids how to navigate this digital world. We’ve also gleaned some great tips from Jon Acuff. a Christian blogger, author (What Christians Like) and speaker.
1. Talk to kids before they use social media: discuss how you use it at home, at work, and why you choose to post something.
2. Help them to understand that once you send or post it can’t be removed.
3. Relate social media to real life. Ask the question, “Would I do this in real life?” or “Would I say or share this in real life?”
4. Ask kids about their digital knowledge or usage: what social media do they use, what devices, or what types of profiles do they have? What are your friends posting?
5. Think Future: posts, tweets, and texts can affect college admissions, friendships, and even jobs. Help kids to be aware of cause and effect.
6. Inform kids of the positives and dangers of social media: communication, relationship building, and self-expression are benefits. Performance anxiety, loneliness, self-comparing (especially related to popularity), bullies, conflicts, and predators are potential trouble.
The Bible doesn’t give specific insight into social media but does provide principles to guide us and our children. Philippians 4:8 reminds us to “…always think about what is true. Think about what is noble, right and pure. Think about what is lovely and worthy of respect. If anything is excellent or worthy of praise, think about those kinds of things.” Jesus also reminded us to “love our neighbors as our self”. Is what you are posting worthy of respect? Is what you are about to text loving towards that person? Is what you are sharing something that reminds people of what is right, noble, or pure? Teaching our children to approach all their media choices using these principles gives them boundaries and guidelines to guide them. With these guidelines and Biblical principles, we hope to equip and empower our children as they embark on their own journey into a digital world.
See more about Jon Acuff at http://acuff.me