Did you know that as a Positive Parent, you’ve got a tool available to you that can be a significant help in talking to your child about tough or challenging issues? Before I share an example of that tool, here’s something important to understand about your child (and yourself as well).
Psychologists, physiologists, philosophers and theologians have all weighed in on how we all seem to have a “divided” self inside us at times. For example, Plato talked about how each person has deep inside a “charioteer” and “two horses.” The charioteer might know where he wants the horses to go, but those two horses have a mind of their own!
For the Apostle Paul, it was the “head” and the “heart” pulling against each other. “The good that I wish to do, I find myself not doing, and the things I don’t want to do I find myself doing.”
In other words, there’s that pull inside each of us humans – including our child – where he may “know” what he should do and even want to do what’s right — but sometimes we’re pulled towards things that we know we shouldn’t do. So what do you do about this struggle?
Think about the last time you went on a diet. You know you may say to yourself, “That’s it! I’m never going to eat another donut.” You do great at avoiding donuts for two weeks, but then there’s that breakfast meeting at work with steaming hot sticky buns right in front of you – and before you know it you’ve eaten three or four!
I share all that because many times as parents, we just fall back on “words” when we need to have a tough talk with our children if they’ve gotten off course. For example, if our daughter is driving too fast or carelessly, we can think the solution is to lecture her more about her need to be a safe driver. But the likelihood is she already knows that! Often, more words (once they know what’s right) don’t mean more change – no matter how loud the words we use! It’s not more appeals to her head she needs – but I’d suggest that she also need an appeal to her heart as well.
Let’s talk about SocialShield for a moment, and your child. Certainly, it’s important to tell your child that this tool will be monitoring their social networks to help you protect them and keep them safe. But I’d suggest you also give them a “picture” that can appeal to their heart. Tell them you’re going to do a little experiment. Get two large, clear plastic cups. Fill each one up about ¾ full with clean water. Now go outside and fill up another cup with dirt, leaves, and rocks. Now pour some of the dirt and leaves into one of the cups of clean water. If you’ve got some ink in a bottle (or food coloring works well), drop some drops into the muddy water as well.
Now have your child, or you mix up the dirt and leaves and food coloring – and then ask them which glass – if they saw it for the first time – they’d want to drink out of? The glass of clean water – or the one that’s full of crummy things. It’s pretty obvious of course. And then share with your son or daughter how all the good schools that they want to get into; how all the top jobs they’ll want to apply for one day; how the people who they might be interested in being their friends who they haven’t yet met, all of them will one day be looking at their “life” through their social network record, just like they’re looking at those dirty and clean glasses. It goes without saying that Social Shield’s job of helping keep out the bad (the mud and discoloration) can be a great help in keeping their profiles in the kind of shape that helps, not hurts, their future.
That “picture,” once shared, can also be something you go back to as well if their inner “horses” one day pull them off track. “Lauren, we need to talk about something… Do you remember when we put the dirt and rocks in the cup and talked about why we’re using Social Shield? Well, there’s something I think we need to talk about that’s muddied up the waters… or
“Andrew, great job, son. I just got your Social Shield report and I wanted you to know how proud I am of you for keeping things positive on your social networking sites. That’s going to help you now, and down the road.”
A “picture” can be worth 1,000 words – to correct or praise your child!