Do you ever feel like you are trying to play catch up when it comes to knowing what your children are going through? Its a common feeling for many parents.
Many of us just wish our children felt like they could talk to us about their struggles, and wonder why there is a barrier that makes it so. Although this wall is hard to cross at times, it is important certain topics are discussed with your children so you can start to chip away at that wall.
One of the best things we can do for our child is to prepare them for the potential dangers and obstacles they may face this school year. Here are our top three topics that you may want to discuss with them this year and tips on how to approach it with them.
The Transition to a New School
The transition from elementary to middle school, and middle school to high school can be very overwhelming for young children and adults. Your “little fish” is now in a big pond full of kids coming from different local schools. This likely means that they will not know many people right away. It is important to keep the line of communication going during these times.
Be sure to ask them who they are meeting and what their new friends are like for the first few months. Showing interest without judgment while discussing their new friends can help harness a strong line of communication early on. It may help to explain to them that meeting new people is a good opportunity to make new friends and that everyone should be treated equally.
Bus Stops and Driving Safety
Many of our children take the bus to and from school. While this can be a great opportunity to begin to give our children the feeling of independence, it is imperative to discuss the dangers as well. Many bus stops in our county are right off the main roads. It can pose an unsafe situation if our children are not following proper road rules.
Now, if your child is driving… that is a whole other obstacle we fear as parents that we understand as an insurance agency. Explaining the consequences of not paying attention to the road is one of the best ways to put it in perspective for them. This new found freedom also brings many consequences if they decide to speed, text, or disregard driving laws.
Explain the dangers of waiting at the bus stop if they are not alert.
- Unknown vehicles: they should never, under ANY circumstance talk to strangers. Try going through scenarios to prepare them.
- While waiting for the bus: explain to them what can happen if they do not stay off the road while they are waiting. Also, explain to them that the bus stop is not a place to play.
ATTENTION ALL DRIVERS: Drivers should always come to a halt for buses picking up children. Did you know there is a large cost if you do not stop for a bus picking up children? It will cost you a fine of over $500. You should always be on high alert for these stops, and children on your daily commute.
Social Media and Bullying
Social media has become a sore topic for many parents. It breaks the barriers of leaving school grounds and continues the exposure at home.
Think about it; 10 to 15 years ago we could leave any negativity at school when the day was over. Now, the online world keeps our children connected in conversation 24/7. Did you know that 25% of children have been bullied repeatedly through their mobile devices or on the internet? It is also true that more than half of children do not tell their parents about it.
Social media is not always tied to negativity. Many parents around the world have seen a heightened level of stress in their children due to cyberbullying though.
Cyberbullying can take many forms according to Bullying Statistics:
- Sending mean messages or threats to a person’s email account or cell phone.
- Spreading rumors online or through texts.
- Posting hurtful or threatening messages on social networking sites or web pages.
- Stealing a person’s account information to break into their account and send damaging messages.
- Pretending to be someone else online to hurt another person.
- Taking unflattering pictures of a person and spreading them through cell phones or the Internet.
- Circulating sexually suggestive pictures or messages about a person.
Try explaining to your children that there is a level of responsibility that comes with online freedom. Also explain that words and photos cannot be taken back once they are sent.
Tell them to not stay quiet about it and to tell someone they trust if they are a victim of bullying. It is also important to stress that if they do face bullying, there will always be mean people but what matters is how they respond to someone’s words. If we begin to teach children that bullying has nothing to do with them, but everything to do with the bully, it will build strong children in the future.
Growing up comes with many challenges, but it can help our children if they have our attention and support. Try discussing these topics with them to begin to “break down the wall”. Prepare them for the stepping stones they may face this year.