Parenting has never been easy. "There's no textbook...", as the saying goes. These days parents are faced with even more challenges as they try to bring up their children in an increasingly fast paced, digital world. With the advent and prevalence of cyber-bullying and sexting, many parents are feeling overwhelmed by the task. How can we keep up with all the changes and the new world we find our children now inhabit?
Experts, ( and common sense, for that matter ), tell us that parents must play a role in reducing bullying and protecting their kids from cyber threats, but where to start looking for information is often a problem. I've collected a few resources this month, to help parents make an informed decision. There are many choices* out there, it can be a challenge to sort through them all. The following is just a short list:
Dr. Michele Borba is an internationally
recognized author, speaker, & educator on parenting, character
education and bullying prevention. Her blog Reality Check addresses a large selection of issues, from anger management to bullying prevention and response. Excellent, useful advice can be found throughout her website.
For parents of Special Needs kids, bullying and other issues can be especially challenging. As the parent of a child with Autism/PDD, I know from my own experience just how difficult it can be. Bully Free World offers free S.N. toolkit for parents. Helpful tips on how to talk to your child, work with their school, and what steps to take and how to get action on behalf of your child.
For parents worried about cyber-bullying there is a great website from CyberBullyingHelp.com that has lots of information dealing with bullies, how to spot the warning signs of victimization, and everything you need to know about issues in the modern cyber world your kids deal with every day.
If you are worried that your child may be developing bullying tendencies, one thing that you can try is teaching them empathy for others. It sounds like an obvious idea, but how many of us really know exactly how to do that? Parenting Science can help you with a list of strategies to try, and notes on social skills activities.
If your family are readers, there are many great books available for both parents and kids. Birmingham City council, in Birmingham England, has published a reading list of books suitable for parents and for kids from early readers to teens, both fiction and non-fiction.
Laurie Flasko ( CSP ), and Julie Christiansen ( B.A. Psychology and M.A. in Counseling Psychology ) have published a book, Bullying Is Not A Game - A Parents’ Survival Guide that provides "practical advice and tips" to help parents deal with the frustration and stress of coping with bullying.
Signe Whitson is an author and educator on bullying, crisis intervention, and child and adolescent emotional and behavioral health. Her books and blog are a treasure trove of good, sensible approaches to dealing with parenting in the modern age.
Jonathan and Lana Hewitt operate Life Ki-do, a comprehensive life skills/martial arts organization that focuses on helping kids "find true inner strength, confidence and happiness from the inside out". Their book, Life Ki-do Parenting, and the companion online parenting classes help parents understand their philosophy and teachings. ( Full disclosure - Jonathan and Lana wrote a two-part article on bullying for Huffington Post featuring Steven's story ).
The online community is helping parents too. Microsoft, Norton and Trend Micro have all put out tips for parents to help keep their kids safe online. There are also many well known sites like WiredSafety and ConnectSafely that specialize in online safety and social media security advice for parents and kids. If your child is on Facebook, and you want to make sure their privacy and security settings are appropriate, there's a simple guide here.
The Center for Missing and Exploited Children has a comprehensive guide to all things cyber related, from the language kids use online, to file sharing, sexting and online predators.
Governments are making good information available as well. Australia's Cybersmart and the US government's OnGuardOnline.gov are both useful sites. As I mentioned above, this is only a partial list, more resources for parents can be found on HNWS here. Stay safe!
*HNWS does not specifically endorse any parenting theory, book or program. Please read our Legal Disclaimer.