PITTSBURGH, Pa. (PRWEB) September 29, 2014
There are many difficult conversations that we would rather avoid having with our children. When uncomfortable or scary topics arise, we often think our children are too young to understand so we say nothing. But it is a parent's job to establish themselves as a safe and a reliable resource for our kids to prepare them for adulthood. According to Deborah Gilboa, M.D., aka "Doctor G," a leading parenting expert, family physician, author and media expert, it is important that our kids know that we are their first, and often best, expert on things they hear about on the playground.
Therefore, parents should...
- Be the first to mention the 'hard stuff'
- Give small amounts of information and wait for a child's questions and responses
- Be honest
- Impart parental values, so children come up with their own ideas, which are stronger and better
than ideas they will hear from peers
- Continue these conversations until the children are grown up
So what topics should be discussed and at what age?
Preschoolers & Divorce:
50% of kids will see their parents' divorce. Talk to your kids about your own family and the strong foundation you have built. Children this age think everything in terms of 'How does that affect ME?' So let them know before it comes up on a play date.
Kindergarteners & Death:
From movies to relatives and pets, the age of concrete reasoning begins, and children now realize that that death can happen to anyone. Ask them what death means, and what they believe about it, and be ready to share something of your own beliefs so they can start to process their fears.
1st graders & Disabilities:
As school becomes more about academics, kids will start to learn that there are numerous types of disabilities. Explain to your child what a disability does and doesn't mean to the person who lives with it, and to their friends. Encourage your child to look for all the different ways they are able to manage challenges, and make sure they know that resilience is contagious but disability is not.
2nd graders & Sex:
Kids this age are not just playing 'marriage' or 'family.' They are incorporating what they have heard from older siblings, classmates, movies, and television shows and are coming up with what they believe sex means. Kids are often afraid to broach this taboo topic with parents for fear of getting in trouble. Give your 7 year old the words to ask things they are curious about and reinforce that you are the best source for information about their relationships and any choices they want to make about their bodies.
3rd graders & Poverty:
As social power lines are drawn at school, possessions and money take center stage. Whatever your own resources, kids need to understand that no matter where someone is on the spectrum of wealth, it is never the responsibility of the child. They need to hear from trustworthy adults what they can do if someone is getting "poor-bashed."
4th graders & Mental illness:
'OMG, you're soooo bipolar!' has become a common "joke" among elementary schoolers, and "Well don't kill yourself" is a way of making a child feel stupid for being upset about something. Talking to our kids about the value of emotions, and what depression and other mental illnesses actually are will make them stronger and more respectful people.
5th graders & Sniffing, dusting and bagging, and other drug use:
For kids who know about drugs, experimenting with household products may seem safe. After all, since their own family bought these products, how dangerous can compressed air be? For kids with no idea about drug use, trying something their friend suggests to feel "wild" seems harmless. Let them know that you know (or can find out) about all kinds of substances and to talk to you before trying anything a friend suggests!
6th graders & Pornography:
If your child has a smart phone, or has a friend with one, chances are good that he or she will be offered some porn to look at this year. And the most raw and terrifying pornography is as accessible as more 'tame' pictures and videos of our youth. Do your kids know what you think about this? They need words to handle a "Dude, check this out!"
7th graders & Cutting:
All kinds of self-injurious behavior begins to peak in 12 and 13 year olds. Ask and talk to your kids about cutting, excessive risk-taking, eating disorders, everything you want them to avoid, and to come to you if they are worried about themselves or someone else.
Remember the key to successful parenting is to have open lines of communications with your child.
Doctor G releases her latest book, "Get the Behavior You Want… Without Being the Parent You Hate! -- Dr. G’s Guide to Effective Parenting," through Demos Health Publishing, LLC on September 10, 2014. For additional information visit her website at http://www.askdoctorg.com or connect with her at the following social media sites: Facebook, Twitter, YouTube, Google+ and her RSS Feed.
Doctor G is a Clinical Associate Professor at the University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, where she received her medical degree, and a frequent lecturer at her alma mater, Carnegie Mellon University, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in drama. Author of Teach Resilience: Raising Kids Who Can Launch!; Teach Responsibility: Empower Kids with a Great Work Ethic; and Teach Respect: That’s My Kid!, her activity books are designed for today’s busy parents with age specific tips and ideas for building character in kids. She also serves as television personality, having appeared on numerous talk, news, and information programs around the country, including monthly contributions on CBS’ Pittsburgh Today Live, ABC’s Windy City Live. Additionally, she regularly contributes to Huffington Post Parents, Your Teen magazine, Parents magazine and MSNBC.com, while her recognitions includes the Bristol Meyers Squibb Award for Clinical Excellence and The Excellence in Teaching Award.