Back to School Safety
As many young adults head back to school, and straight to college, I wanted to talk a bit about back to school hacks and tips that are important to remember when navigating through this time!
I talked with TODAY last year about helicopter parenting, and that's what I want to start this post off with. If you're not familiar with helicopter parenting, it means that you're a little too involved with social media. Parents: being on social media is a great thing. If you're follow your kids, that's also great! By following your child on social media, you have created an open and healthy environment for them to talk to you about virtually anything. A teen allowing a parent to follow them on social media shows that they probably don't have anything to hide. Take this opportunity to tag your teen in posts you see that they might find inspiring, or even on celebrity pictures of content they should be looking at! It helps to not directly comment on their content, but on others so that they don't begin to feel sheltered. Yes, they may have a finsta (fake Instagram) but that is their business, not yours.
If you watch the video above, you'll see how helicopter parenting can negatively affect a young mind. What can you do to avoid helicopter parenting? Unless you are seeing a sudden personality change in your child, or see them begin to get very uncomfortable when you start talking to them about social media; there is nothing to worry about. Teens express who they are via social media, and standing by them instead of against them can be really soothing for a teen to know.
The High School to College Transition
No, I didn't go to college. But while I was finishing up high school online, I was college bound. I was all ready to pack up my items and move into a dorm to begin the next chapter of my life. It was a very scary feeling, and even scarier when I decided to skip college and move to Manhattan. You can read about that story here.
This is a crucial period for a young adult, and along with having to make major life decisions (jobs, relationships, moving out) they are also really finding who they are right now. Parents should know that a young adult might get depressed, anxious, or act a little "out of character" during this time period. For most people, it's a phase. Accept that they are allowed to be stressed, happy or angry, and then will move on. Be involved by helping find a suitable dorm or apartment, helping them decorate, and assisting them financially by coming up with a financial plan. If you're helping them pay for college, that's great! If you aren't, it's just as beneficial to come up with a rough plan on how they are going to pay for the rest of college, their dorm, expenses and more. If they call you freaking out in the middle of the night, calm them down, and then suggest some therapy resources for them over the next few days. Many colleges & high schools have free therapy boards and resources.
Most kids don't listen to half of the content that is taught in health class. That's one of the main reasons I started #SexEdForTeens! For young children, parents should be very involved with their social media use. It's important to create an open and honest environment from a young age; which means teaching your child about some of the content they might see on the web (especially how they shouldn't compare their bodies to celebrity bodies), and how to avoid many online sites where they might meet people that aren't "good" people. Online stalking is totally real. If you find it necessary, block certain sites like Facebook and Twitter off of their computer/iPad/cell phone until they get older. Or, leave the sites open to them but advise them to spend their time on sites like National Geographic, Instagram, or Discovery Channel!
My best piece of advice is to avoid helicopter parenting at all costs. Don't be afraid to tell your teen what you like/dislike about how they act on the Internet, but understand they might not listen to you. That's totally OKAY! You are going to do the best you can to be a fantastic parent, and they are going to do the best they can to navigate being a teen.