Today, we see that our children are exposed to media and a constant technological advancing world. The result is that our children know much more about sex, makeup, how to look good, expensive brands, boyfriends etc, then we knew at their age. My daughters are aged 11 and 6 years, but both surprise me with their demands and knowledge of things around them.
Most of the time we hear parents say that their children have grown up fast. There are extreme reactions – one moment we find that they are tightly hugging their teddy bear and talking cutely, while the next moment they are talking about their crush on pop stars and film stars.
Many a time the pre-teen and the early teenage years are quite confusing for children. They try to act like adults while they don’t have the emotional maturity to match it. Too much emphasis on topics like sex, material things like dressing up, makeup etc., will leave them unable to cope up with the responsibilities and difficulties that come with it.
Childhood is defined as a time of simple pleasures and this childhood is currently threatened and shortened. One of the main disadvantages of growing up too fast is that children lose their innocence with half-baked information too soon. The result is that they become sexually aware and active too early in life.
Children become more focussed on their physical appearances. This leads to self-esteem issues, increased materialism and also eating disorders. Many companies are marketing their products and making our children as mini adult consumers. Many young girls are reaching the age of puberty as young as 8 years, which again is very disturbing as it brings complications in their body.
Today, children have more challenges due to more commercial and media influence. There is more peer pressure to grow up soon. They are easily influenced by what they see around them and want to imitate it.
Today let us look at how you can slow down their fast growing up.
Have control over their Television and Internet
It is important to have control over what your children watch. Today, television, mobile phones and internet can easily access all pictures, films and other stuff which are not age appropriate to your children. Have safe parental controls and avoid exposing them to these things early in life.
Internet and TV watching should be in open areas in the house like the living room and not in locked bedrooms. Reading books, magazines, tablets, mobiles and other things should also be monitored from a safe distance without prying on them.
If you are unhappy with what they want to wear, eat, drink or simply go out with a certain group of friends that you are not comfortable with, just say “No”. Remember you are their parents and you are not in some popularity contest, wherein you have to agree with everything that they say. It would be good to explain to them the reasons for your action and be assured that later in life they will be glad that you had instilled right values in them.
Try to be balanced by giving them some opportunities to take their own decisions.
It is important that you are not always denying them. Find a balance middle ground wherein they are also encouraged to take individual decisions. For e.g., you might not agree to their demand of wearing a torn jean with a suggestive slogan t shirt but you may allow them to wear a light lip gloss or allow them to have coffee with their friends on a weekend afternoon.
Keep Interactions on Social Media limited.
Younger children are getting addicted to social media like facebook, twitter, instagram and other sites. They get caught up in this imaginary world by taking pride in having more number of followers or being cool on social media.
If you do have your children above 16 years on social media, then have yourself in their friends list so that you can monitor their interactions. Most of the children divulge too much of information on social media leading to cyber bullying and cause for safety concern.
Most of the time we are concerned about our daughters, how they should dress, talk and other things. But it is also important for us to look and train our sons as they will never be able to respect woman if they are not taught to do so early in life.
Discuss with your child about the things that influence them.
All our children are influenced in one way or the other by the constant media interactions. Nowadays, we observe that almost every song has dirty lyrics or rebellious words or swear words. So it is very important to tell them why these words are unacceptable and explain to them how others will react to it. Tell them people might get offended by their language if it is rude and inappropriate.
Many a time my children ask me about some new swear words or wrong words that they have heard from their peer group. This is a time to explain to them the importance of using correct and kind language. Most of the time my bedtime bible stories revolve around values that they can learn. You need to stress the fact that words have the power to bless or curse someone. God wants us to use our words wisely as words are life giving.
Be open to discussions on Sex.
It is important for a child to ask about age appropriate sex information. Please do not ignore their questions related to sex but answer them in an age-appropriate way. Remember they are inquisitive and if you do not answer their questions, then they are most likely to get wrong information from their outside sources. Don’t let it be one discussion only but discuss it multiple times in bits and parts so that they understand the complexity and their responsibility.
Instill the right values in your children.
In this world of commercialism and materialism, teach them values which will keep them grounded. Encourage them by complimenting them on non-physical appearance-related aspects like their sporting achievement, act of kindness, singing or helping others etc. Compliment them in all areas so that they understand that you love them unconditionally, irrespective of their physical looks.
Look carefully into their pre-teen talks about girlfriends and boyfriends.
It is important as a parent to know where your teenager is spending time. You need to know if they are hanging out alone with any specific person. You need to make them understand to focus on their academics and other important things before making these life changing decisions. Help them to see through things. Let them know your views and values. It is this time that you have to keep a close watch on them inorder to be sure that you are not caught by surprise.
Always have a holiday on a farm, beach or a picnic spot without any electronic gadgets. Enjoy nature walking, climbing, playing on the beach etc. These simple pleasures will back their laughter and childhood memories.
These are some of the important points that parents can keep in mind in order to avoid their children from growing up too fast.
Please read our earlier article on Positive Parenting.
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