Strategy #5: Discourage the Social Media War
Educating both boys and girls about the dangers of spreading rumors and socially "ganging up" on another peer is very important, particularly in today’s world with so many social media avenues available. Tara Reddington advises, “We need to tap into their consciences so they learn to recognize what's healthy and what's hurtful. I encourage girls to be transparent in their social relationships. If there was a hurtful exchange, they need to deal with it head on and not through texting. The social media options for increasing damage are limitless. Years ago, it was a scribbled note that could easily be destroyed. Now, what is put in text or on social media is forever and can travel widely at insanely high speeds.”
So remind your young teen that although "sticks and stones can break our bones but words can never hurt us," that isn’t exactly the case once hurtful words are posted on social media for thousands of people to see. If there’s even a remote chance that a post can harm another person or even themselves, think twice before hitting the send button. Once posted, the damage may not be easily undone.
Strategy #6: Discourage the Victim Role
And then there’s the victim role! As a school psychologist, Reddington has counseled hundreds of adolescents who are involved in various teen drama scenarios. “Always walk your child through the process of figuring out where did she go wrong so she can hold herself accountable and not get caught up in the victim role. There is less often a 'perpetrator and a victim' and more often a 'takes two' (or three or four...) to tango type of situation. Make sure your child can walk back through the scenario and identify what they should have or could have done differently. If they can honestly say they tried their best and did nothing to intentionally harm or hurt someone, then that's great for them. Their jury of peers may still try and convict them, but that is when kids need to stay strong and opt for new social groups. The sad truth is, sometimes the motivating behavior is just plain meanness.”
Parents should always engage in preemptive talks with their kids and ask questions to stay on top of their child's relationships.
Strategy #7: Identify Helpful Resources
Parents are often running in many different directions, juggling the balance between home and work. Unfortunately, this means parents can sometimes miss the signs their child is suffering from teen drama, or they just don’t know how or when to get involved. If the situation turns out to be more than idle teen drama and you suspect your child is being bullied, contact a school counselor, teacher, or a school administrator for professional support.
In addition, parents should always engage in preemptive talks with their kids and ask lots of questions to stay on top of their child's engagements and relationships, that way if something does seem to be “off” in any social area of their child’s life they will be more apt to catch a problem early on. If talking with your child can be difficult or even awkward, take advantage of opportune moments. Kids often open up more when we aren't looking directly at them. Your child may feel more comfortable talking while driving in the car, folding laundry, or even when the lights are turned down in their rooms before they go to bed. You can still be a great listener when you aren’t looking right into their eyes, and if that makes them feel more comfortable, you may get them to share even more with you.
Strategy #8: Promote the Golden Rule
We need to empower our kids to stand up for themselves but also to stand up for what is right. Many people are familiar with the "Golden Rule": "Do to others what you want them to do to you."
Reminding our kids about that rule and how they want to be treated is always a good moral compass to help keep them on the right track.
How have you handled the ups and downs of teen drama in your family’s life? Share your thoughts in the comments section at quickanddirtytips.com/mighty-mommy, post your ideas on the Mighty Mommy Facebook page. or email me at email@example.com. Visit my family-friendly boards at Pinterest.com/MightyMommyQDT.