One of my favorite pieces of parenting advice is to let your children overhear you praising them to someone else. It's a wonderful way to positively reinforce behavior you'd like to see more of, and it lets them know that you are proud of them and builds their self-esteem.
This advice is good for any age, and perhaps even more important as kids get older. However, busy schedules, earbuds (or Beats, or headphones, or whatever is cool for listening to music that I certainly don't know they right name of), and prevalence of texting all make it challenging to arrange for your tween or teen to overhear a conversation during which you say good things about them.
Take a different approach, then, and let your tweens and teens see you praising them, and sharing what you like about your children with the world.
The #ToMyTeen campaign gives parents a chance to publicly praise their kids because research shows that kids who are validated by their parents feel more confident and are better able to resist peer pressure.
Parents of tweens and teens have been working at raising confidence kids for a decade or more, but confidence in kids is especially important between ages 10-14, the time when children are most vulnerable to peer pressure, according to a study by the NIH.
Empowering our kids to resist peer pressure is especially important when it comes to saying no to drugs, be it the illegal kind or the ones you have in you house. It is at the forefront right now given that October is National Medicine Abuse Awareness Month (and this week is Red Ribbon Week, too).
I was surprised to learn that 1 in 25 teens is abusing over the counter OTC cough medicine to get high. The folks behind the #ToMyTeen, part of the Stop Medicine Abuse campaign, didn't want to scare parents with that stat, but instead wanted to invite them in to a discussion by framing it in a positive way and provide them with important facts to help them keep amazing kids amazing.
I first heard about #ToMyTween from my friend Galit Breen, author of These Little Waves, who posted her photo on her Facebook page declaring her tween to be kind. and I wanted to participate. It was the end of a long day and I looked it. I'm ashamed to admit that I almost didn't take the picture that night because it was a bad hair day.
Once I got over myself, I had my tween take the photo. I thought that would be a good way to involve her and start this conversation.
We talked about how I love her sense of humor and ability to crack me up. Telling her that her thoughtfulness touches and inspires me seemed to surprise her a bit, and was a chance for me to give her concrete examples, from the bigger picture item of how her volunteer work is making an impact to the smaller picture of how I appreciated her help with dinner.
She seemed very pleased, and we had a great talk. After all, who doesn't like hearing good things about themselves? And while tweens and teens sometimes may act like they don't care what parents think, it is exactly that - an act. It is also quite likely a stereotype, one refuted by this campaign.
I love that it's also refuting the stereotype that tweens, teens and parents are always at odds. While there are challenges, no doubt, and moments of conflict, for sure, the fact remains that we both love these tweens and teens, and we often really do like them.
It's fun to see exactly why parents think their tweens and teens are awesome. My daughter wanted to see what other parents said about their kids, and I loved the qualities that these parents highlighted, from empathetic to brilliant to creative.
You can see the gallery here.
Here's how you can participate:
- Visit to ToMyTeen.com and answer one of our questions about raising teens and tweens today
- Write down your answer on a large piece of paper
- Take a photo holding up your answer
- Upload it to the site
- Share your images on Twitter or Facebook and include the hashtag #ToMyTeen. Invite and encourage your friends and family to join the campaign
Here's some help on talking with tween and teens about medicine abuse:
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Filed under: Parenting