"When is 'My Kid Would Never Do That' going to be on again?" my 12-year-old daughter asked yesterday.
"My Kid Would Never Do That" is a four part series of Dateline episodes on NBC hosted by Natalie Morales. The series puts kids, mostly teenagers but there are a few tweens and even seven year-olds, in several difficult and intense but realistic scenarios, including someone bragging about taking an inappropriate photo of someone at the party to gun safety to seeing someone slip an unknown substance in an acquaintances drink.
Cameras, and the children's parents in a video truck with Morales, watch how the kids react. Then the kids are made aware that the scenario is staged, not real, and that actors are in on the set up. An expert then sits down with the kids to discuss what they did right and wrong and what are the best actions to take.
We had watched one episode together and I was both surprised, and pleased that she asked to watch more, given that these aren't lighthearted shows. They cover some tough stuff and have good advice for both parents and kids.
I appreciated that the experts were both positive and also gave really concrete advice. Several experts made the point that telling kids what to do is inadequate. Just talking doesn't cut it.
We "have to move from telling kids what to do to how to do it." To be more effective, you have to both tell and show kids how to be safe. Then have them practice.
The experts suggest acting out similar scenes with kids where a peer is trying to get a teen to do something, be it touch a gun or not tell a peer about a photo, to give them experience forcefully speaking up, saying no and walking away or getting help if needed.
I know that such skits usually feel silly for both parents and kids but the experts in these episodes stress that it works, but it's important to keep repeating it.
"My Kid Would Never Do That" provided the valuable reminder that practice needs to happen repeatedly. It's just like we don't expect them to memorize vocabulary words once. It's not fair to tell them one time and expect them to get their behavior just right the first time out of the gate.
I'm grateful that this show brings up a lot of important topics and provides a great framework for conversations with kids.
I think the scenarios seemed a bit removed from her, but it led a conversation where I told her about the time someone slipped something into my drink and that these scenarios do happen in real life. We discussed what I did wrong, what the expert on the show said that could have kept me safer, and what she can do herself, particularly not taking drinks from other people and even if they seem harmless that there's nothing wrong with the "trust but verify" approach and in this case, that means not sipping a drink you didn't have eyes on at all times.
One thing about the show that bothered me was that some of these kids who were filmed went through a lot. One teen girl was a rock star when she saw a boy slip something into a girl's drink, but when she learned the truth and her dad walked into the room, she ran to him and dissolved into tears. It was clear that it took a toll on her.
My tween asked me to never put her on this kind of "gotcha" show, and I agreed that I would never do so. But I also stressed that practicing how to do the right thing is important.
There's an element of sensationalism that I could do without, but overall, I'm glad that we've watch a few shows together.
The fact that she asked to watch a second one was a great opportunity to keep the conversations going. It was done in a way that I think feels empowering to her, and that's awesome.
You can watch the shows on NBC and they have full episodes on the Dateline website.
Have you seen this show? Please leave your thoughts about it in the comments!
This is not a sponsored post. NBC and Natalie Morales have no idea I exist, I just found this show to be helpful for starting important talks in my family and thought I'd share.
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