"Throughout this book, I felt Bruce had a secret window into my own life and private thoughts. Many private feelings I am currently dealing with were addressed and revealed in a manner that made me feel it is not only normal, but I am truly not alone in this. I was surprised that I cried while reading it and the comfort that the words brought me. I read tons of self-help books, among other types of books, and this book actually gives me hope and things to look forward to. My tears were from the fact that I am facing the words I read. I have been getting negative feedback from outside sources and these words reassured me not to listen, keep them out of your life and do what is right. The section on the other home/parent opened my eyes and freed me. I did not go into reading this book thinking it would help me on such a deep emotional level." ~Dorothy Justice, Vice Chair-Community Action Partnership

September 15, 2013

Disciplining Today’s Techno Teen/Tween doesn’t include a Street Corner

Today’s tweener and teen techno student is swept into an online popularity contest via smart phones and a whole host of media mobile devices and applications.
Today’s child is pulled into a world where we ourselves wouldn’t be comfortable at their age. We can’t compare our childhood with today’s child. Just think for a moment trying to keep up with online comparisons such as Facebook “friends” and “likes” while in junior high school. Today’s tweener and teen techno student is swept into an online popularity contest via smart phones and a whole host of media mobile devices and applications. Not to mention inherent challenges that come with an unpredictable environment such as cyber bullying among other senseless tactics- as parents our worst fear is a subsequent suicide from a defenseless and unwary adolescent.

Today’s topic is inspired by a recent national report on a parent who placed her 7th grader on a street corner with a sign apologizing for “twerking” at a school dance.
This new disciplining method is in the news more today and I’m learning is raising questions among behavioral specialists. The mother was justifiably embarrassed, but what’s the real issue here; disrespecting her mom, normal middle-schooler looking for attention, Miley Cyrus?

We may be horrified at what our children are learning from pop idols via social media. Is it possible Miley Cyrus knows our children better than we do? By the latest pop idol’s twitter stats, it’s apparent where our kids’ interest migrates. Either way, we can’t control what’s on TV, online or our kid’s interests.

Today’s teens present new challenges to parents and its up to us to support their new independence and assertive behavior, regardless of new and imposing environments.  We don’t want to restrain or constrain their unique personality and ideologies though we do want to help with understanding personal image and what’s wrong from right.  It’s up to us to bring awareness and find ways to support their development rather than hinder early outward expression.

We all know what our parents would have done if as children we were to shake our booty at a school dance. You know, if they were to even find out- word of mouth was the only media source then. Finding appropriate disciplining methods may be challenging with today’s generation of teens, as you may be aware. If the whole world didn’t have access to our child’s twerking booty online maybe we wouldn’t care so much. So where do we go for support and understanding? The answers may surprise you.

Your child’s twerking isn’t the issue. Neither is Miley Cyrus. You want to help your child understand your feelings about the issue and that time and place is everything- that there are better ways to cooperate and co-mingle with friends while preserving image and reputation. Maybe save more delicate expression for closer inner circles of friends.

Today’s twerking is just another trend like sexting and tomorrow will bring another unforeseen dilemma. The Internet brings information overload that we ourselves have difficulty with keeping up. Today’s smart phone is a veritable driver’s license with access to a high-speed highway that is not forgiving and a single inexperienced act can lead to devastating consequences. You wouldn’t send your unsuspecting teen out on the highway alone. Today’s trends or tomorrow’s quick craze will always bring new challenges but the solution remains the same.

These are practices and methods you want in your arsenal of support tools for your techno rookie:

Encouragement - through reasoning and rationalizing with your beloved about concerns you can achieve gain. Start with talking. Sit your child down and help them understand consequences/ impacts of their actions with respectful communication. Your child may not appreciate sit-downs, but he/she may learn to understand you are in control of your actions. You are trying to help even if they can’t see it initially.

Engagement – you may not see it now, but your child is learning from your actions. What better way to reflect on your child than with engaging on a regular basis. Your frequent, keen and calm actions show you are in control and focused. Pull them in and increase their awareness of right from wrong. Your young ambitious tween/teen may not initially appreciate your levels or rate of engagement, but stay your course and have faith your child will grow and learn from your winning commitment.

Healthy Distractions – any level of sports and/or intellectual activities are a sure fire way to keep your children involved in more traditional ways and away from obscure Internet challenges. Finding ways to develop your child’s strengths and unique abilities will support their needs in a positive and structured environment.

Age Appropriate – once a child enters middle school a whole different discipline platform emerges for parents. Threats of removing privileges, grounding, and ordering them to their room doesn’t support their needs, in my opinion. Further, these impulses only distract from the real issues and are only quick solutions. Quick impulsive actions or any discipline that is intended to be a last resort are not advisable and usually say more about us.

Exceptional model – how we perceive ourselves will impact how our children perceive themselves. If we spend an abundance of time on the net, on our own cell phone apps, or in our own lives only encourages the same. Being in our kid’s lives and sharing positive experiences supports our child’s overall development and minimizes reason for discipline. In the contrary, developing our children through our own actions support the overall goals, objectives, and responsiveness we seek in our teens.

Love – never fails and this includes tough love too. Being vested in getting your child’s attention through the above listed items will have significant returns, obviously. Will your loved one run out and execute all your ideas and solutions? Probably not but that doesn’t mean they aren’t listening. Your attention counts for something. Stay your course. Ask really good pertinent intelligent questions when your loved one crosses the line. Always respect your child’s thoughts and ideas. You don’t have to agree, but respecting your child’s awareness to the issues is more important than anything right now.

We can’t keep up with or compete with today’s media circus outlets nor do we want to. I work through technology challenges today with my kids who are influenced with a myriad of new Internet applications and mobile smart devices. What I find most effective is the importance of discussing online security features and image concerns.

I know its tough when your child is exploring and investigating outside of the norm, perhaps even beyond our own personal lines. Putting your child on a street corner with a sign is not the answer. Sure, it may appear effective but you may have planted a deeper seed in resentment, bitterness, and anger that’s not easily detected.  Further, we send a hidden message that says stay inside the box and that’s not what you want from typically inquisitive tweens/teens.

Traveling outside the lines is ok provided they are prepared for and can accept consequences. Our tweens and teens will test the lines and they will do things that are unacceptable. Bringing awareness and your individual attention utilizing the aforementioned tools is really what your adolescent wants even if that’s not immediately apparent to us.

Bruce Buccio resides in Colorado, USA, with his beautiful wife, is loving dad, Author of "Parenting After Divorce: Rebuilding Your Life And Reaffirming the Relationships that Matter (2013)," court appointed child advocate and expert helping families professionally in parenting, relationship, personal growth and life changes. Today, he writes primarily inspired by experiences raising his children as single dad, but also writes about inspiration, growth, and love.

Copyright © 2013 Bruce Buccio

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