(This is a reprint from my Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com)
Kim Fredrickson is a Marriage and Family Therapist in Roseville, and the author of Give Yourself a Break: Turning Your Inner Critic into a Compassionate Friend (2015). She will be speaking at the next BMF Symposium on Cyber-Powered Shame: How to Address it as Individuals and Families, April 9, 2016, 9am to 1:30pm in Carmichael. Below are some of her thoughts about understanding the shame experiences of modern youth and what they need from parents.
What is it about being a kid today that has not changed? Adolescence is a confusing and often painful time. Kids, and especially teenagers hurt and desperately want to be accepted and included by their peers. This makes them vulnerable to do whatever it takes to find ways to belong, and feel good about themselves. Because of this deep need, they can fall into using others to get noticed and make themselves better by putting others down (gossip, bullying, shaming others through words or photos, using others to get what they want, etc.).
How are teens coping with adolescent challenges? Teens often try different ways to numb the emotional and relational pain they are in. This attempt to not feel, often occurs through the use of substances (drugs alcohol, food, etc.) or through activities (various forms of screen time, shopping, sex, video games, partying, etc.). Even those teens who appear to be with the popular crowd, feel anxious because they feel constant pressure to not lose their standing.
At the core of all of these feelings is often shame and aloneness. They often know they aren’t doing well inside, and turning to their equally mixed up peers as a source of wisdom and comfort rarely works out.
What do tech-savvy teens need from parents? They need parents to provide a safe place where they can talk about the real pressures and insecurities they face. They also need us to teach them from as young an age as possible how to handle the shaming messages they receive from our “never good enough” society, from peers, and from unrelenting comparisons via social media, TV, etc.
They need us to listen to the thoughts and feelings they are experiencing in their world, and they also need us to help them deal with the inner critic they carry on the inside.
There are specific tools we can use as parents to 1) soothe they pain they are feeling and 2) help them develop compassion for themselves. Both of these important pieces will help shame to not set in, and instead will help your children learn to turn their inner critic into a compassionate friend.
To read more about taming the inner critic, access Kim’s book: Give Yourself A Break.
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ABOUT: We are a non-profit education center founded in Roseville, CA to strengthen the parent-child bond in a hyper-connected world. The BMF mission is to restore families with the mustard seed of faith that declares liberty already belongs to the soul because one God, the Creator of all humanity, grants every human being intelligence and free will to choose what to believe, and that is power that can never be taken, but is easily surrendered to the bully, the drug or the device. To that end, ten percent of all BMF proceeds are donated to prison ministries. Your Donations are greatly appreciated.
Joanna Jullien is an author, educator and speaker on strengthening the parent-child relationship in a cyber powered world. She is a mother of two grown sons, the author of The Authority In Me: The Power of Family Life in the Network Culture, produces The Sacramento Cyber Safety Examiner column on Examiner.com, and is the CyberParenting advisor on The Fish 103.9FM. Her new book, A Google World in the Garden of Eden: Five Family-Safe Strategies for Texting and Social Media is now available for PC and all eReader formats including Kindle, Nook, iPad.