Question from member: So we found out last night our 10 year created gmail and twitter accounts for a baking club he wants to create with his friends without our knowledge. He said he knew he was supposed to ask permission before doing something like that — but feared we would say no — and that lying about his birthday to get around parental approval was wrong. AT the same time he argued that he was not doing anything “bad” online and it’s just a fun club. We took away his ipad/electronics until the end of the month and had a long talk about internet safety with him. What else should we be doing? Our son tends to be very impulsive and naive– which makes us very concerned about his online presence but it’s hard when his friends have so much more freedom.
Reply from Rachel: I can see why you’d be frustrated — and probably a lot more. It is so hard to be a parent in this digital age when there are so many dangers out there. And I agree that it’s hard when your son may not have the impulse control that others have, so he needs different rules and then compares himself to his friends and says “it’s not fair,” etc….
My suggestion is to focus, as usual, on balancing FIRMNESS with RESPECT.
Here are some ways you can do that:
*Create a contract with him that explains your expectations. Where he can have control, give him some (ie, you may say that he has to get off of his device by 8PM, but ask him if he wants you to get his device or if he wants to give it to you himself)
There are 2 trainings about electronics (one by me and one by a guest expert) that offers some suggestions for contracts if you scroll down on this page.
*Let him “earn” more privileges on his device by demonstrating that he can act responsible. You can work as a team with him to determine how he can show you that he’s acting responsible.
*If he struggles with impulse control, help him with develop this tools! At his age, you can do things like having him save up money to earn something that’s important to him… and there are even some fun board and family games that you can play that develop impulse control.
*Do genuinely understand (and let HIM know that you understand!) that it’s hard when his friends can do things he can’t. Talk to him about how to get through that, and remind him that you’re on his side in giving him the tools he needs to be responsible so he can do more.
Follow-up question from member: Thanks for the great advice as always. We have been talking about a contract but just need to sit down and do it. Do you have specific board games in mind for impulse control? Would love to check some out for our family game nights.
Reply from Rachel: Yes! Games that can teach slightly older kids impulse control / the power of slowing: Jenga, Operation, and Connect 4, and Simon. There are also games that may be young for him, but worth mentioning: Simon Says, Red Light Green Light, Freeze Dance.
Let us know what you end up doing!
I love that you have family game nights.