It seems that modern parents are fighting a constant battle to keep their children reveling in their innocence; so much of our culture is aimed at forcing them to grow up before their time. Protecting the youth and innocence of our little ones can be a difficult task to try to undertake, but it’s one that most parents feel is a worthwhile challenge.
These ten tips can help parents prolong the childhood of the youngest members in the family for as long as possible.
- Television Parental Controls – Taking advantage of every parental control feature that your television service provider offers is one of the more effective ways of preventing your children from accessing adult-themed programming. Options and features differ, depending on the type of service and provider you have, and contacting your provider can help you find out what your specific options are.
- Internet Content Filter – Many popular search engines and web browsers have built-in content filters that can be adjusted to suit the age and needs of your various children. In addition to these filters, internet service providers typically offer their own filtering options.
- Listen to Any Music Your Child Purchases – Instituting a preview policy for any music your children download is a great way to stay informed about what they’re listening to, and also to limit their exposure to explicit lyrics or other questionable content.
- Limit Screen Time – The associated health risks of a sedentary lifestyle aside, limiting the amount of time that your children spend playing video games, watching television and surfing the web can also help to protect them from encountering themes that are too mature for them.
- Look at Video Game Ratings – The Entertainment Software Rating Board (ESRB) applies content ratings to PC and console video games, similar to the MPAA ratings of film. This information is easily spotted, and can help parents get an idea of what each game contains before purchasing it or allowing children to play.
- Install Monitoring Software – There are dozens of programs available to monitor the usage, browsing history, email content and social networking use of a specific computer. For parents of tweens and teens, the focus shifts from protecting kids from accidental exposure to preventing willful breaking of the rules. Letting your children know that the software is in place and will be checked regularly can be a preventative measure, as well as a means of detection after the fact.
- Explain Rules and Their Reasons – When kids become tweens and later, teens, questioning their parents’ methods and rules are par for the course. Explaining why your household has certain rules and keeping an open dialogue is one of the best ways to stave off more extreme rebellion.
- Know Your Kids’ Friends – Though knowing your child’s friends is certainly not a foolproof way of keeping them from trouble, it can be helpful. Being able to accurately determine the amount of influence a friend has or the likelihood of them being able to aid your child in deceiving you depends on your familiarity with them.
- Change Your Radio Presets – While the days of traditional radio may be waning, there are still plenty of parents with “old-fashioned” presets in the car. Before the smaller members of the family start speaking, it’s typically not a concern for parents; however, as soon as those miniature master imitators learn to repeat what they’re hearing, it might be a good idea to stick with family-friendly stations.
- Lead By Example – Children learn through mimicry; emulating their parents is one of the ways that kids start to develop their own personalities. Even well into the adolescent years, kids are still watching their parents. Because of this, it’s very important to set a solid example for your children to follow. Keeping your own language clean is much more effective than taking a “do as I say, not as I do” approach, which will almost always backfire as kids get older.
As always, there is no magic formula to accomplishing this task. It takes some effort and discipline on the part of the parents to set the standards they want for their children and their household and to keep them respected and enforced. Each family needs to determine their own set of values and develop means for instilling them in their children.
This is a guest blog submitted by Debbie Denard with nanny.net.