Birds do it, bees do it, and unfortunately our teens do it. Or at least they will. We may not want to admit it, but our kids are going to be curious about sex. And in their world, inevitably there could be some intersection with technology. So it’s important to talk about sexting, texting, and teens -- and Guest Expert Ari Tuckman encourages parents to take the plunge.
“My advice is to not put your head in the sand, and not to assume that this is not relevant to your kid, because it might be.” Tuckman says it’s best for parents to talk to their kids about sex – so you can make sure they’re getting accurate information.
In this interview, Ari Tuckman, PsyD, author of several books on ADHD and co-coordinator of the annual International Conference on ADHD, discusses tips for making the conversation less awkward -- and your kids safer.
Tips for Talking to Teens About Sexting & Texting
Open and Supportive
When it’s time to talk to your kids, make sure to be open and understanding. Tuckman says: "We want to be able to have conversations with our teens and our preteens about these things, not to shame them, because it's of course natural that they're going to be interested in sex. [We want] to help them understand it, to make better choices…” You don’t want to scare them, because then they stop talking to you. “They don’t necessarily stop doing it, they just go silent about talking to you or some other wiser person about it.” This conversation is all about telling your kids you’re there for them. Listen for more details about how to keep conversations open and supportive.
Talk about the Internet
In the age of the smart phone, this is especially important. Again, it’s natural for kids to be curious, but they need to know that some things last forever. "We all made dumb choices back in the day, but there wasn't photo evidence of it forever 'googleable' after we turn 20. Kids these days have a different situation than we did,” Tuckman says. This is especially true for impulsive, complex kids. “If one tends to leap before looking, then [the instant nature of phones is] even more problematic."
Create Trusting Environment
This is about walking the walk. You’ve told your kids to trust you, so now: be there for them when they come to you with the tough questions. Show that you can be supportive. Tuckman explains: "It's about managing our emotions first, so that we can then be present and hear what [our kids have] got going on and manage their emotions." The key is being honest. “If you need to oversee your teen's social media accounts, then you do... But don't sneak, don't tell them that you're not but then actually do it. Just be open."
To hear more recommendations from Tuckman about texting, sexting and teens, listen to this engaging and insightful interview.
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