Stepping Back and Lovin’ It – Part 3
Written by Amy Hertzberg
Remember the helicopters that hover during homework time? Those are the same ones that get over-involved in the social lives of their children, often swooping in to rescue their kids from the day-to-day heartache of typical social drama.
When we entangle ourselves in our children’s social lives we are unable to step back, think clearly and provide the proper guidance our children need. Remember our role as parents (especially during the tween and teen years), is not to rescue our kids from difficult situations but rather, to guide them through.
Social conflict (aka: social drama) is not new, should not be feared and is a normal part of childhood. It may occur over social status, friendships, boy-girl issues and sometimes, even over material objects.
The same social conflicts have existed over time yet the sources have changed. For instance, during the ’80’s, confidential notes passed at school, prank calls and 3-way calls (from landlines!) created drama. Today, group texts and photo sharing apps often instigate conflict.
Perhaps social drama seems just more prevalent today because info that was once reserved for personal journals and diaries is now shared on social media and is accessible 24/7. It’s easier for today’s parents to meddle in our children’s social lives because we know what’s going on!
Of course it’s painful to see our children distressed over social issues and it’s natural to want to “fix it” for them. However, to become resilient adults, kids must learn how to navigate the social drama themselves. After all, social conflict doesn’t end when adulthood begins. So, when it comes to social drama in your kids’ lives, step back and stay out of it as much as possible.
Help your children manage social drama with these 5 tips:
Sometimes our job is to be a sounding board. This means only to listen without judgment or unsolicited advice.
If you aren’t sure of your role, ask: “Would you like me to help you come up with a solution or just listen?” or, “What do you need from me right now?”
2. Empathize and Connect to “Feelings”
When your children are upset be careful not to dismiss their feelings and say something like, “Who cares” or “Really?..you’re upset about that?”
It’s very important that our children feel emotions like anger, hurt and sadness and learn how to manage them in healthy ways.
Empathize and say something like, “I would be upset too.” If appropriate and relevant, share your own similar experiences.
When we show empathy we not only encourage open communication with our children, but we also model a skill that our children must learn to develop their own healthy relationships.
3. Brainstorm together
Social conflicts are opportunities for children to practice problem-solving skills. Guided questions (remember these?) can help your children think for themselves.
“Do you have any ideas?”
“How do you think you should handle this?”
If your child is open to it, role-play to help your child practice how to express feelings and work through conflict.
4. Keep your own emotions in check
Sometimes social situations bother us more than our children. Be careful not to transfer your emotions or even baggage about your own social experiences onto your children. Ask yourself, is this bothering me or is it bothering my child?
5. Gain Perspective
Before you pick up the phone, text or send an email to another parent, ask yourself, “Is this an unsafe situation or just uncomfortable for my child?”
When it comes to typical social drama resist the urge to hover over and swoop in to rescue your children. Your kids’ drama need not become mama drama. If the situation does not involve victimization, let the kids try to work it out. Open communication is essential to your relationship with your child and can help you both navigate these tricky tween and teen years.
In case you missed it, click below to read Part 1 & 2 of Steppin’ back and Lovin’ It.
- Part 1: https://www.jccchicago.org/stepping-lovin/
- Part 2: https://www.jccchicago.org/stepping-lovin-part-2/
Amy Hertzberg has a Master’s in Social Work and is a Certified Professional Life Coach. She specializes in coaching women and parents. To learn more about Amy, AIM Parent Coaching and Aim Life Coaching, please visit www.amyhertzberg.com.