Dear Family Coach: My almost 13-year old daughter is begging me for permission to create a Snapchat account. I am resisting, but she is wearing me down. I'm not even sure why I am unwilling. Should I hold my ground? — Not Sure Parent
Dear Not Sure: Parents have been drilling into their kids' heads that anything put on the internet is forever. A text, a silly photo or a stupid video on YouTube all leave a digital footprint that never goes away. Then there's Snapchat, the app that allows people to post a photo or video for just a few seconds before it disappears. It's great in theory, but not so much in practice. While Snapchat deletes your posts immediately, the app administrators can't control users' ability to screenshot images in those few seconds. A screenshot means that photo lives forever. Young people often have a false sense of reality when it comes to this concept.
Snapchat plays to the impulsivity of teens. They post quickly, and the post disappears quickly — unless it doesn't. The temporary nature of the app has led some users to post inappropriate pictures or share others' pictures (Google Dani Mathers for a glaring example). Such acts are not only wrong ethically but they can also be considered a criminal offense. A 13-year-old isn't old enough to understand these implications.
I'd say put off her initiation into this world. What many teens love most about Snapchat is that their parents aren't on it. So, before releasing your daughter into this unknown world take the time to discuss safety concerns, etiquette and common teen missteps. Start her with simpler, less troublesome apps so she can develop critical thinking skills and impulse control, while you can monitor her use.
Dear Family Coach: I know this might be uncool to say, but my daughter is bossy. She tells everyone around her what to do. She always has. It was kind of cute at 4 years old, but it's a lot less so at 13. She is losing friends, and some family members even find her difficult. How can we help her be less bossy before it's too late? — Bossy Pants' Mom
Dear Bossy's Mom: The Girls Scouts of America and Sheryl Sandberg's Lean In Organization are working to #banbossy. The idea is that "bossy" is a derogatory term used to describe girls who are actually leaders. Boys typically aren't called bossy. While this may be true, your issue is that your daughter's behavior is counterproductive. She isn't leading; she's pushing people away.
There is hope for your daughter, but she will have to recognize the problem. That may be your first hurdle. Try not to bruise her self-esteem. Instead, focus on the outcomes she is seeing, like fewer invitations to parties or afternoon play dates. She might notice that people have stopped listening to her ideas, as well. Use these issues to motivate her to change her ways.
There is a fine line between being bossy and being a leader. You can help her harness her inner gift by making a few important tweaks. I'll bet the problem isn't what your daughter says, but rather how she says it. Work on her tone and communication skills. Teach her empathy, too. Understanding how someone feels will be important for her, but it may also help her with social skills and learning how to read people. Being an effective leader requires working with others. If a leader pushes others away, success is limited. However, if that leader learns to respect others' opinions, tolerate differences, use effective communication and lead by example, there is no telling what she can't accomplish.
Dr. Catherine Pearlman, the founder of The Family Coach, LLC, advises parents on all matters of child rearing. To write to Dr. Pearlman, send her an email at [email protected] To find out more about Dr. Catherine Pearlman and read features by other Creators Syndicate writers and cartoonists, visit the Creators Syndicate website at www.creators.com.
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