This week, two major news companies in Australia announced massive changes to their organisations, including many redundancies and layoffs. Both companies have said that the move is in response to the changing way in which people now access news.
In response to this week’s developments the Australian Federal Minister for Communication Stephen Conroy, said in an interview:
“Ebay has meant the demise of retail shopping; Amazon has meant the demise of the Book store and now the Internet has meant the demise of the daily newspaper”.
His comments came less that 24 hours after a conversation with an older friend of mine who had been at a family gathering on the weekend and complained to me “That all the young people at the lunch spent the entire time looking at their phones instead of engaging in conversation.” It made me realise that perhaps social media could also be the demise of relationships too?”
There is no doubt that Technology and Social Media are changing the way we interact with each other. But is that coming at a cost? Is the constant need for our teens to be ‘connected’ impacting on their ability to understand how to not only how to act appropriately in social situations, but also create good relationships with people?
We used to take for granted that children almost learned by osmosis how to interact with others, but in this social media era, I believe that it is becoming more critical for parents to teach children how to foster and develop deep, meaningful and reciprocal relationships, and to learn how to interact in social situations.
Here are five tips to teach your child develop and foster good relationships.
1. Schedule Family Dinners with No TV!
Research shows that children whose families have regular family dinners do better in school, have better relationships with their peers and are less likely to participate in at risk behaviours. By insisting on family dinners where everyone participates not only in the conversation but also in preparation (with the TV off!) is still the number one way children learn how to act appropriately, engage in meaningful conversation, learn good table manners and develop good relationships.
2. No Phones at the Table!
A couple of years ago I accompanied my youngest daughter on a dance trip interstate. There were a number of parents also acting as chaperones. One night we all went to a beautiful restaurant for dinner. When we sat down – the first thing everyone did, adults included, was take out their phones and start ‘checking-in’ on Facebook or sending texts! I couldn’t get over how rude it was, and said so! One of the parents responded “Oh my goodness I just take this for granted now!” As parents we must lead the way and insist:
a. That nobody brings their phones to the table, ever … and
b. Not to check Facebook or text whilst you are talking to others.
One of my pet peeves is people who constantly check their phones when they are in meetings or in a social situations and I see this happening more and more amongst adults. When people feel the need to constantly check their phones either in restaurants or networking events they are sending a message to those around them that they do not value other people’s time, nor think others are important. Teach your child how to become a master at focusing on what people say and being 100% present when people are talking to them. It is a skill that will serve them very well in years to come.
3. No Earphones in the Car!
The 20 or 30 minutes you have with your children in the car when you pick them up or drop them off at school, or sporting events is priceless. Many wonderful discussions have taken place with my children just talking about news on the radio or things that have happened during the day. Ban earphones from the car on short drives and engage your child in conversation, it helps them to develop good conversational skills. Don’t despair if you only get grunts in return for the first little while – they will soon figure out that you mean business if you don’t give in.
4. No words in Anger on-line
Words can be very misconstrued and emotions misunderstood if you cannot be present physically to read the emotion behind it, and once you hit that ‘send’ button, nothing can be taken back. If your child is engaged in a disagreement with a friend – encourage them to either pick up the phone and talk or to meet in person. Most misunderstandings can be sorted out very quickly face to face.
5. Be your child’s role model
Our children often do not listen to what we say, but model what we do. Do not talk on your phone in the car when they are in the car. When you come home at night, turn your phone is off and be 100% present when you are with your children.
It doesn’t matter whether you are a stay at home parent, a part-time working parent or a full-time working parent, it is the quality of the time you spend with your child that they will remember, and you will remember it too! We are the wise mothers – the ones who are guiding the next generation of young people who will eventually be in charge of this world. The way we help them to develop good relationships is how they will interact with others throughout their lives.
Do you insist on certain ‘etiquette’ rules in your home? Do you have family dinner time?