A recent study conducted by the Australian Centre to Counter Child Exploitation revealed that 4 in 5 parents would respond with anger and blame if they discovered their child was sharing inappropriate images online.
The Australian Federal Police are urging parents to take a compassionate approach when it comes to the online behaviour to ensure that parents remain approachable in the eyes of their kids.
96five’s Tim Bain caught up with Brett Ryan from Focus on the Family Australia to chat about the importance of compassion and how to lead healthy conversations about tricky topics with your children.
These conversations are becoming increasingly complex due our rapidly changing world. Where we once passed notes to our crushes at school, it’s becoming increasingly common to send or coerce others into sending inappropriate images to one another.
“At the click of a button you can have access to incredible and healthy information but at the same time it has some detrimental effects. They can be pornography, sexting or highly sexualised content” says Brett.
“We’re not perfect parents and we’re not going to have perfect kids either. Our kids are going to make mistakes and how we respond to our children when they do is critical.”
“The calmer we are, the more that we show that we care, the more we show that we’re compassionate and understanding. There will still be consequences of their poor choices but our job as parents is to be their pre-frontal cortex. Their pre-frontal cortex is not quite developed yet and so they’ll do things without thinking through the consequences” says Brett.
So how can we be more compassionate in our homes and towards our children when they make mistakes? Where do we start?
Brett encouraged us to look in the mirror. To check in with how we’re coping as a parent. Ask yourself, how am I really coming across? Am I reacting or responding?
If you’re struggling and you feel like you’re going to lose it – try removing yourself from the situation for a few moments – to breathe, regulate your own emotions so you can approach the situation with compassion and understanding.
“Our kids are going to be faced with all sorts of challenges and our homes should be a haven. Whether it’s with Mum or with Dad, that they can actually come and talk about these things, and know we’re not going to react, we’re going to respond”.
The best option is to try and have these tricky conversations in advance. Your children will be more willing to bring things to you and they’ll be more comfortable to talk about anything and everything.
Focus on the Family have a number of resources available on their website includes tools on how to talk about the big issues with your kids.