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Social Judo is the smartest parenting tool on the market, but just as with any other kind of tool, if you don’t know the best way to use it you might just break more than you fix.

As you are using Social Judo, there could be information that you learn that sparks your parental curiosity, but before the proverbial cat gets out of the bag, there are two things every parent needs to keep in mind:

Safety, Safety, Safety. Your primary job as a parent is to ensure your child’s physical and emotional well-being. If you come across any information that in any way threatens the physical or psychological health of your teen or tween, it is appropriate and necessary to communicate and possibly intervene with another parent or law enforcement, regardless of how difficult that may be.
The pre-teen and teen years are filled with angst and emotional drama. Parents need to remember that not every disagreement your child has with her peers, or every boyfriend/girlfriend drama that you might learn about needs your involvement. Your daughter or son need room to argue and make up with her/his peers without your intervention. That is how kids learn to navigate conflict. Your daughter or son needs to learn to cope with disappointment if she/he doesn’t get the lead in the school play or gets cut from the football team. Learning to cope with disappointment is a vital part of life.
It is normal for parents to want to be “in the know” when it comes to their child’s social lives, but it is also appropriate for teens to push back for some space between the two. Knowing how and when to use the important information Social Judo sends you will absolutely make you a smarter, more effective parent.

Now, what do smart parents do when they learn information that involves one of their child’s peers?

Here is a short Quiz, the answers follow and don’t cheat.

1. My son’s chats revealed some conflict with another 15-year-old boy at school, but the reason for the beef wasn’t clear.

a. Talk to another parent about it to see what they know

b. Talk to your son about it

c. Keep your nose out of it, recognizing that some degree of social conflict is necessary in order to learn how to navigate it

2. My daughter’s best friend sent her a picture of cut marks on her arms with the hashtag “FML”.

a. Don’t say anything about it this time

b. Talk to your daughter about it

c. Talk to your daughter’s friend’s parents about the picture

d. b & c, in that order

3. I saw on Instagram that my 15-year-old son is being harassed by his girlfriend’s ex-boyfriend, he threatened to beat him up and says he knows where he works.

a. Ignore it, high school boys will be boys

b. Talk with your son and problem solve together

c. March down to the school, alert the principal and call the other boy’s parents ASAP

4. My 11-year-old is posting and chatting about our pending divorce. Her peers seem supportive and helpful to her, but I am still worried.

a. Tell her to keep family business within the family

b. Don’t mention what you read but just make an effort to bring up the divorce in conversation with your daughter more often

c. Call a family meeting to discuss her feelings around the divorce

ANSWERS

C Keep your nose out of the drama. Because adolescence and drama go hand in hand, you have to be able to recognize the difference between age-appropriate social turmoil big issues such as bullying, drug abuse, violence, careless/risky sex, and reckless driving. The things to watch out for are generally repeated patterns, not one-time hormonal responses to daily issues.
D Cutting is a serious issue and often indicates that there is an underlying mental health condition requiring professional help. It is important to first, talk with your son or daughter about his/her concerns and feelings about her best friends issue. Then let her know that your obligation is to talk with her parents because of the severity of the issue.
B Talking to your son/daughter about problem-solving together will help to achieve two goals; it will teach conflict resolution skills, and it will also keep you as the parent, in the loop just in case the threats continue or any violent episode occurs.
B Your son/ daughter is expressing his/her feelings and getting support from his/her friends, which is healthy. Overreacting could cause him/her to clam up and could possibly undermine the coping skills that he/she is obviously using.

Knowing what to do with the information you are getting when using Social Judo is really important. Overreacting, parenting from a place of anxiety, reacting because your ego is dented by your child’s need for space, or just invading their social situation because you are curious, can cause serious damage to the relationship between you and your preteen or teen.

Remember, keeping your child safe does not mean preventing them from experiencing the bumps along the road of life, the bumps teach lessons and they give your child an opportunity to practice and cultivate the social skills necessary in adulthood.