Parenting advice

The week's best parenting advice: June 7, 2022

Protecting your kids from gun violence, the problem with teens on dating apps, and more

1

How to protect your kids from gun violence

There's little that individual parents can do to prevent school shootings, but there are ways to protect your children from gun violence, the vast majority of which does not occur at school, writes Melinda Wenner Moyer. The simplest way to do so is to keep guns out of your home. Guns kept at home are "four times more likely to cause an accidental shooting, seven times more likely to be used in assault or homicide, and 11 times more likely to be used in a suicide than they were to be used for self-defense," writes Moyer. If you do have a gun, store it unloaded with the ammunition in a separate place, and ask the parents of your child's friends to do the same. Nearly half of all gun injuries or deaths involving children under thirteen are accidental, in part because guns aren't properly stored.

2

The problem with teens on dating apps

Most popular dating apps require users to be at least 18 to join, but minors often slip through the cracks, writes Moises Mendez II in The Atlantic. Screening procedures are easy for teens to get around – they don't require users to offer proof of their age – and many do. By one estimate, "more than 50 percent of sexually active gay and bisexual underage boys have had sex with people they met on apps such as Grindr," writes Mendez. Teens using dating apps may not seem like a big deal, but the fact is that dating apps "are made for adults, some of whom are too eager to meet someone so young." Some teens join hoping to meet other teens only to be preyed upon and even raped by adults. "Kids deserve better protection than this," writes Mendez.

3

Simple steps toward healthy brain development

The early years of children's lives are vital for brain development, writes Sarah Showfety in Lifehacker. But according to Dr. Dana Suskind, a pediatric surgeon who studies child brain development, the recipe for enhancing early brain development is pretty simple: tune in, talk, and take turns. Take time to stop, tune in to what your child is doing, and build a "conversation" around it. "If they're entranced by a squirrel on the deck, you can say, 'Are you looking at a squirrel? Wow that squirrel has such a fluffy tail!'" writes Showfety. Use a rich vocabulary and ask questions in order to engage them in a "back and forth" conversation pattern. The process requires "no research, devices, or specialized training. Just a conscious effort to notice what's got your child's attention, put your verbal focus there, and start a conversation," writes Showfety.

4

A calmer approach to parenting

All parents lose their cool every once in a while, and who can blame them, but there are ways to minimize outbursts, writes Christian Dashiell in Fatherly. Often, when parents yell at a child for breaking a vase or drawing on the walls, they are reacting not only to the misbehavior, but to myriad other stresses in their lives. "Learning to acknowledge and positively process feelings can help reduce emotional displacement by preventing feelings from bubbling over," writes Dashiell. Take note of circumstances that routinely trigger strong emotions, which can help isolate the root of your heightened frustrations. And avoid falling into the traps of perfectionism or comparison — even parents who are the model of serenity in public occasionally yell at their kids. Adopting a calmer approach is an "incremental process of improvement," writes Dashiell.

5

What to know about binge eating

Much discussion of eating disorders focuses on anorexia, but binge eating disorders are more common in the U.S. and can have serious consequences, writes Laura Wheatman Hill in Lifehacker. Binging typically involves quickly eating large quantities of food to the point of discomfort, and is typically accompanied by a feeling of a loss of control and guilt afterward. Binging can cause weight fluctuations, or gastrointestinal issues, such as cramps or acid reflux. Teens struggling with binging may be uncomfortable eating around others or go to extreme lengths to regain control of their eating habits by adopting fad diets or implementing rituals such as eating only at certain times. Keep in mind that adolescent weight gain is normal and not necessarily a sign of disordered eating. "Be careful not to impose your own possible disordered eating behaviors on your child and check in with your own body image bias," writes Hill.

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