The week's best parenting advice: January 12, 2021
How to talk about the Capitol riot, good news about teen vaping, and more
How to talk about the Capitol riot
Many children will no doubt have questions about last week's violent storming of the U.S. Capitol. They may find the news coverage upsetting, triggering, or confusing, but caregivers can help kids process and learn from this difficult moment in American history. Start by asking age-appropriate questions to get a sense of what they know about the event. Some examples recommended by Diane Jones Lowrey at Common Sense Media include: "What did you watch or hear about what happened?" "How do you feel about it?" And for slightly older kids, "How do you think your friends and other people in your family feel, including people from different backgrounds and races?" To help hone their media literacy skills, ask teenagers to reflect on the words journalists are using to describe the events — would the language be different had most of the rioters not been white? "Since most teens get their news from social media, ask questions to help them think critically about what they're seeing and reading," Jones Lowrey says.
Distinguishing between a mob and a protest
As families continue to process last week's events at the Capitol, it's important to help children distinguish between a mob and a protest, says Zara Hanawalt at Parents. After all, "many of us want our children to protest against things they feel strongly about, albeit in a safe and nonviolent way." Explain that the Capitol rioters wanted to disrupt an important political process using violence, and that people died. "It wasn't just a display of anger as a result of how you're being treated by a segment of the government. This was an attempt to take over the government entirely," says Ayesha Bell Hardaway, a professor of law and the director of the Social Justice Institute at Case Western Reserve University. Make it clear that while Americans have a right to peacefully assemble, "that doesn't involve violently confronting law enforcement officials. But it does give you the right to be in a place where you can make it clear you're unhappy with the status quo," Bell Hardaway says.
Good news about teen vaping
One tidbit of good news to come out of 2020: Teen vaping levels plateaued, according to survey data from University of Michigan's Institute for Social Research. About 35 percent of 12th graders admitted to vaping nicotine in 2020, which is the same percentage as in 2019. That's still far too high, but it's an improvement considering that between 2017 and 2019, vaping rates in young people doubled. "It is encouraging to see a leveling off of this trend, though the rates still remain very high," says U.S. National Institute on Drug Abuse director Nora Volkow. It's important to talk with your kids about the dangers of vaping, says Panagis Galiatsatos, M.D., a national spokesperson from the American Lung Association and assistant professor at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine. "Talk to them about immediate and long-term health risks," he tells Parents. "We don't know what these toxins will do to the lungs in 10, 20 years. And we may be seeing a whole new variety of new lung diseases we never expected."
A transcendental bedtime trick
"Last week, I made a parenting mistake," writes Joanna Goddard at A Cup of Jo. That mistake? Giving her two sons Coke after dinner. Of course, the kids were wired, and no amount of cuddling or storytelling could calm them enough for sleep. "Finally, I had a last-gasp idea," Goddard writes. She asked one of her sons to lead them in a meditation he'd learned at school. He instructed them to stretch, breathe slowly, and "put your hand on your heart and think of your loved ones." Aside from being moved nearly to tears by her son's meditation, she was also stunned that "after about four minutes of meditation, both boys were quiet. And suddenly I heard a little snore. They had fallen asleep. I could not believe how quickly it worked."
What to do with your kid's art
Artwork created by your kids is a lovely thing, and parting with any mural, drawing, or even those unrecognizable Play-Doh sculptures can be tough. But be warned: You need a system for deciding which artwork to save and which to toss, or "it will take over your home," writes Meghan Moravcik Walbert at Lifehacker. She recommends looking for repeating themes in your kid's work. "Pick your favorite from each main category and drop it into a dedicated storage bin," she says. Consider framing and hanging the ones you love most, which will make the kids feel extra special. And don't forget that you can snap photos of the artwork and keep it forever in digital form. Another way to thin the pile is by sending art to family members and friends. "Just don't send a bunch of stuff to other parents of little kids, unless you want the same in return," Moravcik Walbert cautions.