06-18-2020 11:34 AM
Ask a Child and Family Professional
How do you support your young people to understand and discuss social justice issues? And how can you talk to your teens about the social justice issues they are seeing on social media?
As a society we have never been more exposed to social justice issues than we are now, which has seen a shift towards our younger generations being more active with social justice issues than previously. This comes at a time when teens are developmentally wired to be exploring their identity; asking ‘who am I, what are my values, and what do I stand for?’ This is something to encourage and be proud of in our teens. However, the sheer amount of information available to them can be overwhelming, so at times they may need our support to understand and navigate these issues.
TIP 1 – EDUCATE YOURSELF
One of the first things you can do as a parent is to educate yourself and check in with some of your own beliefs around the issues. By increasing your own knowledge about social justice issues you are role modelling positive behaviour to your teen and positioning yourself to have informed discussions with them.
TIP 2 – LISTEN
Be willing to learn from your teen. Listen to their point of view about the issue. Be curious and open minded about what they have to say, so that you can understand why they hold their beliefs. It’s ok to offer alternative points of view, but be sure not to push these ideas onto them; instead invite them to think about the issues in other ways.
TIP 3 – LEARN TOGETHER
Ask your teen where they are getting their information from, making sure it is from reputable sources and offering them alternative sources if needed. This is a good opportunity to do some online research with your teen and explore the issues together. This is a great way of connecting with them and showing them that you value their thoughts and ideas.
TIP 4 – SUPPORT
Support your teen to have positive boundaries around their focus upon social justice issues. Remember that teens are wired to feel things passionately, so it’s important to be mindful of how this may be impacting their own mental health and wellbeing. Are they constantly distracted by the issue or having trouble sleeping? It’s helpful to support your teen to consider how much time they are spending reading and discussing the issues and whether this is affecting their mood.
Talk with them about what can they do to take care of themselves whilst being active in social justice issues, being sure not to tell them what to do. Instead, express any concerns you may have by using “I” statements, for example “I feel worried about you”, then get their input around what they think might be helpful before sharing your ideas. They may find that simple solutions like talking to someone about it, or just putting their phone away for a while and having fun with friends can make all the difference.
Child & Family Professional, The Benevolent Society
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