Internet Rules for Kids

Access to the internet is integrated into almost every digital device your children may use. While there are various filters and monitoring software you can use to keep their experience healthy and safe, it also helps to have some basic internet rules.

What internet rules do you have for your kids? Some to consider:
  • No drug talk, nudity, drinking pictures, bullying, posting party locations
  • No sharing passwords
  • No participating in sites that allow anonymous posting and comments
  • Turn off location identifier on any pictures that are posted.
  • Use privacy settings. For example, only allow friends to access videos or posts.
  • Ask permission before downloading, installing or buying anything.
  • Add something online only if you are comfortable with parents, teachers and coaches seeing it.
  • All digital devices are turned into parent’s room by ___:___ each night.
  • Limit screen time to ___ hours per day.

Discuss your expectations and the reasons behind the rules. Post the rules in an area where everyone can easily see them.

Plan to have ongoing discussions with your kids about the internet. News stories are a rich source of examples of what can go wrong with kids and technology. Use those stories to discuss important issues with your kids.

Getting Your Kids to Talk to You

Touchy subjects can be difficult to approach with your kids in a way that doesn’t scare them away. One mom wrote “I think my daughter might be bullied at school but I can't get her to talk about it.”

When you are nervous or anxious to talk to your child about a sensitive subject, you are likely start off by saying too much. By the time you pause to let your child respond, your child may already feel attacked which was not your intention.

For example, what if the mom who is concerned her daughter might be being bullied says “Honey, I’ve noticed you’ve been kind of sad lately especially after you come home from school. Are those girls being mean to you again? I know they can be really cruel when they get together and that’s just terrible.”

How would you feel right now if you were in this daughter’s shoes? Does it sound like mom might want to get in there and fix the situation? Are you worried she might talk to the girls or their parents?

If mom stopped after saying “Honey, I’ve noticed you’ve been kind of sad lately especially after you come home from school.”, would you have felt differently? By pausing and giving her daughter a chance to respond, she’s inviting her daughter to share her view.

When you want to encourage your kids to talk, try to limit yourself to one sentence and then wait for their response. Listen carefully before saying anything else and you’ll be surprised that your kids are actually talking to you!

Increasing Motivation to do Homework

Do your children get their homework done with little or no input from you? If so, consider yourself fortunate! On the other hand, if your children struggle to get their homework done, you may find yourself more involved.

Your role is to assist your child in establishing a good place to do homework and good conditions for working. For example, you might improve the conditions by giving them something to munch on while they are working like hummus and crackers, carrot sticks or strawberries.

How Involved Should You Be in Homework?

Let your child be in charge of requesting your help if needed. Establish times when you are available to help like from 3:00 – 5:00 and 7:00 – 8:00. If you don’t set boundaries, you may find yourself overwhelmed by things like trying to prepare dinner while also helping with homework.

In their book Smart Parenting for Smart Kids, Kennedy-Moore and Lowenthal write "Parents who are actively involved with their children’s homework every night, or who check over their children’s work before they turn it in, are establishing a dangerous pattern. First, they’re creating confusion about whose responsibility the homework really is. Second, they’re cutting off essential feedback that teachers need about what children do or don’t understand on their own. Third, they’re unwittingly criticizing their children’s abilities, implying that what their kids can do alone isn’t good enough to be seen in public. Parents who correct their children’s homework are trying to be helpful, but they’re unintentionally communicating to their children that mistakes are intolerable and must be hidden. This can be particularly harmful for perfectionistic children."

One mom realized she was establishing a dangerous pattern by checking over her daughter’s math homework every night.

(finish reading the article on Priceless Parenting)

Asking Your Kids Instead of Telling Them What To Do

When you tell your kids what to do you set yourself up for a power struggle. Most people, including kids, do not like being told what to do. An approach that is likely to get a better response is to ask your kids a question.

A dad reported he’s avoiding power struggles with his 13-year-old son by asking him “What’s your plan for …?” instead of telling him what to do. For example he saw that his son had once again left wet towels and other things in the bathroom. Instead of nagging his son, he asked him “What’s your plan for cleaning up the bathroom?”

Asking questions makes your children do some thinking. This wires their brains for thinking through decisions - a wonderful skill to have!

Kids Who Understand But Still Disobey Rules

One dad complained that his 5-year-old son just didn’t want to obey some of their family rules. For example, his son was running in the house. The dad stopped his son and explained to him that it was not ok to run in the house. He then asked his son if he understood and he did.

Fast forward 5 minutes … and there his son is running in the house once again! Is he purposely trying to drive his dad crazy by disobeying?

No! His ability to control his impulses, like the impulse to run, is still developing. While he understands the rule, his impulses take over in the moment and he runs.

Experts believe that the prefrontal cortex, the part of the brain responsible for impulse control, does not fully develop until a person is 25-years-old. That doesn’t mean that there is no impulse control until that age but it is a developing skill (which is why car rental places won’t let someone rent a car until they are 25)!

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