I have the most interesting job in the world, trying to understand why we act the way we do. I have a long way to go on that journey, trying to figure out things that are still incomprehensible to me.
1. Phubbing. I don’t understand why in the middle of a conversation, someone will look at their cell phone, called “phone snubbing” or phubbing. It’s becoming more commonplace at work and during conversations among friends. It communicates that you are not important enough for the other person to give you their full attention and it’s toxic to relationships.
Please don’t tell me that your kids do this all the time and you find it very irritating. They do it because you allow it, or perhaps you do it as well. You already know how to solve this problem.
2. Self-Bullying. I’m having a hard time with this one. A recent article in the Journal of Adolescent Health reported that among kids 12 to 17 years of age, 7 percent of boys and 5 percent of girls anonymously said something mean about themselves on social media. Boys were more likely to do this as a joke, while girls self-bully when they were sad or upset.
Many of our children are victims of their feelings, unable to understand what they are truly experiencing and confused about the right ways to manage their emotions. These aren’t soft skills that we should discuss in high school, but essential mental health skills that should be part of a kindergarten curriculum.
3. Lack of consistency. I don’t understand why parents seek professional help for their kids when they are already aware of the solution to the problem. Parents know what to do but wait for someone else to tell them what they already know. Communicate with your child about your expectations and make the family rules clear and specific. Be consistent in following through with the stated consequences.
This can be tough after a long day at work, or if you have a child who is often testing limits. Start with small steps, consistently enforcing modest rules. You’ll be amazed at how quickly your child’s behavior will change.
4. Misplaced priorities. Many parents tell me how overwhelmed they are with endless activities, work commitments, and involvement in things that have little meaning. With almost 8 billion people in the world, does anyone care how many “likes” you have on social media, or whether you spend an extra hour a day at work?
Our happiness comes from genuine relationships and living our lives in a way that means something to our loved ones and us. Everything else is just distracting noise.
More from Dr. Ramey:
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