Mia Freedman told parents to stay abreast of the latest technology.
Mia Freedman told parents to stay abreast of the latest technology. Brett Wortman

Listening still key to raising kids

BINDI Irwin, Kim Kardashian, navigating social media and drinking tea with your children were all up for discussion at the Family Life Forum held yesterday at the Sunshine Coast Plaza.

The forum, hosted by psychologist Jo Lamble and Mamamia founder Mia Freedman, was part of a series of 12 forums held at Lend Lease shopping centres across the country to discuss modern-day family issues.

Hopefully it equipped parents with tools to navigate concerns about technology, social media and traditional values today.

Ms Lamble discussed communicating with your child and whether traditional values were still applicable in today's society.

The main message she hoped the 80 or so audience members took from the forum was the importance of making time to listen to your child without judgment.

“Listen to your kids. Show you are listening,” she said.

“Parents are so worried about kids' safety and often lecture them rather than listen.

"If you take the time to listen they will tell you what they are going through and come to you when they need help.”

Ms Freedman, who runs the successful Mamamia website and engages in social media, discussed the importance of technology in children's lives and tactics to ensure your kids were safe online.

She urged parents to stay calm amidst the online horror stories and to familiarise themselves with the technology their children used so they could set boundaries.

“Part of being a parent in 2011 is keeping up with the current technology,” she said.

She suggested setting up a Facebook page with your child and discussing the appropriate behaviour regarding friends, wall posts and comments.

Ms Freedman also discussed modern role models and cited Sunshine Coast's Bindi Irwin as a positive influence for girls in a culture permeated with role models who were less than ideal.

During the audience question time a mum asked Ms Lamble how parents could respond to their children's questions about missing boy Daniel Morcombe.

Ms Lamble suggested first asking the child what they already knew so not to overload them with information they did not need to hear.

“It's fine for them to see you upset and for them to understand that it's an upsetting situation,” she said.

She suggested leading into a conversation on stranger danger and to let children know it was okay to be scared.


Jo Lamble’s tips on:

Listening: Don’t focus on the secondary emotions eg anger, but look for the primary emotion underlying it. Kids just want to be heard without judgment.

Traditional values in the modern age: Find ways to incorporate your family’s values into activities and using media that your children will relate to, such as using movies or TV shows as springboards for discussion.


Mia Freedman’s tips on:

Technology: Stay clam, set boundaries for your child’s computer use and social media activity. Most importantly stay informed yourself about social media and technology. Information is power.

Role models: If you are unhappy with your child’s choice of role model ask them what it is they admire about this person and open up a discussion of admirable qualities in people.