Pokemon Go. Dabbing. Bottle-flipping. Fidget Spinners. And now, Fortnite. Tweens have a habit of collectively falling in love with the same thing and, (what feels like) all of a sudden, they’re obsessed. It’s a craze, they MUST HAVE IT, and tweens around the world somehow at the exact same moment join hands and hop on the bandwagon. I’m sure if we were quiet enough, we could almost hear the sound of children begging their parents for the latest, greatest… whatever it may be.
As I’ve seen time and time again, as much as they love these fads, they always end up being a catalyst for conflict in friendships and sometimes bring out the worst in children. They get so obsessed with their new “thing” that kindness and compassion take a back seat.
While we don’t want to be the Fun Police and put a damper on these trends (I mean, Elsa & Anna were like part of the family!), it’s also extremely important to protect our children from the latest craze. We need to ensure that happy, healthy friendships stand strong in the face of the hype…whatever it may be. Here are a few suggestions for parents:
- Go in with your eyes wide open. Before agreeing to buy your child the next best thing, review your rules and expectations. Remind your child that being a good friend, being kind and caring, and showing respect for others… these attributes always take top priority.
- Establish a Zero-Tolerance Policy for unkind behavior with a natural, logical consequence of taking away ‘said toy/game’ for at least 24 hours. Remind them of the rules you established prior to buying them the whatchamacallit and, if they violate the rules a second time, it is donated to a child who will love and cherish it.
- Remind your tween that some children are less fortunate and their parents can’t afford to keep up with these latest, greatest fads. Encourage them to share with children who don’t have whatever-it-is and play with their new fave thing at appropriate times, being mindful of the fact that friendships and looking out for others are more important.
- If a Friendship Fire® does ignite over the toy/game, encourage your child to take action (so the Fire doesn’t get bigger) by finding a quiet place to talk to their friend. Remind them to (1) Retell the situation and (2) Explain how it made them feel. For example, “Remember when you said my Fidget Spinner was cheap? I felt a bit disrespected. I love mine and think we should respect that ours are all a little different!” The good news is, these are the easiest Friendship Fires to put out, so they’re great opportunities for your child to practice their conflict-resolution skills!
Lastly, parents, remind your child what matters most in life. Let’s join hands and hop on the same parenting bandwagon: Raising children who value relationships over Fortnite or Fidget Spinners or American Girl Dolls or Pokemon Go or Beanie Boos or LOL Dolls…[insert face palm] After all, the best (and most important) things in life are not things.
Written by Dana Kerford
Friendship Expert and Founder of URSTRONG