Ever had what you believe to be a really important conversation with your child only to watch their eyes wander vacantly away from yours as they start searching longingly for an excuse to shut you up? Ever surprised at the nonchalance with which your apparently super important and life changing
lecture discussion is received? No! Then your kids are pretty good actors!
We all know kids have certain limits on their attention span. Some parents complain that their kids are devoid of paying any attention at all. In reality however, most kids are very good at paying attention, but only to things at which they find some interest.
That is why when I want to get a message across to my kids I have started the 1 minute conversation or pop quiz. Long enough to get one clear message across, but not so long that they tune out automatically and forget every word that had been uttered.
Here are some examples.
At the dinner table or driving in the car, as soon as there is a lull on the conversation I will ask a very quick series of questions that require very quick answers.
“So Mr 12, if your friend asks you to send a photo of your bum via a text message or message app would you do it?”
“Mr 10, what if it was your very best friend who said “I dare you too. But I promise I wont tell anyone it’s your bum?”
“Ummm still no”
“He may forward it on to other friends and tell them and other people may see it who I dont want to see it and it would be really embarrassing”.
“Ok good. Now what time is footy training tomorrow?”
Get it. Very quick. Don’t harp on and on. Just quick and to the point. Let the other siblings hear the answers and learn even if they don’t realise they are part of the conversation.
There are all sorts of one minute conversations you can have related to all sorts of topics based on the ages and stages of your kids.
“What would you do if you saw someone post a photo and say something nasty about one of your teachers at school on Instagram?”
a) like the photo but not comment
b) like and comment but not say anything nasty just a ‘ha ha’ or ‘lol’
c) do nothing, ignore and keep scrolling
“What would you do if you were at a party and we didn’t answer the phone and someones brother you didn’t know offered to take you home? He may or may not have been drinking?”
“If someone you think you know is a friend of a friend of a friend on your social media account and they ask you for your phone number and address, do you give it to them?
Now we all know we can say things to our kids and sometimes they surprise us by doing something other than that which we thought they would do. I think role playing, particularly for younger kids is another great way to help the messages sink in better.
Now of course this quick pop quiz is just an added strategy to add to your parenting toolkit and doesn’t replace the normal conversation and connection you have with your kids that require more in depth attention. If we can, however, tap in to their little brains with enough short, sharp messages that are quick enough to prevent the lag in to eye rolling and glazed expressions, then hopefully when the time comes for them to go one way or the other, they remember those little pop quizzes and make the right choices.