Dr. Wendy Sue Swanson is welcomed back to the show– who you will remember from our show on how to talk to kids about food allergies. Bridging the digital divide between doctors and patients, Dr. Swanson, Chief of Digital Innovation at Seattle Children’s Hospital has blazed a trail of patient education using her voice through a variety of different channels in traditional and social media. Through her blog, podcast , social media channels and her parenting book she translates science and parenting information to the public. Swanson also regularly partners with reporters in traditional print, online, and television media and makes weekly TV appearances in Seattle with NBC affiliate, KING5 News. She hopes to transform the paternalistic approach to messaging into an empowered, patient-centered one where peers learn from each other and from expert advice online. Check her out at http://seattlemamadoc.seattlechildrens.org/
It was 1996, my Freshman year of college, when I came face-to-face with a truth that still follows me today- one unifying concern that almost all girls and women seem to share is that they want to change something about their bodies. I still remember when it happened, as it came as a surprise to me. One of my friends asked me if my thighs touched. This gifted young woman, with big brown eyes, a sharp brain and warm heart worried that how close her thighs were to the other cancelled out her talents, intelligence and overall value.
It stuck with me. I spoke to countless other women and teens along the way who felt similarly. Despite the strengths they had to offer, they felt that “looks” were more important than their other attributes.
In graduate school, I studies body image. In fact, I wrote a qualifying paper and my 167-page dissertation on the topic. As it turns out, even research tells us that despite all that women and girls have to offer this world, 96% of girls and women want to change something about their bodies.
I completed my book, Good Girls Don’t Get Fat: How Weight Obsession is Messing Up Our Girls & How We Can Help Them Thrive Despite It, based on my dissertation work, in 2009 with my newborn baby girl, Tallie, strapped to my chest. The book was published in 2010. It’s 2018– and the issue is just as prevalent today as it was then. But of course, my own mothering love and worry for my now 9-year-old daughter and her beautiful friends, sheds a much more personal light to this prevalent problem.
So, how can we help our girls thrive? Read more
Imagine being stuck in a world that doesn’t really “get” who you are. You’re different and in many cases, people see these differences as bad and something that needs to be fixed. My next guest, Deborah Reber, has spoke to us before about neurodiversity- and is back to talk more specifically about what she refers to as “differently wired” kids. We are talking about the one in five children with ADHD, dyslexia, Asperger’s, giftedness, anxiety, sensory processing disorder, and other neurodifferences. One in five—20% of children are neurodiverse and they have many challenges they must face. And along with these kids, come the parents who love them but arean’t quite sure how to best help their kids but will try just about anything. They try to find the right school, teachers, therapists, medications, as well as the right parenting group and friends who will support them. It’s hard to know how to handle it all- but Debbie Reber is here to help.
Dr. Gail Dines is a Professor Emerita of sociology and women’s studies at Wheelock College in Boston. She is the author of numerous books and articles, and her latest book, Pornland: How Porn Has Hijacked Our Sexuality, has been translated into five languages. Dr Dines is the founding president of the Non-profit, Culture Reframed. Dedicated to building resilience and resistance in children and youth to the harms of a hypersexualized and pornified society, Culture Reframed develops cutting-edge educational programs that promote healthy development, relationships, and sexuality. Dr. Dines is an internationally known speaker and consultant to governmental bodies here and abroad.
Dannielle Miller is a best-selling Author, Teen Educator and Media Commentator In 2003 she founded Australia’s leading provider of in-school workshops for teen girls, Enlighten Education. More recently, she launched a program for boys, Goodfellas. She has written for several online and print publications and has a bi-weekly column in Australia’s most read newspaper, The Daily Telegraph. She has written five books for parents and teen girls, including a best-selling title on raising happy, confident teen girls, The Butterfly Effect. Dannielle is a popular speaker at youth and education conferences and forums internationally.
I was interviewed for Nightline this week regarding a story about a young girl, LilTay, her controversial videos, the adults who are profiting off of her negative reputation and her very popular Instagram account.
I think this is a story of a young child who is being used and fed a script to garner attention and gain money. She is the puppet and the adults in her life are pulling the strings. While others might say she is making her own choices, she is 9 years old—and while she is fully equipped to make some choices in her life- pursuing music over gymnastics or art—who she wants to be friends with- what she wants to wear, when the stakes are so high, the persona is so public and the footprint so big—we need some strong adult influence here—if it’s positive, then great things can happen but if it’s negative or not in the best interests of the child, it certainly can do more harm than good.
Is this detrimental?
I believe that a negative reputation can have a profound effect on a young, developing girl. Children are shaped by their connections and by their experiences. Her experiences are being shaped by the adults in her life and by what they are having her do and say. What happens down the line when she is 13, 15, 20 or 30—and she wants to go a different path? Her managers have created such a large footprint that it will be difficult for her to shake this contrived reputation if she would like to do so.
Her reputation proceeds her knowing who she is– the key adults in her life are helping to create a reputation that Taylor will need to fit herself into for the rest of her life.
Is a 9-year-old equipped to make these decisions?
Children don’t yet have a fully developed pre-frontal cortex that allows us to make decisions based on different factors. In other words, children’s brains are not fully developed—that’s why we have parents, teachers and coaches to help guide the way.
Who is accountable?
An online reputation that embraces such a negative persona, even if it’s orchestrated (why I think it’s orchestrated), can have a negative effect on how others see you. At his point, people are asking her where her parents are—as they are accountable now– but eventually, they will be holding her accountable.
What is our responsibility as parents?
It’s our responsibility as parents to help guide our children to become the best versions of themselves—to become kind, contributing citizens who use their gifts to inspire and help others. My concern is that this negative persona actually takes away from her gifts—it says “look at me” instead of hear my music or my message. It is really up to us as parents, leaders and educators, to help our young people though connection, conversation and example, to highlight their gifts, develop their character and contribute something positive to this world.
Why are likes and comments so important to the kids who use social media?
We know that many young people look to social media to gain attention—likes and comments become validation for their existence and that can become addictive. It feels good to be seen and heard—even if it’s not for the right things.
What kind of effect can all those negative comments have on this young girl?
A young child does not have the capacity to simply turn a blind eye to nasty, lewd or threatening comments. They can reek havoc on her developing self esteem, self worth and sense of self. The internet is not a bubble. She, with the help of the adults in her life, is creating controversy and backlash. Her brand will continue to garner negative attention which will be hard to shake as she grows.
What do YOU think of this situation? Full Nightline video here. Do you find these videos problematic or entertaining? Knowing that most people will only see the videos in which she curses, uses offensive racist terminology, flashes money around and talks smack about everyone in her path– are the adults in her life setting her up for positive stardom or a negative reputation that is problematic and harmful?
Karen Young has worked as a psychologist in private practice and in educational settings. She founded the popular website, Hey Sigmund, which attracts millions of readers each year. Karen is a sought-after speaker, both at home in Australia and internationally. She is the author of ‘Hey Warrior’, a book for kids to help them understand anxiety and find their ‘brave’. The book has now been translated into a number of languages—and we couldn’t be more thrilled to welcome her to How to Talk to Kids about Anything
Dr. Marilyn Price-Mitchell is a developmental psychologist, speaker, and fellow at the Institute for Social Innovation at Fielding Graduate University where she studies how young people become caring family members, innovative workers, ethical leaders, and engaged citizens in an increasingly complex society. She is founder of Roots of Action, a website that shares research-based resources on positive youth development with parents, schools, and communities – with an audience of over half-million readers each year. She is the author of Tomorrow’s Change Makers: Reclaiming the Power of Citizenship for a New Generation and a contributing writer at Psychology Today and Edutopia.
Dr. Robyn Silverman is a well-known professional speaker, child & teen development specialist and leadership coach who appears regularly as an expert on many national TV such as The Today Show, Nightline and Good Morning America. She is a monthly parenting columnist for US News and World Report and is often quoted in print articles for her hands-on parenting and child development expertise. Known for her positive and accessible solutions to challenging problems, she speaks worldwide to diverse audiences; from company leaders and corporate groups to educators, camp professionals, government offices, children and parents. An award-winning writer and success coach, she has contributed as a child development expert to over for 20 books and is currently writing her second book based on her popular parenting podcast, How to Talk to Kids about Anything. On her podcast, she interviews the top experts in their fields who give all the tips, scripts, stories and steps to make every conversation (even the really tough ones!) easier. From talking to kids about divorce, adoption, anger, stress management and allowance to how to talk about death, sex, porn, screen time or ADHD (and more!), she’s got you covered! Check it out on iTunes of her website. You can find out more about Dr. Robyn at DrRobynSilverman.com, on Facebook at Facebook.com/DrRobynSilverman, on twitter at @DrRobyn or on instagram @DrRobynSilverman.
Special Guest: Alex Corbitt Alex Corbitt (@Alex_Corbitt) is a middle school English teacher in The Bronx, New York. His work focuses on socio-emotional learning, gamification, education technology, and literacy. He loves learning from other teachers and he regularly presents at conferences around the United States. And I follow him on twitter because not only does he share some of my infographics on how to talk to kids about different topics and how to start conversations about respect and focus—but he shares some incredibly relevant and interesting infographics from other educators who are doing important work to get our kids to love learning. Oh- and he didn’t say this in his bio but he’s had a lot of recognition for being a distinguished educator—I get the sense that he’s well loved and innovative and we’ve got a lot to learn from him.