Charlie Sheen, Lindsay Lohan, Tiger Woods, Paris Hilton . . . The list of celebrities who have been involved in recent scandals and outrageous behavior goes on and on. The lives of superstars have become so fascinating to the general public that there are entire television networks dedicated to filling you in on all the celebrity gossip. Some people even gain superstar status because they exhibit inappropriate behavior.
As a parent, it can be concerning to know that children are watching these celebrity scandals, and seeing the incredible media frenzy and fame that comes along with them. So what can you be doing to help your children understand all this information?
First of all, it is important to talk to your children about how this information makes them feel, and what their thoughts are about it. Children might feel shocked or disappointed by the negative and inconsistent behavior of someone they look up to.
Listen to your child’s thoughts and feelings about the incident. Don’t attack the celebrity (if it is a person your child looks up to, your child may feel the need to defend the celebrity). Instead, talk about what might make a person behave like this. Let your child know that celebrities and athletes are all human, and they all make mistakes.
During the conversation, you can also ask your child how the celebrity could have behaved differently, more appropriately. This will help your child understand what appropriate behavior looks like, and how he/she can make good choices in difficult situations.
It is important for children to have role models to look up to. Try introducing your children to local role models, who will demonstrate positive behaviors for your children. For example, a firefighter, a policeman/policewoman, a nurse, or a teacher. You can take this a step further by encouraging your child to be a positive role model. Your child could do this by asking a classmate to play at recess, saving a spot for a new friend at lunch, or giving a nice compliment.
What strategies have you used to help your child understand inappropriate and inconsistent celebrity behaviors?
Donna Donald is a Human Sciences specialist for Iowa State University Extension and Outreach who has spent her career working with families across the lifespan. She believes families are defined by function as well as form. Donna entered parenthood as a stepmother to three daughters and loves being a grandmother of seven young adults.