FOMO, or fear of missing out, is a real thing. How do I know? Well, I’m human so I’ve experienced it. I’m also the parent of a tween so I’ve seen the acronym grace many a text. Plus, I checked the dictionary. Miriam Webster defined it, so FOMO must be a real thing.
How can you help your child cope with the worry that something amazingly interesting and fantastically exciting is happening somewhere else without them? I’m glad you asked. Here are three simple ways to help your child cope with—and even prevent—FOMO:
1. Help your child understand that social media is not real life.
FOMO has been around long before the digital world shortened it to a text-friendly acronym. That being said, kids and teens today are constantly bombarded with photos and social media posts of peers hanging out and having a great time.
Technology allows us to create a carefully edited, picture-perfect existence where lighting is strategic, food is curated, and facial expressions, poses, and companions are edited and arranged until they’re just right. Making sure your child appreciates just how artificial much of what they see on social media is can help reduce envy and turn the volume down on FOMO.
2. Explain that missing out is sometimes inevitable.
IRL (in real life) where your child lives, it’s impossible to be everywhere all the time. So, missing out is a reality that your child will have to learn to cope with. Having discussions with your child about the fact that they can’t be part of everything teaches the life lesson of acceptance. This simple shift in mindset makes your child virtually FOMO-Proof.
Think of it this way, if your child can accept and embrace the fact that he or she will always be missing out on something by virtue of being human, all of the sudden there’s nothing to be afraid of. Might your child be disappointed if they missed something they wanted to do? Sure, but the act of missing out from time to time will no longer be feared.
3. Watch your own reactions.
Like I said, fear of missing out is nothing new and there is no guarantee that you grow out of it when you become a parent. If you’re prone to feeling pangs of worry as you browse social media and see what your friends are doing or experience the urge to check in with friends to make sure you’re in-the-know, it may be helpful to take stock of your own experiences.
Practice focusing on what you are doing or what you do have rather than on what you may be missing out on. Even if it’s not necessarily genuine or authentic at the start, that’s fine. Basically, fake it until you feel it, knowing that you’ll be setting a great example for your child and modeling that getting caught up in FOMO is a self-fulfilling prophecy that ultimately leads you to miss out on your own life.
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