Why I've Been Posting Less Of My Child's Face Online

I want my son to learn how to set boundaries. I want him to understand what the term consent means, what boundaries are, and that he has a right to them.

Picture-taking is in my blood. Tucked away in my closet is a musty, old storage bin containing old images. My father always had a camera hanging down from his neck like a fifth limb. Landscapes, locations, hobbies, family, friends, experiences are all in that bin. Memories I can physically hold onto when I forget. As a stay-at-home mom, my son is a constant presence in my life from sunrise to sunset and every moment in between. It only felt natural to take and post photos of him. Building an online mom community, having that interaction, and bouncing compliments off each other.

However, the internet is eternal. No matter if you hit the delete button, those photos are there for good. The tantrums, the marker face, the allergic reactions, the too-quick camera click, the bath photos. When it goes up, it never goes down. I lose control over who sees it and what happens to it when it gets published on the internet. Our moment becomes the moment of many. Those photos and videos will follow them into teenage years and into adulthood. This is the world we live in and the world our children will grow into.

Like in the real world, I want my son to learn how to set boundaries. I want him to understand what the term consent means, what boundaries are, and that he has a right to them. I don’t force him to hug anyone if he doesn’t want to, his doctors ask before examining him, I remind him he’s allowed to tell people no if he’s uncomfortable or doesn’t want to be touched, I listen to him when he says he doesn’t want his picture taken or to stop tickling or roughhousing with him, I tell him when I don’t want him climbing on top of me. I give him choices, I give him boundaries, I teach him consent yet I felt I should be the one that controls his online presence? Why does consent stop here?

In Psychology, there is something called positive reinforcement. Basically, each time you receive likes and comments you are being reinforced or validated in your actions which means it’s likely to cause you to continue that action in the future. Being aware of that is one reason I realized how relaxed I became with sharing photos of my son online and one reason I vowed to change it – self-control outside of the psychological catastrophe of social media.

My son is sacred, his feelings are sacred, and I’m proud of him – without wires.

Swapping stories is important. It gives us a sense of connection we may be lacking in our real life whether it be with distant relatives in another state or strangers we don’t truly know. For me, I want to change the way that’s done. I don’t want strangers to know him unless they want to make an active and intentional effort to know him. Relationships have become lazy and I feel I’m participating in it by sharing my life unabashedly. At three years old, I don’t want to put social media’s weight on my son’s shoulders. My online choices should enrich our real world life as a family. There’s no doubt that the internet is important to me – for blogging, for writing, for connecting, for sharing. But it’s not everything, it’s not my son’s everything. My son is sacred, his feelings are sacred, and I’m proud of him – without wires.

I posted 4 photos on Facebook with his face in them since August 20th and only 3 posts on Instagram since August 28th with his face showing. In ways, it still seems like a lot but I feel much more comfortable with his digital media presence and knowing I am giving control back to him.

How do you view social media and photos of your children?

Hiking Tips With Older Toddlers & Young children

A week ago, we went on our 3-year-old's biggest hike yet. 2.5 miles with some steep inclines, and then 150 stairs to the top of the tower. I was worried at first. How would he do? Would we have to stop a lot and take breaks on the side of the path? Would we have to carry him, our limbs sore and our breaths heavy? Would we have enough snacks to sustain him? Should I bring the Tula with us? But it went so surprisingly well, I'm wondering why we didn't do this sooner. He asked to be carried once and when I started showing him a few things and playing little games with him, he forgot all about wanting to be picked up.

He's a wild, nature boy through and through. He kept pushing all the way up with hardly any breaks. He would stop here and there to look at a mushroom (he loved them and there were so many, he kept pointing them out excitedly), stop to pick up a rock, stop to play in dirt, and stop at any lookout we passed. He loved taking in all the sights around us. We found him a walking stick Dave broke over his knee so it was the perfect size for him.

Even when we got to the top, we wanted to sit down and listen to the music (it was an event for hikers and they had vendors and a stage up top) but he wanted to continue walking around and looking at the views. He had no desire to rest and wanted to keep exploring. His curiosity and his appreciation for nature is one of my favorite things about him. Dave almost stepped on a mushroom and Maddox got so concerned he was going to break it. We'll definitely be finding other kid-friendly trails to take him on because he did so well on this one. We always go on nature walks but nothing this steep so I was a very proud mama. 

Hiking Tips With Toddlers
Hiking Tips With Toddlers
Hiking Tips With Toddlers
Hiking Tips With Older Toddlers & Young Children

Food

The most important thing: food, snacks, and water. Hiking takes up energy very quickly. It's important to have hearty snacks on hand for little bellies. If they start getting grumpy, taking a quick snack break to recoup normally does the trick and holds them over for a while. Make sure everyone had a proper meal before the hike as well to ensure hunger isn't a huge issue on the hike. 

Some of our favorites to bring:

  • homemade granola bars
  • dried fruit 
  • rice cakes
  • fruit
  • sandwiches

Walking Stick

Walking sticks are common while hiking for support. Your child will feel more involved and more like an adult hiker with a walking stick. They may not always use it as its intended purpose but that makes it even more handy to keep them occupied. My son created lines in the dirt and called them train tracks or asked me if I'd follow along the line as he drew it. 

Involve Nature lessons 

My son loves learning about nature. Spotting mushrooms throughout our entire hike was his favorite thing to do and there were so many so it kept him occupied searching for those. There were various shapes, sizes, and colors. We stopped to look at bugs if we spotted one, looked closely at trees, and just appreciated the sounds and sights we saw. Bring a field guide to expand yours and your child's knowledge. 

Act out books & stories

Do you know the book We're Going On A Bear Hunt? It's a really simple book to recite after you've read it a few times. It's something I like to bring to life on our hikes or nature walks. When you've read it to them enough, they know when to say "we've got to go through it" and various other lines without having the book present. He loves acting it out and it adds an imaginative element to hiking. 

Shoes/Extra Pair of Socks

Comfortable shoes are helpful. My son insisted on wearing his rain boots (which worked out in our favor because he ended up slipping into a mud puddle) but boots or sneakers would work perfect. My son had no issues until the final couple stretches when his foot started to hurt. I'm not sure if it was the rain boots or if he was just tired but comfortable shoes are always a must. Bringing an extra pair of socks is also a good idea in case of puddles. Wet socks are terrible and even worse with children with sensitive senses. It can make the rest of the hike a lot more miserable otherwise. 

Personal Gear

This one I'm iffy about so I think it would depend on the child. Personal gear can help make a child feel more involved. They'll have a backpack like the adults. However, I was hesitant because I felt my son may end up getting irritated having something on his back for that long and I'd wind up carrying it. It may be good for certain children who always like to do what the adults do. Fill it with a bunch of goodies, snacks, toys, a book, some paper and pen so they can draw if they see something they like. 

Let them Climb

Find little boulders or rocks they can climb on (with help if they are younger). My son loves to climb so sometimes stopping at a rock he can climb helps him. Children always need new ways to let their energy out and it can break up the hike and make it a little more exciting. 

Make realistic expectations

Toddlers and children take a while to do one task. Try not to expect hiking to be any different. You'll have to go slower than if it were just one or two adults. Accepting it will make the trip easier than trying to rush them along. Frustration will breed a sense of dislike for hiking if they feel they are doing something wrong. Go at their pace and don't expect them to go with ease up the mountain. 

Last but not least: enjoy! Enjoy the little quirks and breaks and the slow pace and the climbing and the ideas your children may have. Start small and work up to bigger hikes. Appreciating nature as a family is one of the most relaxing things to do. 

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Shayna Shattelroe

25 years old. Mama to Maddox. Word weaver. Lover of love. Coffee addict. Psychological science student. 

A woman of curious nature, my name is Shayna. I am wild & reserved. Humbled & proud. Quiet & clamorous. Strange & familiar. I live in the trees of New England typing away as lifestyle blogger. You can always find me with a coffee cup in one hand and a book in the other.

Blogging since 2005, I’ve had an innumerable amount of blogs on a vast number of platforms. Finally, I’ve found one to call home: The Lovely Cicada. This blog is a piece of myself I extend to you.