Caretakers of children have a really challenging job. Whether you are parents, grandparents, aunts, teachers or hired baby sitters…
how the kids spend their time has a lot to do with you.
The very young kids usually find excitement in the simplest things – a cabinet full of plastic tops and bottoms, a cardboard box, a set of measuring cups. Once they get a little older, they often are learning their colors and letters and enjoying the simple magic of stickers.
And then there is the world of electronics…. The iPad, the TV, the Wii, the iPod, and so much more. We used to use the expression ‘I feel like a kid in a candy store,’ when considering lots of choices; now we could even say “I feel like a kid in the Apple/Microsoft store.’
Using technology has opened up a new world for all of us. We can research, learn, connect and watch. We can like and locate and follow and so many other verbs that we never realized would be at our fingertips. And it is interesting and quite captivating – in fact, it has been shown that every time we ‘click’ our devices, it’s like getting a shot of dopamine, the brain chemical released when we experience something pleasurable. No wonder it calls to us.
So how do you spend your time?
Have you ever really noticed how much of your day is spent on a screen? How the kids spend their time has a lot to do with you.
Your little ones require a lot of attention. They can’t help it – and they often want you to be a part of whatever it is they are doing. They are little sponges soaking up whatever is going on around them, and this often involves imitating you. Think about that when you keep checking your Facebook page or your email.
But sometimes you get tired. I understand. And yet, this is one of the most important times to “be the parent” because how the kids spend their time has a lot to do with you. While you make dinner or have some quiet time, babies can be in a pack-and-play with several toys. Toddlers can go to that drawer full of plastic tops and bottoms or climb in and out of a cardboard box.
As the kids get older and with your supervision, the electronics can be a great partner. However, using screens should always come with a time limit, and certainly presented as a PRIVILEGE, not a right!
Regardless of the age, there must be time to let the kids know that you simply expect them to come up with ideas of their own. If necessary, you can start them on a task, but after a few minutes remove yourself from the activity and let them play by themselves for a little while. This builds independence and confidence.
Do you need some ideas for that afternoon drag time when your child’s big beautiful eyes greet you with, “Mommy! or Daddy! will you play with me?”
Send me your name and a little background about you and your parenting challenge, and I will get back to you with possible dates for a free 10-minute phone session. click here to send me an email.
All the research today says that kids under two should not be exposed to electronic devices. There is too much to see and experience in their new world. Kids over two should spend not more than two hours a day with electronics.
This is a challenge as they get older and have cell phones and iPads and even computers required for school work. You can figure out what works for your family. But just remember how the kids spend their time has a lot to do with you.
Be a role model
Put away your phone or computer at some point every day, and spend quality time with your kids – regardless of their ages. It’s a win-win.