How The Kids Spend Their Time Has a Lot to Do with YOU!

How Kids Spend Their Time

Photo Credit: Devon Christopher Adams

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.’

Kid in an Apple Store

Photo Credit: Dru Bloomfield

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.

The Research

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

Spend Quality Time with Your Child

Photo Credit: Personal Creations

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.

Loretta

Parenting in the Digital World

I’ve written two Handbooks for parents, grandparents and other caretakers to support their efforts in dealing with kids. I hope these small books help build confidence and inspire people as they face the challenges and awesome responsibility of caring for children.

10-Great-Tips-for-PARENTING      10-Great-Tips-for-Grandparenting-by-Loretta-Saff

In today’s world the responsibility of caring for children has a new and more complicated distraction:

With the ever-present devices that hold us hostage, how do we raise kids in the digital world?

Sure, we all like our phones and tablets and readers and computers and Fit Bits and, and, and.  Sure, they can serve a real purpose in our daily lives. At the same time they can be a real distraction.  The challenge is finding the right balance.

Is your child addicted to his/her device? I know, that’s a scary word. But what happens when you try to take the device away? Tantrums? Attempts to hide the device? Insults hurled your way?  Refusing to interact with others? Those are signs of addiction.

I am a big believer in ‘Training to avoid Treatment.’ This means that if you train your kids in the use of electronics early on, you – and they – will be in a better position to deal with the pervasive presence of digital devices and not need ‘withdrawal treatment’ when they get older.

Here are a few ideas of how you can help guide your child along the digital path – while guiding yourself at the same time.

First of all, let me emphasize that I understand that parenting is hard. There are so many unpredictable situations that you find both yourself and your kids in where the frustrations mount and sometimes you start to doubt yourself.  Don’t allow that to happen.

STOP. WALK. BREATHE

When you find yourself in the heat of the moment and are ready to shout, STOP. Walk away for a few minutes, and slowly take five deep breaths. Regain your focus and your confidence to remember that your job is to protect and guide your kids to grow into caring, responsible adults. Kids need to learn how to do this, and you are the teacher.

Teaching your kids that spending too much time on devices is not good for them will help them make better choices as they grow up.  In the meantime, right now they need exercise and time outdoors playing.


Do children have too much screen time and does it matter how much time they spend on iPads, smartphones and laptops?

Help them understand that it is important to have social time with real people.  

BE A ROLE MODEL

In my 10 Great Tips for Parenting Handbook, one of my important guidelines is BE A ROLE MODEL. We all know the positives of electronic devices. They help with research, contacts, taking pictures, recording moments, offering entertainment, and so much more. But you must remember that you are being watched. It’s what kids do.

Consider the amount of time you spend on your devices. Take a day and write down how much of your time is spent texting, googling, searching, and scrolling. This includes talking on the phone. Notice how often your focus is taken from NOW by that ringing, dinging, flashing little electronic rectangle that is on your lap or on the table during a meal or a conversation. Find out what percentage of your day actually is spent with technology.  Then cut it in half.

KEEP SCREEN TIME KID SAFE

Be sure you know what your kids are watching and doing while they are using electronics. As I said, taking control when kids are young is a lot easier and it creates a habit. There are ‘kids safe’ apps out there so children don’t accidentally come across something inappropriate.

Monitor what your kids are looking at and how long they are having ‘screen time.’ Check on them periodically to see what and how they are doing. Set the limits for both time and subject and stick to them.

But wait a minute!

Ok, so now you say, “Come on, get with the program.  It’s 2016 and the reality is that it’s all about electronics.” I’ll simply leave you with this article: (Hint: it’s about new research that shows how excessive screen time may inhibit a child’s ability to recognize emotions.)


Kids And Screen Time: What Does The Research Say?

Don’t let that happen to your kids! Be the teacher and the role model for how to balance time spent using technology.  Now, go outside and play with them.

Loretta

10 Great Tips for Parenting and Grandparenting

 

10-Great-Tips-Handbooks

Parenting is one of the hardest – yet most rewarding – work there is. If you are a parent, you’ve probably wished your child came with a Handbook of instructions.

To offer some support, I’ve created the

10 GREAT TIPS FOR PARENTS and 10 GREAT TIPS FOR GRANDPARENTS Handbook Series.

These positive, colorful books provide a simple, basic approach to handling some of the most common challenges you may face as a parent and a grandparent.

Easily presented and explained, these tips are based on my reflections and observations from working in the fields of gifted education and Empowerment Coaching for over 30 years, and my personal experiences both as a parent and a grandparent.

When you find yourself faced with those difficult moments that parenting and grand parenting will surely bring, just take a deep breath and smile.  After all, now you have a Handbook.


Order a printed copy for yourself or a friend by clicking HERE.

Download a free version by subscribing to my blog HERE.


Loretta