Rules for Digital Parenting
Yes, children are lonelier, more entitled and less patient than generations before them… but we can help them. There is a solution.
When our son was an infant, and his muscles were extremely tight (they had been trained to be tight due to lack of space & fluid in utero), our neurologist gave me the best piece of advice I’d ever heard: “You can retrain his muscles.” He told me that I could train his brain to help his muscles. It was going to be a long road, but in the end, it worked. This situation is not much different.
We train our kids to use the bathroom; we train our kids to brush their teeth in the mornings, we train our kids to sit patiently through a church service. These are learned skills, not skills that they are born with, but skills that we have taught them through repetition and consistency.
1. Ten Minutes a Day
Reconnect with your kids. Have one-on-one time with each child for ten minutes a day. NO electronics, NO iPads or tablets, NO television. Let your child be your guide (they pick the activity). This time alone is going to eliminate any guilt that you feel (because we all feel guilt) and it is going to allow you to connect you with your child.
Get back to what we did before phones (back to what our parents did when we were young), spending time playing games with our kids.
You can use something simple like these one-on-one time cards (print them, cut them out & grab one a day)
2. Let Them Be Bored.
What if instead of trying to keep our kids busy and keep them from feeling bored, we just LET them be bored. What if we said, “Oh- you’re so lucky to be bored.”
Don’t offer an electronic device to keep them busy, don’t offer to take them somewhere. Just let them be bored.
- Watch your child’s mind becomes quiet and watch his interests take over.
- Watch as it leads him to create his own fun.
- Watch as his need or instant gratification fades away.
Boredom is the path to learning about one’s self.
3. Swap out external rewards for intrinsic rewards
I used to race the clock when cleaning my room: creating my own fun.
I used to pretend to be the teacher when doing my homework: creating my own fun.
Teach your kids to do this. Let them think of ways to turn dull tasks into fun tasks and let them reap the reward of knowing that they did a great job because this is the kind of “reward” that will motivate them throughout life.
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-Permission given to reproduce by Dr Lalith.
Dr Lalith Mendis is the Founder Director of the Empathic Learning Centre, he has researched the effect of digital overuse on children & youth and developed empathic therapies to reverse inattention, impulsivity & hyperactivity. He has also lectured extensively in Germany, Malaysia & UK. Author of five books on the topic, his books Right Learning & Recovering Childhood, Children Our Heritage & Let the Children Come to Me are in their second print. His latest book is titled “Parenting Heart & Brain – in an age of digital domination”.