by Irina Litvin
As parents, we want our precious little ones to have the best in life, and, most importantly, we want them to be happy.
But do we achieve this goal?
Why do so many teenagers have issues with communication?
Why so many young adults are “wired” and struggle to find a healthy, “unmedicated” joy in life?
Let’s connect the dots and see…
The reality for most parents in our modern society is this: there is a ton of things on our to-do list before we can spend time playing with our kids. And the truth is that if you don’t have a full-time babysitter for your child from a very young age then you need to keep you child “busy” with something while you get your things done. There is a convenient babysitter we all know… called cartoons. We all grew up watching them. All kids love them. Pediatric Association of the Unites States advises not to expose kids younger than 2 years of age to any media at all. But is there any benefit even for older kids? It could be not a bad thing at all, if not for some undeniable facts… Almost all cartoons have way too fast of a pace of changing frames per minute. Before we know it, our kids become addicts of constant external stimulation. As a result, they have a hard time playing by themselves, they become very irritable and anxious, hyperactive, and seem to be very difficult to please.
In addition, there is often emotional drama, imprinting of the Old Paradigm, judgment, and catchy songs. And all of this has a tremendous impact on our kids’ perception.
When my daughter was a toddler I did know that too much media and fast-changing scenes were not good for her. So I slowed down the speed of cartoons (you can do this in YouTube in “settings” section) to 0.75 and I was very picky when choosing them. After I looked through most of them, I had a tiny handful of more-or-less harmless ones like Daniel Tiger, Clifford, or Peppa Pig. Unfortunately, even those “overloaded” my daughter’s nervous system and she threw tantrums after tantrums almost every day. Especially it happened when she wanted to watch them. Everything else was “too boring.”
Here I realized that her healthy development was at stake. So, I decided to cut cartoons out completely. This meant reevaluating my priorities and making some serious sacrifices. Of course, my daughter was not happy about it at first.
Two weeks later we were driving in our car with my daughter Leah (she was 4 at the time) in her car seat in the back.
And she started, “You know mom, I haven’t been watching cartoons for a while now…”
I asked her, “So how do you feel about that?”
She said, “I actually feel good. I love playing with my toys now. Playdough is a lot more fun too! And I like Skyping with grandma more.”
I was pleasantly surprised to hear this. Indeed, she was calmer, more creative, and could concentrate for much longer periods of time. It was clear and obvious.
Keeping our children in a nice routine is really a good thing. It makes them feel safe and relaxed when they know what is coming.
But overloading their daily schedule with various activities is a totally different story.
Being bored is actually not a bad thing – this is where imagination comes into play and kids learn to entertain themselves. They also learn to search for solutions this way.
Besides, there is something absolutely amazing happening here – free unstructured play. “Young children cannot thrive or flourish in a world without play; the very essence of who they will become is defined by it.”, says Deborah MacNamara PhD, in her book “Rest, Play, Grow: Making Sense of Preschoolers (Or Anyone Who Acts Like One).” Leading developmental researchers alarm that this important part of children’s activities is about to become extinct.
By creating tight schedules for our kids, we steal this precious free play from their lives. Along with expressing their uniqueness and even “processing stuff” our children lose their ability to be in the present moment. This is crucial.
They feel restless when there is nothing to do. They can’t relax.
If we look at some really successful people, we can notice that for the most part they are present and grounded.
If you can’t relax and just be, how can you notice all magic of life and appreciate simple things?
Our society seems to be advancing extremely fast with all the technology we have available now. It looks like with all of this we can learn 10 times faster… or can we?
Recent research shows that exposing our kids to digital screens and computer games from an early age has a very high price. It negatively affects development of their social skills, communication, ability to stay in the present moment just to name a few. If we look deeper, we will find how it also affects their physical and mental health.
The sad reality is that kids’ attention span has been dropping significantly for the past two decades. It is becoming difficult for our young generation to learn at school. “It’s a problem! The average teen has the attention span of about 28 seconds to begin with,” says Laura Schad, who teaches seventh and eighth graders (ages 12-14) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania.”
How much can they succeed in life if they can’t learn?
I like to say that the solutions to most of our problems are way simpler than we tend to think.
No, we don’t need to medicate our hyperactive children. It only numbs the symptoms and has many negative side effects.
Here is a list of strategies that can help your child embody his or her full potential and grow up to be confident, authentic, responsible, caring, and happy human being.
This is how we can support our future generation of peacemakers and heart-centered leaders.
Here. And now.