How many times have you been annoyed when the people around you are talking on their cell phones too loudly or texting during a movie or performance. Well, imagine how our children feel when we are taking time away from them while we are too busy with our phones, iPads or laptops.
It’s not unusual to see a parent pushing a swing at the park and talking on the phone. I have also seen families at restaurants sitting silently while each one is either texting or checking for messages. Imagine the message this is giving a child . “I am more concerned about my life than yours”?
Talking and listening are the two best interactions a parent can have with a child throughout the different stages of development. I encourage you to consider each stage as it relates to the type of quality time you spend with your child. “Development is the result of ‘transactions’ between the child and his/her environment. Each transaction results in new learning which results in the development of skills and traits. The right frequency, quality and intensity of interactions between children and their environment will result in each child reaching his or her full potential.”
Parents need to be intentional about their “transactions” with their child and focus effective energy in periods of uninterrupted one-on-one time with each child . It can be reading a book to your toddler, playing a game, going on a walk and having family time at the dinner table. In a 2006 survey of nearly 100.00 teenagers, a higher frequency of family dinners was associated with positive values and greater commitment to learning. Let’s not forget our teenagers. That includes listening to your teen’s music and showing interest in what they are doing, watching in awe as your child breaks new records in his latest video game, or sitting with your child and watching their favorite, appropriate TV show. Screen time is an avenue for shared experience and that is what really matters.
Another suggestion might be to turn off all gadgets during your time together and then check for messages when your child is doing homework or in bed. The message is that he/she is loved as well as providing a positive example of how to treat others with respect. Remember your child is a great observer of your behaviors as actions always speak louder than words. Research confirms that nurturing in the form of spending sufficient quality time with your child that is fun and enjoyable for parent and child leads to happy, healthy, successful kids.
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