Screen time is a daily topic in our household and I suspect it is for many of you as well. You will find no shortage of articles on how much is too much and what is the right balance. Earlier this week I posted a video by Dr. Shefali Tsabary. She admits that her position on the subject is not clear cut and that as long as children have a balance, technology is not such a bad thing. Other opinions take a more black and white approach. Last month I read this article by a mom who strongly supports not giving her children a cell phone until after they turn 16.
It’s a hot topic for a couple reasons. One reason is that this is a new challenge faced by parents of this generation. There is very little history to look back on, so we are all learning as we go. There is also a safety concern of what they see online and who they connect with. Of course there are also the social implications of what is appropriate to share, what is not and what they see their friends sharing. It’s complicated. The number of scenarios are endless and almost impossible to predict. It’s also a topic that is surrounded by judgement. As parents, we all want to do the “right” thing but we are all struggling to determine what the “right” thing is when it comes to screen time.
Many of these articles focus on the perils of screen time – behavioral issues, sleep issues and the issues listed above. Our children have grown up during a time when entertainment is literally at their fingertips whenever they want it. Parents are also trying to juggle more than ever before, so using an iPad or movie to occupy your child while you get chores done is sometimes more of a necessity instead of a luxury. As a result it’s easy for our children to become conditioned to the idea that they must being doing something every second of every day. However, when you take away the screens something interesting happens. The first reaction may be “I’m bored” or “there is nothing to do”. Slowly creativity and imagination start to take over. Forts are built. Stores are opened. Games are invented. Adventures are had. New worlds are created. Eavesdropping on the conversations during these times is more entertaining than any screen could ever provide.
The debate about screen time and technology is just getting started and will continue to rage on for years to come. In the meantime, let’s not forget the importance of play time, creating something out of nothing and imagining that anything is possible.
Journal on this: What factors are most important to you in the screen time debate? Why? What do you think is best for your child’s personality?
As many of you know I was lucky enough last weekend to go to an NFL playoff game. The game was a battle - our home team was up, then they were down, then they were up again. Just when it looked like they were going to win, the other team tied the game. Two big plays in overtime and the home team emerged victorious! It was an exciting game and unlike anything I had ever been a part of, so of course I had to look a little deeper and write about it.
The stadium holds over 60,000 people. That is a lot of people. Outside of a sporting event, where else do you ever have that many people in one place at one time? A concert or an event at a convention center are the only other things I can think of that would compare. A sporting event is unique because not only is it a lot of people, but all of those people are focused on the same thing. They are watching and cheering for the action in front of them. And let me tell you, the cheering is amazing. According to the decibel meter inside the domed stadium, the noise level reached 114 decibels (that is really loud). It’s almost as if it is contagious, the louder everyone around you is, the louder you get. You’re clapping, shouting and high-fiving strangers. Cheering gives you this amazing energy – you can physically feel it within you. You can tell that the cheering has an impact to the players on the field as they raise their arms encouraging the crowd to get louder. It’s such an amazing feeling and atmosphere – how do you bring some of that to everyday life? We naturally cheer/encourage our kids, spouse, friends and family without giving it much thought, but what if we were more intentional? Wouldn’t it be great if you could gather up a couple people to cheer on your child before a big test or your spouse before a big presentation at work? It doesn’t even have to be a big event, it could just be encouraging words at the beginning, middle or end of the day. What kind of a difference would it make? It’s so simple, yet it could actually make a really big difference (for you and the person you are cheering for). Or on the flip side, are you like the players on the field in need of some louder cheers? The players don’t feel bad or shy away from lifting their arms up and down encouraging the crowd to get louder, so why should you? Need encouragement? Ask for it. Get those are around you (kids, spouse, co-workers, fellow Starbucks customers) to give you a cheer, a pat on the back or a smile. That’s all it takes.
Journal on this: Who are you cheering for on a daily/weekly basis? Is there someone else that could use more of your cheers? What are you doing now and how could you step up your cheerfulness for them?
*My next workshop, Setting Resolutions that Stick, is tomorrow, Sunday January 24th! Details are here, sign up today! If you don’t live in AZ, or can’t make it to the workshop, let’s schedule time to get on the phone and talk about what you need to do to make your resolutions/intentions work for you!
“My day was awesome!” my son proclaimed when I picked him up from school. He proceeded to run down the events that led to such an awesome day – getting a piece of candy for helping out a teacher, being recognized on the school-wide announcements for getting an award and having a classmate share a prized possession with him, were among the highlights of the highlights. Not to mention it was Friday which meant pizza, video games and family movie night, near nirvana when you are seven years old. With so much excitement, it wasn’t surprising when bed time was met with resistance. After lying there for only a couple seconds, he declared that he couldn’t go to sleep. I could see that the pendulum was swinging to the point of being over tired and emotions were taking over. All of a sudden the “awesome” day was the “worst day ever” and tears were threatening. I wasn’t going to let him go down this path. I told him to remind his brain of all the awesome things that had happened today, to which he hopelessly replied “I don’t know how.”
Children are so honest. This openness doesn’t last long, because soon they realize that when they admit that they don’t know how to do something people think they are weak. We become masters of avoidance. We carefully tiptoe around situations where we would have to admit that we don’t know something. The other side of the coin is that we use “I don’t know how” as an excuse to get out of doing certain things, like a work project or a friend asking for help on a home improvement project. Imagine saying the words “I don’t know how” – how does that make you feel? Anxious? Embarrassed? Hopeless? Instead, why don’t we see “I don’t know how” as a new opportunity to learn and grow? It should make us feel excited, educated and empowered.
I took a deep breath and said to him “You do know how - just think about the list of all the great things you told me when I picked you ….” “But, I don’t know how!” I knew he was tired and fueling this argument would not help the situation, so I held my rebuttal. A few seconds went by. He whispered in a small voice “Can YOU say the list?” I quietly recounted all the things he had told me, plus the fun things that had happened while we had been home. His breathing slowed and he smiled while we remembered the great moments of the day. The awesome day was saved. On the inside I could barely contain myself, I was so excited for what had just happened. He saw that it was possible to turn your outlook around by focusing on the positive. It will take a lot of repetition and practice, but we’ve taken the first step and that’s all that matters today.
Journal on this: What does it feel like to say “I don’t know how”? How do you flip the script to be a positive?
*My next workshop, Setting Resolutions that Stick, is NEXT Sunday January 24th! Details are here, sign up today! If you don’t live in AZ, or can’t make it to the workshop, let’s schedule time to get on the phone and talk about what you need to do to make your resolutions/intentions work for you!
A couple years ago, Katy Perry had a popular song “Unconditional”. At the time, I was driving in the car with my kids and they were singing along to the radio. Seeing this as an opportunity to talk to them, when the song was over I asked them “What does unconditional mean?” They looked a little confused and weren’t quite sure. They were only 9 and 5 at the time and I knew it wouldn’t be a word they were overly familiar with. After a minute of guessing, I told them “It means I love you no matter what.” They paused for a moment and then began singing the next song. It wasn’t the reaction I was hoping for, but it a started the conversation. A couple weeks later, my five year old came home with a not so stellar report for the day – he had been talking in class and gotten a warning from the teacher. He was nervous to tell me, worried about my reaction. I reminded him that I loved him no matter what, that though I may be disappointed in his behavior for the day, it doesn’t change the amount of love that I have for him. A tough conversation to have at any age and to be honest I’m not sure he truly got it at the time but, I know that by talking about it with him a dialogue has started to try to explain such a deep and layered emotion.
Remembering this conversation made me start thinking about how we communicate love. Love is first and foremost a feeling. It just is, the why and the how of love are difficult to put into words. You feel it as a physical sensation and as an emotion. The communication of love tends to be instinctual. We think about it a lot from our perspective of how we want to show the person love, but do we spend a lot of time thinking about the person receiving the love? There is a great book by Gary Chapman that many of you have read called The 5 Love Languages. In the book he proposes that we all express love and respond to those expressions of love in different ways. He created five categories, or languages, for understanding how the people in your life give, receive and interpret love. What I find most interesting is that you can also relate these languages to your children. When you go to the website and there is a version of the quiz that is geared specifically towards children. Once you know that “quality time” or “words of affirmation” are your child’s primary love language, you can use that in your daily interactions with them. For someone who’s love language is “physical touch” a hug every morning means more to them than any gift you might give them later on. This becomes especially useful when the child’s love language does not match your own. You may think that helping them out with their chores (act of service) was a great way to show them that you loved them, but if their language is “words of affirmation” they would have rather you praised them for doing a great job with their chores instead. The great thing about the love languages is that they are easy to incorporate into everyday life. Like a pebble in a pond, it’s often the simple things that can make a lasting impact.
Journal on this: What are the love languages of the special people in your life? (This includes mothers, fathers, sisters, brothers, aunts, uncles, cousins, best friends, etc.) How do their actions reflect their language? How do your actions reflect your language? What would change if your actions reflected their language?
*My next workshop, Setting Resolutions that Stick, will be Sunday January 24th in Chandler, you can find details here. If you don’t live in AZ, or can’t make it to the workshop, let’s schedule time to get on the phone and talk about what you need to do to make your resolutions/intentions work for you!
Last week I challenged you to think about what you wanted to accomplish in 2016, to write it down, tell someone, to feel the fear and do it anyway. After I wrote that, it was no surprise that the majority of messages and emails I received throughout the week all talked about the best way to start the New Year. Author Gabby Bernstein shared her practice of focusing on one new intention, one meditation and one spiritual lesson to apply per month. Professor and author Brene’ Brown talked about the importance of taking time to play in the New Year. Dr. Christine Carter, author of The Sweet Spot, explained that it’s not about what you want to achieve, but how you want to feel.
An email from the Coach Training Alliance looked at things from a slightly different perspective. The email explained that a resolution is an act that requires doing. A resolution implies that there is something that needs to be fixed, so you must do things differently to achieve your goal. Instead they suggest setting an intention, which they define as a “positive directional desire grounded in a goal. It artfully recognizes the journey of change and begs the question of how an intention is going to be supported.” An intention then is not as much about doing, but an overall way of being. In simpler terms, by setting an intention you try to make it a part of your everyday life so that it can become second nature. This was, and still is, a hard concept for me to get my arms around because I am a do-er. I like to make a list, check things off and feel like I am making forward progress in accomplishing something. However in our hyper focus of checking off the list, it’s easy to overlook what it would take to incorporate this into our everyday lives. In other words, the resolution to fix something isn’t as simple as putting duct tape over it, because the crack under the tape still remains.
As some of you know I’ve recently started a series of Journal workshops*. I’ve been writing down my thoughts and ideas since I received my first diary for my tenth birthday. I love that my journal the one place where I can say whatever I want with no filter. Over the years I’ve found that it is a great outlet and often leads me to look at a situation differently. This year I am going to start something new within the blog and include journal prompts for you to think about. I encourage you to take 5 minutes and free write (or type) whatever comes to your head after reading the prompt (no editing allowed). Try it out, you might just be surprised with what you learn about yourself.
Journal on this: Are you setting resolutions or intentions? How can you make small changes to make it less about what you do and more about an everyday habit?
*My next workshop, Setting Resolutions that Stick, will be Sunday January 24th in Chandler (watch FB for more details). If you don’t live in AZ, or can’t make it to the workshop, let’s schedule time to get on the phone and talk about what you need to do to make your resolutions/intentions work for you!
I started writing this blog because I wanted to have deeper conversations beyond "How are you?", "Busy", with other parents. Over the years I've shared personal stories, articles, authors and topics to facilitate conversations with parents about the joys and the challenges of parenting.