We’ve been hearing more and more about how tech giants like Facebook and Google are getting pressure to make their products less addictive, and come to terms with the growing research on mental health consequences of using technology—for both kids and adults alike.
Parents and their children may be going back in time to explore their family values and experience new ways of spending valuable time together. Here are a few ideas for restoring meaningful time with our family members that you can practice every day:
- Establish three family rules for the house
Keep them simple and easy to follow. Some examples are: We are kind. We listen to one another. No hitting. These rules will establish expectations for both parents and children in the home and can occasionally change based on the development stage of your child.
- Don’t ask too many questions, listen instead
When you pick children up from school refrain from asking questions about how they did on that math quiz right off the bat. Share your day instead and let your child choose the subject next. The transition from school to home is a trying one for many and we have no way of knowing what transpired since we dropped them off. Some children are ready to share their day while others need quiet time for processing.
- Give them choices
We control much of our children’s life. Where they play, where they go to school, what they eat, what they wear. Let them make some choices and teach independence. Children delight at the “green light” of being able to choose for themselves!
- Schedule a weekly check in time
Hot chocolate after their dance class, going to the library together to check out new books every two weeks. We all remember the times as children when we had our parents to ourselves, and their undivided attention. This time gives us the bonding time we need so children feel important. It is also insurance for when things get challenging.
- The gift of your stories
When we want to get a point across or set an example, telling a story from our childhood is a sure way to get a child’s attention and that wide-eyed fascination that connects us to our kids almost immediately.
- Eat dinner together
The single most important time of the day is when we gather as a family again. Sharing a meal is not only good for nourishment, but it becomes a ritual and time for sharing, listening and developing our voices.
- Celebrate differences
Pre-teens and teens are naturally critical of themselves and their differences. Make a point of telling them that they are wonderful, “just the way they are” and that we all have strengths and attributes to offer.
- Create a new ritual
Make bread on Saturday morning with your preschooler, take a nature hike every weekend, collect rocks, move the car and create messy art in the garage. It really does not matter what we do as long as we take time to do it together.
Mechele Pruitt is the Director of Parents Place in San Francisco.