Let’s face it: our kids have a more difficult world to grow up in than we did. Yes, dial up internet was a hassle, but at least every stupid thing we didn’t wasn’t recorded and put on the internet.
So how do you let your children have access to technology but still raise mindful, thoughtful children? How do you get them off their phones and get them to experience the world around them?
Lead by example
If you are always on your phone or laptop, your child is going to model that behavior. No screens at the dinner table, while driving, or during family time.
When / Then
A great tool for kids is the “when/then” rule ….as in “WHEN you have finished all your homework and walked the dog, THEN you may have screen time.”
In our house, every once in a while we have a family meeting. Yes, this usually means there are behavioral issues to discuss - but I’m trying to make this just a routine part of life. I often put the agenda for the meeting on our whiteboard prior to the meeting so the kids know what to expect. And if there’s a particular issue my husband and I want to discuss (eg chores not getting completed), we give the kids the opportunity to come up with their own recommended solutions.
Setting SMART Goals
We’ve all heard about specific, measurable, attainable, relevant, and timely goals. Chances are, your kids have too, as schools start to put more focus on mindfulness and positive thinking. You can model this behavior by making goal setting something you work at - and share with your children. On New Year’s Day, our entire family takes time to reflect on the past year and set goals for the new year. I print worksheet outs for guides. Some kids stop there, and some of the older kids work in their journals or school agendas to take their goals to the next level. Having your kids hang their goals on a bulletin board in their room or homework area helps keep these goals fresh in their mind.
Family Screen Time
Movie night is an almost weekly occurrence in our home. Sometimes the kids pick the movie and sometimes we do - or we watch a television show together. Watching together opens up opportunity for physical connection as we’re cuddled up on the couch as well as opportunities to discuss the issues we see played out on the big screen.
During the year, we try to make time for board games, riding bikes, or tossing the football. With five kids in high school, it's more challenging than ever (and more important than ever!) to make this family time. Our family vacation is also a highlight. It's a priority each year. Again, we limit screen time (including movies and tv). We spend our time on the beach, taking walks, and playing card games at night. This family time is restorative for all of us.
What are your favorite ways to keep your kids experiencing the real world?