10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part III)

If you haven’t read Part I and Part II of this series, I invite you to go over those articles before jumping on this one.

6.Physical and Developmental Issues

As we all know, screen time is a primarily sedentary in nature. Our kids are sitting down or lying around while using their electronic devices.
The time our children spend without physical activity while on their electronic devices  adds on to their already high number of hours they spend sitting inside the school. All this time without physical activity, inevitably leads to weight gain, poor muscle development, and many other physical issues. Lack of physical movement not only affects our children’s physical development, but it also negatively impacts brain development, as it is needed to form brain connections necessary for physical coordination.
Additionally, the use of screens might delay a child’s ability to form words. A recent study presented by the American Association of Pediatrics argues that for each 30-minute increase in handheld screen time, there’s a 49 percent increased risk of expressive speech delay. As we all know, when kids can’t express themselves properly they get really frustrated, which causes them to act out more and to use their bodies to try to communicate with us, and to use destructive attention-seeking behaviors.

7. Dangerous EMF Exposure

One growing area of concern is the fact that our brains (and especially our children’s) may be harmed by overexposure to electronic devices. While EMF (electromagnetic fields) exposure in smaller doses doesn’t seem to be a concern over short periods of time, the more frequent and intense the exposure the more problems arise. This is especially true for children, as their brains are rapidly growing and changing from birth through adolescence.

Children who use devices close to their heads for longer periods of time have potentially a higher risk to the damaging effects of EMF exposure.

8. Disconnected Families

We can’t deny that technology makes family organization and calendar management much easier. It also allows us to immediately communicate with our children and spouses, via text, email, whatsup… It allows us to connect with family and friends that might live far away from us, via Skype, whatsup, google chat…

However, in our busy lives, finding good quality time to connect with our children is very difficult. Allowing technology to cut into those precious moments is something we might try to avoid . Excessive screen time also leads to an increase in serious parent-child conflicts.

While it can be fun to have a family movie night or play a video game together, we should not resort to that as an every day activity. The reality is that screen time means less face-to-face, natural interactions with our children.

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part II)

If you haven’t read Part I of this series, I invite you to go over that article before jumping on this one.

4. Decreased Academic Performance

Regular use of electronics can overstimulate and cause chronically high arousal levels in our children. This hyperarousal affects our children’s memory and ability to make associations, which leads academic struggles. Increased time on electronic devices is therefore associated with poorer academic outcomes.

The more time children spend using digital devices, the less time they spend reading. Reading strengthens brains connections and builds new ones, and helps them improve their attention and focus. Children who are good readers tend to achieve better understanding of academic concepts and therefore better grades.

Many schools are moving to computerized instruction, and our children are now spending a remarkable amount of time in front of their computers or tablets during school hours. I was surprised to learn that my daughters spend upwards of 3.5 hours in front of a screen during their school days. I am not sure how this digital instruction is improving our children’s education; and there’s no strong strong research evidence to support that this is beneficial for students or supportive for their learning. However, it is a reality that we have to live with, and we must take into account their electronics exposure in school as we set limits for electronics use at home.

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5. Poor Executive Functioning

Early brain development is determined by our children’s environmental stimuli or lack thereof. When most of the stimulation our kids receive comes from exposure to technologies (TV, computer, phones, iPads…) their executive functioning, attention, working memory, impulse control, delay gratification and ability to self-regulate are severely compromised.

Research has also shown that higher level cognitive skills such as critical thinking, reflection, self-awareness, creativity and imagination may get reduced as a result of excessive digital use.

When our children spend time flipping from one game, online activity, YouTube video, tv show… to the next develop a higher threshold for stimulation. They therefore tend to become more easily bored with normal tasks that are not fast-paced and constantly stimulating.

Children also tend to focus on immediate and instant gratification, and struggle to make decisions based on any factors beyond their immediate wants in needs. Inevitably, this leads them to develop lower frustration tolerance, a tendency to give up on tasks, an impulse to get away from situation that are not of their liking, a lack of persevering in an activity before just moving on to the next thing, and zero problem solving skills.

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

 

10 Reasons Why You Should Limit Your Child’s Screen Time (Part I)

Since my May Parenting Resolution is to get the use of electronics under control, I figure I would start by explaining why I believe it’s an important thing to do, and why May is the perfect month to get this started.

There is no question about how the advancements in technology have brought numerous benefits to our daily lives. We can coordinate family calendars, connect with friends and family who are miles away, easily control our finances, buy almost anything from the comfort of our own home, have access to information 24×7…

However, as new technology evolves and transforms, many studies are finding strong links between screen time and a variety of behavior problems in children. Those studies don’t necessarily prove causation, just correlation. Despite the inconclusiveness of recent studies, I believe it’s paying attention to them.

1. Unhealthy Sleep

Electronic stimulation, such as that from watching TV, using the computer, playing video games, using the iPad… has been shown to interfere with sleep, both falling asleep and staying asleep. Using electronic devices before bedtime can be physiologically and psychologically stimulating in ways that can negatively impact your sleep.

When our children (and us) use electronic devices right before bed, the artificial blue light that these devices emit interferes with their circadian rhythm (a.k.a. their body’s internal clock). This suppresses the release of melatonin (sleep-inducing hormone), which makes it more difficult for them to fall asleep. Using these devices right before bedtime, also delays the onset of REM sleep (deep and restorative sleep). All this adds up to chronic sleep deprivation and poor sleep habits.

Once the body clock is disrupted, all sorts of other unhealthy reactions occur, such as hormone imbalance and brain inflammation, which can lead to serious health issues down the road.

2. Poor Social and Relational Skills

Research shows that an excessive use of technology can create social disconnection, negatively impact the development of social and relational skills, diminish our children’s understanding of how to engage with others and read non-verbal cues.
In a recent UCLA study they observed that kids who were deprived of screens for five days got much better at reading people’s emotions than kids who continued their normal screen-filled lives. Decreased sensitivity to emotional cues is one of the costs – understanding the emotions of other people. The displacement of in-person social interaction by screen interaction seems to be reducing social skills
Kids with phones and tablets, with smartphones and headphones. Group of teenage girls is using gadgets.

3. Increased Aggressive and Defiant Behavior

According to Psychology Today, what’s often behind explosive and aggressive behavior is poor focus. When attention suffers, so does the ability to process one’s internal and external environment, so little demands become big ones. You may have seen your child having a complete overreaction and utter agitation to a simple request.

Electronic use creates hyperarousal in our children. The constant firing of neural pathways created by this hyperarousal suppresses the function of the brain’s area that regulates their mood. Our children become angrier, and meltdowns and tantrums actually become their go-to coping mechanism.

In addition, children who are exposed to violent online content (videos games, TV shows, and movies) tend to have more aggressive behaviors and reduced moral development.

 

I will continue addressing the 10 main reasons why we should control our children’s technology use in the next few days. Stay posted!

Much love, Diana-

 

May Parenting Resolution: Electronics’ Control

I believe taking control of the use of electronics in our house is vital, especially right before our children are off from school and will have more free time. I’m not saying we shouldn’t use electronics, but I believe in being conscious and intentional with our use of electronics. There are many ways we can use our iPads, iPhones, TVs…  as a way to connect with our children.

This month, we will focus on creating healthy habits around the use of electronics, both for our kids and for ourselves.

Are your kids ‘addicted’ to electronics? How do you keep it under control?

Much love, Diana-

9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part III)

We have come to the final post on how to raise respectful children. If you haven’t done so yet, go back to read Part I and Part II of this series.

8. Respectful Communication

Listen To Them

Nobody likes to be ignored, nobody likes to feel that they’re being ignored. The reason why I make this distinction is because it is all about how actions are perceived by others. If we are ‘listening’ to someone but we are not making eye contact or we are putting away groceries at the same time; the other person might feel she’s being ignored. This has the same effect as if we, in fact, were ignoring her.

When our children feel we are not listening to them, they feel unimportant, small, unappreciated, not valued, unworthy of our attention (and love). Children need us to fully listen to them, validate their message and respond accordingly. They need our undivided attention.

I’m not saying that you should drop everything as soon as your child wants to talk to you. That wouldn’t teach them respect, it would teach them that we don’t have enough respect for ourselves and that we are at their beck and call all the time. They will learn that lesson and believe that what we are doing at any given moment is not important and they can interrupt and demand immediate attention.

That’s not what I’m suggesting. What I am suggesting is that we acknowledge our child’s need for connection and conversation. If we are doing something else, we can let them know we heard them and we will be with them as soon as we can. While doing this, we need to be mindful to not make our children feel like they always have to wait, and that there’s always something more important than they are. We need to strike a balance, and that’s the tricky part!

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Let Them Finish

We all know the feeling of trying to make a point or express our opinion, while the other person is constantly interrupting us. We feel ignored, disrespected and frustrated, and we probably lose interest in talking to that person again.

When we do that to our children, we are showing them that we don’t care about what they are talking about, and that we feel that what we have to do is more important or interesting than what they’re saying. Whether we mean it or not, that’s the message our children receive.

Because of my childhood experiences, I feel specially hurt when I feel that someone is constantly highjacking my conversation. That’s why I am especially attentive when it comes to give my children the chance to finish their thoughts, and to fully express their ideas before interjecting mine.

Encourage Them To Use Their Voice

Our children need to know that what they think, feel and say matters. They need to know that their voices count, and they should use them. What better place to learn and practice this than at home?

Let your children make choice, solve problem, make decisions, and express their opinions -even if they’re different than yours.

Don’t belittle their opinions by saying “that makes no sense”, “what do you know?, you’re just a kid”, “don’t question my decisions”, “that’s ridiculous”… Instead invite them to share and explain their point of view with sentences such as “what do you think about that?”, “what do you think we should do?”, “can you explain me that better?”.

Avoid talking for your children. Let them answer for themselves when talking to other people. That will not only show them that you respect their opinions, but that you expect other people to respect them as well.

That’s a great way to let them know you respect them, that they should respect themselves and that they’re worth being respected by others. When our children learn how to use their voice, it becomes their biggest defense against bullying, low self-esteem, and even sexual abuse. Let them learn this at home!

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9. Foster Autonomy

Don’t Do For Your Children What They Can Do For Themselves

You might be wondering what does this have to do with raising respectful kids. When we treat our children like babies and do everything for them, we are in fact, disrespecting. In fact, you are crippling them. Undue service is disrespectful.

When our children learn that they are capable, and that they can be self-sufficient, they grow into responsible adults, with pride in their capabilities, and with great self-esteem. They know they can manage, and it makes them so much happier. You know how you feel when you accomplish something difficult. Let them enjoy the same joy and be their cheering section when they do.

In general, avoid doing for your children what he can do for themselves. Give them space and time to do things for themselves. There’s nothing to gain from stripping away our child’s autonomy – even when they are really little – other than the short-term relief of not having to be patient and calm, as our child struggles to do something on his own. Let them do it!

Allow Them To Make Their Own Decisions

Allowing your children to make their own decisions is one of the best ways to empower them, and show them that you respect them and their ideas. Obviously, I am not suggesting that our children should run our household. The idea is to let them make age-appropriate decisions, within certain parameters defined by you.

For example, your toddler can choose his outfit out of two you have already picked out. Your preschooler can decide whether he wants to eat the broccoli and the mashed potatoes together or separately. Your elementary school child can choose whether he reads the book to you or whether you read it to him. Your high schooler can choose when it’s the best time for him to do his homework.

When we don’t give our children the choice to make their own decision, it will foster an inability to make their own decisions later in life. They will not be able to respect their own opinions and ideas, because they have learned that those ideas are wrong or not worth considering. Therefore, they will navigate life with no self-confidence, no self- esteem, and. no respect for themselves.

I hope this series about how to raise respectful children was helpful to you. Is there anything I’ve missed? Let me know!

Much love, Diana-

Read Part I of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part II of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Respectful Parents, Respectful Kids

In line with our April Parenting Resolution, I was thinking about what is the best book about ‘RESPECT.’ This book is a gem in that regard!

It covers everything we’ve been talking about this month about how respectful parents raise respectful children, and more. In this book, the authors invite parents to move beyond common discipline gimmicks, into practical advice on how foster mutual respect and connection.

This book focuses on understanding what makes us tick, why we feel the way we do, why we do the things we do. As I have mentioned many times, everything begins with us, the parents.  This book does a great job helping us understand our own thoughts, feelings, triggers and behaviors, as well as those of our children.

As you go through it, you will realize that the philosophy taught in this book, applies to every relationship, not just the one with your children. I’d invite you to get a copy and enjoy the read.

If you don’t have time to read, listen to it! Audible is my best discovery! Check it out!

Let me know what you think! What are the key lessons you got out of it?

Much love, Diana-

9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part II)

We continue with our series on how to raise respectful children, if you haven’t done so already, head back to my previous article to read the first 3 tips I shared.

4. Identify The Cause For Disrespect

When our child disrespects us by yelling at us, talking back, hitting, bitting… we should first try to figure out what is causing him to act this way.

  • Is it because he is harboring some resentment towards us from something that happened in the past? Remember the story I shared before about my 9 year old blatantly yelling “NO” to me?
  • Is it because he doesn’t have the ability to communicate his feelings? Does he lack the vocabulary or knowledge to describe his feelings?
  • Is it because he doesn’t have the tools to work through the situation and his feelings are overwhelming him?
  • Is it because it is developmentally appropriate for him to be testing boundaries?
  • Is it because that is what we have modeled for him?
  • Is it because our boundaries and rules have been shaky, and he has learned that he can get what he wants by pushing back long enough?

What is the cause for the disrespect? Children aren’t born with the intention to disrespect their parents. There’s always a reason behind their behavior. The tough part of parenting here is to stay calm, figure out the reason behind the behavior, and then address that reason.

5. Kind And Firm Discipline

Many of us fall in the trap of becoming too permissive when we try to follow conscious and positive parenting. However, positive parenting calls for having kind but firm boundaries and rules. Set few, but clear and firm boundaries, and stick to them all the time. This way your child will know what to expect in every situation.

When the boundaries are broken, respond with kindness, acknowledging feelings, needs and wants, while still maintaining the boundary. Yelling and punishing in response to theirs is not helpful and often only escalates behavior.

If you are in public,  don’t discipline them for everyone to see, don’t shout at them, admonish them loudly, criticize them or correct them in front of others, or embarrass them. Instead, pull them aside in a calm manner, and quietly address the disrespect or misbehavior making your expectations firm and clear, and following through with consequences if necessary.

For example, before you take your toddler to a playground remind him of acceptable and not-acceptable behavior (i.e. hitting, pushing, taking away toys…), and the consequences (i.e. leaving the playground). If your toddler breaks those rules in the playground, pull him aside and remind him what’s expected once. If the disrespectful behavior continues, calmly follow through and leave the playground.

Your toddler will learn that your word is to be trusted, that the boundaries are firm, that his actions and decisions have consequences, and that despite his behavior he is loved and respected. 

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6. Apologize When You Mess Up

A mature, respectful grownup takes responsibility and apologizes when he or she makes mistakes. That’s what we hope our children to learn, and that’s what we should expect from ourselves.

Parents who respect their kids, acknowledge their mistakes, and apologize for them, even when that means that their kids were right and they were wrong. There’s nothing wrong with being wrong, or with making mistakes. It’s important to show our kids that we are fully capable of not only recognizing when we are incorrect, but showing them how we learn from our mistakes, learn the lesson, correct our behaviors, and become a better version of ourselves.

I mess up more than I would like to admit. I sometimes lose my temper,  let the stress of the moment overcome my better judgement, yell, bend my rules because I exhausted… I sometimes am not the best example for my daughters. However, every time I mess up, I apologize. I don’t let them go to sleep without letting them know that I acknowledge my shortcomings, and that I’m working to avoid them in the future.

7. Praise Respectful Behavior

Don’t miss any chance to let your child know when he’s acting well, and be specific when doing so. Go back to my previous post and read all about how to point out and encourage your child’s respectful behavior.

Much love, Diana-

Read Part I of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part III of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

9 Ways To Raise Respectful Children (Part I)

As I mentioned yesterday, we can’t expect our children to be respectful by being disrespectful to them. It all start with us. When we treat our children disrespectfully, we are making them lose their respect for us. If our child is strong will, we will surely face rebellion and constant confrontation. If our child is more easy going, we might get temporary compliance out of him, that may resemblance respect. But as soon as he can make their own decisions, we will find ourselves wondering why he doesn’t respect us anymore.

How can we make sure our children grow up being respectful, not only to us, but to themselves and to others?

1. Define What Respect Is

We often get confused as to what respect means. Many of us equate respect with blind obedience. That is though, a dangerous goal to have when raising your children. Most of us would say that we want our children to grow up into adults who are self-confident, outspoken, curious, strong, determined… How will they grow up to be that when we don’t let them practice those characteristics when they are little?

We do our children a disservice, when we demand our children to do as they’re told, without questioning our requests; when we constantly tell them what to do and how to think; or when we expect them to never speak their mind. When we do that, we are not teaching them to be respectful to us, we are teaching them to be fearful of us, and to lose respect for themselves.

2. Set Realistic Expectations For Your Children’s Behavior

We sometimes forget that our children are that, children. We usually expect too much of them, too soon. There is usually a change in our expectations as soon as our child becomes verbal and mobile. We somehow assume that they can think rationally, that they can control their feelings, that they can stop and breathe when they get frustrated, that they can listen and do what we ask of them… That’s neither realistic, nor fair.

As adults have trouble regulating our own emotions at times. We have trouble doing what we set out to do or what we know we need to do. We make mistakes. We forget things. We snap out when we don’t sleep well… We are humans, and so are our children. Make sure you place unrealistic and age-appropriate expectations on your child, and that you are forgiving when the behavior is not as you expected.

Be consistent in your expectations. When you are lax one day and firm the next day, you are showing disrespect for the relationship with your child. It tells your child that you can’t be trusted and that the boundaries are not really there to stick.

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3. Demonstrate Respectful Behavior

“We don’t generally give our children the kind of respect that we demand from them.” Jerry Wyckoff

Think about this. We often demand a behavior from our children that we don’t display ourselves. Let’s focus on teaching our child  how to respect by respecting her, by treating your child as a person in the same way you would treat adults.

What better way to teach a behavior than modeling the behavior we want to teach? It is hypocritical to expect our children to respect us, when we don’t respect them. Would you respect someone who tells you that smoking is horrible as they light up a cigarette? Would you respect someone who tells you that you need to exercise and eat healthy as they sit around on the couch all day eating chips? The answer is no. The same goes with respect!

Respect cannot be demanded. It can only be earned. Let’s earn our children’s respect and they will grown up into respectful people.

Much love, Diana-

Read Part II of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Read Part III of the series 9 Ways to Raise Respectful Children

Which comes first, a respectful child or a respectful parent?

Many parents would say that they yell at their kids, grab their kids, spank their kids… because they aren’t listening, they aren’t doing their chores… Insert whatever you want your kids to do that they’re not doing.

This argument is often followed by the sentence ‘If only he… I wouldn’t have to…’ The truth is that our children aren’t making us do anything, they aren’t making us respond in a certain way, they aren’t making us be disrespectful to them.

If a parent treats a child in an unkind, inpatient, abusive, overpowering manner (i.e. disrespectful manner), the child will either retreat and become a people pleaser, or the child will treat the parent the same way. However, if a parent treats a child with kindness and respect, the child will treat the parent with kindness and respect.

The answer to the question ‘which comes first, a respectful parent or a respectful child?’ is obviously ‘the parent.’ As everything in life, it all begins with us, the parents. Our children are still learning how to relate to other people. We need to help them do it by setting an example, starting by how we relate to them.

 

Think of this situation…

My nine-year-old daughter blatantly yells at me “NO” when I ask her to go brush her teeth. The tone and the attitude cut me deeply, I feel disrespected, and my mind goes immediately into reaction. My thoughts range from “how dare she talk to me like that?”, to “I should be stricter with her, and punish her to end this attitude.”

However, I pause, I breath and I don’t react. Instead, I respond “I don’t like it when you talk to me like that.” As I remove myself from the situation for a few seconds, I try to understand what may be upsetting my daughter, because to me, that disproportionate reaction has nothing to do with brushing her teeth.

I remember than she had been trying to show me a world she had built in Minecraft all afternoon. I was busy with my three-year-old, and helping her twin with homework. I kept saying “not right now” and “I’ll come find you when I can sit down and see it.” However, that moment never came. We carried on with our crazy afternoon, took showers, prepared dinner, had dinner, and before I knew it, it was time for bed. So, I sent her to brush her teeth. Then, it hit me. I realized I had done the same to her with my actions. I told her “No” repeatedly ruring the afternoon.

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After she brushed her teeth and got into her bed. I sat down with her and told her “You’re the sweetest girl I know. I had never heard you yell at me like that. Is there something bothering you? How can I help?.”

She opened up about how I had been ignoring her all afternoon, and how she really wanted to share with me this really cool world she had created in Minecraft. She had been patient all afternoon and had cooperated with me, and trusted that I was going to follow through with my promise to sit with her and let her tell me all about her exciting accomplishment. When she realized that wasn’t going to happen she snapped at me.

After this conversation, we hugged, I apologized for not having kept my word, and I promised I would sit with her the following day. Immediately after, without being prompt or asked to, she apologized for yelling at me and being rude. See? I modeled the behavior I expected from her, and she learned it.

Had I reacted to her “NO” in the heat of the moment, the situation would’ve been very different. It would’ve probably escalated, we would’ve entered a power struggle, I would’ve probably yelled at her for yelling at me, I would’ve missed the chance to connect with her, she would’ve resented me, she would’ve lost interest in sharing her important things with me, and our relationship would’ve suffered.

I am certainly not perfect. I mess up on a daily basis, but I wanted to share with you a situation in which I chose the right way to act, setting a good example for my daughter.

Respectful children are raised by respectful parents. To Learn Respect, Children Must First Be Respected

Much love, Diana-

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