In the intellectually declining society that we’re becoming, one can only try and put as many fingers as they can on all the issues that contribute to this decline. However, what most people try to put their fingers on is more of a consequence, rather than the deep-rooted reason.
Every of society’s mistakes and negative habits are just a reflection of the mindset that has been nurtured in the people that make them. And it all starts with what we learned as children and how it reflects on our personality and our worldview.
So, giving more credit to the importance of the child is due, when considering the butterfly effect that the smartphone (or other habits) will create in their lives – and ultimately in society.
Occupational Therapist Victoria Prooday discusses this issue in a very precise manner, focusing exactly on those habits that cause the malleable brain to become “weaker” under the influence of environment.
“I truly believe that, despite all our greatest intentions, we, unfortunately, remold our children’s brains in the wrong direction,” she explains. And the reasons this is so has to do with these 5 parenting habits of the 21st century.
1. MALIGN EXPOSURE TO TECHNOLOGY
It’s true that technology plays a major part in today’s advancement while promising an even brighter future – that is, if we start using it for what it’s meant to be instead of abusing its potentials.
“Using technology as a “Free babysitting service” is, in fact, not free at all,” explains Prooday. And the price we pay is that of our kids’ nervous systems, attention, and their ability for delayed gratification.
Virtual reality has been made to be much more stimulating than everyday life, making the latter expressively boring when put in comparison. “After hours of virtual reality, processing information in a classroom becomes increasingly challenging for our kids because their brains are getting used to the high levels of stimulation that video games provide,” she notes.
And the consequences are those of emotional and social disconnection from our children and a potentially poor ability to handle academic challenges. Replacing parental availability, which is much needed for a child, with technology (because it seems easier) will take its toll on the child and affect them in many aspects of life.
Nobody says that technology needs to be completely excluded, as that would be a huge waste of its positive potentials. However, limiting its use and finding time to reconnect with your children on an emotional level is paramount if you want a healthy child.
2. NURTURING INSTANT GRATIFICATION
Instantly responding to every of your child’s whims and wishes has a devastating effect on their future success – and the reason is the lack of nurturing the ability to delay gratification.
As Prooday explains, “We have the best intentions – to make our children happy – but unfortunately, we make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term.” And this is because we don’t offer our children the opportunity to equip themselves with the mindset to deal with even minor stressors.
Teaching your child’s brain to get what it wants the moment it wishes for it is teaching them of a reality that doesn’t exist in the real world. There’s no need to explain how this will affect them, as you are probably already aware.
Providing your children with the care and attention they need is essential, but this doesn’t mean that you need to do everything the moment they make a wish. Teaching them to wait some things out before getting them is very important – because life simply works that way.
3. MAKING YOUR CHILD THE RULER OF THE WORLD
Since when do children know better about what they need in their lives? They know what they want, and their wishes are not always the best choices, especially at a younger age.
Prooday puts it perfectly: “Since when do children dictate to us how to parent them? If we leave it all up to them, all they are going to do is eat macaroni and cheese and bagels with cream cheese, watch TV, play on their tablets, and never go to bed.”
Many modern parents think that letting your children do what they want to do, while allowing them to simply skip over the things they don’t fancy, is good parenting. Parenting, however, means that your child will not always be happy with your choices and decisions.
Would you trade a moment of satisfaction for a lifetime of failure, though? “In order to achieve our goals in our lives, we have to do what’s necessary, which may not always be what we want to do,” explains Prooday.
While it’s very beautiful to see a satisfied smile on your child’s face, this satisfaction can turn into bitterness out in the real world. And as parents, it’s our job to ensure that our children are equipped with the proper mindset – one that says: you’ve got to do what you’ve got to do, but that doesn’t mean life doesn’t have space for enjoyment as well.
4. OVERDOSING ON FUN
Providing endless opportunities for fun for your children may seem like a wonderful thing if you want to live your fun part of your life through them. However, setting that polarity of fun-work on a child-parent scale means creating an absolutely inaccurate picture of reality.
In truth, both aspects should be, if not equally, at least to some extent, present in your child’s life. “Why aren’t children helping us in the kitchen or with laundry? Why don’t they tidy up their toys? This is basic monotonous work that trains the brain to be workable and function under “boredom,” which is the same “muscle” that is required to be eventually teachable at school.”
And not only at school – the dopamine and serotonin rush we constantly give to our children is one that builds up tolerance in the brain and ultimately leads the child to feel as a vacant shell that cannot be stimulated by ‘fun’ activities anymore. And this is simply because we don’t give their brains a break and they do what needs to be done to decrease that excessive production of dopamine and serotonin.
Giving your children chores and allowing them to feel bored from time to time are two important parenting habits that scientists have long pointed to. Chores teach them to learn to be active members of their lives and the responsibilities that come with them, and the ‘boredom’ downtime allows the brain to develop creative thinking patterns.
5. LOSS OF SOCIAL INTERACTION
“We are all busy, so we give our kids digital gadgets and make them “busy” too,” explains Prooday. “Kids used to play outside, where, in unstructured natural environments, they learned and practiced their social skills. Unfortunately, technology replaced the outdoor time.”
Tossing a smartphone or a tablet in your child’s hands does not replace their need for socializing, which not only has been gravely reduced from their outside circles but is also lacking in the parent-child aspect. Prooday notes that “the babysitting gadget is not equipped to help kids develop social skills.”
In fact, it teaches children out of social skills that are needed in real-life communication. Even ‘social media’ has nothing to do with social skills. Success comes hand in hand with great social skills, making it a priority in one’s life.
So, spend more time with your children and don’t let any smart device replace your tremendously important role in their lives. Your role is one of a bonding, nurturing, teaching, and empathizing parent. Be the main event in your child’s life – one that comes with challenges and rewards, and one that teaches them about the life they are about to face.
Source: Victoria Prooday @Yourot