A friend of mine, who has been a primary school teacher for over 20 years, recently lamented the change she’s noticed in kids over the past 7 years. Six and seven-year-old kids have a hard time focusing in class and they appear like they can’t wait for the class to finish so that they can play on their iPad, she says.
“Kids used to be more focused and calm during the class before and today they’re struggling to pay attention and they’re constantly fidgeting.”
But, my friend is not the only one who has noticed this change. Victoria Prooday, an occupational therapist, who has worked with children, parents, and teachers for years has witnessed this change as well.
She says: “In my practice, I have seen and continue to see a decline in kids’ social, emotional, and academic functioning, as well as a sharp increase in learning disabilities and other diagnoses.”
Undoubtedly, modern lifestyle affects children’s behavior and despite our greatest intentions and efforts to make a good use of the environment so as to help our children grow into healthy, responsible, and kind-hearted adults, we unfortunately remold their minds in the wrong direction.
Here are 5 reasons why this is so:
There’s no parent who hasn’t used their phone, iPad, or tablet as a way to calm and entertain their kid when he/she feels bored or is being naughty. Yet, using technology as some sort of “free babysitting service” is not actually free. It comes at the cost of our kids’ nervous system, attention, and their ability for delayed gratification.
Technology disconnects children from reality and overstimulates their brains. This makes it difficult for kids to focus and process information in the classroom and emotionally disconnects them from their peers and families.
2. Kids get what they want when they want.
“Mom, I’m hungry!!!” “In a sec, we’ll stop at the supermarket.” “I’m bored.” Here, you can play on my phone.” Parents have a tendency to meet their children’s requests immediately. This shows that we tend to neglect the importance of the ability to delay gratification, which is one of the key factors for future success.
Although we have the best intentions to make our kids happy, unfortunately, we only manage to make them happy at the moment but miserable in the long term.
Since today’s kids are used to getting what they want right away, this causes them to not develop self-control which is beneficial for every area in life. They also become less equipped to deal with stressful situations, which eventually turn into huge obstacles to their success later in life.
3. Their parents allow them to be in charge.
We’ve all heard it before, a parent lamenting: “My daughter doesn’t like eating vegetables.” “My son doesn’t like going to bed early.” “She doesn’t want to get dressed on her own.”
Letting children dictate us doesn’t bring anyone good. If we leave it all up to them, all they are going to do is eat burgers or pizzas and chocolate pancakes, watch TV and play on their tablets all day long, and never go to bed.
So, why are we giving them everything they want when we know that it’s not good for them? Unhealthy diet and lack of good night’s sleep causes kids to become anxious, irritable, and inattentive, both at home and school.
Moreover, by letting them be in charge, parents make their kids think they can do what they want and not do what they don’t want. While our kids know what they want, they have a difficult time doing the things which are necessary to achieve that goal. This may often result in a failure to fulfill the goals and leave the kid disappointed.
That’s why parents should teach their child that some things have to be done because they’re good for us, even if we don’t want them.
4. Constant fun.
Being able to play is important to kids. Yet, this doesn’t justify the fact that we have created an artificial entertaining world for them. They’re surrounded by all kinds of games and fun activities. The moment the kid gets bored, parents immediately run to entertain them again because otherwise they think they’re not being good parents.
It’s like they live in two parallel worlds where parents are only required to work and kids are only allowed to play, free from doing any chore. And this is the problem.
Doing those monotonous chores is what trains the brain to develop work habits and function under “boredom.” So, next time your kids say they’re bored , tell them to help you in the kitchen, clean their toys, or declutter.
5. Kids have limited social interaction.
Unfortunately, outdoor games have been replaced with digital gadgets. Today’s kids spend a really small amount of time playing outside and practicing social skills.
Today, kids prefer to play games on the computer or on their phone more than to socialize and play with other kids. The virtual world is more interesting to them than the real one.
Additionally, technology has made the parents less available to socially interact with their kids. All this limits their opportunities to develop and practice social skills and connect with other kids in different settings, such as school, dance or drama class, and soccer practice.
Limited social interaction can put the child at a disadvantage for the rest of life.
Train your kid’s brain.
You can make a difference in your child’s life by training his/her brain so that they’ll successfully function on emotional, social, and academic levels.
Here are some ways you can do that:
-Limit your child’s use of digital gadgets. Spend more time hanging out and playing with them: tickle them, have pillow fights, take them out for lunch on a school day, read books together, play cards, dance together, go biking, walk in nature.
-Set limits. Make a schedule for meal times, sleep times, and technology times. Make sure they spend some time outdoors every day and go to bed at a consistent time so as to come to school available for learning the next day.
-Teach them to wait and be patient. Teach them that they can’t always get the things they want right away. Try to increase the waiting time between “I want” and “I get.”
-Teach your child to do monotonous house chores. Whether it’s setting the table, hanging clothes, making their bed, tidying up their toys, or just unpacking groceries, teaching them to do chores from an early age is important because it’s the foundation for future work-ability.
Teach your child social skills. Teach them to say “please” and “thank you.” Teach them to compliment others and make compromises. Teach them that winning is great and that losing is fine as well.