Decisions, decisions, decisions. When it comes to parenting we have more decisions to make than we can handle sometimes. What type of food should we give our kids? What are they going to wear? Where are they going to go to school? And so on and so forth. But what about this question: “How do I help my child remain real in such a rapidly increasing artificial world? I don’t want them to grow up feeling empty and lonely.”
We all want our kids to grow up to be caring, healthy citizens, but with the rise of technology and social media, the odds are slowly stacking up against them. Surveys show that around 40% of adults in our generation are lonely, which is up 20% since the 1980s. Recent studies also show that loneliness can be contagious. It’s also safe to assume that lonely people could raise lonely children, perpetrating the problem even further. However, this loneliness is accentuated by a lack of normal inter-relational experiences that are diminished by our addiction to social media. People are not connecting how they used to with eye contact, physical touch, and active listening. Most of the time they are too focused on the alternate reality than the real one.
So, how do we stop our children from becoming emotional robots and help them thrive organically? Here are a few ways to help your child to connect with the people around them.
Invest in their education: academic and extracurricular
The academic portion of their education is important. It’s the basics that they needed to learn in order to get to good schools, universities and end up getting good opportunities for a better life, that’s the proven formula.
But then, don’t skip out on the extracurricular aspect of their education as well! It’s just as vital.
Take your child to swimming classes, or football practices. Encourage your child to learn a new musical instrument, or painting, perhaps a foreign language – whatever it is, let your child experience a different learning environment that is more fun and would develop more of their interests. Learning more of what they want, rather than what they should.
Plus, it’s a bonus that your child will have instant playmates and friends while at it, right.
Be involved in their everyday life
Get involved with their lives by supporting them in everything: school, social life (or friends), their extracurricular activities and hobbies.
Check up on your child every time. What happened during the day, were there any problems, is there anything you can help them with? Ask them and be interested in what they are saying, don’t just hear your child, listen to them.
Communicate, respond, constantly ask for their schedule, what they want to do. Be genuinely interested in your child’s life, but avoid fishing for too much information than your child is willing to share. Give your child space but assure them that you are always behind them, in everything. Don’t just ask how their day was at the dinner table and that’s it.
Have them around their grandparents
Being around adults as children helps to develop maturity and respect for a variety of people.
Grandparents are among the wisest, most loving people that could be around your kids. At a very young age, your children’s first encounter with people who would probably be their favorite people on this planet is meeting grandma and grandpa.
Grandparents wisdom transcends from spoiling the kids to sharing the history of an era that we only read about. They tell stories from the past that teaches kids many life lessons on different things from gratitude, to hard work, to kindness.
They never insist on what children should learn, they only give them a taste of what has been to make them realize how important it is to be thankful, learn from the past and live the moment.
Give them something creative to do (or learn) with their hands
Children need to learn a skill or craft that they can be proud of and flourish in. Learning is after all, not all about the four corners of the classroom – it’s everywhere.
And when your child knows how to get their hands dirty on work, they will learn the value of hard work and patience. Plus, develop certain interests. Giving your kid something creative to do will also encourage them to express themselves and their individuality.
Who knows, your child could be the next Da Vinci or Shakespeare.
Get them involved with volunteering in the community
What best way to get your child involved in the community than signing them up for volunteering. Whatever it is – whether playing with unfortunate kids, tree planting, a feeding program for the sick and elderly, this activity exposes your child to real-life situations, helping form your child’s view of the world.
Whatever cause it is, volunteering gives a sense of camaraderie with others, looking after issues that matter.
Activities like this produce great character when they are putting others above themselves. And when they start early, these traits grow with them making them good and responsible citizens always looking after the others.
Give them responsibility (increasing responsibilities with age)
Children always love the feeling of being wanted and relied on. There’s no better way to show them this than actually trusting them with appropriate chores at home to help develop their sense of responsibility.
Chores and other responsibilities also give an opportunity to show your child that they are part of a team and that their presence and work matters.
When you give your child responsibility, it shows that you trust that they will get things done. It also gives them the feeling that they belong to a family that works together.
For more about Chores by Age, check this site.
Communicate with them
Communication is the key to making everything work. How you communicate with your child will also help develop your child’s communication style while growing up.
Talk to your child often, ask questions, be open and be in a conversation.
Communication will also prepare them for the outside world and allows your child to practice articulating.
Remember, the way your child communicate with others is always learned in the home.
Lead by example
Children will mimic what they see and take that into adulthood. Lead by example by being the example. When you say this, then do this. Similarly, when you say no to things, show your child that you meant “no.”
Leading by example means walking your talk, and when your child sees that, they will learn to do the same.
Plus, children always look up to their parents, so the best way to ensure they grow up properly is to show them how to grow up properly.
Love them no matter what mistakes they make
Parents are the only thing that matters to children at this point in their lives. They always want to prove something, but ends up making a lot of mistakes along the way.
Loving your child despite their mistakes cultivate in them a sense of gratitude and forgiving others. It’s like telling your child “I got your back, always” and there’s no better feeling.
They will make many mistakes, which will teach them to have grace with others when they make mistakes too.
Give them a set time for social media
Social media is a hit and miss for parentals. Some agree that kids need some time for social media to get a feel of what’s new, while others oppose its harmful effects.
Whatever the reason, moderation is always the key. By setting a time for social media use, you’re encouraging your child to be responsible when using social media and inspiring your child to prioritize tasks and multi-task when necessary. It also teaches your child to give time for different things and activities.
For parents, it is best to check on their child’s social media accounts every once in a while to ensure that they are exposed to a safe, and appropriate shows.
For more details on Kids and Social Media.