One of the many important roles of a parent is to make sure you provide enough time in your child’s life for family conversation, solitude and boredom.
They are like nutrients for child development and for passing on your reflective capacity to your child. Unfortunately the lure of electronic devices & social media has infected family life and is eroding the confidence of many parents to play this role.
Parents often report feeling too helpless to counteract their child’s obsession with all the new technology. Part of the problem is in when deprived of electronics kids will ask ‘what else is there to do?’ and many parents don’t feel confident that they have a good answer. So even though parents try to set limits somehow they don’t follow through strongly enough. And since many parents are as attached to their devices as their kids the slippery slope happens. Little by little everyone checks out, each to their ‘electronic corner’; kids on their electronic devices and parents on theirs. Parents don’t feel good about it, but they believe they lack the power to change the situation.
To boost your confidence that you do have a good answer about what kids can do besides electronics, and you do have the power to change the situation, here is a list of the benefits you will provide your family through making the time for conversation, solitude and boredom.
The benefits of family conversation
- Children practice using their mind, to express themselves and to make sense of what other people have to say.
- Children feel more enduringly connected to the their family
- Children gain the habit of talking about feelings, so they are less likely to impulsively act on them
- Children become less vulnerable to peer pressure and bullying
- Children gain insight, empathy and acceptance toward other people
- Children gain a sense of trust in others and themselves.
- Children develop the strength to think for themselves.
- Children widen the horizon of their own mind through the use of creativity and imagination
- Out of this creativity and imagination spring the roots of your child’s attempts at innovation and exploration into what is possible.
Conversation is simply that back and forth of taking turns at sharing what is on your mind and listening to and responding to what the other person has to say. . Conversations can be brief or long and can take place anywhere. The topic doesn’t matter and there is no subject too trivial to have a conversation about. What matters is that family members have the time and the opportunity to talk about their idea, their feelings and their perspectives. If your family is out of practice, initially your child may resist. Don’t give up. In fact you can have a conversation about why conversation matters.
Solitude and boredom involve time alone with nothing in particular to do. They require you to stop loading your child up with activities and stop feeling so responsible for entertaining them. Let them discover the joy of entertaining themselves even if they complain.
It requires you to be a good role model and mentor. Turn off your electronics more often. Step up your efforts at engaging in family conversations about anything and everything. Let your child see you engage in activities that do not require a device.
It’s hard to do in this day and age but I have confidence in you!