Better Be Good
Every little boy and girl tries to be extra good around Christmas. Because – Santa Claus is watching. And, we are told we might get a lump of coal in our Christmas stocking if we are not good. Oh, no!
The definition of “good” today is far different from what was expected from children back in the day. We were taught the Golden Rule. Also, our lives were much more simple then. We didn’t have electronic devices and we did not have activities scheduled from sun up to well past sun down. And our parents were home when we were. We had the opportunity to be children, but we also had “chores” and responsibilities. We weren’t always super good, but we sure tried to meet our parents’ expectations. For sure, we didn’t always get what we wanted.
I was reading a research piece about children where the writer talked about children with mental health problems, adolescent depression and an increase in suicide rate in children aged 10 to 14. The increase in ADHD is also in the mix. What is happening?
“Today’s children are being over-stimulated and over-gifted with material objects, but they are deprived of the fundamentals of a healthy childhood,” writes Psychiatrist Dr. Luis Rojas Marcos.
We can place the “blame” on a variety of things: digital distraction, indulgent and permissive parents, inadequate sleep and unbalanced nutrition, sedentary lifestyle are some of the areas outlined by the psychiatrist. Of interest to me is this bullet point: “a sense of right, of deserving everything without earning it or being responsible for obtaining it.” This is key. The doctor also points to “Endless stimulation, technological nannies, instant gratification and absence of boring moments.”
Let’s stop here for a moment. I have never been “bored” a day in my life. There is always something to do!
Moving along, the psychiatrist suggests getting back to basics. Setting limits makes children feel more confident knowing their parents are in control. Offer children a balanced lifestyle of what children need, not just what they want. Provide nutritious meals and limit junk food.
The lengthy tip list continues: Involve children in household chores, develop a consistent sleep routine, teach responsibilities and independence, teach children to wait and delay gratification, turn off the phones during meals and at night, teach them to greet, to take turns, to share without running out of anything, to say thank you and please, to acknowledge the error and apologize, and to be a model of all the values you instill. Connect emotionally – smile, hug, kiss, read, dance, jump, play or crawl with your children.
There are a couple of areas that our family participates in: play board games as a family, and provide opportunities for “boredom” since boredom is the moment when creativity awakens.
Kids are good – they just need a little help along the way.