Note: This is a 2 part series highlighting the many dilemmas our children face today. The first part will deal with the whats and whys and the second part will deal with the solutions.
Kids today are less patient, more lonely and more entitled that the generations before and it’s a very scary truth our children face. As a life coach, I get to work with parents and children on a regular basis. I’ve watched how our kids’ social and emotional skills have deteriorated, along with their academic behavior. Children today are less prepared today than they used to be. Now they expect more but do less. They go to school but struggle to learn and stay focused. They do want to do more but suffer with poor focus.
LONELIER, ENTITLED, IMPATIENT..BUT WHY?
We know the problem but do we understand what leads to it? The reason lies in our current lifestyle that has impacted our children negatively. The latest technologies, rapidly changing modern trends, the most recent developments- all of this have contributed to the downhill slope our kids face. While we all want to give the best to our children, it has quite sadly left them less-prepared for their own lives.
THE SCREEN TIME DILEMMA:
Technology and screen time take away from reading and playing. Too much screen time decreases attention span, instills immediate gratification and leave children open to challenges at home and in school.
They are unable to focus and listen attentively because they are used to watching and doing things in a fast-paced, fun and always exciting way. After spending hours in virtual reality, children find it hard to adjust to reality. Too much screen time has clearly backfired- here’s what a mother shared with me: “My kids work on electronic devices at school; on coming home, they insist on using the same for “ fun” purposes. After they are done with their academic work, I give them an hour at least to themselves so they can unwind and relax. But this relaxation time soon spells disaster for us and I have to drag them kicking and screaming to bed. Despite lights out, I find them struggling to sleep. “
When kids use their electronic devices, they are completely involved in the virtual world. Their brain and psyche are on fire! Their nervous system too shifts into high gear as they try to master the different challenges they are facing on their devices- strategizing, surviving etc. This catapults heart rate and blood pressure and the screen virtually locks their eyes into position while bombarding their brains with signals after signals. And so when they are ripped out of their fun virtual world and forced into the boring real world, they become physically and emotionally upset. Kids just can’t adjust so quickly.
THE “ DON’T BE BORED “ DILEMMA:
Parents please understand this: it’s OK for your child to be bored. In fact, boredom leads to creativity as kids come up with solutions to entertain themselves. However, in order to help our children stay busy and not be bored, we end up giving them a device. The problem? We end up spending less quality time with our kids and thus are unable to connect with them.
The “LET ME MAKE YOU HAPPY” dilemma:
We, parents, have good intentions and do whatever we can for our children. We want them to be happy, to feel loved but by doing this, we create people who will not be happy in the long run.
“Families (overly) centered on children create anxious, exhausted parents and demanding entitled children. We parents today are too quick to sacrifice our lives for our kids. Most of us have created child-centered families, where our children hold priority over our time, energy and attention.”
-Code, Wall Street Journal
We often hear parents saying “He doesn’t like vegetables so I don’t offer them anymore” or “She doesn’t like holding my hand while crossing the road.” The problem is that kids are kids- they’re not mature enough to make such decisions for themselves. We need to make them understand the consequences of not doing certain things and calmly and gently enforce them.
The “LET ME RESCUE YOU” dilemma:
It’s not easy to watch to watch our kids fail. It’s not easy to see them up upset or frustrated since we only strive to offer our kids the best of everything. However, we must also let them experience things and allow them to fail. These slight tumbles with save them from major falls later in life.
- I know mothers who offer to do their kids homework or throw in an excuse because the kid is too tired after a long day. Our children need to learn the consequences of poor time management and should figure on their own how to talk to the teacher about their incomplete work
- We all know parents who even go way out of their budgets just to accommodate their child’s demands. Instead, we must inculcate saving habits in them just like they would have to in the real world. If they want to replace the cell phone or gaming system they lost or broke, teach them to save their allowance to do so.
And the list goes on. However, we must understand that it’s easier to let them fail with these minor things ( such as not doing homework and losing recess time at school) than to have them fail as adults.
THE LACK OF REAL FACE-TO-FACE INTERACTION
“ We know from lots and lots of research that spending time with other people in person is one of the best predictors of psychological well-being and one of the best protections against having mental health issues”- Audie Cornish
It’s not atypical to see a family “gathering” where everyone is busy on their own individual devices while sitting together and calling it family time. We know for a fact that today’s children are not spending as much time with their friends in person. This means they aren’t really learning to reach each others’ emotion or give support. They truly lack in emotional intelligence when in fact these skills are so valuable. Studies prove that your social skills may be just as important as your intelligence when it comes to achieving success.
Now that we are able to pin down the challenges our children face, we will be better able to offer concrete solutions.