We live in a completely different world, to the one that we grew up in. Every parent constantly asks themselves, if they are doing the right thing, regarding their parenting – after all, it is one of the most important jobs in life, that does not come with a hand book! Parents work long hours, and kids are tech mad – in fact keeping their tech time, limited is a daily challenge! Holidays are coming, and working parents do not get as much time off as their kids do, so childcare can be a hugely challenging task, and a costly exercise. However, many parents fall into the trap of also feeling that they have to micromanage their child’s ‘entertainment’ during the weeks that they do have time together. You really don’t need to do this, and their activities do not need to cost the earth.
1) Children NEED down time. They need time to just be. They need to know what boredom feels like – because then they will be forced to use their imagination. They need to experience quiet and calm, and reduced sensory input. Unstructured play is actually really good for them. I encourage all my parents, to build in down time, for their children, on a daily basis.
2) Restrict screen time.
Too sedentary a lifestyle, is having a serious impact on our children’s mental health and physical wellbeing. Screen time, certainly does not help. It over stimulates the brain and restricts visual development, as well as cognitive and in some cases, emotional function on many levels. Face-to-face contact is essential and screen time is affecting this factor in relationship building. (I’ve even seen buggies with i-pad stands, and potties, with inbuilt i-pad stands!) Who on earth thought that was a good idea? Awful. Just awful. We too readily thrust a screen in front of our children, to keep them quiet. Sad, but true.
3) Get outdoors! Get out, get down and dirty. Climb trees, build dens, run around bare foot! Roll down hills, swing, jump, move! Seriously, all these things are so important for our children, developmentally speaking. Swathes of articles are written on the subject. I could go into detail from a reflex integration point of view – but not now.
You may want to liaise with a group of friends, so there are several children together, and go down to the local common, or woods – then let them loose! Give them time to explore, to use their imaginations and to climb trees. Yes, climb trees and risk falling out and hurting themselves! The action of climbing trees builds up the muscle tone in their arms, necks and eyes. It helps cross lateral stimulation in the brain, which is essential for reading, writing and mathematical patterning. Near and far vision is exercised. Problem solving – how am I going to get up, and how am I going to get down, again? And if they fall? They learn to pick themselves up, dust themselves off, and try again. Resilience is an attribute that needs to be developed and encouraged. The benefits are endless.
Go barefoot. Get them grounded.
4) But, the most important advise I can give, is spend time together – face to face, one – to -one. Talking, reading together, laughing and loving. No screens – and I am speaking to myself here, as much as anyone else.
Go out on a sunny, but slightly cloudy day, and lie in a field, and look at the clouds. What do they look like? Have a giggle together.
When was the last time you camped out in the garden and looked up at the starry night sky? Go and build a den with your children, go for walks, go boating, go paddling in a stream, climb trees, roll down hills, swing on swings, spin around on roundabouts, go for a bug hunt in a meadow. Bird spotting, frog spawning, pond dipping. Raise their curiosity about the world we live in. Litter pick – teach your kids that it is their responsibility to clear up after themselves. It should not be someone else’s job.
Being with our children, does not have to cost the earth, but it can help us all to fall in love with our world, all over again – and the health and wellbeing benefits are too numerous to mention.
And if you want to discuss more about your child’s development, call me: 07863223287 or email; firstname.lastname@example.org. I’d love to speak to you.