It came to me like a thief in the night – stealing away the warm thoughts of the comfortable future I had dreamt for my children. It was the sudden realisation that our children are facing big challenges in today’s society, when compared to the generation that we were brought up in. We are now raising our children in a world of modern technology and digital distraction, where interaction with parents is limited by new factors. Although it is important to embrace the new digital age, it is equally important to realise the impact this technology will have upon our children's futures, growing up in today’s society. This is a silent tragedy, affecting many young families, and it's not too late to make changes to the family lifestyle, to help combat this.
As a parent, I have always felt that we have a duty to ensure that the children in our care, are offered a healthy and well-balanced diet, proper sleep, unstructured time and green space activity, every day. I have witnessed a real decline in behaviour, and a lack of social empathy and kindness in our generation of children. I worry about the society that our children will grow up in, once they leave the comfort of our homes.
When I was small we were encouraged into the garden and weren’t seen again until dinner time. During restaurant outings (a real treat in those days) we were well mannered at the table and became experts at using our paper napkins to create origami shapes, and used the insides of our bread rolls as play-doh. We actually had conversations with each other as a family, and really appreciated the new foods and experiences that we were being offered by our hard working parents. However, we were never brought up with a sense of entitlement, moreover a proper understanding of our own responsibility. Nowadays, an IPad is often handed to a child, as a matter of ‘survival’ or as a ‘coping mechanism’ in order for both the parents and the child to get through the meal together (I have been guilty of that). Children do not know how to cope with boredom anymore, and their brains have been overstimulated by an increase in screen time in all aspects of their daily life. How can we expect children to engage with us, when we are constantly distracted by our phones and computers. But does it really have to be this way?
It is not too late for parents to review their parenting, and offer children a well-balanced environment, in a world which has become financially challenging and educationally competitive. One of the sole reasons for creating the Timeout Bags concept, was to give our children time to simply ‘be children’, and to offer them a distraction from our main competitor from all our surveys – The IPad. Therefore, If we can get a percentage of children off their IPad for a period of time, freeing up their minds for creative thinking and problem solving, then we have met some of our main objectives and can rest easy at night. With this in mind, here are some recommendations we have put together of how you can make a change to your child’s development and independence, starting from today:
Give your children a well balanced nutrient rich diet, and limit snacks
Children are constantly growing and learning new knowledge. In order for them to grow properly, they should eat a well-balanced diet which is nutrient rich, with limited access to poorly nutritious snacks and calories.
Keep to children’s bedtimes, appropriate to their age
Sleep is necessary for growth and development. It's when the body repackages the chemicals that enable brain cells to communicate and develop. The body needs rest for new cells to grow.
Play one board game a day with your child
Not only does this allow children to learn how to think strategically and logically and understand ‘competition’ and how to cope with coming last, it also helps them develop their social skills whilst spending quality time with you.
Give praise when praise is due, not all the time
Don’t put your children on a pedestal, but don’t be a tyrant either – we're not talking about military parenting here. Acknowledge and reward your children for proper achievements, but not all the time. By doing this we make sure our children don’t have unfair expectations to live up to, once they leave us.
Set clear defined limits and guidance
Discipline brings stability and structure into our children's life. It teaches children to be responsible and respectful towards others. Life is full of boundaries and structure, especially in the workplace, please help your children get used to this.
Fit in one green space activity every day
This allows children to explore their environment, develop muscle strength and coordination, and gain self-confidence, not to mention the benefits of physical exercise on brain development.
Offer one family meal per day, with no telly
This helps children learn the benefits of conversation and discussing their day, including working through any problems they may need solving. It also encourages proper table manners and good eating habits.
Limit the time your child spends on their ipad and be strict with this
Engage in family activities that promote wellbeing, such as sports, reading, and talking with each other instead. Too much time spent using digital media can cause sleep problems and generate difficult behaviors, leading to poor sleep due to overstimulation.
Don’t think you are your child’s entertainer
Teaching children to learn to entertain themselves and cope with periods where nothing has been organised is the greatest and most simplest lesson of all. Instead, help children create their own activity ideas to cope with the ‘I am bored’ moments of their lives, and let children learn to be happy within their own company.