Parents, Take the Pledge!
Be present for your family’s Mental Health.
Let’s create a pledge that is built by all of us. There are so many more social cues to teach our children in this world now. Please share all of your ideas with the group. So far, many of you have mentioned, being present. Well, let’s discuss what that means first.
Paying attention to your child, having eyes on them, being aware of where they are, who they are with, asking about their day, their friends, their interests, their colours, favourite movies, shows, crafts, birds, animals, places, sports, music, art, teaching them skills like baking or cooking, hugging them, putting them to bed, reading to them, everything really. Your life was chosen for you when your child arrived.
Not being Present:
Not talking to your child, not interacting with them during the day, not hugging them, ignoring them for 3 hours at a time (or whatever the # is for your child), not feeding them, not bathing them, not reading to them or not putting them to bed, if you are playing with them and still checking your phone, you are not giving them your full attention. Yelling at them because you want to be on your phone (this happens), and simply not spending time with your child.
If you are at their game/practice, being on your phone is not being present. They want to know you saw their amazing goal, pass, save etc. I have seen children come off the ice or court and ask their parents, “Why do you even come if you are on your phone?” Children feel like they are being neglected.
Having interviewed young parents and observing young families, moms and dads are on their phone much more which is worse for a child’s need for bonding and their stage of security attachment. This must take place or children will misbehave in different ways later on. Don’t sit them in front of a TV or screen. These are clearly not acceptable to a child’s development.
Here are some ideas we can work from:
- Parents try not to go on our phones in front of our children.
- If you have work to do, do it at a desk or table.
- Be Present, meaning, don’t go on your phone while your children are in the room with you. They need to build their security and attachment bond with you. If they miss this gap it could increase their risks of mental health disorders.
- While feeding my children or babies, I will not use technology and instead sing, talk and bond with them.
- Teaching children how to look at the person who is talking to you.
- No technology at the dinner table. No TV’s either. None. If one screen is on some people say that their children will lose their focus from the table.
- All technology needs a docking station in a home. All Tech should be docked an hour before bed. As an example, children can only be on a device for 30 minutes after dinner in our house, everything is on the counter or area set up for this.
- A reward system is extrinsically motivated, not intrinsically, but may work, try what works, but be aware of your reward. A reward could be time with you.
- Reading to your children every night will help develop their social and emotional skills while developing their security attachment with you.
- I will teach my children to demonstrate proper etiquette in a group and private setting.
- I will properly socialize my children by encouraging them to play sports, join music or arts and activities.
- I will try to organize their weeks and know who will be carpooling ahead of time.
- I will organize play dates locally to make it easier for all involved and know they are important to your social development.
- I understand the pressures to keep up with your friends on Social Media and will teach you how to balance that time and the dangers and security risks involved.
- I will try to go with my kids outside for over an hour a day. This is not age dependent, all ages can be outside. Children can go to parks, schools, hang out, malls, get ice cream, go to the store etc…
- Keeping alarm clocks in their rooms from an early age helps prevent cell phones going into rooms.
- I will set up cell phone free zones in my home. For example, no cell phones on the second floor or in bedrooms.
- I will not go on my device while I watch your game because you are more important.
- I will try to teach you to not use your phone at school.
- I promise to educate myself about Nomophobia and know the signs of this addictive behaviour. I will keep up on mental health statistics, on suicide rates and anxiety that have tripled since 10 year ago.
- We will set up play date guidelines while your friends are over.
- Keeping your handheld device use to 7 hours per week.
- I will sign this pledge with you and keep it visible for all our family to see.