Tips of the Month for Families are regular tips for building strong relationships and healthy families. If you would like to sign up to receive these tips, scroll to the bottom of the page and sign up.
In a world with few easy solutions, here’s one that might make your children’s homework time instantly more productive: Create a No Smartphone Zone.
Researchers at the University of Texas and the University of Michigan reviewed fifty years of studies representing the findings across more than 160,000 children. What they found was that the more children are spanked, the more likely they are to show aggressive and anti-social behavior and to manifest mental health and cognitive difficulties. These researchers concluded that spanking harms children in ways not unlike the harm from physical abuse.
For most of our sons and daughters, especially the tweens and teens, Facebook has become almost as essential as food, air and water. With adolescent identity development oriented so much around the peer group, Facebook and other social media are powerful vehicles mediating how our kids experience themselves within their social universe. Is the impact largely positive, negative, or neutral?
We increasingly hate to wait. If waiting is a kind of muscle, it's fair to say we're exercising it less now that packages arrive the same or next day, Visa and Mastercard let us bring stuff home right now, and our devices cushion the waiting-in-line distress while we surf the Internet or read and send texts. Waiting is unlikely to go extinct any time soon, despite its evolution through the decades.
Do our kids' ever-present devices prevent them from experiencing in-between moments when they aren't engaged in something — bored moments when there's "nothing to do"? The idea of "nothing to do" seems quaintly old-fashioned in a world where kids busy themselves texting or online, filling every micro-moment. Once upon a time, they might instead have done a bit of daydreaming or reflecting on the past, musing about the future, observing the people and space around them, or…
Perhaps the toughest thing when our children cry are the emotions their tears trigger in us: empathic upset and sadness, plus a sense of helplessness that comes from thinking we need to do something while unsure what that would be. If we ourselves feel uncomfortable with those emotions -- upset, sad, helpless -- our kids' tears will be that much harder for us to be around.
Your daughter comes home in tears. She can barely choke out words to describe the mean things some girls said to her on the school bus. You listen to her story and try to comfort her. If you’re really skilled, you’ll offer her attunement.
Imagine that for twenty minutes, your 4-year-old has been fussing at the playground, crying and complaining and kicking sand at other children. Feeling growing irritation, you inch toward delivering a serious scolding. But you sense the watchful eyes of parents nearby, and so you suppress your feelings and handle the moment with faked aplomb.