The importance of playing with kids, how to engage them and how to deal with it if the parent is tired or out of ideas
Sociologists suggest that we are and will continue to experience a Global Loneliness Epidemic. ‘By 2030, depression will be the single biggest cause of disease worldwide’~ World Health Organisation. One of the possible reasons is that we are interacting digitally more than we are ‘humanly’. We are in chat rooms and on social-networking sites interacting virtually with each other rather than in the analogue world sitting in cafes with others. A number of studies now suggest that this can be associated with depression, particularly in teens and preteens.
We all need to remember that human beings are designed to bond and interact with other humans, we are social animals. The first human contact a child has is with their parents. Your child needs attention; for parents to be able to inculcate the right values and help children deal with what life has in store for them, they need to spend quality time. Today however with both parents working they are spending lesser time with their kids, to add to that the spare time that parents and children have is taken up by technology and social media.
If you look around you will notice that children today are emotionally disconnected. Parents as well as children are preoccupied in maintaining a digital online version of themselves. Even on Facebook the world of our friends appears rosier that it is - fooling our brain into thinking our lives are not as happy fulfilled etc than those of our peers. You only see pictures of happily married couples, no fights or divorces, etc. which indicates that life is a bed of roses. Today children prefer spending time at home with their laptops rather than step out and play or even go out to a cafe to grab a cup of coffee with friends.
Parents need to make sure there is a family routine. Spending a minimum of 1 -2 hours per day with your child playing board games, or colouring or even listening to music and chatting away to glory is good. Here are a few points that parents can flow to engage their children
- Limit screen time, not just the use of internet – Excessive exposure to any activity will become a bane, hence it is important to limit screen time. Speak to your children and come to a mutual consensus on the number of hours they would like to spend in front of a screen (TV, Video games, laptop or phones), plan out other activities they can do with the spare time they have.
- Guide them to use technology for constructive purpose - Technology can be used for reading, enhance analytical skills, edit videos and more, we as parents need to guide them and keep them engaged at every step.
- Encourage physical interaction to develop interpersonal skills – Encourage your children to interact with other children. Let them take up a class of their choice (Art, dance, music etc). Or encourage them to play outdoor games. This increases physical interaction with other people and thereby improves interpersonal skills.
- Fix time for family, use this time for various activities outdoor as well as indoors - there has to be a fixed time of the day when the full family sits together and interacts, you can play board games, have a story telling session, draw, head to a nearby park etc. Children need to have a sense of belonging which comes only when a family spends time together.
- Limit access to sensitive sites, chat rooms etc – It is very important to put child locks on sensitive sites and chat rooms, only because you cannot be monitoring what your child is doing 24/7 and you need to make sure of your child’s safety.
- Put your phones and laptops down when talking to your children – Children learn from their parents, if you want children to pay attention to what you are saying, you need to build that habit by giving them complete attention when they are talking to you.
- Read bedtime stories to your children – Stories play an important part in developing a child’s brain. Make is a habit to read bedtime stories to your children and once readable age let you child read stories to you. Children eventually also learn to make their own stories.
- Take technology free vacations regularly – Take regular vacations with your children and make sure you leave technology and social media behind
Let’s spend a minimum of half an hour with our children every day and work towards making a better tomorrow for our children by guiding them through this phase of uncertainty where exponential growth of technology will further advance and change our lives.