How to Keep Your Kids Happy On or Offline
By Sandy Schroeder
In the midst of all of the news about youth suicide rates, depression and anxiety, many parents may be wondering what to do next to help their kids grow up well-balanced and happy, but commonsensemedia.org says we can do it. They suggest we just rewrite the rules for the digital age.
Back to Basics
The traditional values of supportive relationships, strong character, feelings of self-worth, and one-on-one interactions between parents and kids still matter. You know who you are and who your kids are. Start with that information and shape an environment online and off that works for your family.
Here are some specific tips.
Help kids value themselves - In view of all of the online “likes,” it can be dangerous for kids to become obsessed with the opinions of others. Help them learn a variety of skills in many different areas. As they learn who they are, they will see their worth in their own accomplishments.
Go for the grit - Help your kids learn the process of trying, failing and trying again, not expecting everything to happen immediately. As kids learn that everybody makes mistakes and has to try again, they will be better able to weather life at home, school and online.
Help them learn gratitude - Whenever you can put words into action and involve your kids in projects that help others at animal shelters, hospitals, libraries or senior facilities, you are instilling the habit of helping others. They may practice that habit throughout their lives.
Head outside - Remind yourself and your kids just how great it is to be outside. Encourage walks, bike rides and wilderness hikes, as everybody puts down their phone and closes their laptops. A weekend camping or an afternoon boating tops just about anything available online.
Work out a balance - Weighing time online and off is definitely worth the effort. Kids can benefit from both if the balance is maintained. Shut down electronics to make room for suppers with family and friends. Set aside time to be online and then close down electronics when it’s time to go to bed. One-on-one communication and a good night’s rest are just as important as any email or text.
Keeping kids happy and moving forward isn’t easy, but it is possible if you are honest with them and they know you are there, and you care.
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