Have you noticed that your kids are becoming more attached than ever to television, video games and texting? And the season doesn't seem to matter. During summer, with more free time and fewer structured activities, it's easy to turn to electronics for stimulation. In winter, the shorter daylight hours and long, dark evenings allow less time for outdoor play.
The latest Nielsen figures indicate that children are watching more TV than ever, and ages 2 to 5 watch more than 32 hours a week. While television time for children aged 6 to 11 drops slightly, due to school hours, it's still over 28 hours a week. That is, on the average, more than 4 hours a day. These numbers include VCR and game console usage but not time on the computer or playing hand-held video games.
Are you concerned about these staggering numbers? Child healthcare advocates certainly are. They warn that this increased television watching may be linked to two significant childhood issues: obesity and delayed language development. For the past decade, parents thought that educational baby videos would help their infants develop language skills but, instead, studies found that infants who watch these kinds of videos actually learn fewer vocabulary words than those who don't.
The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends only an hour or two of quality TV and videos for children older than 2 years and none for those below that age. What can you do, as a parent, to wean your children from excess hours of television and video games? Here are 6 tips to get you started as you craft a plan that works for your family.
1. It's not a simple process, but you can start by talking about why it's important to reduce your kids' electronic screen time. Help them see that watching less TV is not a punishment, but rather an important part of their growth. Convince them to buy into the value of unplugging, and you can all brainstorm together about other stimulating activities.
2. If you are a Sandwiched Boomer, single parent or working mother, you're likely already stressed by all the responsibility and may be tempted to use television as a baby sitter. Instead, encourage your children to help you while you are doing chores around the house - bring them into the kitchen to make dinner, let them fold their own laundry, create a game to see who can straighten up faster. Talk with your kids while you're doing your tasks and make them a part of the process.
3. Set aside time for them to play outside with their friends. Learn more about afterschool activities in which your kids can participate - at school, in your local community center, at the park. Check into summer reading competitions at your local library. Even with cutbacks due to the poor economic climate, you can find available creative and physical outlets.
4. Encourage your children to read instead of watching television or playing video games. With young children, read to them at night before bedtime. Think about how you can make reading more interactive and interesting for your older kids. Set an example - have a good book of your own handy so that you can sit down with them and read together. Help set up a children's book club for them and their friends.
5. Be a positive role model. Try not to leave the TV on as a background noise or a distraction. And don't watch TV yourself just to fill the time. When you watch only a few particular and favorite shows, your kids will better understand the restrictions you set for them.
6. Include your children in planning which shows they will watch and when. Remind them to limit their screen time to only the specific ones they have chosen. Set the amount of time they can play video games, hand-held or on the TV - perhaps specify days or times for this activity. Make up a chart so they can plan for the week. And have them be accountable by filling in the times they have watched.
7. Set family rules about what is and is not acceptable in terms of TV and video game usage. Let your kids know that you plan to be consistent in enforcing them. You can even buy a TV/video game time management tool that allows you to implement the time limits you have set with your children.
You may find that, as in any dramatic change, it takes many baby steps to change your kids' television viewing habits and video game-playing. When you feel overwhelmed by the thought of unplugging them and limiting their screen time, remind yourself that it is a process. Celebrate the progress that you're making to create a richer and more interactive environment for your children.
© 2010, Her Mentor Center
Rosemary Lichtman, Ph.D. and http:/
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self love, guilt, narcissistic, forgiveness, mother-daughter relationship, love, bipolar, resentment, difficult moms, mother's day, self, self love, moods, emotional neglect, anger, family, dysfunctional families, physical and emotional abuse, forgiveness
Are you dreading Mother's Day again this year and worrying about what to do for your mom? Perhaps you have never been close or are now estranged and feeling angry. Have you cut the mother-daughter ties and ignore the day, but remain resentful and sad? Or do you pretend everything is OK and give her a gift anyway? Even though the media lead us to believe that all mothers deserve flowers and chocolates, if you don't have a good relationship, this 'special' day can be agonizing.
Not all mothers are lovable. In fact, there are those who are hurtful, critical and even destructive. These heartbreaking truths can be related to your mom's severe psychopathology or a character disorder, her painful life circumstances or personal crisis. Maybe your mother is narcissistic, bipolar or suffers from alcohol or drug dependency. And you very well may have vivid memories of physical abuse or emotional neglect.
Are you fed up with trying to win her approval and be accepted for who you are? Or sick and tired of feeling guilty and blaming yourself for the problems in the relationship? Here are some ideas that can help you take better care of yourself, on Mother's Day and throughout the year:
1. Let go of the dream of having a loving mother and a relationship that is emotionally healthy. It's not easy to face the fact that your mom is self absorbed and has serious problems - or to fully acknowledge your pain in not having a 'good enough' mother. Once and for all, stand up and step back. Now is the time to shift the focus away from her. And begin to protect, nurture and mother yourself.
2. Feel more empowered as you practice self love. Make a list of all that you have achieved without the support of parental encouragement and assistance. Realize that these assets belong to you and you alone. If you've spent a lifetime trying to be taken care of or consumed with rage about not having that kind of love, it may be hard to see yourself as the valuable person you really are. You will come to know that you are not defined by your mom, but by what you envision yourself to be.
3. Focus on the positives of the life you've created. When you were young, your mom's actions or attitude may have made you feel worthless or invisible. Did you fantasize about getting out from under her control and moving far away? Now that you are perhaps married, with a family of your own and a successful life, you're no longer that helpless little girl. Admire and respect your grown up qualities - how responsible you are, being able to laugh at yourself, your fierce independence, common sense and good judgment.
4. Be clear about what you're willing to do. Perhaps your mother is older and still has unreasonable expectations of you yet doesn't value what you do for her. What you get in return may be criticism, arguments or tantrums. Try your best to stick to your rules by writing a list of what you will tolerate. And don’t assume that you have to do it all alone. Talk honestly about how you feel and encourage other family members to pitch in and do their share. Maintain firm boundaries as you handle these challenges. Some women have to work it out by walking away.
5. Refuse to respond to unrealistic demands - or even realistic ones that you can't meet because of how you feel or other commitments. You can create a more balanced sense of wellbeing by setting limits, especially if your mother is verbally abusive. You don't have to continue to identify with the role of the victim. Although you may not be able to change what happens to you, you can change how you handle it. Consider the possibility of seeing a therapist. Learning how to self soothe and manage your moods will help you feel more in control of your life.
As you continue to work on getting what you need and want, think about the possibility of offering forgiveness. Granted, your mom may have been incredibly damaging, making it difficult to accept yourself or trust others. But know that forgiving your mother for who she is and what she did to you doesn't necessarily excuse her actions. And starting to extinguish the feelings of rejection and resentment can mark a new beginning for you - a Mother's day gift that you give yourself, freeing you from the past.
© 2010, Her Mentor Center
Phyllis Goldberg, Ph.D. and http:/
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