Are you feeling a little fear and trepidation about your kids’ free time this summer and the issues it brings?Summertime means long stretches of downtime. It also means that computer, television, and smartphone screens are an appealing way to fill that time for most children. Maybe you are a little worried about the seemingly inevitable clashes over technology and screen use. It can be hard to know how to pull little (and big) eyes away from the draw of the flickering screen and how to create some memories that will last and be more meaningful than anything an online experience can offer. Managing screen time is a challenge for many families.
Brenda is a mom of three who follows our teaching closely. She shared this great story about how she dealt with technology obsession with the kids in her home.
Two summers ago we had such conflicts over screen time in our home it drove me crazy. My kids were determined to get their hands on some manner of glowing device – no matter what. I was equally determined they not rot their young brains with it, and the battle was on. So last summer I tried something bold. I told the kids there were no specific technology time limits for the summer. (Could that really work?!) You may even have a knot in your stomach reading about such a reckless plan. But it did indeed work incredibly well, and it’s our plan again this summer!
What were the secrets that made for such an amazing turn-around in this family’s screen time power-struggles using such a counter-intuitive approach? They are listed here in order of increasing importance:
It’s summer again, and you know what that means: a totally different rhythm to schedules and family time, with lots of time for connection… and conflict.
There are long, glorious days ahead: sunshine, free time and the slower pace of summer means that you can create lasting family memories. It also means more time for tempers to flare–yours and your kids’–when expectations for a great memory-worthy summer don’t happen the way we imagined. We don’t want you to feel like you are just biding your time until school returns. You can make the most of your family time this summer, and make it the best summer yet with grace and connection.
We thought we’d help you kick off your summer by re-sharing one of our favorite summer posts — 4 tips to help you retain your parenting sanity this summer.
Developing empathy for others is one of the greatest gifts we can give our kids. It’s a “must have” if we want to equip them for healthy intimate relationships in life.
Every child is capable of learning empathy, but it can be quite difficult to learn (especially if your child is experiencing a lot of anxiety and stress in life).
In fact, often we expect our kids to just “know” how to be empathetic, even when things are stressful. In the heat of conflict, I may ask, “Do you know how [your sibling] feels right now!?” and expect my child to be able to give an insightful answer.
If our kids really could respond insightfully at that point, they might say something like this: “Regretfully, I don’t know how my sibling feels. My brain is in a fight/flight state, and my amygdala has shut down what little there is of my still quite immature frontal lobe, including the section* where I can process empathy. So my sister might as well be speaking Wookie.”
Clearly, the starting point for teaching kids empathy is not in the heat of the moment.
We learned this pretty quickly with our kids. Our oldest son, Daniel, was dealing with the stress of an extremely gifted brain and intense emotions. He didn’t easily “step into another person’s shoes” or perspective, especially when upset. Bethany generally understood others’ feelings but had difficulty verbalizing her own during conflict resolution. Our youngest, Noah, was a happy-go-lucky guy who simply didn’t think about feelings a lot. We had our work cut out for us.
We learned some practical ways to help all our kids develop the rich emotional insight that has equipped them for wonderful relationships in life – with each other and others. The framework that guided us in our early years was particularly helpful in this challenge of developing empathy.
Let’s take a look at how each level of the Framework informs our approach to developing empathy in our kids.
Everyone would agree that loving our children is one of the most important things a parent can do.
But sometimes expressing that love isn’t as easy as it sounds. Sarafina wrote about a breakthrough she had in learning to connect with an extremely angry child:
We’re excited to introduce you to Sukay, the newest addition to our parent coaching team, and to share with you a story from her parenting journey. (Feel free to leave her a note of welcome in the comments!)
Whether or not they verbalize it, kids often struggle with feeling like they are “bad kids” or that they are “naughty” when they misbehave. It can be tough for parents, especially in moments of frustration as our kids are acting out, to communicate the message that they are loved no matter what even if their behavior may be less than desirable. The following story is an example from my own family life of a time when I discovered a great opportunity to communicate this message.
We talk to parents about discipline a lot. We talk about our entire Framework and how it underpins true discipline — how parents need to be safe, connect with their kids, coach them to be capable and wise decision-makers, and then help them take responsibility.
But sometimes once parents have wrestled with all this, they still ask, “Okay, so what does that look like in the heat of the moment, when my child has just done that thing they often do and we’re both on the edge of losing it?”
Well, here are three totally concrete, practical examples of ways to live out safe, loving discipline with your kids, even when the heat is on!
We all want to parent our kids well, and especially to feel confident as we discipline our children. But many parents, in their efforts to discipline their children, miss what we think is a key ingredient.
The secret? Connection.
From our years parenting our three intense kids and working with hundreds of parents, we know that one of the keys to effective discipline is connecting right in the middle of it all — making sure our kids know that they are safe, loved, and valued no matter what, even when they misbehave!
Check out these three videos where we dig into some of the ways that connection can make all the difference with our kids — even in the middle of discipline situations!
As you’re heading into some potentially stressful situations over the next few days (changing schedules, relatives who might judge your parenting, or not feeling connected to your kiddos) take an hour and listen to this encouraging podcast where Jim and Lynne were interviewed by Heather MacFadyen of the God Centered Mom podcast.
Highlights of their conversation (and why you might want to listen to the whole thing!):
- Why kids can behave better at school/other places and fall apart at home.
- Helping your kids get through challenging scenarios well, like traveling and restaurants.
- How to connect with your kids when we don’t even like them.
- Dealing with your need to get parents’ approval (the grandparents) when kids misbehave.
- What to do when you are trying to connect with your child and they are not responding.
So, maybe on your drive to your holiday gathering, or maybe while you are in the bathroom taking an especially long time putting on your make-up and doing your hair, listen to this interview. You’ll be refreshed, encouraged and challenged. And you might even come out on the other side of Christmas with an extra measure of joy!
Be the change — help reach double as many parents by donating towards our $50,000 matching grant before Dec. 31. There’s still $20,000 left to go, but with your donation (even a small one!) more parents than ever can experience profound transformation. Donate here.