Today’s generations always have so much to do.
Go back a century and life was slower. Children went to school, played with their friends after school, and returned home to do their chores. Maybe, after dinner and the evening chores were done, they headed outside to play until it got dark.
Today’s children are often so overscheduled – with school, play dates, and extracurricular activities – that there’s no time for kids to just be kids anymore. Add the fact that even toddlers now know how to use technology, like iPads and mobile phones, and kids are growing up faster than ever before.
Sometimes kids just need to slow down – or stop altogether – and be allowed to be children. You can help your child learn to slow down or to stop by ensuring you:
Teach your child that slow is okay. How many times in a day do you tell your child to hurry up or let’s go now? Children are taught from an early age that life is all about rushing. We’re always hurrying from here to there and to get this done or that done. Sometimes the “hurry up” even comes with an ultimatum. “If you’re not ready to go and in the car in five minutes, you’re grounded for a week.”
A child who is constantly rushed starts to think that he must rush in everything he does, including schoolwork. Show your child that life isn’t always about hurrying with your everyday situations. Instead of eating a quick dinner on the couch at night, sit down as a family at the dinner table and make conversation as you eat. Develop a “stop and smell the roses” mentality, at least some of the time… And do this yourself!
Make sure your child has free time. Our overscheduled generations of children need time to just be, so ensure your child has free time every day to play, to read, or to just do nothing. A child who is constantly busy and on the go may become extremely bored during that free time – and that’s okay. Children need to learn how to deal with boredom and out of boredom often comes creativity.
Encourage your child’s imagination. Our bodies don’t always have to be active. We don’t always have to be on the go. Sometimes one of the best ways to encourage our children’s memory and creativity is to engage in imagination play. If you have a young child, make up stories together, going with whatever fun creeps into your child’s imagination. If you have an older child, you might want to encourage him to write fiction or to film a short movie on his mobile phone. Nurturing your child’s imagination will also allow him to slow down from the hectic pace of everyday life.
Talk to your child. Is your child happy with his fast-paced schedule? Does he enjoy all of his extra activities and classes? Talk with your child to find out what he thinks about his life. Maybe the hectic schedule is making him feel sick every day or is wearing him out, and he’s too afraid to tell you. Talk and listen to your child.
Spend time together as a family. Is everyone in your family so busy that the days just melt into weeks and you feel as though it’s been ages since you’ve all spent time
together – alone – as a family? Carve time out each week to allow your family to slow down or to stop together. Designate one day of the week as family movie night or as family game night. Family time will help you strengthen your bond with your children, will allow your entire family to relax, and will give your children a well-deserved break. Your best bet is to schedule family night rather than just say “one night a week.” By not designating a day, you’re more likely to put it off until another night and that other night may not come for weeks.
Allow yourself to slow down and to stop. Do you ever slow down or stop to just enjoy life? Or are you as overscheduled and is life as hectic f
or you as it is for your child? Before you can help your child learn to slow down, you need to learn how to slow down – and sometimes stop – yourself. Lead by example. You can’t tell your child he needs to slow down if you don’t or won’t slow down yourself.
Read with your children. Wouldn’t it be amazing if our children had a stop button? If we could just hit a magical button and our kids would stop or slow down to really enjoy their childhood? The Stop Lights: To Help Children Stop gently guides parents and their children on how to stop – like a traffic light directs the flow of traffic, you can direct your children to stop, to slow down, or to go.