FACT: Children aren’t functioning as well as they used to. At least not on an emotional, social and academic level.
Turns out we’re the problem. Parents today are unintentionally turning kids into easily frustrated, entitled and impatient individuals who have no real friends. Sheesh!
While our modern lifestyle may be affluent and full of advancements, it’s also one of the major reasons why the newest generation are struggling. (And why parenting is so hard right now too.) Thankfully it IS possible to turn things around though and help our kids.
If these words seem all too familiar or you’re hoping to avoid creating your own little monster, here’s what you need to know.
Moulding our kids in the wrong direction
Respected occupational therapist, Victoria Prooday, has been working with children, parents and teachers for many years now. She has observed first-hand that kids aren’t functioning as well as they used to. Plus the amount of learning disabilities and diagnoses has increased dramatically.
In her professional opinion, children are finding it so hard to learn and make genuine friendships now because we’ve been moulding their impressionable brains in the wrong direction. She also believes it’s why kids can’t entertain themselves and want everything instantly, among other issues battled by parents daily.
So, how on earth did this happen? As written in her article here, according to Victoria it’s because of five key factors. And almost all of us are guilty of them without even realising it. Let’s go through them:
While it’s a great ‘free babysitting’ option for busy modern parents, as most people are aware the repercussions of too much technology are huge. Not only can it affect sleep and behaviour, but it also impacts their ability to learn.
You see, compared to the mind-blowing world of virtual reality, everyday life is plain boring. When kids are in class listening to human voices and looking at books and other objects, it’s a lot less exciting than the video game special effects and interaction they’re used to. This then affects their learning because their brains can’t easily process lower levels of stimulation. Additionally, technology also decreases parental emotional availability – something that’s also essential for children’s brain development.
2. Giving kids everything they want instantly
Kids these days have no sense of delayed gratification, which is a key contributor for future success. When they’re hungry we produce snacks. When they’re bored we give them a device. Of course we want to make our children happy, but all these short-term quick fixes are actually doing them long-term damage.
If you can delay gratification it means you can function under stress. But because this is a foreign concept for today’s kids, they’re now becoming unable to deal with even the most minor amounts of stress. Such as their favourite flavour of ice-cream being sold out, or having to wait while you make lunch. Later down the track this can be a huge obstacle towards them succeeding in life.
3. Letting them rule
Who runs the world? Kids apparently. How many times have you heard a parent say their child doesn’t like vegetables, or doesn’t like to go to bed early? Or gets upset if they can’t watch TV? Without realising it we’ve let them dictate to us how to parent them. Yet things like poor diet, lack of sleep and too much screen time make kids terribly irritable, anxious and inattentive.
On top of this, we’re sending them the wrong message. We’re teaching them they can always get what they want and don’t want in life. There’s no concept of ‘need to do.‘ And this is a big problem, because in order to achieve goals in life you have to do whatever is necessary to get there. And often it’s something you might not want to do. For example a child who wants to be a good soccer player will never reach that goal if they don’t practice. Yet the disappointment will be real.
4. Creating endless fun and delaying responsibility
Children are rarely left alone quietly these days. There are no dull moments with multiple screens, interactive toys, games and outings to keep them constantly entertained. It’s an artificial world of fun for them, while we work and do whatever is needed around the house.
Kids should be made to help with chores or packing away toys. This repetitive work trains the brain to be workable and function in boredom mode – the same muscle required for learning at school. No wonder children find handwriting too hard and boring. Their workable muscle is not getting trained through all that fun.
5. Limiting social interaction
Thanks to our busy lifestyles, children are left to get busy on screens when they used to be playing outside. Yet natural environments are where they learn and practice social skills. And technology has also made parents less available to socially interact with their kids. Social skills are important in life, and need to be practiced just like any other skill.
So, what can we do?!
The good news is that we can prevent or repair the damage that’s been done. We can train our children’s brains to function successfully on social, emotional academic levels. And make an important difference to their lives. Here are Victoria’s tips:
- Limit technology and reconnect – Have family dinners and board game nights, go on walks together, write love notes in their school lunchbox, dance and play hide-and-seek.
- Train delayed gratification – Make them wait for things, being bored is the first step to creativity. Stop the constant snacks and avoid screens in cars and restaurants. Talk and play games instead.
- Set the limits – Make a schedule for when they eat, sleep and use screens. Get creative in giving them what is good for them, because usually it’s the opposite of what they want. Give them nutritious food, ensure they spend time outdoors and get decent sleep.
- Teach monotonous work – Get them used to doing ‘boring’ tasks from an early age as it’s the foundation for future ‘workability.’ E.g. folding laundry, setting the table, tidying up toys, making the bed. Where possible make it fun and stimulating so their brain associates it with something positive.
- Teach social skills – Such as taking turns, losing/winning, sharing, compromising, complimenting others, using ‘please’ and ‘thank you’.
Apparently once parents change their perspective on parenting, children also change. So if you really want to help your child succeed in life then there’s never been a better time to get training and strengthening their brain!
Having issues with school? Read more about what to do when your child absolutely hates school and how to help a child who is struggling at school.