Do you get exhausted from managing all of your children’s activities, trying to fit everything into a busy week? The emphasis on after-school sports and learning can be a burden on both children and parents. Parents want to give their children a competitive edge, but the result is often fatigue and emotional barriers in the family. Slow parenting is a new trend in the US that was introduced by my friend and colleague, Carrie Contey, Ph.D., on the Today show yesterday. This approach, which I endorse, reflects a much-needed change in family values away from the hurried pace of life.
Because of the recession, some parents and kids have to stay home more, which can be positive. Slowing down benefits everyone in the family. An unstructured evening or hour can be an opportunity to reconnect emotionally and talk about things that are important rather than urgent. Children need down time to process their day. The emphasis on cognitive and skill development doesn’t address a child’s need for emotional development, which comes from having time to feel and talk and just be with yourself and others.
So what can you do together? Cut back on computer use and TV to have time for family relating. Enjoy cooking meals and eating together, playing board games, gardening, riding bikes, reading, and hanging out in the yard. Daydreaming is a very underrated activity that promotes self-reflection and imagination. Parents are often surprised by how much children love simple, spontaneous play.
It’s important for children to deeply realize that you love them for who they are, not for what they do. Slow down and allow time to show them your love.
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