Missing a childhood hurts your child

Not long ago, an article written by Rachel Macy Stafford for the Deseret News began a viral trend in the western United States.  It’s title: How to miss a childhood — The dangers of paying more attention to your cell phone than your children.

Stafford, in her semi-satirical piece, gives a series of instructions to parents on what they must do in order to miss a childhood using only a cellular phone.  She addresses what has become a reality in the 21st-century, an abundance of mobile technology and a generation of parents who are so well-tuned into that technology that they tend to be oblivious to anything else.  Stafford’s premise is that a terrific amount of damage is being done to a child’s development because of parental distraction.

Stafford’s premise just became much more substantial.  A UCLA pediatrician is postulating “benign parental neglect” could be a cause behind the rapid growth of childhood mental disability in recent years.

Dr. Neal Halfon, director of the UCLA Center for Healthier Children, Families, and Communities, references the latest issue of brookings and Princton’s “The Future of Children,”  which says that over the last several decades, physical disabilities in children have become less common, while mental disabilities are on a rapid rise.  According to the study, “the top five limiting conditions of children have been behavioral or developmental” over the past few years, and such developmental disabilites cause more problems that affect adult health, years of schooling, employment, marital status, and family income.

Halfon, in his article, said he observed a mother and her happy, smiling baby are playing together before boarding a flight at the airport. Suddenly, mom was distracted by her cell phone, and quickly shifted her attention.  Ignored, the baby slowly became agitated.  Between text messages, mom gently patted baby to try and calm her down, but to no avail.  After a few short moments, the baby also disconnects and begins to stare listlessly into the fluorescent lighting of the airport.

Similarly, Halfon also observed a father and his toddler at a restaurant. While mom ran an errand, dad checked his phone, halfway ignoring the projectile food his son was launching.  Dad put away the phone and played with his boy for a few minutes, then whipped out his phone a second time and both watched a video together.

These scenes are remarkably common in today’s world, which is why Halfon says the causes behind the 21st-century proliferation of autism and ADHD among other childhood disorders might be hiding “in plain sight.” He asks what could be done to correct this problem without providing a solution of his own.
Therefore, here are five tips that can help you reengage with your children and potentially prevent your child from developing a behavioral disorder.
  1. Learn the difference between the urgent and important – A phone that rings is urgent, but may not be important.  Your child is important, but may not always be urgently clamoring for your attention, and the older kids get, the less of your attention they want.
  2. Set an example – Your kids are watching you.  Never underestimate the power of a positive role model. If you can treat your gadgets like the tools they are, odds are your kids will come to a novel realization: gadgets are tools.
  3. Set boundaries for yourself – Believe it or not, your Facebook and emails will be there later.  It’s completely acceptable to shut the phone or computer off for a while.  Set a time schedule to shut it off, and stick to it.
  4. Talk to your kids – How much do you really know about them?  If you were given a diploma for how well you know your kids, would it be a master’s degree or a GED certificate?
  5. Play with your kids – This could be any number of things.  Ride a bike, read a book, play catch, kick a ball around, play a board game, teach a skill, build something, go to a theme park, or teach the child to read and write.  Here’s an insider’s tip – you don’t have to spend a lot of money with this one.

Source : http://familynews.com/missing-a-childhood-hurts-your-child/

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