Saying YES to Summer!

Children’s Screen Time Action Network has some great ideas for summer – like saying YES to kids and helping them learn resourcefulness. Check out their article below:

For most of us, school is out already and we’re in those transition weeks that can produce anxiety, both for us and the kids. Ok. So I see that parents are sick of hearing that they have to set screen limits. Like Advisory Board member Dr. Meghan Owenz says, “If you offer more fruits and vegetables, it edges out room for the donut.” Hence, my message this week is less about screen limits and more about the opportunities that a little extra time can bring to families.

Here are four ideas that go beyond summer tip lists:

1) Say ‘yes’ a lot!  It feels so good to say ‘yes.’ A simple thing… but so contrary to the many, many times we have to say ‘no’ to our kids. In our house, we had a Mom-says-yes day and a kids-say-yes day every summer. (Of course dads can do it, too!) I suggest doing the parent day first. There was a low-price limit on what they could ask – have a friend over, have dessert first, stay in our pajamas all day, go to McDonald’s (shhhh – don’t tell anyone at CCFC!) But, it brought so much joy. And the kids-say-yes day got a lot of chores done!

What I learned: I can do anything for one day. When kids are allowed to choose, they can make good choices and know their limits.

2) Don’t try to keep up with the Joneses. They’re exhausted! Discussion about trips and camps can be downright cutthroat. While we did our share of both, the best excursions were local hikes, museums, and lakes with peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. As in life, buying an expensive summer doesn’t guarantee happy memories. You’re still juggling work, maybe adjusting your hours or working at home more, maybe driving your older kids to summer jobs. Added pressure to spend more and run more will only spread anxiety to the kids. What we think they want and what they really need—quality time with family and friends—are two different things.

What I learned: A break from the stress of school (especially for high schoolers) is best when there isn’t added pressure to make the summer perfect.

3) Trust that kids can and will entertain themselves. As long as they are safe and fed, kids will find something to do – if we let them. Boredom helps kids make their own meaning of life. Of my kids, Evan was the best at coming up with ideas and playing by himself. But, the others came around to it also, if I was willing to gently remind them, “Mommy is working right now.”

What I learned: I can put up with a little whining to build resourceful kids. The whining goes away after they know you mean business. And when everyone’s tired, you can give in to the temptation to have a little screen time now and then – once you’ve checked that it’s ad-free!

4) Set expectations. Those of you who have been with me for a while know this is my go-to parenting advice. The more you can talk about the new routine ahead, let them draw pictures of it, or have a visual calendar (not just on your phone), the better their behavior. Some surprises and flexibility are important as well. But, kids thrive on a little routine, even in the summer months.

What I learned: Sometimes I had to repeat myself, but as long as we talked about it ahead of time, the summer months went easily – and often, too quickly.

If you have a loved one struggling with their personal life please contact Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.

Should Kids be on Social Media?

School is out for the summer! With it comes long days in the sun,
Popsicles, and the endless battle of screen time. Recently Screenagers
published some facts from a gathering of researchers who met recently
to discuss information on kids’ brains and screen addiction. Here are
some of their key points:

“American children spend more time in front of electronic screens than any other activity except sleeping. The brain becomes what the brain does.” Dr. Douglas Gentile

“Ditch the 1:1 program. They need smaller class size so they can better
know and connect with their teacher/guide.” Dr. Richard Freed

“Up to 9% of American youth may suffer from an addiction to games or
social media.” Dr. Paul Weigle

“The virtual world becomes your reality. The real world becomes an
inconvenience.” Adam Brooker, former gamer

“Porn consumption typically begins at the age of 8. When you give the kid a mobile device, you have to be okay with giving them porn. If you’re not
okay with that, it’s time to change things up.” Dr. Richard Freed

“During the evening when children should be finishing homework or
reading a book or cuddling with parent, is now used by screen time or
gaming. They are given a reward of finishing the day. It takes away from
ideal sleep.” Dr. Kenneth Weeks

“Kids should get bored when eating. That’s okay. That’s what’s supposed to happen. If they are eating in front of the screen, that won’t happen.” Dr. Jennifer McCauley

“The brain is a multi-switcher, not a multi-tasker.” Dr. Douglas Gentile

“It’s okay to delay entertainment screens until late adolescence.” Melanie

If you have a loved one struggling with screen addiction please contact Tamara Ancona, MA, LPC at (678) 297-0708 for an evaluation, and to discuss the best treatment options available.