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Family Matters: COMMUNICATION with your KIDS in 2015

kids pictureKids, both preteens and teens have all kinds of toys they use for communication these days; smart phones, iPods, iPads, tablets, laptops, etc…They are texting, snap chatting, using Instagram, and Tweeting. Communication is so different than when I was growing up in the 70’s.

If you are a parent like I am, you may be worried about how to talk to your kids when they are spending what seems like every minute on a device of some sort. Even when they are with their friends, the devices are out and there is little face to face communication.

Good communication with your child/children is imperative to good parenting and to helping your kids develop the communication skills they need for the future.

Communication is a three step process: Talking * Listening * Feedback

We all must master these three steps in order to make communication as productive and meaningful as possible. Being able to talk and articulate your needs, feelings and desires. Being able to listen and really hear another person and lastly providing feedback on what was said in the conversation. These three steps complete the communication process.

The abundance of screens is not limited to our kids; parents have to put down their devices as well to have conversations. Role modeling the behavior we ask from our children is an important part of their learning. Insist that devices be put away when you are speaking face to face with your child. Here are some other suggestions:

Plan family time with no devices – dinners, game nights, a hike. Find activities that interest the kids and require them to put the devices down. If you’re going to get some new games in, you could pop over here and see if there are any discounts to be had online – because we all love saving money! Whatever you end up doing, in my house I call this device-free time “mandatory family fun”.

Limit screen time – set limits on screen time. It’s okay to set limits, you are the parent. Too much screen time has the ability to wreak havoc with the health of your eyes, and the blue light that glares off the screens can disrupt sleeping patterns, as well as irritating your eyes. This could eventually lead to them having to wear blue light blocking glasses to help protect the eyes from such harshness. So setting a limit on your children’s screen time could be more important than you think. Kids thrive on structure and may secretly thank you for allowing them some “unplugged time”.

Keep devices out of bedtime – studies show that preteens and teens need time before bed to unwind and become “unstimulated”. The lights and movements on a screen can cause insomnia and kids who sleep with their phones are less likely to get the sleep they need.

This is no easy task, asking kids to put down the device that has become a third appendage, however, in time we will all benefit from the simple art of face-to-face communication.

Our kids need the art and skill of face to face communication, in 2015 and beyond. Good communication skills are needed for success in school, work and relationships. Teaching communication now is a lifelong skill.