Have you ever felt like every time you turn around that the news about this generation of children is just sad and scary? There was an article on CNN.com yesterday about how 1 in 7 children and teen have a mental health condition (and that half go untreated). Couple that with the statistics cited for all the new childhood epidemics, including asthma, ADHD/ADD, allergies and allergic eczema, food allergies and intolerances, celiac disease, obesity, learning disorders, autism, depression and anxiety, growing rates of suicide…people wonder what is going on with this generation of children?
We already know much of the answer to that:
- Many are experiencing a hectic, arrythmical life, sometimes due to parental choice but sometimes due to no fault of the parents – the fact is that economically the entire family may have to work long hours just to cover rent and put food on the table
- Many children are experiencing lack of loving adult presence – some children do not have a lot of parental presence, true community, or extended family involvement
- Many are not experiencing enough movement, free play, or time outside in nature; too much adult-directed activity from an early age
- Increasing land, food, air, and water toxicity
- Many are experiencing too much screen time and not enough sleep
- Many are not experiencing enough loving boundaries and not enough true and deep present attention …. If children could regulate themselves like adults and adult like an adult, they wouldn’t need a childhood. They could go straight into adulthood!
- An increasing academic load from preschool onward that doesn’t account for the neurologic development of the brain nor how humans learn best. Hint: it’s not just through worksheets and pencil/paper work
- Stress about college and grades from the earliest of teen years (or even before) onward
So, what can YOU do as a parent to protect your children and provide a stable upbringing for your children so they can become healthy adults? I have some ideas!
Cut out screens when you are home and replace it with time outside; free play; undirected play, and yes, even play that you used to do that is now considered risky, like climbing trees and being out in the woods.
Set times that your children need to be outside if you live in an area that can support that. Otherwise, make going to places of nature a priority on weekends.
Teach your children how to do things around the house and give them chores to do. Do them as a family and teach them how to do it first, and then let them take responsibility
Set bedtimes and mealtimes. Have a family night; spend time together, and expect good manners as a way of showing each other that you love each other.
Cut down the hectic pace of your life as much as possible! Your children won’t die if they don’t do every extra-curricular activity under the sun
Get your own baggage and woundedness in order! Your children deserve your time, your energy, your attention. They need you to be your best you so you can support them!
Teach your children healthy habits about sleep, food, water, movement, how to deal with physical illness with both regular and alternative medicince and when they are old enough techniques for mindfulness and how to deal with stress. Model this for them yourself!
Look at the child in front of you and what he or she needs. Look at what boundaries would help balance them and make them healthy and set those boundaries lovingly.
Learn how to communicate lovingly with your children and guide them.
Protect them from stress. They shouldn’t have to handle stress like a 40 or 50 year old adult.
Promote developmental education in your school systems or homeschools that include the arts, movement, volunteering, mindfulness, activities of kindness. If you want to know what this would look like or what you could do, please email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I would love to hear your ideas!