Written By Casey Castro
In the modern world we live in with technology so readily available, it can be hard to hold our childrens attention for very long. Especially with games being so bright and colourful and technology being so easy to use in their little hands.
Children (and adults) of all ages love the pull of a device. They just can’t get enough. They are instantly rewarded with sounds and pictures that lure them in and keep them wanting more. The instant gratification is second to none. However, these devices are the ultimate timesuckers. Games and tv shows tend to be relatively addictive for children. Keeping kids using the device or watching the tv show as long as possible is the goal of these apps and shows. Who hasn’t been sucked into a binge watching session of a (new) favourite show on tv? Netflix anyone?
Valuing time is an important concept for children to understand. It will carry them throughout their lives, well into adulthood.
When we place value on our time it sets boundaries and reminds us that when we sharpen our attention on things that are important, we can stay focussed on the task at hand or the goal in mind. This can be a tricky concept for some adults, let alone children. The value of time should not be underestimated, without it we cannot function in our everyday lives. We will struggle to set boundaries, fall behind in school and underperform at work. Not exactly the bright future we are looking for for our children.
When you set time constraints for children throughout the day it shows them how to place value on their time. As adults, we do this regularly day to day. We set meetings, we schedule time to do exercise, go to work, cook dinner, bath, socialise, the list goes on. Children look to the adults as their examples, by setting positive examples we are showing them that we value our time.
Sitting quietly with children, without distractions is a great way to start. Letting them know that while it is ok to use devices/watch tv etc it is important to place a time limit on these things. Depending on the age of your child the first step might be the put restrictions (parental controls) on the device itself, removing the remote controls, or simply discussing the time restraints you are setting. For older children, letting them know they have X amount of time, and reflecting that time onto a clock, ie when the big hand reaches 6 the tv/device will be turned off. These are great ways to start. For older children you can set chores or tasks for them to complete, such as doing 30 minutes of homework each day, packing lunchboxes in the morning, setting the table, reading for 30 minutes each day etc. Or more everyday tasks such as setting the dinner table each night, feeding pets, doing dishes and or laundry. When we set these small tasks ask them to time how long each tasks takes and add up that time. This gets them thinking about prioritising their time to do the things that need to be done on a day to day.
We can create an interactive exercises with children to help them understand this value. Setting time aside each day as special time with them. Set it as a half an hour or an hour of time for the child. During this time you might chose do play, do some art, or make something. This might be a time of reflection where you simply discuss your days with each other. This will vary between individual children and their age groups. You can use this time to do exercise together or meditate together. Whatever it is, schedule it like you would a meeting for work. Set that time aside. Show them that it is important. This will teach them the importance of setting time constraints around something important with someone else. This will also show them that you make time for them, regardless how busy life gets, that family is important. They will remember that time as they grow into adults and it will become a valuable lesson that they have learned.