Distracted Parenting

If you have been to the playground, you know “that kid.” He is the one running around wild and crazy while his parent is on the cell phone or talking to the mommy group completely oblivious. Or, perhaps at times, you have been “that parent.”

I know there have been times that I get lost in conversation with a friend, only to find out that my son decided stick fighting with a baby would be a good idea. Even at home, I hear shouts of “play with me” or “look at me, Mommy.”

Unintentional childhood injuries are up 10% from 2007 to 2012 according to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). Most likely, this increase is due to the increased disengagement of parents due to cell phone usage.

However, distracted parenting has been around long before the days of media. We can get engrossed in even seemingly good things, such as reading books, crocheting a blanket, talking to a friend, filling out paperwork at the doctor’s office, or playing with another child.

It is important to note that we cannot always give our children our full attention. But, we do need to be intentional with our time with our kids. Here are a few strategies to employ with your use of media.

Be a Role Model

Kids learn from us. Model the media behavior that you would like to see in your child. Choose high-quality content and set limits on your use of media. By having these boundaries in place, you will be more engaged with your child and both of you will have less “screen time.”

Use Media Together

Engage in media usage with your kids. Pick out a good family film and discuss the central themes and characters afterwards. Play a game with your child and discuss the strategy behind it. Check out the “Families can talk about…” section on Common Sense Media for conversation ideas.

Put Down the Phone

Play with your kids without a screen! Go outside and kick or throw a ball around. Throw on some music and have a dance party. Pull out a board game. Read a book to your child. The most important thing you can do for your kids is to spend some quality time with them every day.

Let Them Talk and LISTEN

Give each of your children a few special minutes each day to talk one-on-one with you. This can be over breakfast, before bedtime, or any other moment during the day. I like to lay with the Champ on the floor and talk about his day while looking up at the ceiling. Most of the time, our talks are about “nothing much,” but they are important to his self-confidence.

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