The Most Important Investment of Your Life: Your Child

The Most Important Investment of Your Life: Your Child

The Most Important Investment of Your Life: Your Child

by Valorie McGilvra,
Certified Teacher and Life Coach

 

Remember the birth of your child? Your emotions were all over the place. Excited, happy, nervous? As you were holding your baby, did you wonder what kind of parent you were going to be? Were you wishing for a manual? The only reference material we had was from our own upbringing, good or bad. If you grew up in the 70s and 80s generation, you may remember hearing wise advice about money, character, making the right choices, and how to respect others.

  • Lessons on finance:  “Money doesn’t grow on trees you know….”
  • Or about learning good habits: ”Close the door! – were you raised in a barn?”
  • Or when your parents told you not to do something and you asked why? “Because I said so.”

However, that was another time. Since then, the Internet and cellular technology have sent parents of today a few curve balls. It is quite challenging to keep up with it all. Gaming, Social Networking, YouTube… and there still isn’t a Child Rearing Manual. But fortunately, there are lots of websites, blogs, and other experts, such as teachers who can provide us with guidance.  As an educational coach and teacher for 16 years, I’ve had many conversations with parents and fellow teachers about how our kids are changing. There are many areas in which we can help our children but the most important is T.I.M.E. (Technology, Interest, Model, Equip)

Technology
We see so many students getting Smart Phones at a younger age every year. My son’s buddy was given a phone for his 8th birthday. I asked if there were restrictions on his phone. He said no my mom doesn’t know how to do that. I know from my own pains of trying to find ways to put restrictions on my older son’s phone that it is impossible to completely protect your child when they have access to the internet. With just a touch of a button, they can see, hear and read anything. It is worth your time to add restrictions. Use it wisely, set parameters, monitor activity. Have a family plan for all electronics. When, where, and how are questions that need to be clearly established with your child. There is an excellent website called, “Healthy Child” which has an awesome fill in the blank form (with suggestions) that you can complete with your child in just a matter of moments. Children want and need to know your expectations. They may gripe or complain initially, but in the long run, they WILL thank you. You and your child will benefit from creating a Technology Plan in three important ways:

  1. It provides the foundation for building a strong relationship with your child.
  2. You will learn what they believe is a “fair” consequence, acceptable solution or approach. (which means buy-in).
  3. There is nothing to argue about because expectations have been agreed upon.

To ensure your wishes are followed, set-up the rules/restrictions through your internet router, or using an App such as Net Nanny. If your child has a game platform like Xbox you can use a Microsoft account, it will send you a report of your child’s activity daily or weekly. If they break a rule follow-through with your predetermined consequences. And why is this all advisable? Well according to Professor Jim Taylor, Ph.D., in his article in Psychology Today, entitled, “How Technology is Changing the Way Children Think and Focus,”:

The bottom line is that too much screen time and not enough other activities, such as reading, playing games, and good old unstructured and imaginative play, will result in your children having their brains wired in ways that may make them less, not more, prepared to thrive in this crazy new world of technology.

Interest
Take interest in your child’s life. Watch or play the games they play or watch movies or view what they watch on YouTube. Be on all of their Social Media Accounts. If they use Apple products you can easily do this through the “Cloud.”  Know their friends and support their hobbies or favorite things to do. Make it a game in the car to “Guess My Favorite…” each of you take turns, give three choices and one is correct. I remember one year I gave my students a survey and one of the questions was, “How do you like to study and do homework?” At a parent conference, the parent shared with me that they always thought sitting at the kitchen table was what their child preferred. But after reading the survey, the parent saw that she would rather be in her room at a desk where it is quiet.

Model
Like the song by Rodney Akin, “I’ve been watching you, dad,” our kids see the good and the bad and all the in-between. Step back for a day and look at your life in the eyes of your child. What are the behaviors that you do that you would not want to see your child do? Commenting with offensive language and/or actions to another driver. (Remember, they can’t see or hear you, but your child can.) Try, “see, that driver was not being courteous on how they cut in front of me. When you drive you to need to…” Don’t talk about someone in a negative way. Show them how to change their attitude about a situation, because EVERYTHING is a situation and it is how you think and feel about it that makes it positive or negative. (More on this in a later article).

Equip
Equip your child with the tools to be successful in life. Teaching your child responsibility and respect will go a long way. In education, it is called, “Scaffolding.” Just like a carpenter uses scaffolds to reach high places, you provide support and training so your child will learn how to reach their greatest challenge. Teach them step by step and slowly remove scaffolds as they meet each new goal. If they fail, that’s ok it just meant that they weren’t quite ready or needed a different path. Teach your child to say Thank You when speaking to others. This one action can go a long way epecially when using a cell phone, opening a door, waiting their turn to speak. It seems strange to say but common courtesy and manners aren’t the norms anymore. But there is still hope. Our children are like a piece of clay that is just waiting to be sculpted into a wonderful, productive adult. All they need is your TIME.


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