emotional fitness thoughts ABOUT unplugging
I love my connections. I love being able to distract my down moods by searching for some laughs or playing a gain. I get a small rush from likes, a bigger one from comments, and a great one if someone shares a post. I could stay connected all day every day. I am an internet junkie. I unplug regularly, it isn’t easy, but doing so matters when it comes to my physical health, emotional health, relationships, and leading a balanced life.
Many worry about the down side of internet connectedness for our youth. But just as many parents see connectedness as a plus. As with so many things, Emotional Fitness Training sees connectedness as being a “yes/and” subject, not an “either/or” one.
EMOTIONAL FITNESS TRAINING PARENTING TIPS
Tip one: Don’t rush to get your kids hooked up. One father wants to get his seven-year old an email address or Facebook page. Lots of parents are buying tablets for their two and three-year old offsprings. My time frame for a personal tablet? Once the child has learned to read.
Tip two: Use with. The younger the child, the more using a tablet or computer needs to be a mutual toy and promote parent and child play time. Read a book to your child on your Kindle. Do puzzles with a child on your computer. But do with and then follow with a bit of hands on, real life fun.
Tip three: Use as an incentive and a consequence. When our kids learned to drive, getting the car became a big incentive for improving behavior. With our foster children the right to make phone-calls served to motivate. Cell phones, computers, and tablets are privileges to be granted as a reward for demonstrating maturity and withdrawn if immaturity prevails.
Tip four: Assert your right as a parent to monitor. Forget pleas or cries about privacy made by teenagers. Your child’s safety is your responsibility. My father and mother made sure they met my friends and visitors. Easier way back when and as we lived in a relatively small town. And even then they didn’t know everyone I was friends with. Still, they made a point to know most.
This is much harder, of course, when it comes to internet friends. What to do? Monitor and sneakily as well as openly. One parent I knew became a fake internet friend of his daughter. Oh the things you can do to keep a child safe.
At the same time, don’t go crazy, some parents will follow kids, check every phone call or e-mail message. Not good. Better to just do spot checks, now and again.
Tip five: Model what you want from your child. When I ran workshops, I asked all parents to disconnect. Some simply could not unplug; anxiety ruled them, for the most frequent protests were “What if my child needs me?” “What if there is an emergency?” I
f you cannot unplug because such thoughts rule, fear is also ruling. What to do besides reading my book Parents Are People Too An Emotional Fitness Program for Parents?
My other suggestions: Learn the difference between and emergency, a crisis, and life happening. Check out you and your child’s most frequent cell phone calls. Most are for immediate support not an emergency.
Moreover, in a major medical emergency, you do not want your child calling you. You want them to get 911 help immediately. Calling you delays such help. Here are two personal stories about cell phones and emergencies.
David fell once years ago on a hike with our dog. He seriously injured his knee. He had to crawl back to the car having left his cell phone there. He couldn’t get me – mine was turned off for a business meeting. He did get a neighbor who came and took him to the hospital and our dog to her house. Had he not gotten her, he would have had to call 911, and at least they would have gotten him to the hospital. What they would do with the dog was his worry.
He recently had a diabetic partial shut down on a hike. Guess what? He had his cell phone, but was out of range and couldn’t call for help. But he was helped by other hikers until 911 could be called.
My point? Cell phones can be useful in real emergencies, but not always; besides emergencies are rare events.
What is an emergency? David’s partial shut down was life threatening, his injured knee was not. The knee injury might have been life threatening if he had out on the ski trails, but not in a park on a warm summer day.
The crisis workers on my Mental Health Teams were required to carry beepers and then cell phones and to keep them active 24/7. Rather than be driven crazy, we taught all our clients the difference between an emergency and other needs for help. Here are the When To Call 911 guidelines the Visiting Nurse Service of New York’s Mobile Community Support Team gave to parents. I have turned them into an Emotional Fitness Training Poster Coach.
If you cannot unplug consider yourself an addict. That does not mean you must give up connectedness entirely, but it does mean you need to make it a point to start unplugging regularly. Make a turn-off date with yourself for at least one hour today. No cheating which means not at bed time or a meeting where you have to unplug or will be out of range.
Make your unplug date for a time you normally surf and then consciously do something that also brings you pleasure. I unplug to read and often stay unplugged for longer than I thought I would. Keeping a balance keeps all strong.
So as I always suggest plan Me-time, Family and Friend Time, and Quiet Time, daily and for longer weekend breaks. You will be surprised at how the quality of your life and your children’s life will improve.
As always thank you for following me. If you know someone else who will benefit from my thoughts, share. Liking, commenting, and sharing are other ways you can help me stay strong and spread some ideas others might find helpful.
As I tell myself a thousand times a day, stay strong, give lots of love, be grateful, live now, have lots of luck.
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P.S. This blog post was in response to Word Presses Daily Prompt. Their prompt “Sometimes, we all need a break from these little glowing boxes. How do you know when it’s time to unplug? What do you do to make it happen?”