As adults, we love the opportunity to get lost in stimulating activity, enjoy alone time, and just relax in our own space. Sometimes, however, discovering what recharges our batteries isn’t easy. We must be aware of the moments that bring us gratification to truly take pleasure in them. Children often feel the need for constant stimulation, activity, and interaction; as a result they miss necessary quiet moments and/or limit their understanding of relaxing to be synonymous with hours of mindless TV and web browsing. Your child’s “me time” may look different than yours, but it doesn’t mean that it is any less essential. It is important to help children learn what it means to sit back and let go.
Children are under increasing pressure, academically and socially. Rarely do they step away from being “connected,” and therefore they are constantly multitasking. While having a conversation with a friend via text, they hold a conversation with you about their day. Their lifestyle is likely vastly different than your own memories of adolescence. Personally, it seems exhausting! As children approach the middle-school and high-school ages, their carefree time can be overshadowed by stresses of friends, peer pressure, and constant feelings of comparison.
Without a designated time for children to clear their heads, all these stresses can inevitably result in erratic mood swings, sleeplessness, strained social interactions with friends, and poor academic performance. These consequences affect not only their life but also your life and the dynamic of your family as a whole. Kids need a judgment-free zone that allows them to explore their own talents, interests, and dreams without self-comparisons. And contrary to what they may think, surfing the Internet, playing video games, or engaging in social media is not the answer. It is critical that you guide your child to define their “me time”—to discover what relaxes them and takes them away from all the stresses they have on their plates.
- Log off. Create a time of the day that is tech-free for the whole family. I know you may need to get work done; however, the value in the example that you are setting is worth way more than the productivity you may squeeze out of an hour in the evening after an already long day.
- Help foster ideas. Speak to your child about the importance of stepping away from the challenges of everyday life. Encourage them to take up something like drawing, meditation, or writing to allow themselves to just lose time in a nonjudgmental activity that is all theirs.
- Create opportunities. Be sure to give them that time for space away from you, siblings, and requests. You can’t expect them to take advantage of opportunities that have never been created.