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How to reduce your child's screen time
Everybody knows what it’s like to be on their phones all day. We have all been asked by Netflix, “Are you still there?” only to begrudgingly note yes, we are...and we have been for the last three hours. Technology has become so convenient and addictive that it’s hard to resist the digital screen. There’s nothing wrong with peppering our days with some screen time. Dr. David Anderson, a clinical psychologist and the senior director of National Programs and Outreach at the Child Mind Institute, said, "[S]mall doses of screen time can be a mental health-positive way of relaxing, reducing stress, and connecting socially to friends and family members.” However, the keywords are “small doses,” and it can be easy to pour too much screen time into our day. As with all things, moderation is key. We can benefit from our screens, but we can also benefit from turning them off. This is particularly important for children as they are still developing physically and mentally. The Seattle Children’s Research Institute noted that children between the ages of 10 and 16 now spend 10.4 of their waking hours with minimal movement. They would rather go online than go outside, which can result in lethargy and health problems. JAMA Pediatrics released a study in 2019 that linked excessive TV and video game consumption to lower academic performance in children between four and eighteen years of age. Because of the constant stimulation from technology, children, like adults, can get easily distracted and lose their ability to focus. To prevent or rectify these problems, how can parents like yourself limit screen time for your child? Fight Apps with Apps What? You should use the screen in order to limit the use of the screen? Yes, you can combat technology with technology! Apps like Offtime show how long you spend on various apps and how many times you unlock your phone. Seeing the stats can be the eye-opener that your child needs, especially if they see that they spent a total of three full days on social media or games! Other apps can encourage taking breaks from your phone. The app Forest displays a growing tree for however long the phone remains unused. Encourage your child to give these apps a try! Set Some Ground Rules You can also set rules for when or how much your child uses their gadgets. Common Sense’s nationwide survey revealed that 68% of teenagers take devices to bed, and a third of that number actually sleep in bed with them. Consider keeping your child's devices out of reach from a certain time before bedtime to after they wake up. The blue light from screens can affect the sleep-wake cycle, so by removing this, they will sleep better and awaken refreshed and prepared for the day ahead. You could also limit TV time, place restrictions on streaming services, or require homework completion before gaming. Eventually, your child might enforce these habits themselves. Make It a Team Effort Get the whole family involved and maybe even make a fun game of it. For example, give a prize to whoever can last the longest without a device. Make this a team effort, so your child doesn’t feel like they’re the only ones struggling to disconnect; rather, you’re all in this together. Whether you make this a family venture or not, you can set an example as a parent. Be present with your child, put aside your devices as often as you can. If your child is having a hard time reducing their screen time, seeing you thrive, and experiencing the benefits secondhand may inspire them to follow suit. Doing this together may create even better results! Create Quality Time and Experiences Try to spend quality time and create memories with your family to replace the instant gratification of technology. A lot of technology usage can derive from feelings of loneliness, but it actually doesn’t help. When you are with your child, give them your full attention. They may feel less of a need for technology and more appreciation for face-to-face connections. Plan family nights so your child will have too much fun playing board games or cooking together to even notice there’s no screen! You can also sign them up for fun activities, like an art class or sports camp, that will spark their imagination, encourage movement, and create special memories. - There’s a lot to be grateful for regarding technology. We can talk to family members in other countries and learn digitally through sites like Skillshare or programs like JEI Remote Learning. But there’s a lot to be grateful for outside of technology, too, so consider reducing your child’s screen time through the tips mentioned above. This is the perfect opportunity to challenge your child to go completely screen-free for as long as they can. With these tips, we hope your child will be able to experience an increase in focus, stronger connections, more exercise, and better sleep. We at JEI Learning Center believe your child can accomplish this and much more, so even if you’re starting late, take the pledge today!
Have fun cooking with your kids at home
When you’re at home with your kids, a fun way to spend time with them is to invite them to lend a hand in the kitchen. Kids love to be around their parents and help out--particularly when food is involved. It is also a wonderful idea to bring something new to the table (literally and figuratively), especially now when kids have been home for days and growing more restless by the minute. Cooking is not only a fun new activity to introduce to your children but also a great opportunity to pass on family recipes, talk about nutrition, and nurture gratitude for food. Kids can also learn that by putting in the effort, they can get a (delicious) reward! That’s the icing on the cake. One piece of advice for cooking with kids is to delegate tasks based on their ages and experiences. For example, younger children could gather and stir ingredients in a bowl, which helps them learn new words. Older children could crack eggs and test out their math skills by measuring ingredients and converting units. Late teens could use the stove and cutting board, and, of course, everyone can help with the taste testing! Now, roll up your sleeves, tie on the aprons, and get to cooking! Fast Food At Home Your kids may miss going through the McDonald’s drive-through or carrying out a steaming box of freshly made pizza, but don’t fret! You can always deliver healthier alternatives through these recipes. Build-Your-Own Pizza Ground Beef Tacos Chinese Pork Fried Rice Turkey Sloppy Joes Deli in Your Kitchen Salads are both easy and delicious meals to quickly whip up! You can follow the recipes below or get creative with the ingredients. You can even turn some of the salads below into sandwiches or sides for other meals! Egg Salad Tuna Salad Pesto Pasta Potato Salad MasterChef Junior-Level With these recipes, your kids can try their hand at meals that are a little more advanced! After tackling these yummy dishes, you can then surprise your junior master chefs with a certificate because they deserve it. Kid-Pleasin’ Lasagna Baked Potato Soup Chicken Zucchini Casserole Tortilla Bake Desserts Galore These fun and easy recipes can make great after-dinner treats or yummy snacks between meals. Feel free to get creative with the decorating, too! If you have icing or sprinkles, why not? Cooking is all about experimentation. Banana Bread Chocolate Brownies Oatmeal Cookies Cornbread Muffins Now that you have a list of recipes to try out with your kids, you can have fun for days and raise little chefs! This is an amazing way for you to spend quality time with your loved ones and create memories you can look back on fondly. Take plenty of pictures and frame them for the kitchen! For some extra fun, you can turn this into a 30-day cooking challenge, look up more recipes, or create your own based on what’s in your pantry. Maybe you can focus on breakfast one week with fun omelets and waffles! Maybe your kid particularly likes Asian cuisine and wants to experiment with turning instant ramen into a gourmet noodle dish! There is so much room for fun and learning here, so enjoy and happy cooking with your kids! Share pictures of what you make by tagging us on Twitter and Instagram and using hashtag #JEIChefKids.
Must-have skill #8: failing successfully
“When we give ourselves permission to fail, we, at the same time, give ourselves permission to excel.” — Eloise Ristad If you never try something because you don’t want to fail, how would you ever get better? How would you learn your weaknesses? How would you eventually succeed? Fear of failure is a debilitating ailment with symptoms including inactivity, anxiety, demotivation, and procrastination. If your child seems steadfast in their aversion to trying out for a sports team, entering competitions, or studying for a test, they may have the dreaded fear of failure. This is unfortunately common due to social conditioning, but the mindset your child should actually adopt is that failure is not bad but the natural step towards success. Luckily, there are ways to remedy this. The first thing a child should learn is that failure is completely okay, even encouraged! It will take hard work. It will take patience. It will take resilience. In the end, failing multiple times does not make them a failure. It only makes them better versions of themselves, and this will always be worth the struggle and discomfort. In order to help your child succeed without fail, here are some suggestions as to how they can learn to fail successfully: Accept failure The deep belief that failure is bad needs to change--and this will be a process. Many times, they may doubt themselves or what they’re doing. Even years later, they may seem to be entirely cured only for this old belief to come creeping back in a moment of weakness. However, with time, they will better internalize this new belief that no matter how hard they try to protect themselves or how hard they work, they will fail sometimes--and there is nothing wrong with that. It is as natural as breathing, learning to walk, and stretching after a good night’s sleep. Fail often “Failure isn’t the opposite of success; it’s part of success.” — Arianna Huffington The more your child fails, the more they will improve. This can be scary for parents and children alike, but to reap the most rewards, children need to start this early and do it often. This will help them get used to it and grow comfortable with the disappointment that follows failure. This will also show all of their weaknesses, which can be painful but essential for growth. They aren’t going to get better immediately after one failure, and some issues persist because they are deep-rooted ones, such as self-doubt and impatience. Let them engage in trial and error as many times as they need to see what works for them and what doesn’t. To help them, shower them with as much love and support during this time as possible. Work hard every time Even though failure is a natural part of growth, your child should not go out there with failure as the goal. No matter what, they should make as much effort as they can each time with the intention of winning—that is where true improvement comes from. The important thing is to be okay with falling short of the goal. Sometimes, children are scared to do their best because that might mean their best was not enough. This is understandable, but the important part is not that “their best was not enough” but that they did their best in that moment. Sometimes, children believe that success comes from pure luck or natural talents rather than hard work. Success might come from a combination of the three, but hard work can never be a missing piece. Look back at what could be improved After failure, it is important to devote time to some retrospection. Some kids may want to jump ahead to the next opportunity or move on from the disappointing results, but they need to take a step back. It's important to let them know that they can’t go onto the next step without looking back and learning from their mistakes. Make sure your child reviews what they can do better next time because the goal is always self-improvement. If they did not do as well as they would have liked in the Math Olympiad, have them look over the questions they got wrong. If they lost a music competition, have them practice their weaker techniques. It could even be their test-taking method: Did they run out of time? What can they do to take full advantage of the given time? Try, try again “90% of all those who fail are not actually defeated. They simply quit.” — John Maxwell Some children might feel defeated after failing, but they should be okay with trusting in this process and trying again to perfect what they couldn’t on the first attempt. If your child was disappointed with their JEI Essay Contest results, for example, they may not want to go for it the next time. They do not want to relive that disappointment. However, it is important that your child gives themselves another chance. Failing a lot, as mentioned before, is important, but so is trying again at whatever they failed. There is no point in doing the retrospection if your child does not implement what they learned on their second, third, or even fourth tries. Practice self-compassion Children can be too hard on themselves, and failure is particularly hard. Even after failing a lot, it always hurts a little to see their best was not good enough, so make sure your child is gentle with themselves. Sometimes, they do not fear criticism from others so much as they fear that they weren’t, aren’t, and never will be good enough. Make sure to foster a positive attitude in your child, reminding them that they should treat themselves like they would their best friends. Guide them toward self-compassion. Encouragement and patience are key, and it helps to get them from parents and teachers, too. It’s okay to have off days, of course, but general pessimism is another big killer of success. Encourage internal competition “Comparison with myself brings improvement, comparison with others brings discontent.” — Betty Jamie Chung Another mindset issue is a child’s tendency to compare themselves with their peers. Make it clear to your child that the only person they are competing with are themselves. If they got an 85 on a test, they should try to beat the 85 instead of feeling sad that a classmate got a 95. This does not help them in any way. Parents and teachers should try to boost this idea of “the only person to best is yourself.” Do not compare them to others or they will adopt that mentality. Only talk about your child’s results, strengths, and weaknesses. Children only fail if they never improve themselves. They have to look within rather than without. — It is hard to avoid the negative stigma placed on failure. For too long, people have made failure out to be this horrific disease that must be avoided at all costs. People are made to feel bad about their failures. Only wins are highlighted in success stories, when actually the shadows of failure bring relief to the light that is success. If you want your child to succeed, it is best to work at undoing any negative beliefs they may have about failure. It will be hard, but their aversion to failing is keeping them from their infinite potential, so try to engage them in this process of failing successfully as best as possible! It is a must-have skill for everyone, children and adults!