A Time and Place to Wonder
Welcome to my first blog post of Return to Wonder. Every day in my work I’m immersed in intense dialogue about whether children should be online or off, whether play, mental health, emotional well-being are threatened by digital devices. While the answers are complex, the solutions can be simple. We all want to be respected and nurtured. We want to be safe, have the ability to think freely, create our destiny, feel accepted and loved. When we provide these essential elements to children, we provide them for ourselves.
By examining basic, simple events and parenting joys, like doing chores, reading aloud, planting a seed, celebrating seasons, or singing a lullaby, we’ll reduce worry. When we reduce worry, we actually begin to see treasures that were right in front of us all along. Come here to get inspired, to gain perspective on a problem that seems daunting, or to become aware of a global trend that could help bring positivity and light to daily family life.
There’s no question that parenting is hard. But, when we become entrapped by perfectionism and paranoia, instead of embracing presence and patience, it can seem like an uphill battle. For most of today’s parents, managing screen time seems like a grim struggle or a precise science that they need to master. As I’ve learned, with my own children and those in the families I serve, it doesn’t have to be that way. In this blog, I will also interview thought leaders in digital wellness who provide simple, fundamental solutions that support children and families.
Children are not their avatars.
Our children have their own thoughts and feelings about how screens take up space in their lives. In fact, hearing their thoughts can lead to profound realizations. They might not appreciate rules initially, but as they live and grow and understand the reasons for limits, they realize we’re not trying to eliminate technology, but ensure it doesn’t replace the substance of life. I’ll also be talking with kids. Be prepared to learn from their wisdom as well!
My go-to parenting tool – setting expectations.
When we talk with children about what’s coming – the schedule for our day, what we’re having for dinner, when we’re speaking with grandma next, what will happen at the doctor’s appointment – we’re giving them an anchor for their growing curiosity. Draw a picture of it, use a paper calendar. Kids thrive on routine as well as flexibility. It becomes second nature after a while. And when the structure allows for flexibility, the unexpected surprises go more smoothly.
A childhood with room for wonder yields strong, capable adults. When Fortune Magazine interviewed CEOs of 2017’s “Top 100 Best Companies to Work For,” the execs revealed these qualities they look for in their ideal employees:
1) People who genuinely care about others and are happy to serve
2) People with curiosity, humility, collaboration experience and passion
3) People who treat failures as learning opportunities
4) People who lead with their emotional quotient, rather than their intelligence quotient
5) People who have an open and inclusive mindset and can bring together diverse teams
6) People who relish taking on responsibilities, who are bold and agile.
A curious employee is one who was allowed to explore as a child. A humble employee is one who has been encouraged as a child in an environment of gratitude. An emotionally smart employee is one who has experienced real-life relationships that affirm and respect them as individuals, rather than online “friends” who hypercriticize their looks for fun. The path is perilous. I’m not pretending it’s easy. I am saying that the rewards are great when we slow down and see multiple means to a successful, happy family.
A high-tech childhood robs kids and parents of wonder. Come here to find the breadcrumbs that will lead us back.
I look forward to hearing from you,