I spent Christmas night and the day after Christmas with my parents and my sister’s 2 kids. A 2 year old girl “C”. and 4 year old boy “M”. We all spent the morning filled with sounds of the TV and the new Nintendo games the kids got for Christmas.
Thirty minutes before we are suppose to leave for San Francisco, I told the kids we will spend 30 minutes of writing time where all electronics will be turned off. I set a timer so everyone can see it count down.
The 4 year old “M” is drawing, 2 year old “C” is playing with her abacus, my 9 year old is writing her fictional story, and I am writing this blog entry. The room was quiet, with the occasional question. I find that this type of focus and silence is rare and very important for children to learn to focus.
Electronics like the iPhone and iPad are all about short attention span and trying to fill every free moment with some distraction. We can give our kids an iPad, DS,or Wii and they will leave us alone. Then we might put a DVD on the tube and that’ll consume another 2 hours. I use electronics as a babysitting tool myself. I remind myself to have reasonable limits to screen time, maybe only 30 minutes a day.
When Cate and I play catch with her new baseball glove, or we build electronic circuits, I know Cate appreciates this time I spent with her. She forms a stronger relationship with me. We talk about how to catch a baseball backhand, where to have the ball land on the glove. We talk about how to trouble shoot a circuit that isn’t working and what experiments we can try on an existing circuit. This interaction back and forth is what will make a bigger impact in our relationship. It will build up trust and strengthen our relationship for the future.
Last night, after playing catch, Cate said that she realizes how much more fun things are when I do them with her. I jumped in too early and said “I am not your playmate though”. Later on I realize that she is telling me how much she appreciates me spending time with her, teaching her card tricks, catching balls, badminton, swimming and probably even our 30 minutes of focus time where we both just sit and write.