It’s time for karate class,” I said to my 13-year-old son. “Do I have to go?” He asked. “Yes,” I said. This has been a common exchange between us for a variety of activities over the past 10 years. He has tried everything from baseball to cooking class - yet nothing holds his interest as much as video games do. Every now and then I wonder if it is worth investing the money and time into the activities or sports he doesn’t want to participate in. But if I hold off on signing him up for things, he does nothing except play video games until we try something new again; it’s a never-ending cycle.
Most often, friendships serve as a positive force in children’s lives, helping to cement a sense of identity and belonging while kids learn real-world lessons in sharing, empathy, and kindness. Friends can impart the type of ‘positive peer pressure’ that spurs the growth of positive personality characteristics, like tenacity and generosity. But there’s a dark side to childhood friendships. When things like bullying, gossip, or jealousy take hold, a child’s health and happiness can suffer. Research from the University of Alabama links jealousy in adolescent friendships to low self-worth, aggression, and loneliness.
Mindfulness refers to a person’s capacity to remain fully present on a moment-to-moment basis so that one is aware of an experience as it is occurring without trying to judge it, change it, or escape it. Mindfulness and its practice is a topic that has been gaining traction steadily in the media. According to experts, mindfulness can help to improve one’s well-being, health, happiness, and resilience. When we are not in a mindful state, we are said to be running on autopilot such that we become too consumed and preoccupied with a future that never arrives and a past that is long gone. As a result, we often feel out of sync with our mind and body connection, which can lead to a host of problems such as anxiety, depression, and fatigue - all of which can affect our parenting.
Kids become competent, in increments. Every time a child becomes cheerfully autonomous, parents win, too. I don’t remember the exact year my daughter crossed the line from needing help getting out the door in the morning to being able to manage everything herself, but I do remember the thrill when she could finally tick each step of preparation off an imaginary list in her head. Here’s how to practice getting your kids out the door smiling every day until the entire process becomes routine.
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