by Jodi Gilray-Szostak PT, DPT, C/NDT, NTMTC Jodi Gilray Pediatric Therapy
Parents, put down the tech. Eye contact, social interactions and addressing your child face-to-face are completely irreplaceable when it comes to your little one picking up on communication skills that connects them with others.
It doesn’t matter if you’re little one is 1 month or 10 years old. Children raised by parents frequently distracted by their phones tend to become more negative and less resilient into adulthood. When you’re around your child, unplug.
Understand you’re a role model. You are your child’s very first guide in life. Children are likely to repeat what their parents do and say. This includes everything from future career choices to how they manage their time with technology.
Sprinkle in the positivity. Becoming conscious about the words we use and how we talk about others makes a difference in your child’s development. Take a moment each day to think of some positive things to say about something or someone else.
Eat as a family. This reduces the risk of substance abuse, mental health problems and eating disorders. Kids who frequently eat with their family often have higher resilience and self-esteem.
Name the emotion. A little trick that can help your child learn about emotions and work through them is to just name the emotion. Naming emotions is powerful for your child’s development. When you name an emotion, it distances you from the emotion you’re feeling. In this way, you will lower the intensity of the emotion and be better prepared to face an obstacle head on.
Drown yourself in words. Be sure to engage with your little one by talking to them (even if they don’t speak words yet). You, the parent, should be the teacher of language and not the TV, the tablet or other techy devices that offers language learning.
Stick to a routine. During those hard times, you’ll be glad you have a routine in place because routines help create feelings of safety and control. They help your child know what comes next in the day and helps them make better transitions.
Move more. Whatever ways you can find to help your kiddo move more, do it! Movement can improve your child’s balance, endurance and core strength. Plus, movement reduces back pain and allows your child to practice their gross motor skills.