Thursday, May 14, 2015

Teens, Texting and Addiction to Technology at School & Home

I enjoy people watching.  I get many of the ideas for articles and talks from observing people of all ages.  Recently, I sat in the back of a room filled with learners and observed their behavior. Nearly all of them were looking at their technology.  A woman was in front of the room trying to teach and everyone had their heads down.  They were tap, tap, tapping on smartphones, tablets and laptops.  She kept talking and they kept tapping.   The learners weren’t teens.  They were adults. I was sitting in the back of a session for educators at a professional conference. Some were taking notes.  Others were obviously texting.  A number of people were playing digital games.  I wondered how many of these teachers tell their teenage students that they cannot use their technology during class.  I kept looking around and thinking, “How ironic!”

I attended a religious service recently.  I watched several adults check their texts when their phones vibrated.  I was pretty sure that someone across the aisle was posting a status on social media.

I remember a time before all of this technology.  When I was a student, we didn’t have cell phones or laptops or tablets.  There was no Facebook or Instagram for collecting “likes.”  We actually had to comment on paper or aloud to tell the world our stories and I did.  My head was down, too.   I was writing and passing notes to my friends.  I doodled.  I whispered to friends.  I was a good student in honors classes but I wasn’t always as quiet or attentive as my teachers would have liked. 

Today, I recognize that I am very technology dependent.  I cannot leave home without my cell phone.  I sat at my desk at work today using my desktop computer to answer email and my tablet to note appointments on my calendar that syncs with my smartphone. 

As a parent and a teacher, I have struggled with my expectations of others and technology.  It is hard to know where to draw boundaries and if those boundaries are helpful or if they are more distracting than the technology itself.  I have stood in a room full of teens and said, “No technology.”  It makes them anxious.  They are used to immediate gratification.  When someone needs to tell them something, it happens immediately and they can respond immediately.  Technology has changed our perception of time and our ability to wait.

I experimented with recognizing that texting is our teen’s way of passing notes today.  I told them that they can use their technology as long as they are paying attention and participating.  They were happy and well behaved but I had to question how much they were absorbing.  I know that multi-tasking is a myth.  I know about brain development and the human brain can only focus on one thing at a time.

I realized that there had to be a happy medium between “your technology is banned so now we will pause while your heart palpitates” and “text as much as you like because I know it’s your doodling – I doodled – oh wait, I paid minimal attention while I doodled.”

It took a while but I think I found a balance.  It wasn’t any more difficult than finding balance in all of the other issues that parents and teachers face.  It was about role modeling, communicating and negotiating.  I respect my students need to ensure that the White House hasn’t texted them.  I allow time to use technology just before class, a break between and when they are done with a task ahead of everyone else.  I check my technology then, too.  I explain to them that I want to have discussions during which we look at each other so we will all put the technology away at the same time.  I give them a two minute warning so they can play that last move on the game.  Then, I say, “OK.  I’m putting mine away.  You, too.”  And they do.

I do the same at home.  If want to have dinner with my family without smartphones, I tell them and I have to put mine away, too.  Often, I don’t put mine away.  I don’t ask anyone else to put theirs away when I do not.  There have been times when I have been texting and my boys have asked me to stop so we can talk.  They have learned a boundary.  When we want someone’s undivided attention, we have to ask for it.  We have to communicate our needs and have them mutually respected.

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Saturday, May 2, 2015

Princesses Are Real, Unicorns Are Not: A Timely Lesson on the Bounds of Reality for Preschoolers

A princess has been born in England!  Of course, princesses also abound in our preschool classrooms.  Cartoon princesses are on shirts.  Children put on dresses and twirl around hoping we will say they look like princesses.   They dress as them on Halloween, visit them at amusement parks and watch movies about them.  The same can be said of superheroes and unicorns.  Today is a wonderful day to teach young children something about the bounds of reality.

Early childhood learners have a difficult time separating fantasy from reality.  In their world, anything can happen.  This magical thinking supports the existence of Santa Claus, the Tooth Fairy, the Easter Bunny, superheroes, unicorns and princes & princesses.  They do not know which characters on this list are fantasy and which can really exist. 

Bring your children to the TV and show them today’s news – princesses, princes, kings and queens are real.  They live in our imaginations as well as in our world.   Create one of the first lessons your child can learn about reality.  Show them the real life prince and princess who are parents to a prince and, today, a princess.  Show them that in real life, they exist but they are different than in the movies and the stores.  Tell your children that real princes and princesses do not have magical powers.  They cannot freeze things with a twirl of the wrist.  They do not fall under sleeping spells. They do have special, beautiful clothes but they wear typical dresses and sweaters, too.  They live in a castle but they have also can have jobs. The prince was in the military.  The princess is a mommy.  They both go out, sometimes when they do not want to, and have to pose for the cameras (there’s no way I would have done that on the day my children were born!).

I hope your conversations with young children this week include information about the royal birth.  Good news is so hard to find.  Good news that teaches young children about their world is even harder to find.

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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Teens & Expectations: Do You Motivate or Cause Anxiety?

Parents are teachers, role models, leaders and guides.  We spend years trying to impart lessons about life.  We want our children to become self-motivating.  We want them to have a desire to strive and achieve.  In our quest to encourage them, we need to be careful not to cross the line that divides expectations from unreasonable pressure.

Expectations should be realistic and achievable.  We need to know that the ability to complete the task or exhibit the behavior is absolutely within our child’s capabilities.  We need to have expectations that are about our own children as individuals and not in comparison to others. We need to have expectations that are not wishes.  You can wish for your children but, ultimately, they will not live out your dreams.  They need to develop and find their own.  If you try to force them to live your dreams for them, they will never be their authentic selves.  If they fail to live up to their parents’ wishes, that feeling of failure becomes a part of their self-image. 

Do you motivate your children or do you cause anxiety?  Do you support them in reaching reasonable goals?  Rare is the parent who hopes to raise anxious, self-conscious children who feel like they can never succeed.  That is not the goal.  Be sure it is not the product of your messages to your children.  Consider these differences:

Grades
  • Expectation:  Trying your best to achieve the best grade possible for you
  • Wish:  Getting straight A’s every time

The expectation should be about effort and not a specific result.  We all have subjects that we can grasp easier than others.  If math or literacy is difficult for your child, an A may not be achievable.  Sometimes, the best they can do is a B or C.  When a child works very hard and gets a grade lower than desired, their own frustration is enough.  Parents need to teach them that this is life – sometimes you work really hard and the result is less than you hoped.  As long as you work really hard, then you have done all you can do.  When you don’t try your hardest, society metes out the consequences and will continue to do so.  Our children need to understand that poor grades due to lack of effort will not help them to achieve goals.  Sometimes, children need to learn that through experience, too.  We can't set unreachable goals and we can't always save them from consequences.

Sports
  • Expectation:  Practicing to hone skills that will add to your performance and be a team player
  • Wish:  Being selected for the elite team or elite position on the team

Parents need to convey the message that participating in a sport is a commitment.  They have to be willing to practice.  They have to be team players by doing what is needed and by supporting their teammates.  They don’t always need to be the absolute best and, sometimes, they will not be selected for the elite team or to be a starting player.  Dealing with that disappointment is a life lesson.  Sometimes, it is our role to support the achievements of others.  That doesn't diminish our own hard work.

We can motivate our teens to be the best they each can be.  First, parents need to accept.  We need to accept who our children are without comparison to others.  We need to accept the limits of their capabilities just like we want other people to accept our own limits.  We need to encourage, support and motivate so that we are not the cause of anxiety beyond that which is already heaped on everyone in our constantly connected, product based society. 

When you are setting goals, include your children.  Talk about what you expect and why.  Ask how they feel about your expectations and listen closely.  Listen for their fears and self-doubt. Discuss their concerns without judgement.  Open the doors to communication by including your teens in conversations that are actually about them. 

 
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Read this blog for more articles.  Ask your parenting & education questions and learn about early childhood workshops for parents & educators - Helping Kids Achieve.

For information about private coaching for adults, youth, teens and families -  Helping Families Achieve with Cindy Terebush, CPC, CYPFC

Copyright 2015 © Cindy Terebush
All Rights Reserved

Please do not sell, post, curate, publish, or distribute all or any part of this article without author's permission.   You are invited, however, to share a link to this post on your webpage, Facebook, Pinterest, Twitter, and other social networking sites.