A recent study found that 53% of children own a smart phone by the time they are 7 years old – do you think a ‘device’ is affecting your child emotionally?
According to US expert speaker Tony Robbins, we have six basic emotional needs:
- Certainty / Comfort – in a frequently stressful and busy world it’s not surprising that children (and us adults too!) turn to devices as a comfort and escape mechanism. However, certainty can also come from making more enriching daily rituals a priority, and doing them together, such as sharing a meal, walking the dog, chatting regularly, a bedtime story; listening to a podcast or audio book in the car; doing a regular hobby together. Experts also agree it is a good rule to ban phones from bedrooms, adults included – good sleep is the greatest comfort of all.
- Variety – children can become bored easily, in what creative ways can we compete with the constant variety technology can provide? How about cooking a new meal together, going to see a local live event, or trying a new sport, hobby, or board game?
- Love and Connection – what our children really crave is our love and attention, no matter how hard they might seem to push us away. There are five ‘love languages’ – Touch (e.g. hugs); Quality Time; Acts of Service; Words and Gifts. If our child values ‘words’ the most, for example; then we need to be careful what we say, and perhaps use tech positively to send chatty positive texts they will love to receive. (Find out more www.5lovelanguages.com).
- Significance – children want to feel heard. Simple things can meet this need, such as discussing which day they might have a certain meal, or what they will wear, or what present they think a friend might like for their birthday.
- Growth – somechildren may meet this need mainly through school, but many will want to learn or get better at things outside of school as well. For example, a friend’s teenager is interested in car mechanics and has arranged to spend a day with a neighbour when he services his vintage car!
- Contribution – making a difference is some way is our final human need. Our children may not recognise this in themselves yet, but a huge boost to our self-esteem comes when we help someone else. Encouraging children to be a part of a team, or raise funds for charity, or visit an elderly friend or relative, or carry out a simple act of kindness can really help to give them an emotional boost, as well as the person or cause they are helping.