Are you tired of hearing how you need to spend less time on your smartphone or tablet? How you’re approaching the level of addiction? While you may or may not agree, perhaps it’s time to at least give it some thought, especially in one important area of your busy life. What I’m talking about is the time you spend one-on-one with your child.

Parental distraction is far from new. Before we had mobile phones, parents stood by the phone on the wall with their babies perched on their hips, bouncing babies up and down to quiet them so they could talk to a friend. Magazines were read while feeding the baby, and often, the morning paper was read at breakfast while the kids were eating. I remember, years ago, waiting for a movie to begin and noticing a father who brought his two girls to see the movie. Were the threesome having fun together while waiting? No, he was reading the newspaper, missing out on a chance to really “be” with the girls.

There’s a theme running through the concern about parental smartphone use. It’s the same worry I had watching the family at the movies: the lack of respect many parents show their children. The effects of this lack of respect cause many family problems.

What do I mean about “lack of respect”? I can explain it this way: if your best friend were sitting at the movies with you, would you be reading the newspaper or totally occupied on your phone? Chances are you’d be looking for a new best friend!

5 TIMES TO LIMIT YOUR PHONE USE AND FOCUS ON YOUR KIDS

Here are some areas where parents need to think about limiting their phone use:

1. Breast or bottle feeding your baby. This is an important time for you to spend with her. She likely looks up at you when feeding, and eats up your focused attention, enjoying your voice talking or singing to her. If she’s sleeping, you’re welcome to read or quietly use your phone.

2. Mealtime with your kids. Breakfast is a crucial time for setting the tone of the day for them, whether they’re off to school, nursery school or the babysitter, or staying at home with you. Would you be focusing on your friend if she were at the table with you? Any meal, breakfast, lunch or dinner, is a time to put your phone, magazine or newspaper away and spend the time WITH your kids. If your kids have phones, they’ll follow suit as you set a good example of respecting others.

3. Traveling with the kids to school or activities. This is a time to relationship-build and talk about the day’s events, getting their ideas and opinions, for example. If you’re on the phone, not only is it unsafe, but you’re shutting them out. No one likes to feel disregarded.

4. When the kids come in from school or outside activities, your welcome smile and a hug are a ray of sunshine for them. Would you loudly order your friend to hang up her coat and put her boots in the boot tray?

5. There are many other times in the day when you’re with the kids that you can really think about whether you could check your phone at a later time and give them the attention they need. Just be aware. Not only are you setting a good example for them, you’re building good relationships with the most important beings in your life.

“Kids are people too” – a phrase we’ve heard many times before. Just like you, children need to feel valued and loved. When they are brushed aside in favor of a tech device, they feel excluded and rejected. Is it any wonder that many kids act out or disobey to get a parent’s attention? Don’t wait until they do something wrong to pay attention to them!

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