Will Smith completed an amazing assignment from his Dad as a tween that impacted his life for the rest of his life as he explains in one of the interviews contained in the video above. There are so many ways to help your tween unplug from the virtual world and build a great reality with you! Today, we are going to talk about ways to achieve that. It will definitely be an eye opener to some and more of a reminder for others.
With all the technology that this generation of tweens have had access to since birth, including the amazing 3D ultrasounds which captured the true-to-life first pictures of them, it is hard to find the perfect balance of reality and technology. In some ways it’s so very convenient for my daughter and I to FaceTime or Skype whenever we are apart when she’s staying with a relative or my Mother’s house. I’ve even helped her with her grammar and spelling skills by correcting her texts when we communicate.
Nia has been using the internet to do research since the tender age of 4, when she saw a Nintendo DS she wanted in Walmart. One day while I was fast asleep, she did the comparison shopping online after watching a GameStop commercial on television, then Googling for the company’s website to find a lower price for her negotiation to for me to buy a DS for her. Needless to say, after her consistent diligence, I bought it for her. At the age of 5, she was organizing my icons on my iPad desktop. By age 7, she actually set up a profile for me on ChristianMingle.com and I didn’t believe her when she told me in the car until one weekend I received an email at work saying that my “profile” was only 65 percent complete and I needed to finish it.
So, just imagine what she’s doing now that she’s 10 years old! Can we say a Flipgram advertisement for my website on her Instagram account that I didn’t even know about until it came up in my feed last week! She told me she did that a month ago and asked me if I wanted her to do another one for me! Yes, the possibilities are truly endless. The adventures get more amazing by the day! That’s a guarantee! I have one amazing tween!
Equally so, even I have to lead by example to make sure I don’t become too “virtually engrossed” in my business dealings now that business is more social via the internet. We must remember that the more we focus on something, the more it becomes an integral part of our lives. That’s why balance in all forms of communication is so paramount. Words are so powerful and we need our tweens to be most impacted by our words and the word of God, rather than that of mere strangers and virtual friends across the world wide web. If we’re not careful, the world’s voices will be greater than our own even in our own household and they seek social acceptance and belonging. It’s our job to nurture them and help them always feel loved, appreciated and secure.
Today, I’d like to share with you five key strategies outside of the obvious of shopping, mani-pedi/massage days at the spa, and attending concerts, sports games, etc, to help you and your tween communicate more without all the bells and whistles of technology. The creation of technology was never meant to replace original forms of communication but to enhance it. Creating these rules, traditions and best practices with my tween daughter have helped us find and maintain a great balance in our communication with each other:
1. Take it back to the old school – no technology at the table at dinnertime. For some of us we need to take it all the way back and actually have dinner at the table first, then remove all technological devices. Nia and I do not bring our cell phones, iPad, Kindle, or any other electronic devices to the table and we do our daily “roses and thorns” discussion. The roses of our day are the things that we enjoyed most about our day and the “thorns” are the challenging experiences that cause us to grow as individuals and as a family. You both have a voice that needs to be heard. Listen to understand and not reply to each other. Ask questions and really become active and involved in the conversation. You’ll be surprised at how much you have to talk about when your faces are not in your virtual worlds.
2. Listen to music together and sing together in the car. You can both make this a fun activity by playing your favorite radio station, CDs or MP3s. Do you know what your child’s or children’s favorite songs are? Their tastes change over time. I also listen to the “younger generation’s” music so I can stay on top of what’s out there – whether it’s good or bad. I listen to lyrics and have teachable moments with Nia as to why we don’t listen to some songs and listen more to others. We listen to all genres of music, including classical so she will be well rounded in life in general — plus it makes for amazing conversation. Remember, our goal is to keep the conversation going with our tween.
3. Have devotion time with your tween. Their spiritual food is just as important as the physical food we serve them at the table. Take time out each week at the minimum to discuss their spiritual empowerment and belief system. Going to church together is great and allowing your child to attend specialized sessions for tweens and children at church is even better to help them grow spiritually at their age level.
4. Go to the park, movies and other activities together AND leave the phones in the car or purse. I know, this is a bit of a stretch, but do you remember the days when we had car phones and the only way to use them was in the car? Better yet, remember before cell phones when we had to use a beeper to know someone called us or even needed us? Better still, remember when we had to wait until we got home to even know if we were even on anyone’s mind or if anyone wanted or needed us for anything? Okay, let’s pretend and live again with our tween and embrace precious moments that we can never get back when our attention is divided during activities that are supposed to be quality moments with just you and your tween.
5. Start a gratitude journal together and do arts and crafts together. This was one of the best things we ever started together. The gratitude journal is also something Nia can practice even when she becomes an adult. This helps to keep everything in perspective and develop a since of appreciation for everything no matter what is going on in your individual worlds. Doing arts and crafts together helps to develop teamwork skills and other social skills that are needed outside of the virtual world. These are also stress relieving activities. You can use electronics for these activities as well if you desire to look up projects to start on together, do art together or to even build a website together. Nia wants her own website that’s one of our latest projects. I am proud of her and love the way she wants to do some of the things I do so I do what I can to cultivate and nurture those interests. The dialogue during these times are amazing. The key is to disintegrate the isolation that comes with using technology and facilitate inclusion of each other and the infusion of your worlds in a natural family setting.
There are so many other ways to unplug so you and your tween can stay connected. This is just great way to help you get started on your journey. Life is what you make it, so create the moments that work best for you and your tween. The more connected you become, the more you can recognize moments of disconnect from your tween to get back on track. It’s better to make time now so you can have a solid bond that lasts a lifetime as your child gets older. Believe me, this is one connection that you don’t ever want to come unplugged. I challenge you today to #IGNITEyourLife and stay connected!
To your life of unlimited abundance and joy,
This article is an excerpt from my latest book, #ChroniclesOfATweenMom: Fashionista Adventures, scheduled for release in the months to come. To learn more and enjoy more excerpts, click here https://toyparker.com/chronicles-of-a-tween-mom-book/