Communication Tip No.18: Finding Focused Time with Your Teen

One of the major dilemmas of the digital age seems to be fairly universal: how can we avoid the constant distraction of devices when it's time to focus on something important? Parent-child relationships definitely fall in the important category, particularly as children grow into pre-teens and teenagers and spend more time away from the family than before.

Sure, sometimes we need to take that call for work, or send back a quick email or message a pressing question. However, most of us can admit that establishing some boundaries for ourselves could help create time and space to spend on more focused conversations with the kids in our care.

Some boundary ideas include:

  • Turning off the radio, your podcast, or audio book when you pick up your child. Time in the car can be an optimal time to hear what is new with them, to listen and reconnect with them.
  • Establish set times to be on a digital device. Rather than giving unfettered access to their Smartphones, tablets and computers, think through their daily schedule (perhaps even with them). What times does it make sense for them to have time to study or connect with friends vs. what time should they put the devices away and spend time engaging with family?
  • Turn off and/or plug in all phones during dinner (this means yours too!). My mother used to say growing up that there was no reason to answer the phone during dinner if her family was safe and sitting right there with her. Eating together without devices will encourage family conversation and the daily opportunity to connect with one another.
  • Turn your own phone off for important conversations. Signal to your child or teen that they are much more important to you than the latest notification on your phone. Deliberately put your phone on silent and out of reach, and spend time with them. When you do need to check something or take a call, let them know first. This simple practice shows respect for them and will encourage them to show others similar courtesy.

Technology will be around for a long time (and so will our Facebook friends!) but we all know that kids are only young for so long. Avoid taking these moments for connection for granted by limiting distraction and focusing on the person in front of you.
 

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