DO KIDS GET MORE OUT OF HAV­ING LESS?

Yes, says a new par­ent­ing move­ment that pushes back at the world of ex­cess their chil­dren are grow­ing up in

Sunday Mail - Body and Soul - - NEWS -

Anew par­ent­ing trend is gain­ing pop­u­lar­ity in the US and it’s about slow­ing and sim­pli­fy­ing the world our kids are grow­ing up in. At the fore­front of this move­ment is Aus­tralian par­ent­ing ex­pert Kim John Payne, au­thor of Sim­plic­ity Par­ent­ing: Us­ing The Ex­tra­or­di­nary Power Of Less To Raise Calmer, Hap­pier And More Se­cure Kids ( Bal­lan­tine Books).

He goes as far as to say to­day’s pace of life is a threat to our kids.

“We are liv­ing in an un­de­clared war on child­hood and we must de­clare a sim­ple peace in our homes,” he says. “[There’s] too much stuff and too many choices. If we’re over­whelmed as adults, imag­ine how chil­dren feel!”

Payne has this sim­pli­fied for­mula of what a child’s life should ide­ally be made up of: “A third should be busy, a third should be cre­ative time and a third down­time.”

FIND­ING A BAL­ANCE

So how much sched­ul­ing is too much? The re­search is mixed. While there has been a back­lash against over-sched­ul­ing kids, more re­cent stud­ies have found that it’s not nec­es­sar­ily the child who is suf­fer­ing but the par­ent.

Although hav­ing a stressed­out mum or dad to con­tend with can have its draw­backs, some re­search has found that chil­dren can flour­ish in a life that’s packed with ex­tracur­ric­u­lar ac­tiv­i­ties.

A 2008 Amer­i­can study of kids aged be­tween nine and 12, called The “Hur­ried” Child: Myth vs Re­al­ity, ac­tu­ally found par­tic­i­pa­tion in or­gan­ised ac­tiv­i­ties, even many of them, is linked to pos­i­tive out­comes in school, emo­tional devel­op­ment, fam­ily life and be­hav­iour. It was the un­der-sched­uled kid who was most at risk and pre­sented as more with­drawn, less emo­tion­ally ma­ture and with lower self-es­teem.

Payne isn’t nec­es­sar­ily urg­ing par­ents to un­der­sched­ule kids but to in­tro­duce mo­ments of calm within the fam­ily’s sched­ule.

“Give them just a bit more space than you think you can,” he says. “Al­low play­time to ex­tend just a few min­utes longer.

“Sim­pli­fi­ca­tion is of­ten about do­ing less and trust­ing that if they have the time and se­cu­rity chil­dren will ex­plore their worlds in the way and at the pace that works best for them.”

The re­sult, he says, is a child who learns to use this free­dom to be­come re­silient and cre­ative. Par­ent­ing ex­pert Kim John Payne is adamant that kids don’t need to know ev­ery­thing and it’s not only okay to shield our off­spring from

some nasty re­al­i­ties, it’s our re­spon­si­bil­ity. He says be­fore he shares in­for­ma­tion with his kids, he asks him­self th­ese ques­tions: Is it true? Is it nec­es­sary? Do chil­dren need to hear it?

Is it kind?

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Payne has this ad­vice for sim­pli­fy­ing life with kids:

Stream­line your home en­vi­ron­ment. Re­duce the amount of toys, books and clut­ter, as well as the lights, sounds and gen­eral sen­sory over­load. “Your home is one en­vi­ron­ment par­ents can have some con­trol over,” he says.

Es­tab­lish rit­u­als. Dis­cover ways to ease daily ten­sions, cre­ate bat­tle-free meal­times and bed­times, and be aware if your child seems over­whelmed.

Cre­ate in­ter­vals of calm and con­nec­tion in your child’s tor­rent of con­stant do­ing.

Scale back on me­dia. Man­age your chil­dren’s screen time

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to limit the end­less del­uge of in­for­ma­tion and stim­u­la­tion.

The re­sults, he says, will be kids who don’t feel they have to “push back” be­cause of the lack of space and time in their lives. “It in­creases your chil­dren’s abil­ity to be cre­ative, in­no­va­tive and adapt­able,” he says. “Ev­ery­thing be­comes eas­ier and more fun.”

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