Doing battle with screens
o y n slow’ or ‘in the zone’ and it’s a wonderful feeling but, as parents, we don’t allow enough of it.”
Counsellor and psychotherapist Georgina Manning created the program Peaceful Kids, which instructs children on how to achieve mindfulness and meditation in schools, after she noticed a spike in stress and anxiety in children as young as five. The two-day program, taught in schools across Australia, teaches children to be fully present through a range of exercises.
“The program teaches kids simple activities like how to notice their breath when their mind wanders,” the Wellbeing For Kids director says.
“But it’s also important for kids to engage in informal mindfulness, which is just free, creative play, things like playing with Lego, making robots from cardboard, building an ant farm, dressing up. This kind of informal mindfulness allows them to become fully immersed and it clears the mind.
“If a child never has the opportunity to rest their mind — and sleep alone doesn’t do it — it can lead to anxiety, ongoing stress response, perfectionism, generally being unhappy and burning out.”
She says the main elements in society preventing boredom is too much technology, over-scheduling uling activities, and having a stressed d family life.
“Parents often feel guilty if their child isn’t constantly engaged in structured activities like sport, music, dance, drama and tutoring,”ing,” she says.
“But one of the best things theyhey can do for their child is allow time ime for regular free play every day.” ” MOOREBANK mum Kylie Reynolds remembers playing with friends, riding her bike and swimming in the backyard pool after coming home from school. But the mum to Jay, 12, Kayla, 10 and Lachlan, four months, says a lot has changed from one generation to the next.
She says she does daily battle with her children to get them off their screens and play like kids used to. “I think parenting kids today is a lot more complicated and challenging than when I was a kid,” she says. “And as far as I can see, the main reason is technology. Kids have such a dependence of those screens and when I put the hammer down and say enough is enough, they really fight me on it. Kayla will find other things to do when I take the screens away, she’ll colour or read a book or play with toys, but it’s much tougher with Jay.”
Reynolds says she worries this generation of children are losing their ability to use their imagination or to be creative because of the dependence on screens. “I remember being bored when I was little but I’d go to a friend’s house to play or swim in the pool, I’d be out all afternoon with my friends, coming home only when dinner was ready.
“But I think parents are too scared to let their kids wander too far on their own these days, and I’ll admit I’m guilty of that too. I’m sure the threats that are around now were around back then but it wasn’t in your face like it is now. The kids have plenty to do in the backyard, we have a netted trampoline, a pool and have had cubbies, slip ‘n’ slides and totem tennis, but they lose interest after a while.
“II can see ... how boredom can lead to kids finding more creative things to do. But I do think technology has reduced their interest in other
simpler activities.” Kylie Reynolds with her children Jay, Lachlan and Kayla. Picture: Simon Bullard