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  • Writer's pictureDr. Luisa Bryce

“Mom, get off your phone!” How your smart phone affects your relationship with your child

We live in a society of multi-taskers. In fact, as Americans, we often brag about how much we’re able to get done in a day, and we take pride in being able to complete many tasks at once. However, research demonstrates that doing more than one thing at a time is not actually more effective.

As a psychologist, much of my work with adults is centered on the acquisition and practice of Mindfulness. Simply stated, mindfulness is being in the present moment, which means not contemplating the past or worrying about the future. Mindfulness is also being “one mindful,” which involves doing only one thing at a time… a concept completely contradictory to our society, which preaches that “doing more is better and doing more at once is best.” The reason I use mindfulness so often is because I’ve seen and experienced the direct positive effects it has on happiness. We’re happiest when we’re living in the moment. Young children are a great example of this. Have you ever noticed the contentment on your child’s face as she “just plays” with her Barbie?

We, as adults, don’t quite have the luxury of playing with Barbies all day, but we can make more of an effort to live in the present moment in order to increase our daily happiness. It all starts with our smart phones. Don’t get me wrong, I love my iPhone. It truly does make my life easier with its amazing ability to allow me to answer emails, browse the internet, and access my calendar whenever I please. But I notice when it impacts my relationships. I notice when I’m trying to text and talk to another human being at the same time, or when I miss out on a funny anecdote because I just have to post a comment on Facebook. Children are the best at letting us know when we’re not being mindful. Ever notice how your kiddo starts whining and asking for a snack the moment you pick up your phone to start catching up on the latest social media gossip? I’m definitely not saying you need to be at your child’s beck and call every second of every day, but I promise you’ll increase your own happiness and your child’s contentment if you begin practicing mindfulness.

For example, if your son is trying to talk to you and you absolutely must be on your phone at that second, put the phone down, look your son in the eye and tell him he can have your undivided attention in two minutes. Give your son a watch, clock, or timing device of some sort and have him count 120 seconds. And stick to it. When that two minutes has passed, put the phone down and talk to your son. Just talk, look him in the eyes and really listen to what he’s saying. I promise it’ll save you time and improve the quality of your relationship in the long run. You can try this in other areas and with other people in your life too. For more on the exact how-to’s of mindfulness, check out Harmony at Home’s Mindful Mommy post.

So here’s my challenge:  Practice doing just one thing at a time, once per day, especially when it involves your kids. Start with putting down your phone just once when you hear “Hey Mom…” See what happens and let us know.


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