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Nowadays, a child will spend over six hours a day in front of a screen. That’s around 45 hours a week!  Let me put this into perspective for you: you probably work a 40-hour week. The average child spends more time looking at a screen then you spend at work all week. Actually, they spend more time on electronics than they do in school or extracurricular activities. And for many children, it’s even starting to affect the amount of sleep they are getting.

A recent study found that adolescents spend more time on electronics in the evenings— particularly with their friends in front of computers and on their cell phones.  Spending extended amounts of time on electronics in the evening can cause adolescents to lose much-needed sleep. Teens who spend time on electronics in the evenings were at larger risk for insomnia or depression, but also for other anxiety-related disorders such as social phobia, separation anxiety, and obsessive-compulsive disorder.

An expert in the field, Dr. David Walsh, has suggested that this has generated an epidemic of Discipline Deficit Disorder.  Nowadays, adolescents are exposed to millions of “yes messages” each year. These messages are created to get you what you want almost instantly.  For example: text messaging, emails, Instagram. According to Dr. Walsh, extra, easy, fast, and fun messages impede the growth of character traits necessary for success.

This isn’t opinionated information: years of research have been done to find these results.  Adolescents are constantly exposed to the idea that they can have whatever they want, whenever they want it, not excluding time spent on their electronic screens. 

This can be extremely harmful to this generation. Children need to have fun, don’t get me wrong, but they must receive some sort of discipline.  When a child is raised without recognizing boundaries, they aren’t as successful in life as those who do—it’s a proven fact! Self-discipline, determination, and resilience are fundamental values in becoming a successful adult. The following three tips can help you instill these fundamental values in your children.

1. Say no, so your child can say yes to success.

Saying no to your child can be a key building block to your child saying yes to success in the future.  If a child grows up thinking that they can have anything they want without working for it, it can cause some serious issues.  Saying no can help a child learn to work for what they want and in turn will create a self-sufficient, hardworking future adult.  Set clear and high expectations for your child. Enforce clear limits and consequences.

2. Help your child develop self-control.

Angela Duckworth, from the University of Pennsylvania, studied the relationship between grit—the tendency to maintain interest and effort in long-term goals—and self-control, which allows you to stay focused in the presence of temptations or diversions.

Angela and her associate formulated a measure of grit and self-control that forecasted results in different situations more successfully than other measures, such as standardized testing.  Scores based on grit anticipated the results of the Scripps National Spelling Bee as well as graduation rates from Chicago public schools. She also discovered that measures of self-control can better predict IQ than both report cards grades and improvement in these grades.

3. Share praise in the right way.

The way we praise our children, as well as how often we praise them is crucial. Research has found that too much praise or praise of the wrong kind can be harmful to your child.

If a child is constantly praised, they can become fearful to try new things, afraid that they’ll fail.  They start avoiding uncomfortable situations that could lead to growth. Instead, they sit back afraid to charter outside of their comfort zone in fear of not getting approval from their parents.  They start to feel like they must be validated for everything they do. 

On the other hand, too little praise from parents can diminish self-worth.  It could leave children feeling that they aren’t good enough, or maybe that their parents don’t have time for them.  It can hinder them in reaching their goals.

Experts recommend quality over quantity when it comes to praise. Focus on being honest and heartfelt. Habitually, we focus on the achievement instead of the process it took to get there.  If your child fails, then fails again, but on the third time they succeed, you should praise them for sticking to it and not giving up. You wouldn’t want to praise them only for succeeding, because the message then becomes you being focused on their success and not their resilience.

Rewarding your child with material items begins to pin their self-worth on material things.  That isn’t what works for them down the road. We want our children to lead happy lives, and we want them to be self-motivated.  Above all, we want our children to be motivated by the positivity that comes with success.

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