Start with this..think back to when there were only 3 TV stations on TV what did you do with your friends and family? These are the things I consider back to the basics in families--- interaction with others is required for most of these ideas. There is no dvd, video players, ipod, play station, stereo, or boom box involved!
Freeze tag, hide and seek, kick the can, hop scotch, 4 square, keep away, red rover, jump rope, jacks, sidewalk chalk, mud pies, sand castles, dandelion necklaces, picnics, bike riding, picking flowers and giving to someone special..lemonade stands, making tents and forts from blankets, walking to the park, looking for frogs, catching lightening bugs, catching grasshoppers, making snowmen, snow angels, sledding, snow forts..talking nature walks, fishing, bike riding, baking traditional foods together, baking cookies, making special foods, family nights our making individual home made pizzas, banana splits, etc.. everyone does their own. Take children to the library.--slip and slides for summer- water balloon fights--running under the sprinkler--running through a fire hydrant--bowling-puttt putt-roller skating ice skating
1. Teach your children what family time is from a very young age. MAKE family time a priority. Talk about family time as it is important part of the unit- keep it sacred and children will grow up knowing that is time set aside for them. One Italian mother made spaghetti every Sunday. Each family member came over each week many years after they left home--then bringing their children.
Select at least one day a week that is designated strictly to the family spending time together. We pick Tuesday nights as our family nights, I take turns making the children their favorite meals and we play board games or just hang out. Sundays are our big family day--church, meal, and afternoons together sometimes we go bowling, hit the movies.
2. UNPLUG and PLUG -IN. Make electronics a privilege not a daily necessity of life. Talk to your kids. Limit TV time and electronics from from a very young age.
Here is what one parent did-this would also work for electronics.
We created "TV Tokens" for our kids and they have to earn a token in order to watch TV. Each token is worth :30 minutes (3 redeemable for a movie/DVD). They each earn 1 token per day for behaving in general, but they can earn extra tokens by cleaning their rooms and making their beds, or helping out with other household chores. Combining this technique with recording parent-approved shows on our TV has been really effective.
3. Work Hard then Play Hard. My Mom was a single parent with 7 kids, she had us all do chores together and then we were able to play together. My Mom use to play card games with us, she taught us Canansta, gin, rummy, war and sometimes she would tease up her hair, and chase us around ---she was fun to be around when all our chores were done. We made up our own games, from pup tent, to grocery store, to fairy tales.
4. Unplugging teenagers who have been connected to electronics too long. We went through a hard phase when my teenage son first purchased HALO live. Teens are playing live all night long and the temptation is there to disobey sleeping parents. We had to have our 15 year old son -- bring down the cable cord every single night at 10pm. Failure to do so resulted in losing the game for a whole week.
We also had to limit him to two hours of playing time per day after school. He chose from 3pm-5pm. Since you are already dealing with a teenager, it's best to set the rules straight from day one, however life is not always fair or practical -- so since you are the parent -- you can change your mind at any time and set the rules in your home.
It's no surprise with daily news accounts that children are spending too much time on the Internet, places like myspace.com and it can be a dangerous place to be with pedophiles and dangerous people on line. Monitoring everything your child is doind on line is a must!
Check their cookies and know their passwords and screen names.
Teenagers need secure boundaries and guidance and as parents it may be hard to listen to them complain at first, but it forces them to use their own minds, talents and creativity when they unplug from the electronics.
Many times our teens have been grounded from electronics as they are a privilege in our home and when they are disobedient, disrespectful or deceitful the 3 D's they lose privileges. The funny thing is when they are grounded from all the Electronics all of a sudden family becomes important and after their initial shock at being grounded from electronics, they actually start following you around and having conversations that are fantastic! They even start to get under your feet a little connecting in a good way.
5. TELL lots of family stories, About your childhood, your family, your grandparents and parents and most of all tell the children about themselves when they were a baby, funny things they did, and so much more. Kids remember all the funny stories family members tell and they connect and hold them dear for years to come.
6. REMEMBER You are the single most important influence in your child's life. You job is to train them in the way they should go, teach, and guide them. Staying connected to them is the only way you will be able to influence them in a positive way.
1. Biggest mistake We made with our children, we had extra TV's and let them put them in their rooms. It becomes too hard to monitor, too much temptation to turn it on.
2. Best thing We did. All children's bedrooms have no phone jacks. We found teens can get in a lot of trouble when friends call private lines in their rooms after hours. When they have to have "open" conversations and return cordless phones to the base it gives us some control of the phone.
Another great way to connect with your teen, (keep in mind you are no longer "cool" and won't be until they are broke and in college and then begin to respect what you have accomplished in life) is to take them out to lunch or dinner one on one--their pick one night per week. Or let them cook dinner at home.