Distracted parents — the newest problem

Monkey SeeDear Danielle,

My three-year-old always wants my phone and gets very upset when I don’t let her have it. She cries and screams until I give in and give it to her and then she ignores me when I talk to her. I have to fight with her to get it back. Should I do this?

Baffled Mom

Dear Baffled Mom:

You have, unfortunately, fallen into the trap of a new generation of parents that are glued to their phones in front of their children. As a result, this is what kids think is normal.

New research shows “distracted parents” are modelling some things they may not like down the road. There’s also an increase in reports, from both home and school, of distracted kids and behaviour problems. More importantly, kids are reporting feeling ignored by their parents. The most important question to be asked here is: What are you teaching your kids?

We have long known that children learn through observation and imitation. Remember the PlaySkool Bubble Mower? It was cleverly designed to capitalize upon that stage of child development. Children observe and imitate what they see and hear, and that goes for both the bad and the good. Parents must always be aware of what message they’re sending to their children. If you’re not interacting with your children are you telling them that they don’t matter or they’re not important? This deserves some thought.

There’s a time and a place for all activities for parents and children. By all means, use your phone, but do it during a set time when your children are engaged in an activity that captures their attention, not when you should be interacting with them. Have a set length of time and then put those things away and give 100 percent of your attention to your child. By doing this you’re showing them that they’re important.

Remember the old saying “monkey see, monkey do” and think about what your child is seeing.

Check out Parenting Today’s Kids for more information on distracted parenting.