Have you ever eaten a meal with a spouse or friend and had them pull their phone out to text, or worse yet, answer a call while you are talking? How does that make you feel? Ignored, a bit stupid and maybe even sad.
Now intensify those feelings threefold and you will understand how your child feels when you pull out your cell phone in front of him. He feels ignored, unimportant and unworthy of your attention. If this happens routinely, he learns to even feel unloved.
Dr. Jenny Radesky from Boston Medical Center recently released a study on the effects cell phone use by parents or caregivers had on their children. Not surprisingly, the study revealed that when parents used their phones in front of their children, the children exhibited behaviors where they tried to get their parent’s attention.
The study also found that parents often showed annoyance at children when the parents were interrupted from their phones. And the little interaction that parents or caregivers had with their children were more negative or harsh.
As a pediatrician who believes that children need to form strong attachments to parents during their first five years of life in order to have a strong sense of security throughout their lives, this study breaks my heart.
I have seen far too many children suffer from lack of healthy attention from their parents. I know what kids do once they’re teens or young adult after a childhood of feeling ignored and unwanted, and it isn’t pretty.
Several years ago I was examining a five-year-old boy to get him ready for kindergarten. During the exam, his mother’s phone rang and she answered. The young boy looked me in the eye and said, “We call her phone the family killer.” From the mouth of babes come our most important life lessons.
Parents and grandparents, raising great kids isn’t rocket science. You don’t need to scour WebMD to figure out how to raise a great kid. Keep it simple and focus on doing one thing well: Pay attention to your kids.
Parents, focus on doing one thing well: Pay attention to your kids.
Look them in the eyes and swing them in the air. Get on your knees and tell them you love and adore them. Turn the television off and go for a walk or a bike ride.
And if you are a working mom, spend more time with your child during the week than away from him. I know you want your career, but your child must come first. If you need to work more, then make sure that your husband picks up the slack and spends enough time with your children.
If you are a single mother or father, make sure that you make every moment you have with your children count. Do the best that you can to give your child a strong support system of other adults who will pay attention to her while you are away.
One of the most painful experiences a person can have is the feeling of abandonment.
One of the most painful experiences a person can have is the feeling of abandonment. And when a child lives a life where no one really wants to pay attention to him, that’s exactly how he feels. So my friends, on behalf of each and every one of your beautiful children, put your damn phones down!
By Meg Meeker, MD