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How to be a 'durable human'

Health journalist Jennifer Joy Madden teaches us how to raise durable children in the digital age.

GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. — With cell phones, online entertainment, and social media all around us, being a parent is more challenging than ever, but it can be done!

Jenifer Joy Madden is a health journalist, digital media adjunct professor, parent educator and founder of the website DurableHuman.com and Durable U online parenting classroom. Durable means to be “built to last” and effective in body and mind. She says the keys to raising a durable kid are for you to pay attention, stay attached, and teach sensible life balance habits. Her downloadable free “Durable Family Pledge” can get you started right now.  

Whatever their age or stage, kids need:

  • Everyday face-to-face contact and hugs from you so they feel secure that you are there for them.
  • 3-D 360-degree daily movement, best done outdoors, for brain and body development
  • Time away from their phones to recharge, especially  through the night.

To contain their kids’ technology use and supplement with other needed activities, parents need to be aware of how much time their kids spend on screens:

  • in school
  • before and after school on their own devices

NOTE: If you think your school is over-doing or allowing too many screens, speak with them about it. Paper and pencil alternatives to screen-based learning may be available. Suggest the Away For The Day policy of stowing personal mobile devices in lockers during the day for better concentration and fewer distractions.

Easy ways to help your student learn more and concentrate better in school:

  • Plan ahead so you avoid texting or emailing student during class hours. They need to concentrate on the task at hand (otherwise known as learning)
  • Have your child do homework in common areas, not in the bedroom.
  • Make sure they have free time for physical activity, preferably in the calming environment of the outdoors.
  • During meals, stow family members’ devices in a container out of reach of the dinner table so family members can stay in touch and have that face-to-face contact. 
  • Prioritize Sleep by having student use an alarm clock to wake up. Keep digital and electronic devices out of bedroom during sleep hours. 

If the above strategies don’t seem to make a difference and you think your child may be too attached to tech products such as video games or social media, it’s true they are designed to be very engaging and it can be hard for kids to stop.

Some signs your child may be too dependent on tech:

  • Video games and/or social media are constant topic of class work & chatter
  • Falling asleep in class
  • Trouble with focus and impulse control
  • Nervous habits such as tics
  • Feeling uncomfortable in social settings with peers and teachers
  • Sneaking smartphone use when told not to (porn, Fortnite, social media, etc.)
  • Increasing anxiety and/or feelings of stress
  • Only motivated by the promise of screen time
  • Falling grades
  • Apathy and changes in mood
  • Trying to avoid school

Info that can help is at ResetYourChildsBrain.com 

Also: check out Jenifer’s books: How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design and The Durable Human Manifesto: Practical Wisdom for Living and Parenting in the Digital World and her TEDx Talk: “Durable Humans are Smarter than their Phones”

Take a look and share her inspirational wise parenting course for pre-and beginner parents (or experienced parents who want a new start!) at Durable U

And start new life balance habits at home by downloading your free Durable Family Pledge

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