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Our lives today are overtly scheduled and it’s no different for children. Kids from a very young age have play dates, after-school classes and various other activities scheduled for them. This is outside of the regular school schedule or homework that they have to finish regularly. It does seem that the little ones are going from one activity to another without ever taking a pause.
Remember the time when as kids we used to throw stones in the water and just watch it ripple. There was no rush to go anywhere. While I am not suggesting that we pull our kids out of all the activities that they are participating in, I am recommending that we find a time to take a pause and not plan everything from one moment to another.
The act of taking a pause and repeating in your head what you have just learnt is otherwise known as reflecting. It is in reflecting that our brain learns and absorbs any material that we have been exposed to. This is an extremely critical part of the learning process. Taking a pause is not just about taking a break from the busy schedule. It is also about giving your children the time to absorb and think.
Practicing the pause while having conversations with young kids is an essential lesson in teaching our kids the art of listening. Remember that when we are pausing, we are telling our kids that they have our undivided attention and that we are open to hearing anything else that they have to say. Educators call this the ‘wait time’. Studies have shown that when students are allowed the wait-time after having asked a question, they give higher quality responses because by forcing them to take a moment we allow them to process their thinking and deliver well-thought out answers. By giving them this pausing time, we give them a voice.
As parents one of our consistent worries is how to reduce our children’s time with their devices. While the key to managing healthy screentime is more about how kids are using their screentime vs how much time they are spending, practicing pause while interacting with digital devices is an effective way to develop healthy screentime habits.
Given the current classes-are-online lifestyle that kids are living, teaching them to take a break every now and then even for a few minutes can prove quite beneficial to give their minds and their eyes a much needed break from staring at the screen. Pediatricians recommend that the 20-20-20 rule is a great way to incorporate this pause - it means every 20 minutes, look away from the screens and look at an object 20 feet away for at least 20 seconds. Needless to say, not just for the kids, this is a constructive way to lead a healthy lifestyle for adults when most of our work is in fact using a computer.
The pause can be a powerful tool to help us manage our emotions. The idea of pause may seem silly when you start to practice it with your little ones but it provides kids an effective way to control their body language and process how they are feeling. A little practice goes a long way. For example, saying phrases out loud like, ‘I did not have a great day. I am going to take a pause and snuggle with the dog before I start working again’, can show children a way to incorporate this in their life.
In a world where we are rushing and trying to fit everything in, a little pause gives us time to process unpleasant feelings. This can provide kids time to overcome and/or share with you uncomfortable or sad feelings that could have resulted from a wrong interaction with their friends or a not-so-great performance at their game or class work. Being intentional about it is crucial and helps bring positive outcomes for our kids as well as for ourselves.
Taking a pause is easier said than done. With our fast-paced day-to-day activities it is hard but not impossible. So it needs practice. While having conversations with children or young adults, allow time after asking a question. A good way to implement the pause is to take 4-beats which is equivalent to counting 4-Mississippi seconds. Counting inside our head is an effective way to teach younger kids how best they can implement the pause when they need to.
Know that children are watching us and the best way to teach them how to take a pause every now and then is to practice it. When you say out loud phrases like, ‘I am going to take a pause and go for a walk before I make dinner’, you are not just taking a break for yourself, you are setting a great example for your kids. You are giving your children the permission to take a break when they feel the need.
There are endless possibilities of how you can practice pause - from the simplest ways like taking a 4-beats pause to intense practices like yoga and meditation. Whatever way you choose to take a break from the hamster wheel of everyday activities, know that you are not only practicing mindfulness you are also teaching your kids to incorporate mindfulness which can go a long way in helping them lead a happy and healthy life.
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