Raising Happy, Durable Kids
This week's discussion is with Jenifer Joy Madden, author of How to be a Durable Human. We participated in a conversation for Digital Wellness Day, and this episode is a recording of our conversation from that webinar. We discussed concepts from both of our books.
Madden is a health and environmental journalist who is also a digital broadcaster and adjunct professor for Syracuse University in their DC Program. Madden is a child advocate who has volunteered her time to establish new walking and biking trails throughout northern Virginia. Madden is also the parent of three durable adults.
Listen to Episode 30 if you'd like to hear my first interview with Jenifer about her book, How To Be a Durable Human: Revive and Thrive in the Digital Age Through the Power of Self-Design. And you can listen to our second chat here: Ep. 71: Growing Your Child's Bushy Broccoli Brain.
Our kids need to be seen and heard especially during the pandemic.
We still need routines even if we and/or our kids are having a hard time right now.
When we “think outside the loop” we can create memorable moments for our families.
It’s important for us to be “durable” and for us to help our kids become “durable” as well.
Audrey: We have to be more intentional and in control of this digital world that is so much now a part of what we do.
Audrey: During times of stress or challenge is where we build our resilience or our durability.
Jenifer: Resilience has more to do with being knocked down and being able to get up again, but durability is to endure day to day and to actually maybe even grow in strength.
Jenifer: Almost every expert agrees that we need to be rocks and models. And what I mean by that is that for children, we are their constant in all of this. Their lives have totally been upended as have ours, except we're the adults in the room. And so we have to be reassuring to them and we have to be steady and they have to lean on us.
Jenifer: Especially when we're talking about technology, we have to be aware of how we're using our technology so it doesn't get in the way of them.
Audrey: During meals is a good time for everybody to catch up and see each other. And then bedtimes are very important for that, too.
Audrey: I think a lot of parents are feeling really frazzled just from the pressures of everything going on. And I just think that I know with my kids who are a little bit older, it's been really good for us to just be sharing. We share at dinner our highs and lows. And just to say, “You know what, today was a better day because this and this and this, and today I was just really feeling discouraged or down.” and being really open and honest with them that these are very real and normal feelings during this time to not feel like your best self every day.
Jenifer: We have to know we're not superheroes. We can't be. We can't have our finger on every pulse at every moment. We almost have to lower the expectations for ourselves.
Audrey: Just a simple activity that we can all do right now is just to make a really short list of just the little things in life that bring us some delight.
Audrey: They always say at the end of our life, the things that you're going to miss most are just the real basic stuff, like having a cup of coffee with your spouse and chatting in the morning and smiling and talking with your kids and laughing over a funny joke around dinner. I mean it's those things that money can't buy.
Jenifer: The experts are also saying that we need to validate their feelings, which is if they're moping around, rather than giving them a hard time, say, “I understand, I know what you're going through,” and they suggest you can say, “I’m here.”
Audrey: It is great to have a really warm, close relationship with your kids, but it is not the same. We are not the same for them as what their peers and their friends do for them.
Jenifer: The hug is like a muscle relaxant, tranquilizer, and love potion all rolled into one.
Jenifer: Having screen-free bedrooms is a good idea.
Audrey: We need to raise people who are able to make good decisions and promote their own good habits.
Audrey: In order for your little microcosm of your home to function well, everybody needs to be pitching in.
Audrey: The message of pro kindness and reaching out and having compassion for others is far more powerful in a way that we can appeal to their identity as a person.
Jenifer: Once you get them going, their imaginations do take off.
Audrey: When the kids are there all day, you really do need to strategize some ways to get them and encourage them to play either on their own or with their siblings without needing you there all the time.
Jenifer: When they grow up and they want to go to medical school, they want to be a surgeon, they have to be able to handle a needle. So this is another reason to give them play-dough instead of a screen.
Jenifer: We have to have this overview of giving our children some time to be bored and not be constantly entertained. So they actually start to think for themselves.
Audrey: Doing things with our hands is to me kind of a good, relaxing thing too.
Audrey: It's interesting that we are being drawn to these things that make us more durable.
Jenifer: I think things might get even more confusing than they are now. And so we have to be checking in with ourselves about: Are we getting upset? Is there a way that I can back out of this and not be so upset? I think that using techniques such as deep breathing, removing yourself from the situation, placing your hands on a hard surface if that's the least you can do, close your eyes and take some deep breaths just to get yourself pulled back together because there are going to be challenges and we need to have quick strategies to figure out, “Wait a minute, I'm flying off the handle. I don't want to, I'm not going to.” and walk away.
Audrey: What a great example we can set if we can manage to just take even one or two deep breaths before we respond.
Jenifer: I know it's possible for you to be durable and keep that compassion and that intuition and creativity up front.
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