We are raising a generation of little addicts, and most parents don�t realize the scope of the problem or how they�re contributing to it. I�m not suggesting that most of our children are becoming drug addicts or alcoholics. Instead, they�re falling into “soft addiction” routines that rob them of the time and energy to pursue more meaningful activities.
Mild addictions are any chronic, mindless conduct or mood. Very apparent soft addictions are watching TV, eating too much, Internet surfing and video game playing. However tons of others exist�spreading rumors, daydreaming, exercising, pitying oneself, going on shopping sprees and the like. Most parents aren�t worried by this type of conduct, believing rightly that they are “normal”. They become abnormal and harm your child�s development once they become habits, robbing children of the time, energy and modivation to engage in more meaningful activities.
All children require alone time to think and investigate. They require the freedom to contemplate what is most important in life and to gain knowledge and develop talents that will allow them to achieve their goals. Soft addictions are foes of reflection, exploration and skill development.
The media has documented the epidemic spread of soft addictions. Many of these reports reveal that children are spending more time than they have before in front of computers, televisions and game screens.
Similar researchers have found that an alarming percentage of overweight children who are devoted to junk food and fast food restaurants, preoccupied with celebrity worship and dedicated to shopping is also on the rise. Parents can have perspective and need to be in charge of helping their children control these soft addictions. All too often, they model the very behaviors that encourage kids to fall into soft addictions instead. For instance, some parents return to their house from a day of work and use the majority of their leisure hours watching television, they overeat or even work out compulsively, refusing to take a day off from their exercise routine no matter what else is happening in their lives. Other parents are examples of rumor-spreading behaviors, spending hours each day writing and/or calling friends about who is fooling around with whom.
I�m not saying that parents or children go “cold turkey” and quit all soft addictions. As human beings, most of us have a couple addictions. We can still live a full, meaningful existence if these habits are in our life, however, they need to be a minor rather than a major part. We help many adults�professionally successful people who are also parents� who say the same exact thing about their lives: “There must be more than this.”
There is, but they will not uncover it until they redirect their time and energy to more conscious, fulfilling endeavors. This does not mean they have knit sweaters for homeless children in Siberia and sacrifice all their time in soup kitchens feeding the hungry (even though these are great activities). Rediscovering the fine art of conversation, visiting friends, taking walks in the mountains, expressing their feelings to those they care about, listening to inspirational music�all these things can add purpose and meaning.
It will also provide a healthy behavioral example for their children. Consciously or not, kids are great imitators, and softly-addicted parents tend to produce softly-addicted kids. It�s very hard for parents to tell kids to quit watching so much television when they are guilty of the exact same type of mindless, habitual behaviors. Parents will find however, that when they begin to use their time in more meaningful ways, their own lives will be more satisfying and they�ll help produce more satisfying lives for their children.
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