Why Our Kids Need to Slow Down and Have Some Pizza by Karen Amster Young

Article first published as Why Our Kids Need to Slow Down and Have Some Pizza on Technorati.

The object of teaching a child is to enable him to get along without his teacher.” – Elbert Hubbard, American writer, publisher and artist

Earlier this year I took a yoga class for the first time in many years and I wrote about it on my blog, the52weeks.com. I loved the class. I loved how it made me feel and I loved how it calmed my spirit despite my busy mind and anxious personality. Initial resistance aside, I was determined to go and embrace it for many reasons.  I had long been aware that “everyone else” was in the know and I felt extremely left out!

Simultaneously, I found myself looking more intently at the 5th grade world my fast-paced, super-tech-savvy, 10-year-old daughter inhabited and I found myself worrying (more than usual).  Our kids are just going too fast — and not just 4th and 5th graders.  Lately, more than ever before, I have been noticing really young kids constantly looking down at some sort of hand-held device playing games, texting, whatever. My daughter, within the last month, has come home from school and been on Skype with friends. On weekends I often find her  playing Nintendo Wii or e-mailing with sleep-away camp friends a bit too often.  What was this doing to her brain? Was it really teaching her the skills she needed?

I love all the new technology but I worried about what my daughter was missing as she grows up in this non-stop, technology-driven world. Would she ever know the thrill of unexpectedly seeing the cute boy she has a crush on on campus or would her friends alert her first via text message? Would she ever truly learn what it means to engage in rewarding, face-to-face communication at work, in stores or on line at the bank or would she be looking down at her phone, stressed out and busy – not even knowing how to stop if she wanted to? Would she, like me, find herself one day searching for solutions in yoga, meditation or spirituality in order to slow down?

We are producing strung-out kids; we are creating a world for them that is too busy. Kids are over-scheduled and the fact is they don’t know how to regulate their speed and their bodies for maximum success. I was in my mid-40’s before I embraced yoga. Why should our future CEO’s, politicians and athletes wait so long?

I recently read a report in Parade magazine by journalist Emily Listfield. The article, “Generation Wired” explored our hyper-connected world and the impact it is having on our kids. According to Listfield, younger kids spend 10 hours a week playing video games and the amount of time all kids spend on-line has tripled in the past 10 years. Scary. So I decided to do a little research and find out what was going on out there; what preventative measures were our schools taking to provide kids with the skills and tools to pace themselves in our increasingly busy world?

First I spoke to Helene Lupion, a pre-K teacher with the New York City public school system for almost 30 years. She chuckled — almost laughed when I asked what teachers do for pre-school age kids to help them regulate their feelings and learn how to relax, slow down. “There really is no formal curriculum that we follow to teach kids how to slow down or learn skills to pace themselves,” she said. “I do certain things in the classroom myself but it’s not a priority for schools unfortunately.”  I guess I wasn’t too surprised. Continuous budget cuts and lack of resources made it difficult to bring in experts or spend time teaching faculty how to bring these exercises to the classroom.

Then I spoke with Leah Kalish, whose company, Move with Me – Action Adventures was solely committed to producing yoga DVD’s for kids.  She talked to me about how important it was for kids today, beginning in pre-school to learn how to “self-regulate.” I didn’t love the word but I totally understood what she meant. We all have read how important exercise is for mental and physical health. When I was growing up there was dodge ball, Red Rover and maybe basketball. Move with Me offers schools, parents and others DVD’s to help kids play more, exercise, be engaged and stress less. “Kids have a huge shift when they experience our products,” Leah explained. “They reconnect with their strengths, learn how to build self-awareness and learn skills to make good, healthy choices.”
The Parade article did go on to say that technology does promote healthy habits such a sense of connectedness to the greater world and to causes. However, it also says that it also creates a fall sense of security and makes kids feel like they are never alone, therefore they don’t learn how to be lonely.

I decided to try out a DVD called Pizza Party. My daughter Alison is too old for it but I figured she would be a great teacher. I reached out to my dear friend Tammy who has an adorable daughter, Rebecca, in pre-school. “I am not sure she will do it but we can try,” Tammy said, probably “re-preparing” me for the short attention span of a typical 3 year old. “No problem,” I responded. “I just want to see how she likes it. I think she will have fun. I’ll bring Alison to help her.” We set a time, chatted a bit and then put the DVD in. Rebecca was a little hesitant at first but within minutes was pretty engrossed in the moves and the bubbly instructor. There were engaging songs and she followed easily, especially enjoying the story and the creative names used to describe positions and movements. After a few minutes we stopped “bothering” Rebecca and I caught up with Tammy quietly. My daughter alternatively helped and acted “too cool” for the whole thing. I think once we “left Rebecca alone” she embraced it even more..
My final conclusion? I think it is critical that we make our kids put down their Wii remotes and Smartphones once in a while. Yoga and creative movement really has to start early. Kids as young as 3 need to take time during the day to get in touch with their bodies and learn how to de-stress. I may have grown up in a pre-tech world but I still wish there was a little less dodge ball and Red Rover in PE when I was growing up. Maybe, if Pizza Party was around when I was in pre-school I wouldn’t be chasing my tail running to yoga, meditation and on a never-ending journey for quiet and calm. I am sending some DVD’s to the pre-school teacher I spoke to. I also think I am going to hang out with Rebecca a bit more, join her for Pizza Party and then order a large pie for dinner. There is no question in our minds we need to start young and learn how to relax. In fact, we need to relax about everything a bit more – even carbs. Now where is that pizza delivery menu?
Read more: http://technorati.com/women/article/why-our-kids-need-to-slow/page-3/#ixzz1fsKEoUFw

Read more: http://technorati.com/women/article/why-our-kids-need-to-slow/page-2/#ixzz1fsK6JLoY

Read more: http://technorati.com/women/article/why-our-kids-need-to-slow/#ixzz1fsJg8oC9

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