By Paige Leigh Reist | Posted: March 29, 2019
The world is changing at a rapid pace, and while that can be exciting and inspiring, it also means that parents, in particular, are dealing with a set of challenges that most parents in history have never had to. The prevalence and influence of media like YouTube and video games is astounding, but there’s good news for this generation too! Many parents are now more emotionally aware than their predecessors, and mental health awareness is on the rise as well.
Of course, this brings up some questions. What is the right balance to strike with our kids? How do we raise thoughtful, productive, and thriving adults when they have so many outside influences reaching them through social media and entertainment?
Art of Living senior instructor and inspirational speaker Mona Shah Joshi was recently invited by a group of parents on a Facebook Live event where she took questions from parents around the world on how to raise happy, healthy kids in these interesting times. Here are some of the highlights!
On wrestling with video games
“Until age 8, the mind is so supple, and it picks up impressions very quickly. So until that point, we should really, really limit the television that they watch--at least until age 8. [W]hen we’re watching TV, within a 30 second period we’re bombarded with so many different impressions that enter the mind. So we really want to be mindful of that. And then… the more they play video games, you know, they also lose touch with reality. Between what is real and what is unreal. In a video game, somebody is demolished, and then they spring back up to life. But in life that doesn’t happen. So it’s imperative that we limit the games. Initially, it may be difficult, because they’re not used to having that restriction put upon them by you. But if you don’t do it at this age, at age 9, when you still have such a huge say over their life and what they can and cannot do, then later it becomes very difficult.”
“These guys are so clever--how they’ve studied how the human mind works, and are able to manipulate us so easily, and with that awareness, we just go on and on and on playing something which gives us no joy as we’re playing it and definitely no long-term joy or benefit afterwards, as well! It’s fascinating how that happens.”
On the importance of developing human intelligence, not just book smarts
“The real skill in life is also developing soft skills. You know, as parents, particularly often Asian parents, all of us who put so much emphasis on education, because we know the value of education. But we also need to put emphasis on soft skills, on human development, so that they feel comfortable in different situations, they feel at ease with different people. And that really helps them move forward in life. In fact, at a certain point, employers have told me that technical skill will only carry someone so far. And at a certain point, if they don’t have those soft skills, they peak out in their profession. But one who has developed those soft skills, even if that technical expertise is somewhat lacking; they’re the ones who get promoted to the next level, management, directorship, etc, because they understand people and how to be with people.
“One of the first keys to success is to make a new friend every day. It may seem like something very simple, but as children get older, not everybody is able to be comfortable with different people.”
“It seems like a very simple, thing right? Make a new friend every day. But now carry that skill into adulthood. Does it happen when you’re at work that certain people irritate you when you’re at the office? Yes? So certain people irritate you, get on your nerves, and you’re like “what’s wrong with these people?” But if you have that skill of making new friends and meeting new people throughout your life, what you develop is skill. You learn how to be with different types of people. You learn how to be in different situations, how to deal with people with different perspectives, and how to incorporate those perspectives, how to understand them. You get exposed to so much, and because you’re exposed to so many ways of thinking and being and doing, your buttons don’t get pushed so quickly. So such a simple thing becomes this lifelong skill for everlasting success.”
On nurturing emotional control
“The biggest test is: how much can we control our emotions? Because [kids are] constantly pushing our buttons. You know, kids are experts at this, have you noticed? They know exactly what to do to push our buttons, to irritate Mom or Dad and get a particular reaction out of them. They have PhDs in this! They’ve been observing you since the time they were born, and honestly, they could write a Ph.D. thesis like that on how to push the buttons of each member of the family. At that age, they’re testing the waters on how much they can get away with.”
“So first and foremost, the skill is for us to respond rather than react. To have a greater control over our own emotions. One thing is for sure--kids learn far more from our presence, from our behaviour, than what we tell them to do.”
On the essential skill of imagination
“It’s good to enroll [kids] in activities that develop their skills and allow them to discover more aspects of themselves, but they also need to be given free time, so that the imagination can develop. So when they come at you--”I’m bored!” ask them to do something! Like, “Write me a story. Why don’t we draw pictures together?” As parents, you’re such a role model for them, and they see what you do! If they see that mom and dad spend their downtime watching TV, of course they’re going to join you and do that with you. But if they see that mom and dad read a book in their downtime, then that’s the habit that they start picking up.”
Check out the video below for more nuggets of wisdom on how to get your kids motivated, how to break the YouTube habit, and managing how they view money and prosperity. There’s also a short guided meditation!
Paige Leigh Reist is a writer, editor, blogger, and creative writing instructor.