A new parenting movement has sprung up in response to the increasingly fast pace of life created by technology. Many believe that modern culture leaves no room for childhood. Instead, childhood has become a frantic series of scheduled activities that leave little time for the development of either patience or imagination. That movement is called Slow Parenting.
There have been a number of books written on the subject of Slow Parenting Styles. One of them is Fed Up with Frenzy: Slow Parenting in a Fast-Moving World, by Susan Sachs Lipman. In addition to offering suggestions, the book also offers lots of simple and affordable games, crafts and activities for parents to participate in with their children. The book was praised by Carl Honoré, author of the 2005 book In Praise of Slowness: Challenging the Cult of Speed.
Characteristics of Slow Parenting Styles
One article describes one of the characteristics of slow Parenting Styles as being more present, rather than future-oriented. Children are encouraged to fully experience each moment and savor every sensation. Fast food is replaced by food preparation in which children participate, and conversation around the dinner table includes complimentary commentary on the quality of the food.
Choosing quality over quantity is another characteristic of slow parenting styles. This principle is applied to activities as well as material items. Rather than enrolling children in several activities simultaneously, children are encouraged to choose the one they are most interested in at a particular period in life.
Another characteristic of slow parenting styles is the intentional creation of good memories. Advocates of slow parenting view this as preventative medicine that can serve to counteract the effects of exposure to negative events that are broadcast each day by the media.
Reducing the use of media is another element of slow parenting. Some have declared weekly technology-free days in their homes, using the time that would have been spent watching television or playing video games to participate in a family activity such as a nature walk, a bike ride, or a board game. After dark, there’s always star-gazing.
Benefits of Slow Parenting Styles.
There are a number of benefits of slow parenting, both for parents and children, one of which is a reduction in stress for everyone in the family. For parents, reducing the number of scheduled activities saves money as well as valuable relaxation time. There are fewer costs for registration fees, purchases of expensive equipment, gasoline and vehicle maintenance.
Fewer scheduled activities outside the home also give parents more opportunities to interact one-on-one with their children. Children spend their days in school being one of many in a large group and don’t have many opportunities to receive individual attention. Parents and children frequently getting to know one another again after the subtle changes that take place with each new experience helps strengthen emotional bonds.
Another benefit of slow parenting is that it encourages learning new skills. Children are often not given the time they need to process new information they learn before moving on to another subject. New information is more successfully integrated when children are given opportunities to use the information in a practical way. Overstimulation can result in learning difficulties that can affect self-confidence. Paradoxically, reducing the pressure to learn is one of the best ways to make learning possible.
Tips for Developing Slow Parenting Styles
In an article on the subject, advocate Carl Honoré, the author of Under Pressure: Putting the Child Back in Childhood maintains that “Unstructured playtime is not just an extra. It’s essential.” According to him, unstructured play time releases creative energy and innovative thinking, and promotes resilience in addition to reducing stress. He advises scheduling ample breaks between activities to allow children to process and practice what they’ve learned.
Others suggest occasionally creating a time and place in which there are no right or wrong answers to create a safe emotional environment for exploration. A good way to do that is by playing games that have no winners, or constructing things with building blocks. Storytelling is also a great activity. Slow parents recommend providing a number of books, puzzles and games as a way of learning more about what interests your child.
Parents and children taking the time to learn more about themselves and each other allows them to better prioritize their time and resources according to what they truly value. While families may place a great deal of value on learning and sports, what they really value most is one another.
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