This past Sunday my son and I both decided that we wanted to go for a hike. Tucson, for any of you who have never lived here is known for many things, few of which include, Raytheon, the University of Arizona, Cycling and Hiking. It offers some of the most spectacular views in the desert. It was Sunday and my alarm went off at 4am, yes some of you might be cringing at the thought but stay with me. The drive to Picacho peak is a solid 40 minutes from my house and I wanted my surprise to go off without a hitch, we left our house 20 minutes later and travelled the 40 minutes to the bottom of the mountain. Sam had fallen back asleep on the way to the mountain and you can image how grumpy he was when I finally woke him, “We’re here!” We parked, he rolled out of the car, we tightened our headlamps and got to stepping.
Picacho Peak (Pictured below) is pretty neat in it is such a steep climb that boy scouts installed ropes and rails to help with the 1,600 ft of elevation change. What started off as a sleepy and annoyed pre-teen, half way up transformed into an excited little boy that was climbing on skinny railings and pulling himself up ropes and using the walls as spider man would, making himself skinny at the most narrowest of parts and jumping
for joy as he traversed the staircase to the very top. It was 6:00 by the time we reached the top and Sam asks, “Now what...?” I opened up the pocket of my camel pack and took out some breakfast burritos that I had prepared the night before in anticipation of our adventure this morning. We sat there and we ate our burritos, he shared with me some things about his school and what he’s looking forward to in the next semester, and then, it happened. The sun began to rise behind us, and it was absolutely amazing. We watched the sun come up from behind a mountain pasture far in the east and watched it illuminate all of Marana and parts of Tucson. He turned to me and said, “Mom this is pretty darn cool…” We sat there for a moment in silence, shoulder to shoulder watching the sun rise. It was unforgettable.
Picture courtesy of discovermarana.org
9 ways to get your kids to put down the devices
and connect to you:
1. Prepare a new recipe together. This works great if you have one child or multiple chidren. Fosters the idea of team work and also accountability. Give the child or children a particular ingredient that they will add to the pot. In the end, if susie accidentally adds sugar to the recipe instead of salt, well, at the very least you all can discuss what may have gone wrong and ways to improve it next time. Children will learn to take ownership and accountability for their actions and really appreciate you for incorporating them in the preparation of their dinner.
2. Go for Walks together. This not only stimulates the brain by increased blood and oxygen flow it’s just down right good for you! Leave your electronic devices as home and enjoy a 30 minute walk around the neighborhood. Maybe play a game of, I Spy, or this is also a great opportunity to ask your child how their day went. While being otherwise occupied by the walk, you’ll find that your child is more apt to opening up to you then if you are drilling them as they walk through the door from school.
3. Play with them. Do you play a sport? Share that with your kiddo. My son will be the first to tell you that I think I have “mad basketball skills.” And so what, I might talk my game up a little bit but it sure does make for an interested one on one. Being active with your child, just like number 2 mentioned above, will allow them to see you on their level for a moment. They might even realize “Wow my dad/mom is just like any other
person...they are kind of cool.” They will start asking you about what position you might have played in school, did you ever want to play professionally. How about that, your child asking YOU questions, as an adult… why I never! ;)
4. Teach them to lose. Discuss why they lost. I come from a time when there were winners and losers. A lot of children now and days cannot fathom the idea of “Why didn’t I get a trophy too?” It’s ok to lose and your children should know that too. Instill in them that sometimes, you learn more from losing then you do from winning. I heard once, “You have to hate to lose more then you love to win.” It’s what truly distinquishes those that earn through hard work and dedication. I started explaining losing to my son from a very young age. I don’t allow him to react irrationally when a situation arises where he has lost. Instead this is a great opportunity to talk it out with him. He might need a few minutes to calm down and everyone should be given that opportunity but after that, start talking to him about Why do you think you lost? What could you have done better. Allow them to take responsibility for the loss. These are valuable lessons to teach your child because in the real world…well, you know, it’s a dog eat dog world and you want them to know they have to work hard to get ahead and there will be losses along the way but one must persevere in order to succeed.
5. Ask open ended questions. Examples are: What was your favorite part of the day? What would you change about today? Questions that require an answer other than ‘yes’ or ‘no. You’ll notice that these types of answers require a little more time to think and could spark even more dinner conversation then the typical, “It was good...Yes and No”
6. Give them a Why. Gone are the days when a child will do what they are told without question. These children are extremely smart and will always find a way to do things smarter, not harder, and that’s OK. We must prepare them for the world ahead and if they can find an easier way of doing it, more power to them. You might apply this technique in reverse and ask him/her
to play one of their favorite music artists. However, don’t get mad at what you hear. Ask them why they like it, what is the meaning? If you do this tactfully, you might both come to an understanding as to why your child is drawn to these types of lyrics. It could be a growing experience for both of you, an insight into your child’s brain, and guess what you might find yourself “bumping” that music later on too.
7. Monitor their Social Media. Make that a stipulation of their access. Once again, don’t get mad at what you find. These are just indications on where you need to pay more attention. This is a tough pill to swallow. It’s tough to think it’s something I did, or didn’t do as a parent. If you do find something that you’d like to ask about, do it but do so tactfully because this could be an excellent time to effect that change. My son recently posted about his disagreement with how NBA has “stacked certain teams” making it unfair for the rest of the league to be equally competitive. The post was dismissive of the organization, unintelligible and down right ignorant. So I challenged him, “If you feel so strongly about this reword it, think about your words before you post them and come up with three reasons why you disagree with the NBA, make sure you can back up your opinions. Don’t follow blindly. If you can't do that, then the post must go.” The next day, the post was gone.
8. Ask them about their friends. Show interest in what interests them. If they want to show you the moves to a new dance, try it with them. Trust me, they will think you’re cool for trying, or at the very least you will get a great laugh about it. I wish I had a video of Sam teaching me to do the “floss,” we laughed so hard we were crying!
9. Show them spontaneous affection. Take them to school or pick them up every once in a while, and if that’s not an option, maybe, greet them at the door when they arrive and give them a big hug. It’s the unexpected shows of affection that get the most credit. If they ask you to lay with them for a moment, do it, if she grabs for your hand, hold it. We are all so busy but we cannot forget that these little human beings NEED us right now and we have to show them that we care and that we support them.