The Real Charm of Slow Parenting

Many parents find the speed of life simply too fast. Playdates, music lessons, and sports practices are all on the schedule for families. Even downtime at home can feel hectic as parents attempt to keep up with the continual influx of information and entertainment alternatives made possible by the digital era. However, exhaustion is not the only option. A possible solution? Consider a careful gradual parenting style.

Slow parenting is a direct response to modern parenting’s never-ending cycle. It eliminates the notion that children should be given every possible chance. Instead, it adheres to the idea that students should be provided important experiences that require time and energy to process.

It emphasizes that parents should not overload their children with activities that leave them with insufficient free time to explore their interests and the world around them. This allows children to explore themselves, rest between planned activities, and bond with family members.

Although it may not be for everyone, marriage and family therapist Nadia Teymoorian, Psy.D., clinical director of the Moment of Clarity mental health facility in Orange County, California, recommends slow parenting if parenting has become a race and you’d like to explore a more manageable way of life. Teymoorian’s work with families has revealed that slow parenting techniques are frequently useful in assisting parents to increase the meaningful relationships they have with their children.

“When parents embrace a slower parenting style where they’re not feeling pressured to constantly entertain their children, kids learn to generate more ideas, explore their own interests, and find enjoyment in simple, non-stimulating activities,” Teymoorian said. “Slowing down might help you develop patience and a sense of presence. This permits children to see the world around them and develop a more fulfilling internal life.”

Slow parenting is an offshoot of the slow movement, which began over two decades ago when Canadian journalist Carl Honoré criticized fast-paced life in his book In Praise of Slow: Challenging the Cult of Speed.

The slow parenting movement took off with his second book, Under Pressure: Rescuing Our Children from the Culture of Hyper-Parenting, in which he focused on the pitfalls of helicopter parents who micromanage and overbook their children’s lives at the expense of their mental health, resilience, and independence.

So, how does the slow movement work in parenting? Slow, as one might expect, begins with the family routine but spreads to other aspects of life as parents strive to create enough space for themselves and their children.

Here are four strategies to embrace slow parenting and help the entire family take a deep breath before slowing down.

1. Refrain The Desire to Overschedule

Overscheduling has a cost, not just in terms of denying children the opportunity to relax, but also in terms of squeezing out crucial relational time that helps parents and children to develop closer bonds.

“When we resist the urge to overschedule our children, we force ourselves and our kids to prioritize what is most important,” according to Teymoorian. “And when we cut activities, we aren’t just saying ‘no’ to things, but we’re prioritizing opportunities to connect to each other by spending more quality time together.”

Different sorts of downtime, such as playing and family time, are vital in helping children recover from the strains of everyday life. The catch is that when their classmates are participating in numerous activities or there is pressure to not fall behind in the great race to build resumes that universities will find appealing someday, the pressure to not fall behind becomes severe.

Denise Pope, Ph.D., a researcher and Stanford professor, recently told Fatherly about her experience with setting schedule boundaries with her children as her family took a firm stance against overscheduling.

“Our kids wanted to be involved in a lot of activities,” he remarked. “So we sat down and looked at the schedule and said, ‘Okay, if you think you can do these activities and get your homework done while still getting 8 to 10 hours of sleep, we’ll let you try this schedule.”

But we also included certain escape provisions in case the agreement couldn’t be met or if they became overly anxious, affecting their ability to manage their schedule.”In other words, if your children are engaged in a group or activity, you do not have to impose strict rules. However, setting boundaries to discourage overscheduling might help everyone avoid feeling overwhelmed.

2. Embrace Boredom

Despite the significance of unstructured play time, there will be days when children respond to opportunities for play with the dreaded “b” word. When kids feel like they’re about to die of boredom, a slow parenting approach is to hold the line and not bail them out with a list of carefully selected activities. Because no youngster has ever died of boredom.

When left to their own devices, children may come up with slightly unsafe ideas for play. Rest confident that such hobbies are a healthy way to relieve boredom. Climbing a tree or attempting to break rocks with a hammer may result in a minor scrape or bruise, but research shows that such activities benefit children’s development in a variety of ways, including the development of executive functioning abilities, risk-management skills, self-confidence, and independence.

3. Reserve Time for Free Play

When faced with the idea of spending the entire day at home as a family with no obligations to attend, planning activities for the kids helps keep everyone from driving each other crazy. However, there is importance in providing unstructured time for children to play in ways that are voluntary, intrinsically driven, and, most importantly, enjoyable.

“Free play and imaginative activity without rigid rules foster creativity, problem-solving, and social skills in children,” according to Teymoorian. “Kids grow in self-confidence as they are allowed to explore their interests, make decisions, and navigate play decisions.”

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So, even if you have the greatest craft activity planned for the afternoon, it’s sometimes preferable to let the kids continue pretending to eat or build a blanket fort with their siblings if they’re enjoying themselves. After all, the effort you put into planning the craft does not have to be in vain. It will still be available for the kids to enjoy later in the day or when they have a day off from school.

4. Practice Digital Wellness

Even in the early days of the slow parenting movement, television consumption was seen as a potential trap since advertising could lead children to the high of always purchasing the latest and greatest toy. Flashy advertisements also added tension to the parent-child relationship by having children constantly ask for the latest and greatest thing they saw on television.

Although the media landscape has altered dramatically since then, screens continue to have a profound impact on young children’s brains, causing impairments in impulse control, attention span, executive functioning, and general cognitive performance.

Although parents can subscribe to ad-free gaming and streaming options at a premium price point to alleviate some of the initial concerns about the slow parenting movement, children’s constant requests for more screen time can still introduce a frantic and sometimes adversarial component to the parent-child dynamic, similar to when children beg for new toys.

As a result, slow parents continue to struggle with screen time. The majority of families are unwilling to accept media abstinence. Teymoorian advocates for responsible media usage, with a focus on digital wellbeing. She does not advocate for the complete elimination of screens, but rather for empowering children to use technology positively while keeping their entire well-being in mind.

“Digital wellness for kids involves mindful and balanced use of digital media, focusing on learning and creativity rather than constant entertainment,” she said. Instead of endlessly browsing through YouTube Shorts, kids may use an app to make digital art.

“Digital wellness for kids involves mindful and balanced use of digital media, focusing on learning and creativity rather than constant entertainment,”

Additionally, parents should focus their attention inside. “Parents can foster healthier relationships with digital devices,” Teymoorian said, “by modeling responsible online behavior that helps children understand the importance of balancing screen time with other activities.”

As with most aspects of slow parenting, “mindful and balanced” is essential. Because, just as hectic parenting isn’t working for many families, screeching-to-a-halt parenting isn’t a healthy alternative in the long run, as children benefit from enriching activities such as clubs, teams, community groups, and creative arts.

Taking steps to stay present in the moment is an important aspect of the slow movement in general, and slow parenting in particular. However, keep in mind that it takes a lot of braking to get family life to slow down and stay that way.

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