Children and Soft Addictions
Mild addictions involve any chronic, mindless conduct or mood. Very
evident ones are watching TV, eating too much, Internet surfing and
video game playing. But various other possibilities exist�spreading
rumors, fantasizing, working out, feeling sorry for oneself, shopping
etcetera. Nearly all parents aren�t startled by these behaviors,
believing rightly that they�re "normal". They become abnormal and harm
a child�s growth when they become routine, robbing children of the
time, energy and modivation to engage in more significant activities.
All children require alone time to think and investigate. They need
freedom to figure out what is important in their lives and to master
knowledge and skills that will allow them to achieve their goals. Soft
addictions are foes of thought, discovery and skill development.
The media has documented the epidemic spread of soft addictions. Report
after report reveal that children spend more time than they have before
sitting in front of computers, TV's and game screens.
Similar studies reveal an alarming percentage of overweight children
who are softly devoted to unhealthy foods including fast food
restaurants, obsessed with celebrity worship and fanatical about
shopping for just the right clothes is also increasing. Parents need to
be responsible for helping their children manage these mild addictions.
All too often, they actually model behaviors that encourage children to
fall into soft routines instead. For example, some parents return home
from work and spend the majority of their free hours slumped in front
of the television, they eat too much or even work out compulsively,
unwilling to miss their exercise routine no matter what else is
happening in their lives. Other parents are examples of gossiping
behaviors, they spend many hours each week writing and calling friends
to let them know who is fooling around with whom.
I am not suggesting that parents or children quit all their soft
addictions at once. As human beings, most of us have a few soft
addictions. We can still live a full, meaningful existence if these
habits are part of our life, however, they need to be a minor part. We
help many adults who all say the same thing about their lives: "There
must be more than this."
There is, but they will not discover it until they redirect their time
and energy to more conscious, meaningful activities. This doesn�t mean
they have to try and save the earth and work in soup kitchens feeding
the hungry (even though these are great activities). Rediscovering the
fine art of conversation, spending time with friends and loved ones,
going for walks in the woods, sharing their feelings with those they
really care about, listening to uplifting music�all these things can
add purpose and meaning.
It will also provide a healthy behavioral model for their children.
Consciously or not, kids are wonderful imitators, and softly-addicted
parents generally create softly-addicted kids. It�s terribly hard for
parents to tell children to stop watching endless amounts of television
when they�re guilty themselves of the same kind of mindless, habitual
behaviors. Parents will find, that if they learn to use their time in
more meaningful ways, not only will their lives be more satisfying but
they will help produce more satisfying lives for their children.
NOTE: Use of this article requires links to be intact.
JUDITH WRIGHT is an author, speaker, and seminar leader. She teaches
workshops to help people overcome soft addictions and creating "More"
for twelve years. You may contact her through her Web site at http://www.theremustbemore.com. See also this Wright Institute referral page.
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