September 26, 2011

What's happening to our kids?

I went to a talk given by Maggie Hamilton about a week ago. Maggie is a writer who has done alot of research with children and teenagers. She has written a number of books, in particular Whats happening to our Girls? and Whats happening to our Boys?

I read Whats happening to our girls? a while ago and bought the boys book at the talk to read. The books can be quite confronting, reading in black and white what is happening in children's lives in the 21st century. And even from my limited, rather sheltered experience I saw and experiecned many of the things Maggie writes about so I know alot of this is correct. But what I appreciate about Maggie Hamilton's books is that she doesn't just try to just present information, but uses the 100's of interviews she conducted with normal children/teens to illustrate the facts.

I could go into all the things children are faced with, but really I encourage you to read the books.
Instead I wanted to share some of the tips Maggie gave to help counteract what the world is teaching our kids and help them cope with a range of situations they may not be ready for yet. (the talk was aimed at parents so the tips are more family focused)
  • Have a family meal every day (without the TV on) and just chat about the day, the plans all of you have, what things are coming up in the nest few days, whats on the news, something you read during the day.
  • Spend some time alone with each child each week - this could be as simple as taking a child with you when you go grocery shopping, walk the dog
  • Involve children in a useful physical activities that have a purpose. Getting them to help with the renovations, volunteer to look after animals at the RSPCA, create a small business on Etsy (this one made me smile), cook dinner for the family - or for another family.
  • Involve them in a multi-generational community so they are not only interacting with peers their own age. For Christians we have a multi-generational community on our doorstep - the church! (I've written about my love of my multi-generational community before)
Each of the books also has lots more ways to help young people. This is one of the things I appreciate about Maggie Hamilton is that she doesn't just tell you all the things that kids are exposed to and leave you feeling hopeless. She gives you ideas and strategies to counteract.

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