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    Is your child/teenager addicted to their phone? Does their phone rule or do they take control of their phone?

    I recently ran a workshop on Self-Development with a group of 6th year students in Co. Laois. I would like to share some of my findings which are very relevant to any parent with kids of any age. This was a mixed group – males and females aged 17/18 years of age.

    Question asked;
    Do you think your phone/gamine effects your study?
    Yes because once you start using it you never get off it and waste hours
    -Yes sometimes I loose track of time and I am then too tired or its too late to study
    -Yes it is distracting when your friends message you, you feel you have to reply straight away
    -Yes playing too much ultimate geam
    -Yes because you are constantly checking it which effects my concentration

    Up to 95% said their phones effected their study. We spoke at length about how they could change this and what would happen if they did/did not make some changes now. (4 months before Leaving Cert Examination)

    They really were very open to taking on change. They admitted they never really thought about the effects their phone was having on their lives – study, family, past-times, but they will now.

    Question asked;
    Do you think this workshop might encourage you to make any positive changes in your life?
    yes, to turn off my phone when I am studying
    -yes, to take my phone out of my bedroom at night
    -yes, to find a balance between my real life and my virtual life
    -yes, I feel motivated to study
    -yes, not to rely on my phone so much
    -yes, to set goals for myself and follow them through
    -yes, to try harder at training and switch off my phone

    My point is, in all the workshops I run, the students are so open to change. I really believe they do not think about the negative effects of their phones, as they have grown up believing this is the only way to live (phone constantly in their hands). They need to come to this realisation themselves, when they decide to turn their phones off themselves because they understand the negative effects of it, they have a good chance of sticking to it.  When they are ‘told’ to turn their phone off for study, this is when the battles begin.  We spoke about the effect of phones on family life, past-times, fitness, friendships, sleep, values and strengths – our kids need life skills, they need to learn how to control their phones, take control of their lives. We, their parents, can help them to do this from a very early age. We have to set boundaries for them and stick to them. Will there be arguments? yes. Will there be tantrums? yes. But this is part of our parenting job now. We have to support and help our kids to have a balance in their lives, to understand the world offline and to try to take part in it as much as possible.
    I would love to see Self-development modules become part of our curriculum from a very early age as our kids are growing up in a very fast paced, changing technological run world and they do need help and support to live in it in a more positive, healthy way.

    Please contact me should you have any questions relating to the above. Eileen

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    Mobile Phones in Teenagers Bedrooms during Sleeping Hours

    Teenagers – The Effects of Phones in Bedrooms during Sleeping Hours

    In 2012 it was estimated that 1/3 of teenagers slept with their phones under their pillow. I wonder what that percentage would be today? It is a growing concern that lack of sleep is one of the biggest issues with young people – especially exam year teens.
    I recently ran a workshop for exam year students and asked them the following question;

    How does lack of sleep effect you?

    As you can imagine there were many different answers but all with a negative effect on the teen.

    Cranky – moody – irritable – lack of motivation – lack of concentration – eating too much or too little – and many more.

    The next question I asked;

    How many of you have your phones with you in your bedroom at night?

    I am rarely shocked (as a mum of 4 myself) but when approximately 75% of students put up their hands – I was visibly shocked.

    We spent the next 45 mins talking about the pros and cons of same. I could visibly see, for some, this was a lightbulb moment. They had never even ‘thought’ about the impact of having their phone with them at night. How this one habit effected so much in their daily lives.

    We, as parents, have to remember, this is a new world for all of us – a world run by technology. Our kids and teens are not getting enough support and advice as to how to live in this every changing world in a safe and happy way.
    If, even a few of the students I spoke to that day realised the importance of NOT having their phones in the bedroom during sleeping hours, I would be very happy.
    This one change in their daily lives can have a huge positive impact. I am well aware of the arguments this may cause in family life, but, unfortunately for us parents – this is our job!

    There is enough stress around exams in this Country, our kids do not need the added effects of exhaustion, moodiness, lack of motivation, irritability etc.

    Please feel free to get in touch should you have any queries regarding any of the above.

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    We email, text, book holidays, meet partners, shop and maintain friendships online – never before have our kids and teens needed help connecting face to face.

    There are many positives to social media but unfortunately fewer opportunities to connect face to face, which can leave many kids and teens confused, upset, lonely and isolated on a daily basis.

    Kids learn by watching what is going on around them. They will learn by trial and error, just as we did. The more effort we make in teaching them social skills and the more they see us connecting face to face with our peers they better for them.

    Kids generally start out as being self-centred. It’s important for their development to understand where they fit in the world. Social Media instil a constant need for kids to think about themselves, how they look, what they are doing, how many friends they have etc. At some stage they need to move this awareness to outside of themselves and notice the world and the people around them. To become less self-centred.

    Here are some ways to guide them along;
    Let them speak
    Give them the opportunities to be ‘fully’ listened to. Give them time, let them understand the benefits of someone giving ‘time’ to a family member or friend. Let them know the feeling of having your full and undivided attention, this will teach them the skills of listening to others. They are living in a world where everything is rushed and patience is a becoming a thing of the past. Being in the ‘now’ with you once in a while will show them the importance of opening up and talking about their feelings face to face. It will give them the skills to talk to others.

    Gently help them to open their minds to other opinions
    Encourage their opinions, even if they are different to your own. Try not to interrupt them and jump in with your own opinions. To be able to appreciate another’s point of view is an essential life skill. Show them how to open up to other people and other opinions by helping them to open up to their own.

    Let them see you take a stand.
    It is an important lesson kids realise that they don’t have to connect with everyone or like everyone, but if they are going to pull away, they need to do it respectfully and not for the sake of it or just because that person may be different. Let them see you make a stand with people and situations, explain to them the reasons why you made a stand and how you made your stand.

    Help them to connect with beauty in all its versions.
    When we see or experience beauty in any form, we connect with it – whether its in nature, music, art or people. Beautiful was never meant to mean perfect. Beauty is flawed, different , quirky, interesting, non-conforming, ragged, unique. Help them to set their lens to a diverse definition of ‘beautiful’ by pointing it out when you see it. They are bombarded by a false unreal definition of beauty daily online, let them borrow your lens and learn from your lens – what you see, they will see too.

    Build empathy
    Expand their awareness of other people and what others might be feeling, by encouraging them to look at people from a different point of view. They are living in a very fast paced world where people can be viewed and judged in a matter of seconds, without any thought for the actual person and what they may be feeling and/or what they might be going through at that time. Empathy is a necessary social skill to make and keep friendships and relationships throughout life.
    When they tell you about something that has happened try to encourage a different point of view…’What do you think she was feeling when that happened?’ ‘What do you think would have been a nice thing to happen next?’ ‘How would you feel if that happened you?’ ‘If that was you, what could someone say to help you feel better?’
    The best lessons we will give our kids is through real life situations.

    They are important, but so is everyone else.
    We want to build our kids self-confidence and let them know how amazing they are and how important they are to us, but without letting them believe they are ‘more’ important, more deserving or more entitled that anyone else. Arrogance is the enemy of connection. Nurture their open, warm hearts and their capacity to connect and be seen, by encouraging them to see the strengths and the goodness in others as well as themselves.
    Being able to connect with others easily is not always a given but these skills can always be learned. It does take deliberate teaching and we, as parents, grandparents, carers, teachers, are in a powerful position to do that. Relationships are such an important part of life and being able to initiate and maintain healthy ones is a vital life skill. All kids will learn most from the adults around them. We have the privileged and vital role of guiding and nurturing them alone the way.

    “The single biggest problem in COMMUNICATION is the illusion that it has taken place.” – George Bernard Shaw

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