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screen time

Too Much Phone Time?

Years ago, our daughter received her first cell phone. She was so excited to upgrade her “flip phone” and step into the mobile internet world. 

As parents, we soon found out her phone and all its capabilities were more than any of us could handle! Not only was she juggling a rigorous high school and competitive volleyball schedule, but now she was trying to manage her social life on a device.

Before we knew what was happening, she was melting down, and her sassy, erratic behavior was out of the norm. Something needed to be done. Her phone was the first thing to go since it was the most recent addition to her life and the only thing I concluded was the reason for her outbursts and sullen behavior. 

I decided to take her phone away for 3 days. You may think this is outrageous, but back then it wasn’t. During these 72 hours, our daughter slowly came out of the fog of “plugged-in” overload. By the end of the 3 days, our delightful, vibrant 15-year old daughter returned to us refreshed, clear-headed and grateful for the forced break from a world she didn’t know how to maneuver.

Fast forward nearly 10 years later, and everyone is plugged in all the time. We expect to be connected to each other and the world 24/7.

Is it healthy for our kids and teens? Not exactly. We need down-time for our brains to process emotions. Kids need time to learn and develop skills that can build their confidence without comparing themselves to others all the time.

Yes, phones/mobile devices are the new normal. However, there are some great guidelines for raising your kids to practice healthy phone habits. 

No Phones At Bedtime

Studies show kids aren’t getting enough sleep. Set up a charging station that you can monitor, and make sure your kids adhere to putting their phones in it before bedtime.

One Screen At a Time

Many kids are on their computer or watching TV and also scrolling through their phones. If they can’t finish a task without checking their phone, there’s a problem. Institute one screen at a time to keep your child focused.

No Phone Zone For Family Dinner

No phones at the dinner table. Period. Nowadays family dinner at the table is a privilege, and a time to check in and catch up. If your child  doesn’t want to talk, don’t let them fill the void with their phone.

Get Your Homework Done First

Then let your kids earn extra time to use their phone. Whether you like it or not, teens connect digitally. Remember back when you spent time on your landline phone talking to your friends for hours. We may connect differently digitally today, but the one thing in common is connecting with friends.

Turn Off Notifications

If you don’t know it’s there, you won’t miss it. Turning off notifications can decrease your desire to check your phone incessantly.

Consider Apps To Limit Screen Time

Here’s an app highlighting the best app for limiting screen time.

Remember, if you are going to enforce these rules in your house, you must follow them as well and set the example for your children.

We may all be surprised. Instead of feeling like we are “missing something” with less screen time and notifications, we may find that we are gaining so much more – peace of mind, extra time, genuine conversations, and productivity to name a few.

How To Win Friends and Influence People

“You can make more friends in two months by becoming genuinely interested in people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you.” —Dale Carnegie

This book was recommended to me when I started my first job out of college. I was working for a senator from Kentucky in Washington, DC, and my boss thought it would be good for me to make more friends and learn how to influence people’s decisions. 

Here are a few things I learned from one of the most successful books of all time:

Don’t Criticize Others

Doing this doesn’t encourage someone to change their behavior. It only makes them feel under attack, and instead of listening to you, they will become defensive and fight back.

“Criticizing someone is easy, but it takes character and understanding to forgive others of their mistakes and shortcomings.”

For me, I’ve always noticed how lousy I feel after I put someone down, so taking a deep breath and thinking before you speak is always the better choice.

Make People Feel Important

We all want to feel valued and noticed by others. Look for ways to compliment your friends, family, co-workers and others you meet throughout your day. We all have unique gifts, and taking the time to appreciate those in someone will not only boost their confidence, but also build respect for you.

When you are known for building others up, not only will you make more friends, but you will create long-lasting relationships because people feel good around you.

Smile At Everyone You See

It can seem daunting trying to make new friends when starting at a new school or job, joining different clubs, sports or extracurricular activities. 

However, one super easy way to break the ice with anyone is to smile at them. You will appear more confident, attractive and intelligent. When someone sees your smile, they won’t be thinking about what you’re wearing; they will be thinking what a nice, friendly person you are even before you introduce yourself.

Add great eye contact, and this newbie will feel like the most important person in the room. Take a chance. Smile at someone today and see the warmth that unfolds.

Do You Know My Name?

To get on someone’s good side, be sure to say their name and say it several times during your conversation so you remember it.

Think about it…in our distracted world, aren’t you impressed when someone remembers your name? 

It’s thought that we care about our name more than anyone else’s, so think of the power of winning others over by simply remembering their names.

Whenever I eat out at a restaurant, I always ask the server’s name; then throughout the meal I make a point to say their name, and without a doubt we receive great service and a smiling face.

Be a Good Listener Who Is Genuinely Interested In Others

Sometimes when I meet a new person, I get so excited about what they are saying that I interrupt them in the middle of a conversation.

We are all guilty of it; however, talking about yourself a lot, failing to listen to others or interrupting them will not make you friends because this signals you’re self-centered.

Instead, listen intently, ask thoughtful questions about their interests, find commonalities and show you care about their accomplishments. This will increase your chances of making a new friend or securing new business because you better understand what is important to them.

Noone Ever Wins an Argument

And if they do, no one leaves the conversation feeling better than before the argument. Usually, the first response is defensive, and then tempers flare. Instead, listen to understand the other person’s viewpoint.

Try to find areas to agree on, and see if you can compromise or agree to think about the situation and come back and discuss it later. Be sincere in admitting your mistakes in the situation and thank them for explaining their thoughts in the matter as well. Your humility will earn the respect and trust needed to ensure a strong personal or working relationship.

If you want more friends or to keep the ones you have, I highly suggest some of these tips.

We all want to be liked, so be friendly, smile, listen and call people by their names. Everyone craves attention, so set yourself apart to make someone feel like they are the only person in the room.

Praise and encourage others often, be humble, avoid arguments and compliment instead of criticize. You will be the first person someone goes to during the best and worst of times because you have earned their trust and respect.

Walk a Mile in Another’s Shoes

Live out The Golden Rule in today’s independent, fast-paced world. Do unto others as you would have done unto you. Ahhh….it sounds so easy. Treat your family, friends and strangers with respect, compassion, understanding. Always give the benefit of the doubt no matter the situation. I wish I did this well every single day because I have seen over and over again how vital this is.

Whether we realize it or not, everyone is struggling. They are hurting in little or big ways. Some feel like their lives are falling apart and unraveling. Others are losing hope for a job or just a better life. Some are in toxic relationships. Others are dealing with grief and loss. Life is just hard.

On Thursday, I learned of a tragedy, another suicide. A dear friend of mine told me of a death to a close friend of hers – a 25-year old had taken his life only a few days before. Tragedy for another family of a young man gone too soon. My heart was shattered for my friend, and for her personal loss of this young man. This is the fourth death of parents I know to lose a child to suicide.

Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Awareness Month

September is Mental Health and Suicide Prevention Awareness month. Sadly, 80 percent of kids with a diagnosable anxiety disorder and 60 percent of kids with diagnosable depression are not getting treatment, according to the 2015 Child Mind Institute Children’s Mental Health Report.  According to the National Institute of Health, suicide is the second leading cause of death for America’s teenagers.

As parents and friends of young adults, we need to keep looking for ways to do more to prevent this statistic. It is not always easy to know how to come alongside someone who deals with depression or suicidal tendencies. But the one thing we all can do is offer friendship, love, and compassion. 

We can stop what we are doing and walk a mile (or two, or more) in their shoes. See life from their perspective. Understand why they are feeling a certain way. Offer love without judgement. Offer hope and commitment.

Walk a Mile or Two in Their Shoes

This takes practice. Here are two ways that have really helped me learn how to walk in someone else’s shoes – or as Atticus said in To Kill a Mockingbird, ”You never really understand a person until you consider things from his point of view… until you climb into his skin and walk around in it”…

Volunteer

Recently, I volunteered at the Denver Rescue MissionThe Crossing for families and met a 30 something year old dad with 6 kids. His kids joyously came through the food line, but I saw signs of stress on the man’s face, and my heart ached for the burden he must feel trying to care for his children. However, this small act of serving food and meeting some of the families gave me pause to know we are all in this life together, and we must extend compassion and support to each other to make our days brighter. Project Helping takes the guess work out of how and where to volunteer. They have 100’s of opportunities a month and make it so easy to sign up and serve.

Practice Mindfulness

The definition is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations, used as a therapeutic technique. Instead of being hurried and impatient, take a deep breath and notice your surroundings. Be grateful and  say a prayer to be a vessel to peace and love to everyone you meet. Make eye contact with others, smile at someone, listen to understand. This practice alone can change the way you see the world and how you connect with your fellow man.

So I say this to you today, please don’t judge another until you walk a mile in their shoes. Take stock of your day, be kind to others and be slow to speak when presented with unforeseen frustrating circumstances. Everyone has challenges in their life, and at the end of the day all we desire is love and understanding. This is the legacy I hope we can strive to communicate to our next generation. Truly, their lives just may depend on it.

Having a Different Outlook

Guest Post by Nicole Johnson

As a 17-year old senior girl, I constantly find myself being my own worst critic, and I know I’m not the only one. From what shoes I wear, to how I look in a picture, to what I do on a Saturday night; we constantly criticize ourselves to better match up with the high expectations of today’s society.

Concerned About Others Opinions

Not only do we worry about our own lives, but we often worry about what others think of our lives – what we wear, what we post, who we hang out with, etc. All of these are small aspects that have a large impact on the way we perceive ourselves as individuals.

As I’ve grown, I’ve realized that we are especially hard on our bodies and physical appearances. Even as an athletic teen, I constantly am trying to eat healthy and go to the gym to get my body into better shape than it is already.

Am I ever going to be that Instagram model or girl on the cover of Vogue? Well, no, of course not. But I often find myself striving to look better than the day before.

Body Shame

An average of about 94% of girls have been body shamed at one time in their life, which is an unacceptable amount. Body shaming is a massive issue that is tearing down people of all ages throughout our nation.

While this has never been the case for me, it is for so many young adults out there and can lead to depression, anxiety, and even suicide.

To those that have been body shamed, or haven’t, I want to tell you this… reflect on yourself and let every negative idea of what you think or people have told you slip away.

Imago Dei – Made in God’s Image

In Genesis chapter 1, God tells us that He created us in his image, perfect and holy.

  • Look at your hands – they have pet so many cute animals and dried so many of your tears.
  • Look at your feet – they have walked you to some of your favorite places, and gotten you out of the worst situations.
  • Look at your belly – think of the days it’s been full and warm with all your favorite foods.
  • Look at your legs – they have held you up when you thought you weren’t strong enough to stand.
  • Look at your eyes – they have seen so many beautiful people and brought so much rest when you were weary.
  • Look at your mouth – it has told so many people that you love them, prayed so many prayers, preached encouragement, and smiled so many smiles.

Our bodies have been there for us, even when we didn’t want to thank God for the way He made us. When we learn to root our identity in Christ and truly believe he made us perfect in his image, we then can find the light in the darkness, the joy in the suffering, the calm in the storm.

Nothing anyone says to you can overpower the love Jesus has for you. He cares for you, He thinks you’re perfect, He wouldn’t change a thing about you, and that, that right there should be enough.

How amazing is it to think that the Lord God who created the mountains, the oceans, and the skies, created you too?! Created you, loves you, and died for you, knowing you may never love him back. 

Change the World

When we find this peace in Christ and start living proudly inside and out truly who He made us to be, physically and emotionally, we can change the world.

Tell someone how great they look in that new shirt, or if they are rocking those new pants. But better yet, tell them what you like about them as a person, why you appreciate them, and what makes them special.

No matter what you look like, it’s what’s on the inside that matters and when we start having a positive outlook on not only the way we appear, but life itself, things change, people change, and lives are changed.

So my friends, I encourage you to love Jesus, love yourself, and love your body because throughout my 17 years of this crazy thing called life, I’ve learned that those are three things that will love you right back. 

What’s Your Worry?

I met with a young woman this week who I hadn’t visited with for a few years. Previously, I led a small group she attended regularly.

She’s grown into an articulate, thoughtful and beautiful high school senior.

Tragedy

We talked and caught up on the past four years of girl drama and sad circumstances. This young woman has lost 3 friends to suicide in the past year! It hurts my heart to even type that. Why are we losing our promising youth at such alarming rates? I know…that’s a complicated question that draws many conclusions depending on who you ask.

When we spoke about her present day to day, she seemed to say all the right things.

Dealing With Anxiety

I asked, “How do you deal with anxiety?”

She said, exercise and yoga, service work at church, reads her Bible and stays away from her phone. CHECK! These are all great answers and suggestions I give to clients. She continued to tell me how she and her friends have chosen to abstain from drugs and alcohol and find fun and laughter in other ways.

Further, she is applying to colleges and is excited to pursue a Business Management major.

It sounded like she has it all figured out right? At 17, I was thinking “Wow, she’s making better decisions and has more clarity than a lot of people my age.”

But something still seemed to weigh heavy on her, and I couldn’t pinpoint exactly what it was, so I kept listening.

Worry Steals Our Joy

Then when we were finishing our time together, I asked how I could pray for her. And then she said it…WORRY.

That dreaded word that creeps in and steals the joy in our present moments.

She said she worries about her class load (schedule hasn’t graduated yet), what college she will attend (applications not due yet), social media (someone always looks better) and making the right life decisions.

Focus on the Present

After we prayed together, we talked about how yesterday is gone and tomorrow hasn’t happened yet and all we have right now is the present. That is why it is a gift.

All the experiences we go through whether happy or sad are preparing us for the journey ahead.  If we believe the words in Jeremiah 29:11 about the hopes and plans God has for our future, then we needn’t fret over our circumstances.

The world we live in today is difficult to maneuver at any age, but especially the fast pace and pressures put on our young people by society, parents and themselves.

Pause and Take Stock

I want to encourage you to pause when worry starts to creep in.

Take stock of what you can control and what you can’t, say a prayer, take deep breaths, look for the beauty around you, think happy thoughts, watch a funny video. The list can go on if you find the right perspective and can give yourself grace to know you can get through the next 5 seconds and then the next 5, and then the next… You’ve got this!

Let me know if I can help. I’d love to meet for coffee and hear more about what may be weighing heavy in your life right now.