5 Rules To Follow After Buying Your Child A Phone This Holiday Season

1. Keep your child’s room clean of screens:
Your child should never have any type of electronic device in his room, period. This includes televisions, computers, and handheld devices. No matter how much grief you get, remember that you are in charge. Keep those screens out of the bedroom.

2. Your child’s phone is your phone:
Although your child’s phone is a gift make it clear that it is still yours, not hers. Make rules that the new phone is to be handed to you at a certain time every night and that he or she will never be allowed to sleep with it next to her. The temptation to communicate via text and social media will be too strong, thereby creating sleep disturbances and other issues.

3. No electronics during dinner:
Make a rule that dinnertime is family time. No phones or televisions can be used during this important time, by anyone—including you. Make dinnertime sacred.

4. Limit screen time for entertainment purposes (including TV) to two hours per day:
Yes, I get it. This sounds like an impossible task, but this is what the Academy of American Pediatrics recommended for children over eight years of age before they lightened their guidelines. But I still agree with the old ones.

5. Be a role model:
This means spending less time with your beloved device when you are with your children. Turn off your device during dinner and whenever you are in the presence of your children. Our children need us to be present when we are around them, not distracted. 


Alone or Lonely: Which One Are You?

Lonely_or_AloneAll morning, I was looking forward to the pineapple fried rice. When my lunch buddy, Mike, told me that he wasn’t feeling well and couldn’t go to our favorite Friday Thai spot, I was a little disappointed. I don’t remember the last time we missed a Friday lunch at this place. So I had a decision to make. Should I go alone or should I do something else for lunch? The idea of a sit-down lunch by myself seemed a little strange, because it’s not something I normally do. As I thought about it a little harder, I said to myself, “why wouldn’t I go alone?” After all, I had been looking forward to the pineapple rice all morning, and I happen to enjoy my own company. Yes, I do like myself and could care less what other patrons might think of the poor guy (me) sitting alone with no friends. So I went.

As I sat at the table, I found myself quite tuned in to my thoughts. Although I missed Mike’s presence, I embraced the alone time. I very much enjoyed it.

It got me thinking about a topic that I discuss with many of my patients at my private counseling practice: the difference between aloneness and loneliness. The difference is quite extreme — here’s why. People who avoid idle, alone time fear being lonely. They don’t like the idea of having a front row seat to their thoughts. People who embrace alone time, on the other hand, enjoy the adventure and creativity that their thoughts can bring. It can be rather exciting for them, as it should be, because these are the people who literally attract the things they want into their lives.

Which type are you? Are you the type that looks at alone time from a perspective of loneliness or from a perspective of aloneness? If loneliness is your answer, here are some strategies that will help you to start embracing your time alone.  Doing so will help you to build a stronger relationship with yourself and will help you in the direction of your goals a lot faster.

  1. Have a meeting with yourself every day. That’s right. Make it a priority to have a 15-minute meeting with “you” every day. While you’re at it, really pay attention to your thoughts. What exactly are you thinking about? How are you feeling? Are your thoughts filled with worries or fears? Are your feelings down? If so, start replacing those thoughts with positive ones. Breathe in feelings that are abundant. The more you practice this, the quicker you will become it.
  2. Give thanks. During your alone time, steer your thinking. Start giving thanks for all of the wonderful things you have. Give thanks for your health, your family’s health, the home you live in, the car you drive, and the bed you sleep in. You get the picture. Creating a daily “attitude of gratitude” will literally have you loving yourself in no time.
  3. Meditate: Speaking of alone time! Meditation is the epitome of it. Have you ever closed your eyes for 15 minutes at a time in a quiet place for several consecutive days? Try it. Not only will you learn new things about yourself, but you’ll also discover who you actually are.
  4. Stretch: Take a few minutes to lightly stretch your body, and do it slowly. You can do this right from your desk. Not only does this help you to tune in to your physical body, it also help you tune in to your thoughts.  This is a great way of creating a balance of mind and body.
  5. Accept aloneness: The next time you have some serious downtime with basically nothing to do, don’t try to fill in the downtime with meaningless activities like Internet surfing or texting. Instead, embrace the boredom. Boredom time is probably the most mentally creative time there is. It is the Miracle-Gro of the mind.

As always, contact me if you have any questions about my blog or anything else. Let’s talk!


Parenting Children to be Leaders Instead of Followers







Do you feel pressured to sign your children up for lots of sports and activities so that they keep pace with the other kids, even though your gut tells you it’s too much? Do you fear they won’t measure up and succeed in this competitive world? Do you allow your children to spend too much time on smartphones and video game devices because that is how kids  communicate these days, and that depriving them of this will lead to social isolation? The reality is that all of these activities and devices that we provide our children have little to do with them and everything to do with us.  Here’s why.

We want our children tofit inbecause we fear that they won’t be happy and successful. Take a deep breath for moment and really think about this. Do you really want your children to “FIT IN”, to follow the crowd? Or, do you want them to be leaders? As parents we get sucked into the fitting-in trap and we may be setting-up our children to be future followers instead of future leaders.

Here are a few tips to help you raise children that are future leaders instead of followers.

Unplug the phone: Getting smart-phones for your children is the furthest thing from “smart.” You know how addictive these things are and how dangerous that world-wide-web is. So does it make sense to place these dangerous devices in your children’s hands? I understand that all of the other parents in the community are ok with it, but does that really make it ok? Wouldn’t you rather your child do things the safe way instead of societies way? If your children are among the few that don’t have smart phones then you’re already teaching them how to march to the beat of their own drum; to lead rather than follow. Their time to have a smart phone will come, there’s no need to rush it. And remember, this fear you have of your children being left behind is your fear, not theirs.

Limit the sports: Are your kid’s schedules jam-packed? Again, do you fear that they will fall behind and not be any good, and not have a social life? Again, these are fears, not facts. Here are the facts: If your child is on the football field practicing every night until 8:00, what he’s really missing out on is what he needs the most—time with you. You are your children’s teacher and mentor, and the only way you can teach them and guide them is if you are with them.

Rated M video games/Rated R Movies: Leaders play by the rules. Why? Because the rules are the rules. If you allow your children to play games and watch movies that aren’t age appropriate, what do you think that teaches them? It teaches them that it’s ok to break the rules, which is something leaders just don’t do. If you start playing by the rules your children will too.

In a nutshell, human beings tend do move with the crowd, to go with the flow. This is similar to the flock of birds in the sky or the school of fish in the sea. We unconsciously conform to the things that others around us are doing and we don’t even realize it. This is known as the collective consciousness or social conformity. Unless you start becoming more aware of this fact and pass it on to your children, your children will start to, well, follow the crowd. Here is a great clip from an old candid camera episode that will help you understand this more. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=BgRoiTWkBHU