Do you long for a little bit of peace and quiet in your house? Tiffany Brown shares how to convince your children that silence is, indeed, golden.
Shhhhhhh. When you read this word, do you imagine a peaceful hush as your children are lulled to sleep? Does it make you feel calm and serene, and that all is right with the world? Or does the image forming in your mind have more of a frazzled edge; do you picture yourself frantically trying to get a moment’s head space in among the babble of children’s noise?
Whatever motivates us to seek silence as parents and caregivers, the attempt speaks to a natural instinct, and one that will serve us and our children in a positive way if it can be achieved. Research shows numerous benefits for people of all ages when they can create consistent moments of solitude in their daily routine.
In a fast-paced, technologically connected world, switching off is now seen as not only desirable but downright essential for a healthy, balanced life. This is particularly true for adolescents and older teenagers as they negotiate a world increasingly dominated by online media as a primary form of socialisation.
Encouraging your kids to have quiet time
Consistency will be the key to success in helping younger children develop a daily habit of quiet time. For many, this will evolve from the napping stage. When children are ready to go without a day sleep, caregivers can instead maintain the regular quiet space by encouraging them to look at books or play with a puzzle or some other sort of low-key activity in a quiet place like the bedroom. Stay close by as a reassuring presence, but try to enable them to view the time as theirs, to be able to choose their own quiet activity and to, as far as possible, practicable and safe, enjoy the time by themselves. Older toddlers and school-aged children who are progressing through literacy, numeracy, and artistic developmental stages will have evermore opportunities to choose their preferred quiet time activity. Again, the key is consistency, as well as giving the child some freedom of choice and ensuring the regular practise is a positive experience. If children struggle with self-directed activity, there are plenty of other avenues to explore, like mindful listening tapes, yoga sequences, guided breathing, visualisation, and more. Helping adolescents and older teens to develop a quiet time practice could present more of a challenge, especially if there are anxiety issues or if the idea is new to them. On the flip side, older kids are able to process information in a more rational way, and should be more open to a logical presentation of how quiet time could benefit them. It may be a journey you choose to embark on together, discovering the best and most useful method to harness the positive effects of quiet time in a way that best suits your teen’s personality and interests. With a 2018 US survey finding 95% of teenagers have access to a smartphone, while 45% say they are online "almost constantly", helping your older kids make a mindful daily space for themselves is likely to be extremely beneficial, both now and into the future.
5 benefits of quiet time:
- Increases focus and attention
- Avoids overwhelm by resetting the mind
- Improves the ability to regulate emotions
- Builds confidence and independence
- Increases creativity
How to get quiet time for you
If you didn’t manage to grab a little meditation time or other mindful time out for yourself while the kids were enjoying their quiet time, it would pay to find the space elsewhere. Perhaps a spouse, partner or friend can help you carve out that all-important daily me-time. You may need to wake earlier or stay up later than your children to enjoy uninterrupted quiet time, or you might hold a regular space for them to play with neighbouring kids or have limited screen time each day. Don’t be afraid to make these choices. If half an hour of Peppa Pig each day ultimately leads to you being a calmer, more centred parent who is more able to love, protect, and attend to your children, then kudos to the muddy puddle.
Defined as a mental state achieved by focusing our awareness on the present moment while calmly acknowledging and accepting our feelings, the practise of mindfulness has been steadily gaining attention in recent years. Research shows mindful meditation can ease stress, combat depression, encourage forgiveness, and create people who tend to be more kind and compassionate. Mindfulness can help children develop awareness of their experiences, understand how their emotions manifest in their bodies, recognise when their attention has wandered, and develop tools for self-control.