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Distracted Parenting: Do We Have it All Wrong?

Posted by Lauren Osborne on Nov 29, 2017 8:05:00 PM

training teaching children parentingYou see it publicly every place you go: the fussy newborn, the tantrum-ing toddler, or the rolling eyes of an angry young child. Emotions have been and always will be one of the most challenging parenting issues. The majority of us have the “d” word down perfectly.


The weepy newborn gets a rattle shaken in its face. The fretting toddler gets an I-pad to play and the irate young child gets the promise of a Happy Meal if he’ll just straighten up. This is what we do.  

We distract.

Here is the problem! Everything we do trains them for their future. Most parents, if you ask them upfront, would never want their adult children to turn to gadgets, technology or food as an emotional fix, yet we do this with our children all the time.  We want our kids to learn productive strategies of calming emotions, but we actually teach them the opposite. We know how to distract very well. Many of us do not know how to train even though the optimal training period for children is when they are young!

  • What if, instead of giving the newborn a rattle, we soothe them with our composed words and calm voices and trust that will be enough?
  • What if we held them and spoke quiet verses over them as they cried? What if we taught our toddler how to take a long deep breath?
  • What if for every 3,892 tantrums they have between the ages of 1 and 5, we taught them to take long deep breaths instead of handing them some form of technology? Would their brains be wired differently? Would their training be different? Will they get it right every time? No! But, they aren’t getting it right when we hand them the I-pad either.
  • What if we brought our young child home and said, “No, you may not roll your eyes when you are angry. You can say, “Mom, I don’t want to but I will obey.” What if we practiced that over and over again before we went to the store and again after each time they repeated the wrong actions?
  • What if for every 4,723 times they rolled their eyes, we spent time training them with what we expect instead of distracting them? Would they grow up to be a different adult? The answer is most certainly YES.

Training is biblical. Distraction is not. 

Distractions don’t teach children new skills but training does…including how to handle emotions, even when they are overwhelming!  

The next time you are tempted to distract…ask yourself:

“What skill is he/she lacking?” Then begin to teach it!

The secular definition of the word “train” is: to teach a particular skill through repetition over a period of time.

It won’t happen overnight but your child will be on their way to learning a life-long skill.

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Topics: Parenting