THE BIG QUESTION: CAN QUIET TIME HELP KIDS MAKE BETTER DECISIONS?
Sunday, September 19, 2021
By Laura Goertzel, KIDS AND FAMILY Digital Director
Several years ago, a friend shared a bit of parenting insight that, at the time, seemed like a revelation, but in retrospect should have been obvious all along. Her young son was an introvert living in an extrovert’s world. The playdates following peewee soccer practice, the neighborhood game nights, the big family dinners—all this stimulation was stressing him out. Instead of getting with the social program, he’d sneak away to hang out under the bed with the family dog.
After stepping back from scheduling and creating routines, this new mom realized her withdrawn toddler was signaling that he needed quiet, unstructured play time.
“Children need an opportunity to strategically and safely disengage from a complex social world, step back, assimilate, and build a story of who they are,” says University of Southern California professor Mary Helen Immordino-Yang in this Nat Geo Family article about the role quiet time plays in kids’ development.
My friend’s son intuitively rebelled against the overstimulation by simply disengaging, but it’s not just introverted or younger kids who benefit from silent moments.
According to researchers, teens who reflect internally and think deeply about ideas can strengthen the area of their brain that supports the development of life skills like decision-making and empathy. Silence provides space for that type of introspection to occur.
Creating quiet spaces for self-discovery means coming up with silent activities. Here are four ideas:
- Grab some crayons. Engage younger kids who have a harder time sitting quietly through coloring. Check out over 40 downloadable animal coloring pages.
- Try forest bathing. Studies show that cultivating mindfulness during the practice can boost memory, promote empathy, reduce stress, and improve attention in school settings.
- Create calm. Help kids breathe in mental goodness with aromatherapy. Get started with simple DIY crafts.
- Get flowing. Mindful movement focuses kids’ attention on their bodies, breathing, and surroundings to create opportunities for quiet contemplation. Animal-inspired yoga poses make it fun.
That introverted toddler’s instincts to take time for deep thinking and introspection served him well over the years. My friend just dropped him off to start his first year of engineering school. She’s now home with the dog.
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