Life in the fast lane comes with a heavy price: stress, anxiety, depression and isolation. These in turn have consequences such as high blood pressure, eating and sleeping disorders, and no time for leisure or pleasurable activities. These then lead to diseases such as hypertension, diabetes, insomnia, excess weight gain or loss and several other issues that are life-threatening and reduce the quality of living.

The solution is simple really–slow down. While we struggle to achieve work-life balance and take time out for ourselves so we can follow this seemingly straightforward mantra, we don’t realize the worst part; in our quest to make the most of life, we’re teaching our kids bad habits.

Because kids will do what you do and not what you say, here’s a closer look at the six things they are picking up:

  1. Anxiety: Your kid’s brain is still developing, and their daily experiences are shaping their thoughts, reinforcing their neural pathways and teaching them life-long habits. Seeing you always so rushed will over-stimulate them and train their brain to be easily anxious.
  2. Stress: Being surrounded by so much speed, constant reminders about deadlines and increased pressure to race against the clock will up the level of stress hormones in their little bodies. This leads to them growing cranky, which affects their sleeping and eating patterns plus negatively impacts their immunity.
  3. Helplessness: With your issuing non-stop instructions and commands, kids can tend to feel powerless and controlled. This may lead to tantrums or low self-esteem since they don’t feel like they’re in charge of anything. They may also not be able to process all this while they’re struggling to keep up with your pace, which can cause them to become slow learners.
  4. Boredom: After becoming accustomed to constant stimulation and adrenaline highs, they tend to get bored easily and will more easily turn to video games or digital devices to feed that craving for a thrill and stay busy. When there’s a gap in the stimulation, they will feel lost and incomplete.
  5. Dependence: Since they always rely on you for direction and a packed schedule, they rarely, if ever, feel confident about discovering or experimenting with things or ideas, both processes that need time to effectively develop. It effectively kills their curiosity.
  6. Emotional Stunting: Having not enough time on their hands, kids rarely get a chance to analyze their feelings and express them in a healthy way.

Breaking this vicious cycle is not going to be easy but make the decision to be a positive parent and start enabling your child to live a slower, fuller life with these 4 simple steps.

  1. Encourage them to do nothing for a certain part of the day, and assure them that it’s okay to just sit around and let their imagination take over.
  2. Try relaxing together as a family ‘activity’ where there are no rules or deadlines.
  3. Switch off devices and create a no phone rule at meal times or just before bed, for yourselves and your children.
  4. Indulge in pastimes like going for long walks, just reading or doodling together quietly, watching the rain or snow fall, or even admiring a sunset together.

Gift your child the most wonderful gift of all, one they will cherish when they are adults and remember to pass on to their children in turn: your precious time.

Image: Shutterstock

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Read More:
Getting Kids To Unplug: Parenting Tips For The Wired Generation
Addicted To Busyness? Here’s How To Get Out Of The Rut

Simona is a journalist who has worked with several leading publications in India over the last 17 years, writing on lifestyle topics and the arts, besides interviewing celebrities. She made the switch to public relations and headed the division as PR Manager at ITC Hotels’ flagship property, the ITC Grand Chola, but has since returned to her first love, journalism. Now she writes on food, which she is sincerely passionate about and wellness, which she finds fascinating and full of surprises. When she isn’t writing, she is busy playing the role of co-founder and communications director of The Bicycle Project, a six-year-old charity initiative that empowers tribal children in rural areas, while addressing the issue of urban waste.