Most of us have experienced first-hand, in our lifetime, the disappearance of silence. Our distracting and distracted culture influences the children in our lives. As Glenn Hinson said,
“Noise desensitizes; silence sensitizes.”
We recognize how uninterrupted distraction diverts attention away from the most important matters in a child’s (and our) life:
- emotional upsets needing perspective
- decisions calling for wisdom
- important relationships deserving time and effort (including God)
How hard it is for me to catch on!
Silence allows me to maintain the connection between my inner life and my many activities. Whenever I get to spend time with the children in my family, or with family friends, I usually think first of what fun activities we can do together. Yet I’ve seen how a quiet car ride home gives the children time to process the events. I’m learning to pay attention to silence, and not to fill it with chatter.
What can we do about it?
Practical ideas for different ages:
Create a Quiet Place. Have a few inspirational books, a plush animal, a small blanket, a favorite toy, a bean bag chair or large pillow in an area of the home. Kids can use their creativity to add simple decorations. Let them know they can go there when the noise level in the house is uncomfortable or when they are sad or mad. (This is not time-out; the child is not sent there.)
In addition to a Quiet Place in the home, where they go without handhelds, plan intentional one-on-one time for nature walks, bike rides, lying in the yard looking at stars. Teach them some simple relaxation techniques.
If parents provided opportunities like a Quiet Place in the early years, teens may have internalized the rewards of silence and know how to provide it for themselves as a means of self-care. Encourage teens to take a “digital fast” away from the demands of their phones. Even a few hours can be a restful respite. Some may want to try a “silent retreat,” like this one described in HuffPost.
“God is the friend of silence… We need silence to be able to touch souls.” –Mother Teresa