Is it just me, or does it feel like kids are growing up too fast? In the beginning, it seems like they will be little forever, and then time starts slipping through your fingers faster than you can imagine. If you’re hoping to encourage your children to be kids while they can, there are ways to slow down childhood so kids can enjoy being kids for as long as possible.
Does it feel like your kids are growing up to fast?
You’re not alone.
For the past two years, it seems like my kids have been growing at warp speed.
The previously tiny people who I used to rock to sleep and always wanted me around have been replaced by big kids who are more independent than I am ready for.
In the blink of an eye, they’ve gone from toddlers to tweens.
I swear that I can physically feel their childhood slip away and it’s almost painful.
I’m sure I’m not the only one that wishes for a pause button that could freeze time and keep them at this age forever.
If you’re feeling the same way, please know that you’re not alone, and that there are steps you can take to slow down childhood and encourage your children to enjoy being little for as long as possible.
Are kids really grow up faster these days?
While it may seem like children are growing up faster than ever before, the truth is that there hasn’t been a definitive study to support this claim.
I know it feels like modern children have a tremendous amount of responsibilities, but if we take a quick look back in history, kids have typically had a lot more adult responsibilities on their plate.
Just fifty years ago many children were responsible for helping on the family farm, caring for younger siblings, and by age 12 most kids had started working to help pay for household expenses.
Compared to that, most kids today have it pretty darn easy.
I don’t think that asking our kids to do their homework, keep their room clean, and help out with the household chores is asking too much.
However, there are indications that kids may be maturing at a more rapid pace than in previous years.
So what’s causing kids to grow up faster?
There are a number of reasons why it seems like kids may be growing up at a more accelerated rate.
Some experts say that it has to do with the way our society is structured, and our reliance on technology.
Kids are constantly being bombarded with images of adult life and developmentally inappropriate content through social media, the news, and even ads.
As a teacher, I see this first hand. Students as young as 6 frequently share with me that they watch rated R movies, play violent video games, and consider quality programming like Sid the Science Kid to be a baby show.
Additionally, kids around the age of twelve now spend an average of seven hours a day on electronic devices.
As a kid, we didn’t have cell phones or iPads to keep us occupied. We had to find creative ways to entertain ourselves without adult supervision and without screens, which helped to develop our sense of imagination and social skills.
And all of this can have a negative impact on children’s development; physically, socially, and emotionally.
In fact, surveys have found that kids ages six to eight play less and want more independence than kids did twenty-five years ago….so sad!
At the same time, our children are being prematurely exposed to influencers and celebrities that have no business being role models.
Additionally, many parents have observed the phenomenon that kids seem to be physically developing faster.
While some believe that kids may be maturing faster because of improved nutrition and health care, other experts caution that hormones in our food and water may be a contributing factor.
Those two factors put together are a recipe for disaster: Kids who look older than they are, wanting to act older than they are.
All of this is very concerning, and rightly so.
The good news is that we as parents do have some control over the situation.
There are things we can do to help kids slow down and enjoy childhood for a little while longer.
How To Slow Down Childhood: Tips For Parents
So now that you understand why it feels like your children are growing up too fast, it’s time to take action.
So, how can you slow down childhood? Is it even possible?
The key is to cultivate your child’s natural sense of adventure and wonder while making sure they have the freedom to safely explore boundaries and limits.
This way, your child will find joy in the activities of childhood like playing, building, and exploring without feeling like they are being treated like a baby.
“This intentional balance of freedom and boundaries is exactly what children need to feel like they can still act like a kid while developing a sense of independence and autonomy at an appropriate rate.” – Lauren Tingley
If you’re wondering how to do this in your home, we’ve got you covered.
Here are some tips to help to slow down childhood and stop your kids from growing up to fast, so they can enjoy being little for a little longer.
1. Get Them Moving
It’s so important for kids to be active and move their bodies every day. Enroll kids in activities like sports or dance classes will help their bodies to grow and develop naturally, while burning off energy.
Encourage outdoor play by providing equipment and toys that they can use outside. No toys? No problem! Give them access to the outdoors and free reign to run and play.
2. Provide Opportunities for Creativity
Set up a creative space in your home with art supplies, dress-up clothes, and props for kids to use in pretend play. This will give them an outlet to express themselves creatively.
3. Give More Unstructured Playtime
One of the best things we can do as parents is give our kids plenty of opportunities for unstructured and open-ended playtime.
This type of play is essential for kids to learn how to entertain themselves, problem solve, and socialize.
4. Set Limits on Technology Usage
We mentioned earlier that kids are now spending an average of seven hours a day on electronic devices.
Parents can absolutely be in control of this by using parental control apps and wi-fi password access.
Better yet, don’t give your children devices at all, or at least until they are older.
If you don’t want to go that route, definitely put usage limits in place and require that outside time and social time take place before devices are allowed.
The American Heart Association currently recommends that children’s access to screen time is limited to less than two hours per day.
5. Provide Age Appropriate Clothes
Many kids are influenced by what they see influencers wearing and feel the need to dress older than their age.
Sit down with your child and discuss your values as a family and purchase clothing that aligns with those expectations.
6. Set Parental Controls on Everything
If you have children in your house, you should have parental controls set up on every single device and program.
- Amazon Prime
- YouTube etc.
Doing so will help to prevent your child from seeing things they have no business watching.
7. Ensure They Get Quality Sleep
This is so important! Kids need at least ten hours of sleep each night for their brains to develop properly, but many kids aren’t getting that much rest because they are using technology before bedtime or staying up too late.
If your child complains that they aren’t tired at bedtime, simply push back their wake-up time by 15 minutes each day until they feel sleepy at the right time.
8. Keep Screens Out of Bedrooms
This one should be a no-brainer, but screens need to be completely banned from kids’ bedrooms.
Not only does this help with getting quality sleep, but it also prevents kids from using technology when they’re not supposed to.
With so much distance learning taking place, this is more important than ever. Kids have logical reasons for being online, but it’s quite tempting to scroll social media or start gaming. Keeping all devices in public areas reduces the chance that this will happen.
9. Talk About Values as a Family
One of the best ways to help kids slow down is to talk about values as a family.
Discuss what’s important to you and your child and come up with ways to live by those values every day.
This could be anything from being kind to others, helping out in the community, or recycling.
10. Prioritize Quality Time with Friends and Family
Being connected to friends and family is so important for kids, but these days kids are staying in their rooms most of the time.
Make an effort to frequently plan fun activities with your kids that will strengthen family bonds and relationships with friends.
And don’t forget about quality one on one time together! Kids need you just as much as they need their friends.
Final Thoughts on Kids Growing Up Too Fast
As adults, we know that being a grown-up is not as fun as it seems.
I am sure that many of us would give anything to go back and be a kid again for as long as possible.
While we may have a hard time grappling with the fact that our kids won’t be little forever, the reality is their growth is inevitable.
The best thing you can do as your kids grow is to provide opportunities for them to enjoy childhood as much as possible so they can look back on these years with fond memories and appreciation.
If you’re feeling sad that your daughter or son is growing up too fast, try to take a deep breath and focus on the present moment.
Do your best to enjoy today with your child and avoid thinking about the future.
Parenting is an ever-changing and challenging role.
Each developmental stage your child goes through will have its ups and downs.
And while it may seem like they are growing up too fast, the truth is that they will be your child forever.
Sure, kids will outgrow their clothes, toys, and your lap but they won’t ever stop needing the support of parents who love them unconditionally.