You see it anyway on the playground and on the street: Mothers look at their cell phones while pushing the stroller. Dad checks Youtube while the little ones crawl in the sand. The ubiquitous smartphone distracts us from the sweetest nature has to offer, our children. But how much damage do we the little ones do by constantly looking at the display?
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Eye contact with the parents promotes a successful bond between baby and mother and father, as Kreuzberg child and adolescent psychiatrist Dr. Andrew Wiefel. Parents, on the other hand, are constantly staring at their phones and often do not even notice their offspring trying to contact them. It is called a “quiet face”, a frozen, stiff face. “The child can not read anything with such expressionless facial expressions nor can he calm himself why he starts whining to get more attention again,” says Frauke Mecher in the Berliner Zeitung. As a physiotherapist, she treats many infants and toddlers. Permanently interrupted eye contact frightens the child, which is contrary to a protected upbringing.
Constantly looking at cell phones is a problem for babies
It’s not about occasional text messages or phone calls. But constantly staring at cell phones is a problem for children. Not only for small children but also for the elderly. Namely when it comes to being a role model.
How vital affection is for children was examined decades ago: Babies were observed how they react when the mother is completely with them, reacting empathetically, smiling. These children tended to be well-balanced and relaxed. They then examined how they react when the mothers are constantly looking away or looking down at the infant without facial expressions. Here the little ones reacted more hectically, crying and kicking to attract attention and make the mother react.
How do you look at the child: loving or annoyed?
“The term ‘quiet face’ also comes from these experiments,” says psychotherapist Dr. Andrew Wiefel. “But it was very artificial situations that rarely occur in reality because neither parent looks blank on purpose.”
Of course, there are always reasons in everyday life why parents do not look after their children. “You used to read the newspaper at the breakfast table, and that was okay, too,” Wiefel told the Berliner Zeitung. Today, it’s just another medium, the cell phone. At the same time, there are situations where you look the other way, for example because you have to keep an eye on the red traffic light or talk to an older sibling. “Even babies need to learn to accept that parents sometimes do not have time. As long as there is basically a loving, bond-oriented togetherness, the child will not be harmed,” says the therapist.
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Any sensitive parent should also be allowed to say, ‘Wait a minute!’, Says Wiefel. It’s a form of self-care, so it’s okay. In general, however, parents should ask themselves whether it is unusual or routine to be distracted. Are you constantly more preoccupied with your own (mobile) interests, or are you present and accommodating to the children? How do you look at your child: loving or annoyed? Interested or not? Expert advice: “Do not look at the clock, look at your heart.”
Even babies need a break from looking
And by the way: Babies also need breaks from eye contact, they want to see something else. No child needs constant attention. “Seeing is not a goal in itself, it’s more about exchange. If it takes place and is positive overall, you can also take your mobile phone from time to time, ”says the therapist.
The cell phone only becomes a problem when it becomes more important than the baby. “As soon as the cell phone belongs to you emotionally and you can no longer do without it, real human relationships suffer. And the problem is not the phone itself, but the person holding it.”