When my brother and I were growing up in the Midwest, my dad had a big sign — about one foot by two feet — with one word. MODERATION. The sign sat for years, somewhat incongruously, in our living room, so it was impossible to miss when we were watching television, reading, doing our homework, playing games, or entering and leaving the house. It was also perfectly placed for the times when my parents’ college students came over to the house for extra study help.
Dad’s goal was for us to think, as often as possible, about self-regulating and managing our daily activities, whether we were engaged in a favorite or a not-so-favorite endeavor.
In today’s hyper-connected world, understanding the importance of moderation is a critical skill. We all — adults and children — live fast-paced 21st-Century lives that center on the media and our digital devices. Thus everyone needs to know how to hit the pause button, disengage, and refocus attention elsewhere.
Interestingly, while most adults worry about children disengaging from their digital devices, games, and texting, many children express similar reservations about their parents’ inability to monitor smartphone activities. Children worry when the adults they love can’t put the phone down during walks, at school assemblies, or while driving. Recently the Honda Corporation produced a video about kids having #TheTextTalk with their parents.
But it’s not only about technology. Moderation is understanding how to stop after a certain amount of time, make new choices, and be open to learning new things. It’s about balancing different types of activities, even when a favorite activity — a passion even — begs to monopolize a person’s time. It’s all about health and wellness and making good choices in a media-dense world.
Parents, educators, and other adults in kids’ lives need to practice moderation because they sere as role models when it comes to balancing activities. Theodore (Ted) and Nancy Sizer wrote a book about modeling and moderation, The Children are Watching. It’s one of my favorite books to share with colleagues and parents because it makes the case, again and again, that what adults do teaches far more than what they say. My favorite quote from the book is:
They watch us all the time. The students, that is. They listen to us sometimes. They learn from all that watching and listening.