'Simplicity Parenting' in Bellevue, WA -- Can These Parents and Their Children "Un-Plug"?

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In an era and locale characterized by "too much," "too soon," "too fast," and "too early" some parents are exploring the philosophy of "Simplicity Parenting." Simplicity Learning Center and Three Cedars Waldorf School are co-sponsoring several events in Bellevue, WA that bring this resource to parents on Seattle's Eastside.

"...our society—with its
pressure of ‘too much’—is raging an undeclared war on childhood." - Kim John Payne, M.Ed.

"Simplicity Parenting" may seem oxymoron-ic to many modern parents. With a virtual world of parenting advice at their fingertips; too many "how to" books and blogs with conflicting advice confusing them; more children's books, toys, clothing, gadgets, educational toys and formal activities than children have ever had in the history of human development; and an ever increasing speed of information and communication deluging everyone, how can parents find what truly works for them?

A consultant and trainer to over 110 U.S. independent and public schools, Kim John Payne, M.ED, has offered an answer in his latest book, "Simplicity Parenting." And his message has been picked up by eager parents, worldwide, spurring parent study groups and Simplicity Parenting "coaches" who help parents, in their homes, to move their daily life into the direction of their ideals for their families.

One key component is considering the effects of screen time on adults and children, physically and psychologically, and the cumulative toll on personal connection between family members. "Neurologically, we can't sustain being on high alert any more than one-third of our waking life," says Payne. "What's happening as a result of technology is our brains are saying, 'You have to be switched on, in top gear, for 10, 11, 12 hours a day,' and basically we become adrenaline and cortisol junkies. Our brains and our bodies are simply not set up to tolerate that."

And what kind of toll are electronics taking on children? Payne makes the case that screen time confuses human bodies and "technology has helped to blur the lines between privacy and independent, involved and 'overinvolved.'" Throughout his book, Payne makes connections between the ironic effects of electronics: parents tuned out from children as their attention is split at the same time that their electronic connected-ness encourages a kind of hovering, hyper-parenting. As parents' anxieties are fueled by news reports and the content of so many forms of "passive 'entertainment,'" children notice and feed off their parents emotional state.

But there is good news. "People are much more discerning and conscious about their use of technology now," says Payne. "It's like we got all caught up in technology, about how amazing it was, how wonderful it was, but now a lot of people want to control the technology rather than the technology controlling them."

So, what to do instead of putting the children in front of cartoons while making dinner, or letting children spend hours playing games on handheld devices? And what do parents do to shield their children from exposure to their own consumption of adult-topic media? Many of the alternatives seem downright old-fashioned, and some are only familiar from the childhoods of our parents or grandparents.

A local Simplicity Parenting Group Leader in the Seattle area, Briana Bennitt, sums up Simplicity Parenting like this, "We are continually looking at and reviewing our family life in four realms: 'Environment,' 'Rhythm,' 'Schedule,' and 'Filtering Out." All parents have strengths and weaknesses in how they orchestrate their family lives and we can all help each other by supporting successes and getting un-stuck in the areas that challenge us." Bennitt is partnering with a local K-8, Three Cedars Waldorf School, to bring certified Simplicity Parenting Leaders to Bellevue, WA and present several events based on the work of Kim John Payne:

January 11, 2012
Simplicity Parenting Information Evening
led by Judy Erbe

February 24, 2012
One-Day Workshop
Simplicity Parenting for Care Professionals
led by Davina Muse

A key theme in Payne's work connects the stresses of a fast-paced lifestyle with the phenomenon of personality quirks being pushed toward full-blown disorders: "The rest and rejuvenation we want from our homes is getting harder to find. Our work lives have moved in, taking residency in our computers, finding us whenever a phone or pager signal can reach. Children are overbooked as well. While parents may need software programs to keep track of their kids' activities and schedules... should we be surprised when increasing numbers of children are being 'diagnosed' with 'attention difficulties'?"

For registration information about upcoming events for parents, visit http://www.SimplicityParenting.com and http://www.ThreeCedars.org
For other information including event information flyers, visit http://www.SimplicityLearningCenter.com

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Briana Bennitt

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