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Substance Abuse Prevention Taking Action III


Constructive Use of Time

 Constructive use of time is the fourth external asset that the Search Institute has identified for healthy child development. There are four areas that are mentioned; Creative activities: e.g. music, art drama, creative writing…, Child Programs, Religious community, and Time at home.

One of the best forms of education is hands on; in other words role modeling. I cannot emphasize enough that parents are teachers 24/7,  everything we do is watched, analyzed and stored away for later use.  What better way to learn then to watch someone else try something and see how it works out, and even if it doesn’t work out what to do next,  we learn best by doing. So getting back to constructive use of time, the time that we spend with our children provides our children with learning moments, bonding moments, insightful moments and skills.

I remember playing LIFE with my children. I think because I never really felt smart that I wanted to make sure that my children were, so I latched onto any chance to teach them. The great thing about the game of LIFE is it gives you options right from the start. In real life I did not head off to college, in fact I didn’t get my degree until into my 30’s. I never really knew what my choices were and college was an unattainable dream. When we would start the game, and my boys would start going down the road of a career/job first before school I would ask “if they were sure” and go on to explain things from my own experiences. Our children are not always going to choose the same path as their parents, nor should they, but they should be able to make a choice that is based on as much useful information as possible.

Creative constructive use of time: I remember reading that artistic/musical people access a different part of their brain. Our brains are the super computer they are not infallible, but they do possess so much more potential than we know; which is why when we can exercise a part of our brain that is new it is a no brainer. I enjoyed analytical pursuits, so I taught my boys how to play chess and poker. I believe that chess and poker helped them with their critical thinking and bluffing.

Religious community use of time: Spirituality is a sensitive topic, but it is deeper than religion it is a connectedness to the world around you, to include the earth, animals and spirit world. Our lack of spiritual connectedness is reflected in the condition of our planet. We have made decisions that have polluted the land, water and air, our lack of connectedness allowed those decisions to be made because of egocentric thinking that focused on the well-being of man and not on the well-being of the whole. In part I believe because of ignorance regarding the interconnectedness between us and the world we live in, and because of a need to accumulate wealth and objects we have lost focus of those things that are most important to  us. Unfortunately, we are beginning to lose our spiritual connectedness with each other as well as seen by the increasing violence in our world, communities, and families. When we have a sense of responsibility to ourselves, each other and our planet the decisions that we make will be more in balance with healthy living, until then we will continue to see a rise in substance abuse and violence.

Whenever possible I strongly urge families to spend the majority of constructive time together, in reality once your child starts school quality time with your child(ren) is drastically reduced. The early years are some of the most important years for establishing a solid foundation, but don’t discount the preceding years to adulthood. An infant needs you for much different reasons than a teenager does, but the need is no less.  The one difference is anyone can change an infant’s diaper but a teenager knows the difference between their parents being there and someone else. Make your family activities a habit, have a family meeting to discuss possibilities, schedules etc.. so that everyone is on board.

Careful thought needs to be taken when involving your child in constructive uses of time. If you are putting your a child into an activity to keep him/her busy or out from under your feet, believe me they will know. It is also easy to go overboard and have your children involved in too many activities. Remember that your time with your child is limited and once it is gone you cannot get those moments back. You are more important than you realize and your children need you.

What constructive activities can you start with your family?

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