Parenting Your Teenager: The 4 Ds of Time with Family

How would you like to have more time? Of course we all want more time. There are just two problems: 1. We can't add more hours to the day; 2. Even if we could add more hours, we would just fill them up with the same stress we have now.

What we can do is use our time differently. And I don't mean buy a new schedule planner. Adapted from the work of Stephen Covey and Anthony Robbins, here are some skills for creating more time in your life and some suggestions for what to do with the time.

Distraction. Distractors are ways we use our time that are not urgent and not important. Some might call it recreation. Exercising, playing a sport, taking a walk, reading a book, watching TV or playing solitaire on your computer are all ways of distracting ourselves from the stress in our lives.

And we all need some distraction in our lives. The problem is that many of us spend far too much time in distraction that could be spent on more life-giving activities.

Delusion. No, I'm not talking about seeing little aliens or believing you are Napoleon. Delusions are the activities in our lives that we make urgent, but really aren't important. Many people get hooked on the thrill of urgency and then run around doing lots of unimportant things.

Demands. Now we are looking at the things that are both urgent and important. An important deadline, the car breaking down, a child sick at school - all are urgent and important.

The time-draining kind of demands that nag at most of us are usually brought on by that old time enemy called procrastination. The next time you find yourself tempted to procrastinate, here's what you do: just put it off. That's right, just say to yourself, I'll procrastinate later, right now I'll get it done.

Destiny. These are the things that may not be urgent but are tremendously important: spending time with family and friends, taking time to relax, building and growing important relationships, planning for the future. These are the things that shape our destiny.

Consider how much time you spend on distractions, delusions and demands. How might your life be different if you spent that time on things that shape your destiny?

Here's one simple yet powerful suggestion I recently heard. Think of it this way: In a child's mind, what is the most important thing they do in a day? Play. In a child's mind, who are the most important people in life? Mom and Dad.

So when we as parents (the most important people in their lives) play with them (the most important activity in their lives), children know that they are important and loved. Not a bad way to spend your time.

For more tips and tools for thriving during the teenage years, visit parenting coach Jeff Herring's

In The News:

How Children Evolved to Whine  The New York Times
Nurturing modern age kids  Deccan Chronicle
Online advice on parenting  New Straits Times
Open-access parenting programme shows promise  University of Cape Town News

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