These days, there are so many different ways that kids can be engaged with a screen. Whether it is a cell phone, a tablet or a handheld game device like a Switch or a DS, it can be difficult to set limits for those devices and not deal with a ton of backlash from your child.
Once upon a time, the simple fact that I knew I had to tell my children to put down their devices because screen time was over, made me cringe so much, i let them have extra screen time. I was a pushover for the fear of dealing with a tantrum!
Thank goodness I’ve learned a lot since that time, and now I can share with you the tactics that worked for our family to get our kids off screens and playing outside or something more healthy.
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*This post may contain affiliate links. Full disclosure here.
The Screen Time Monster
Screens are addicting. How many adults do you see that can’t even put their phones down when they drive?
Can we really blame our kids for getting so addicted to their devices? I can’t blame mine. I can blame myself but what good does that do?
The issue is, breaking the cycle and taming the screen time monster.
It is very simple to turn off any device, tear it out of your child’s hands and go on with your day.
However, those kinds of actions generally cause some sort of meltdown.
When I was looking for strategies to cope with the disconnection of screens, I was hoping to use positive parenting strategies, as that is the way I parent my children.
I wanted to bring my children back into the real world without the hardships that came along with it.
If you ever feel like all you do is yell at your children, then you should probably read the book “Growing Up Children: How to get 5-12 year olds to behave and do as they’re told” by Dr Darryl Cross on audio or hardcover. It is LIFECHANGING.
The Solution To End Screen Time Without Battles
Have you ever been in the middle of a movie and all of a sudden the power cut out? You probably got pretty frustrated and tried to find a solution so you can get back to your show.
How about if you”re trying to send a text and your phone suddenly shows a pop up that won’t go away. Pretty darn frustrating.
For adults, simple things like that can trigger a tantrum. Yes I do believe adults have tantrums!
Imagine you are a small child, one who doesn’t really know how to regulate their emotions. Someone who is still relatively new to the world, be it 5 years or 10 years, they are still new and still learning.
Put yourself in the situation where you are 5 years old and you’re playing a game. You love this game so much and it’s really interesting. You may have heard a five minute warning, but it went in one ear and out the other. You’re far too interested in this game.
The all of a sudden, your game get shut off.
Power out, just like that. (kind of like the blackout during a movie)
A) Lose your mind
B) Calmly move onto the next situation
Most likely A.
This is when the tantrums, the talking back, the frustration that grows on both ends of the situation.
Avoid that, with one simple rule.
Engage With The Situation.
What I mean by that:
Create a moment of connection between you and your child in their moment of screen time and show interest in their activity.
What you’re doing is creating a positive connection with your child and slowly pulling them out of their zoned out coma, gently.
I’ll put this into action for you so you can really understand what I’m trying to say.
If your child is watching a television show, sit down next to them. Be there wit them for just a few moments and then engage in conversation. A simple question such as “What are you watching?” or “Who is that character, I’ve never seen him before?” can trigger a response.
Once your child responds to you, they are slowly being pulled out of the zoned out state of mind. Your child should now be aware of your presence and will be more inclined to remember what you say to them.
This is now a great time to bring up the next task at hand for example “Bath time is in 5 minutes” or “it is time to turn off your tablet now”.
You’ll be surprised how often your child may even turn their device off before the given time frame is up.
What you did was engage with your child, come down to their world and slowly pull them back into reality.
Try It Yourself
Try Engaging With The Situation yourself!
- Next time your child is in a zoned out state of screen time zombiness,, sit down next to them for 30 seconds to a minute or so and just be there with them.
- Ask a question about the activity and show some interest.
- Pull your child out of their zoned out state with conversation and present the upcoming series of events.
Remember that regulating emotions is something humans work on their whole lives, it is not an easy thing to just grasp in childhood.
If you like this article, you may also enjoy reading about taming toddler tantrums in public using positive parenting strategies.