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Reframing Screen Time Rights for Your Screen-Hungry Kids

“We’re so connected electronically, but we’re disconnected interpersonally”

– Dr. Edward Hallowell, M.D., drhallowell.com

Screen time limits for parents – and carers – in place?

Drop zone and charging stations established?

Haven’t a clue what we’re talking about?

Then take a look at our previous post: SIX HOME HACKS TO LESS SCREEN TIME!

And if you’re reading this for the very first time – welcome to the fourth break-out post on Preparing your Kids for Screen Time Success!

So far we’ve covered the following topics:

But today’s post is all about MOTIVATION.

Because unless screen time routine is an established norm in your household, chances are your kids will believe they are entitled to it!

Which is why kids can feel lots of resentment towards their parents when imposing screen time rules and routine for the very first time.

With a little forethought and preparation, you can give your child the encouragement they need to adjust to their new screen time routine.

But first…

The Four Faces of Screen Time

Did you know you can expect one of four typical reactions from your kids when introducing a screen time routine? These are:

  • Anger and outbursts are every parent’s worst nightmare, but they come about because your child feels deprived. Empathetically acknowledge their reaction, but persevere.
  • Couldn’t care less. An unexpected response perhaps, but are they testing you? Maybe they don’t believe you’ll go through with it? Just continue with a watchful eye (and be ready to listen).
  • Picking holes. Your bright child might pick holes in your screen time plan. Arrange a later date to reconvene, listen to what they have to say, and tighten your plan accordingly.
  • Relief. It’s possible. Some kids realise they spend too much time on screens. But they don’t have the self-control to limit it. Most kids secretly want boundaries that make them feel safe.

TopTip:  Acknowledge your child’s frustrations with ‘emotion coaching’. A simple statement like “I can see it makes you sad that game time is over” lets your child see you care and helps them recognise their emotions. And recognising your emotions is the first step in learning to manage them.

RELATED: Like what you're reading? Get your FREE Guide: How to Prepare Your Kids for a Screen Routine...that Works for YOUR Family!

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screen time for children and motivation
Rewards and Privileges

Rewards or privileges, call them what you will…

But they are an excellent way to help your child adopt or adapt to a screen time routine.

We are all motivated by rewards in some way.

Whether it’s to earn a compliment, have a snack & chat, choosing where to sit in the car, or enjoying an extended curfew, we are naturally driven by rewards.

But, all too often, privileges are viewed as entitlements.

Which is why the idea of earning rewards or privileges is so powerful.

With earning, there is no entitlement.

Instead, privileges such as screen time are the reward for following family rules.

Earning means agreeing on a plan in advance – not spur of the moment bribes.

Ultimately, its purpose is to get your child to do something that is good for them.

TopTip: Recognise your child’s progress and wins with descriptive praise. For example, when your child makes even the slightest move away from the computer, TV, game console, etc., you can say “I see that you’re coming to dinner right away. You’re coming the first time I asked”. And when your child transitions smoothly from screen time – you can say “You stopped arguing even though you’re not happy that I asked you to get off. That shows maturity”.

Reward Chart
Screen Time as a Privilege

One way to help defuse tensions is to re-frame screen time as a privilege…

…one that’s earned for good behaviour.

By making it something to be earned rather than an entitlement, you can use screen time as a motivational tool to build healthy habits (and break bad ones).

As a result, rather than feeling deprived of screen time, your kids will use their creativity, organisational and reasoning skills to earn it.

And this helps teach them valuable life lessons like self-regulation and delayed gratification.

TopTip: Screen Time is a strong motivator and kids will do almost anything for it. You can use it to help address other behavioural issues, not just digital habits!

When you combine screen time routine with rewards and privileges, you are on to a winner!

Even when things get a little rocky!

In our next blog, we’ll be taking a look at how you can measure progress, and overcome any setbacks!

If you have any questions, ask away in the comments below.

P.S. Like what you've read?

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