Peace In Your Home Co-Founder Susie Walton shares how to teach kids to manage their own screen time now, so they won’t have to struggle with it when they’re on their own in college!
Using Screen Time to Teach Self-Management!
So often I hear from parents of high school and college freshmen complaining and wondering why their kids are not doing well in school. Their children seemed to have ‘dropped the ball’ and are no longer focusing on their schoolwork. Screen time has taken over. What to do?
I feel a lot of this is caused because many parents spent a lot of hours complaining, arguing, and threatening their kids when they were still little, over the use of screen time. This is most unfortunate, as they have missed a beautiful opportunity to use it to teach self-management skills.
When is the best time to begin this teaching? NOW, when your children’s habits are still forming. If your children are fond of their screen time (television, computer, video games, tablets, smart phones, etc.), then it’s actually a great way to teach self-management skills.
Remember, we are trying to teach children to manage themselves, so you have to be okay with them not doing things perfectly, especially the first few times. They will and they should mess up. As long you have limits set up ahead of time, they will be able to get themselves back on track.
Circling back to screen time, let’s consider how this might look in real life.
Steps to teaching self-management with Screen Time
- Take ownership of the issue. You, the parent, are the one who has a problem with the amount of television your child is watching (because to them they don’t have a problem).
- Sit your child down and let them know what your issue is: For example, you feel that screen time is getting in the way of homework, responsibilities around the house, being outside, or being with the family.
- Next, ask your child how they can help you with this situation. Brainstorm ideas, without negating any of theirs (even the ones you may not agree with).
- Together agree on a solution to the problem. I suggest going with a solution that your child has come up with on his own, as long as it’s something you could live with. Kids are more likely to follow an agreement they’ve come up with.
- At the same time, set up a Plan B in case they don’t follow through on the original agreement (which will most likely happen, at first). Setting Clear Limits allows a child to feel secure in learning self-management.
- If your child falters on the original agreement, default to Plan B for the next day or evening.
- The following day, give your child the opportunity to follow the original agreement again.
It may take several times for your child to learn to manage her screen time, but it’s best for them to figure it out now, while they have your support, rather than when they’re struggling in college (on your dime).
You want to let them learn to manage themselves, and if they slip up here and there, be okay with it. Mistakes are wonderful opportunities to learn. It takes the pressure off of being wrong, hence making them more willing to think outside the box and take risks, which is essential for learning.
On a side note, parents, model to your kids what you want them to learn. 95% of what they learn is by what we model. They’re not going to buy your screen time limits if you’re on your smart phone or lap top for hours on end.
Lastly, remember that your kids are just trying to figure out how to live life! Enjoy the process and be sure to parent them in a way that they know you are on their side.
by Susie Walton
Founder of Indigo Village