As summertime approaches, many parents I talk with express concern about setting time limits on video games and social media, establishing clear expectations, and maintaining consistent follow through. I recommend that rather than telling kids to stop what they’re doing, parents focus on the positive things you expect from your children and the wonderful activities you’ll do together.
Keeping track of time spent playing video games and on social media is difficult, especially when different devices are used and one parent may not know how much time has already been spent under another parent’s supervision. So, instead of focusing solely on what you don’t want your kids to do, focus on what you want them to do. One of the biggest concerns with the overuse of electronics is that your child will lead an unbalanced life. He won’t develop social skills, eat nutritious meals, sleep enough, or exercise, and he’ll become angry, irritable, and perhaps isolate himself from the family.
Start by setting expectations of what your child needs to do in order to use their devices.
Examples of Expectations to Share with Your Family
- Sleep 8 to 10 hours every night. If kids have a hard time getting up in the morning or are irritable due to lack of sleep, then you will closely monitor whether their devices are keeping them up at night.
- Participate in ___ hours of physical activity each day. Your kids can pick the activity.
- Eat nutritious food each day and limit sugar. Your kids can go grocery shopping with you and pick out their food.
- Spend ___ hours with the family every week. You and your kids can decide together what to do.
- Participate in family chores. You and your kids can decide together who will do which chores.
- Resolve family conflicts together. Start holding family meetings in which positive and challenging situations are discussed.
- Visit family and friends, and don’t bring your electronic devices. Your kids can bring interactive games that include others instead.
To ensure that your expectations are met, the After-Then Director Strategy is often appropriate and effective. With this strategy, your expectation can sound like, “After you play outside for an hour, then you can use your device for an hour.” You can learn more about the After-Then Director Strategy in my book, Ally Parenting: A Non-Adversarial Approach to Transform Conflict Into Cooperation. In my book, you can also learn, among other things, how to set effective limits, solve problems together, and have joyful family meetings.
In the meantime, focusing on the positive may be just what you need to make the summer more enjoyable for the whole family.
Copyright 2019 Cynthia Klein To learn more contact Cynthia Klein at www.bridges2understanding.com or call her at 650.679.8138