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Are you ready to limit screen time for your kids, but you don’t know how?
It really isn’t that difficult. I love making things as simple as possible, and limiting your kids’ screen time doesn’t have to be complicated at all.
These tips even helped me limit my screen time as an adult. You see, when I first became a stay at home mom, I had a hard time transitioning from working outside the home to being home all day, and I often had the TV on.
Because the TV was on so much, I found myself watching a LOT of television and not getting housework done, or taking care of myself like I should have. And as my son got older and started watching television too, we found that excessive screen time was having a negative effect on him also.
That’s when I put an end to my excessive screen time and my son. He is 4 and right now, he really only watches TV, but the following tips can be used for kids of all ages and on different screen devices.
1. Get Honest
Do you know how much time you and your kids actually spend in front of a screen each day?
In today’s world we use our devices constantly to stay connected, organized, and basically run our lives! You pretty much have to have at least some screen time every day.
I don’t want you to feel guilty for screen time or allowing your kids some screen time either, but I do want you to find a balance.
So let’s get honest. Do your kids have a good balance doing things other than watching TV or playing video games or using a tablet?
Spend a day really assessing the amount of time you and your children spend in front of a screen.
Here’s a few questions to ask.
Do my kids get upset when the device is turned off?
Do my kids feel entitled to screen time?
Are my kids getting enough exercise, independent time, time for creativity?
Do my children engage with others or do they constantly have a screen in their face?
I’ll be honest, my husband and I make an effort to limit the amount of screen time our son has because he was getting super angry when the TV was turned off and he felt entitled to watch “his shows”.
When we saw that behavior, we knew that we needed to make changes. Getting honest with yourself about how much time your children actually spend in front of a screen and the effects that has on them is the first step.
2. Be Intentional about Screen Time
Nothing will change, unless you intentionally change your habits. One of the first things we did was simply stop turning the TV on. That sounds so simplicitic, but it truly worked for us!
Up until that point it was a habit in our home to turn the TV on each morning. We were doing it without thinking or intention.
Once the TV was on, it stayed on and we didn’t really think about the time that was spent watching it. Or in some cases it was on and no one was even watching it!
So the first thing that we did was break the habit of turning the TV on without a purpose. Instead, I plan specific times for my son to watch TV. He knows that he can watch TV when he eats his morning and afternoon snacks. I set a timer or let him know that he can watch one show, and I choose the show he watches. That way there is an end time to the screen time.
Do you turn on the TV or allow your kids to get on devices without intention? Take some time to purposefully schedule it in to your days and determine how much time they are allowed to spend in front of screens.
That brings me to the next point…
3. Be Strong and Follow Through
Your kids are probably not going to like that you are limiting their screen time. You will most likely hear some complaining, unless of course your kids are perfect angels. Ha!
Don’t give in. Remember you are the parent and you make the decisions for the well being of your kids. It may seem like torture to them at first, but in the long run you are doing the right thing and your kids will get used to it. But only if you stay strong and follow through with your decision!
Here’s how that looks at our house.
Before I turn the TV on, I tell my son that as soon as the timer goes off, I will turn the TV off. I tell him that if he whines, he won’t be allowed to watch TV during his afternoon snack time. Honestly, this has stopped ALL whining when it comes to TV and it’s because I followed through the very first time that he whined about the TV going off.
He also knows that watching TV is a privilege and he is not entitled to watch whatever he wants whenever he wants. Early on, he whined about the show I put on, so I simply turned the TV off. He could either watch what I put on or not watch it at all. Now he is happy with whatever show I put on and we rarely have a struggle.
We also do specific movie times. Usually on the weekends when he gets to stay up a little later than usual, we will put on a family movie. We make this a big event for him to look forward to. That way he knows that movies and TV time are a bonus and he doesn’t think he is entitled to watching TV and movies every day.
4. Find Alternatives and Allow Boredom
If you are limiting your kids screen time, that means they will have time to do other things, and I think that is where parents, struggle. They don’t know what to do with their kids and they don’t let them get bored.
You can balance this by coming up with a list of activities so that you always have ideas. I made a lit of nonscreen activities for my son, so that I have ideas to choose from instead of turning on the television.
Craft with mom
Ride 4 wheeler
Play a game with mom
Help mom with chores
Having a list to refer to was helpful. I usually give my son one or two ideas and either engage in the activity with him or let him play by himself.
But also let your kids get bored sometimes. I love playing with my son, but I let him have idependent play time too. Often he will stay focused playing when I’ve simply let him get bored. He eventually finds something to do and often has a great time.
Is it time to limit screen time in your home? Don’t make it complicated. Make sure you use screen devices intentionally and follow through with the boundaries that you set.