One of the biggest conflicts I see in today’s family is around screen time. Do you have problems with how much time your kids are spending in front of the screen and feel like you can’t deal with the constant badgering for more time? Sure, they will ask you for more screen time – it’s an easy way to keep entertained. However if it is not aligned with your value and your children lack self-control, you are going to want to put some thoughts and actions into it.
But first, let’s look at what you really dislike about it? Make a list of what worries you about it?
I’ll start the list:
- I’m worried that my kids’ grade would drop and be a total loser in life
- I’m worried that they’ll become addicted to video games and maybe other more serious vices
- I’m concerned with their explosive reaction when I take it away
- …..(add yours)
From that worry list, think about what you want instead?
- I want them to pursue worldly success
- I want them to develop passion in a healthy hobby or two
- I want them to go outside and play with friends
- I want them to talk with me or notice me or appreciate me
- I want them to be involved with the household
First let’s do nothing. Just observe how much they are using the screen vs. how much they are doing what you want when you don’t nag or limit them in anyway. Let’s observe for a week. No nagging… seriously! What do they actually do around screen, around hobby, around being engaged as a member of family, and how much do they contribute to housework?
While you’re observing, also observe how much are you and other adult members of the household are in front of screen and doing activities on that want list.
After observing for a week and collecting data in minutes of everything that’s on your list, ask yourself what trends do you see? How do you feel about the time spent on each item for all member of the household? Any correlations? Is there any incongruence between what you want vs. what you’re really doing?
If what you see doesn’t yet give you a jolt, let’s think about what you can do to foster and encourage that behavior in yourself, your spouse, and your children? What are you doing to make them want to engage you? How do you show your passions at home so you can inspire them to have their passion? How do you teach them to contribute to housework? Speaking of housework, have you set yourself up as a servant, sergeant, or a leader when it comes to collaborating on household work? Do they have natural consequences when chores are not done? What are the areas where it is easy to have natural consequences? If a kid needs food, and needs to make his own, he’s going have less time to be on computer. You can’t make meaningful changes if you don’t understand what motivate him.
Most people are motivated by physical needs, emotional needs such as positive peer experience, respect and approval from their parents and friends, intellectual needs of pursuing their interests. Think about your particular child, what is your child motivated by? Where can you change in your ways of running the house and interacting with them so that they naturally have to be away from screen to follow their intrinsic motivation?
This week, I talked about screen time but I also alluded to the need to examine our lives to look at what we want (our values) vs. our behaviors/actions (how we hold ourselves accountable and our parenting behavior). Over the next few weeks I will talk more about certain cultural values, our values incongruence with behavior, and how it affects communications.