Episode #5 “How to set boundaries with kid’s screen time”
Today’s question: “The cell phone and video game use in my house are getting out of control. How can I set boundaries with my kids that they will actually follow? I’m ready to throw the damn phones out the window.” Maggie
What is a boundary? A lot of parents confuse setting boundaries with telling kids what to do.
Think of it like the property line of a house.
“My neighbors can do whatever they want. It’s not my business how they talk to their kids or yell at their dog. It becomes my business if their dog poops on my lawn.”
Setting boundaries is all about what to do when a boundary is violated.
“I get to decide if I want to offer a poop bag, yell at the dog, put up a sign, etc. My neighbor can let his dog poop on my lawn every day if he wants, he just needs to face the consequences. Maybe I’ll put his photo of him and his dog and post it around the neighborhood.”
The point is that setting boundaries is about deciding what to do, not telling someone else what to do.
Parent Education Answer: Setting boundaries around screen time is about defining what your limits are, and what you will do when they get violated.
Hating on the phone and wishing it would go away is not helpful. Instead, become really clear about what the rules are and make sure you can stick to them every time.
What can I stick to with 100% conviction?
Phones downstairs charging at bed time
No phones at the dinner table.
Keep location permissions on.
Text Mom back right away.
No video games on school nights.
It’s very similar to your kid running into the street. The message we send our kids is, “I will stop you every time until you stop yourself.”
Mom is 100% predictable, confident, and convicted. It’s easy for you to enforce stopping your kid from running into the street, because it’s in line with your values, and because you aren’t also running into the street.
If you want to make sure your kids respect and obey your rules, don’t set them unless you have these 5 things in place:
Clarity – Make it clear and obvious; avoid vague words.
Conviction – Every single time anyone brings their phones to dinner, they will be asked to put them away.
Calm Confidence – Watch your voice tone, eye contact, and posture. Make sure your request is aligned with your values.
Consequences – Everyone should know what the consequences will be before the rule gets broken.
Continual Reinforcement – Make sure your rule applies to everyone in the family, every single time.
When you designate a house rule that everyone obeys, your job gets much easier. As kids approach adolescents they are going to push back on your rules, especially if they see you getting to do something they want to do! If Dad gets to play Xbox on a school night or Mom sleeps with her phone next to her bed, your child is going to argue for the same privilege.
Expect kids to violate our rules around screen time and have a plan in place on what YOU will do, WHEN they break the rule. Decide your consequences ahead of time…”If you violate this rule, I will….”
- Give your phone to the neighbors for two days.
- Hide the Xbox controllers for the weekend.
- Stop paying your cell phone bill.
- Increase parental restrictions on phone.
- Delete your snapchat app.
Life Coaching Answer: The problem comes when parents think….
“I just want it to go away” “I don’t want to deal” “I’m afraid of his reaction” “She’s not going to listen anyway” “He should just know better” “I shouldn’t have to deal with this”
This self-defeating chatter will really get in the way of you setting boundaries with your kid’s screen time. Take out your journal, and write all the thoughts that come up for you when you think about setting limits. Notice how you feel and act when you think these thoughts. Make sure you aren’t trying to set boundaries from this negative energy. Ask yourself, “What would I need to think in order to set clear, consistent rules around screen time?”
Thoughts like “I got this” or “This is important to me” can be very helpful.
Trying to controll your thoughts is always difficult. Schedule a free life coaching session at www.LifeCoachingforParents.com/work-with-me for help!
Supermom Kryptonite: Avoiding reality and putting our head in the sand can drain our energy. PRETENDING like something isn’t bothering you will wear you down. It’s a lot like clutter in your house. Just thinking about our clutter makes us feel heavy and tired. Thinking about getting rid of stuff, donating, or throwing it away, makes us feel lighter. There are invisible energy drains that weigh us down, even if we can’t see them. A good way to counter this is to ask yourself this question every morning in your journal: “Is there anything that’s weighing on my mind that I’m trying not to think about.”
Supermom Power Boost: Clarity. Know who you are and what you want. Know what your values and goals are. It makes decisions easier. It is energizing to know what you want and where you are headed.
Quote of the Day: “I allow myself to set healthy boundaries. To say no to what does not align with my values, to say yes to what does. Boundaries assist me in remaining healthy, honest and living a life that is true to me.” Lee Horbachewski
Want to ask Torie a question? go to www.lifecoachingforparents.com/record-my-question