Getting Kids off Devices

We all know that too much screen time can be a source of conflict between you and your child. When they are watching programs, playing a game or scrolling through their favourite vines they seem fine, but ask them to stop and THAT'S when the drama starts!

Therefore, as the regulated, calm adults that we try to be, there are three approaches we can choose to take:

1.Sudden removal - turning the TV off / unplugging the console, snatching the ipad or phone out of the child's hand.

I used to bark a command at my girls to turn the TV off, if they didn't respond do a countdown, march in and then switch the TV off at the socket.

I'd then have moaning, frustrated children who wanted to watch the end of their favourite show. I'd then become their least favourite person and just expected them to 'get over it.' Yet I'd removed choice and left them feeling violated.

This highlighted my lack of attunement and empathy, with no regard to how the children may have experienced the situation, probably because I was rushing around and highly stressed.

I had to ask myself: how sustainable is this behaviour if I'm trying to "future proof" my children? Do I want them to feel empowered or powerless? Do I want them to grow up as respectful human beings understanding other people's needs as well as their own?

2. Notice Me! Try to be even more interesting and engaging than what they are watching or playing.

I discovered that unless you are painted in neon with a flashing light above your head, singing in a musical style at the top of your lungs and dancing round the room (all playful possibilities you can try if you'd like!) you probably won't get their attention! It's also exhausting & not sustainable.

The fact is that the blue light behind these screens boost attention, reaction times, and mood, so you feel GREAT!

The dopamine fix feels exhilarating and why would you not want to enjoy a bright colourful moving world as opposed to a slightly duller version?

"A white light of any kind can suppress the secretion of melatonin, however blue light at night does so even more powerfully." (Harvard Health)

This is why it's recommended that screens are turned off over an hour before bedtime. Not only does this help the brain to produce melatonin and prepare the body for sleep, but it also increases the quality of your sleep.

The third approach is something I actively encourage parents to do:

3. 'Playful engagement.'I've found this technique works really effectively when delivered calmly and confidently.

Playful engagement involves coming alongside the child, engaging gently with what they are doing and then once you have their attention you can move into another activity.

Through gentle playful engaging parenting, children often feel safer and will respond to us willingly.

At Play Healing we celebrate the power of play and draw from the latest research of hundreds of professionals all around the world. Children learn and respond quickly through play, so when we combine this with a caring approach we see positive, lasting change in the family system.

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