The internet is here to stay, and so are the gadgets that allow us to read, play games, and generally surf the internet at any point in the day. Here are a few basic tools to keep your family’s screen-time to a minimum.
1. Develop “healthy connection rituals.”
When you greet your kids first thing in the morning, be present and engaging. When you come together after being apart, make sure your smart phone is off and put away. When you have story time before bed, be totally present so that you can interact together with the story.
2. Take the time to reflect and understand your own values and gather the strength to set clear limits.
No one says limit setting is easy–if it were, more people would do it. Expect that you will disappoint your child and you’ll have deal with some push-back. It’s ok to disappoint your child, validate her feelings and give her the space to mourn the loss. Don’t worry, the fussing will only last a day or two.
3. Have “screen-free time” as a family.
Kids learn through attachment.It’s crucial that we spend plenty of time with them without distractions. And, we set a good example if we are willing to put our own screens away. Don’t worry, your fussing will only last a day or two.
4. Teach your kids how to “step away from screen time.”
Learning how to self-regulate takes lots of time and thousands of repetitions. Start when your children are young so that they have time to internalize the habits that will help them succeed in the world.
5. Pay attention!
Be present and be intentional. Don’t worry about being perfect. What’s most important is a balanced approach.