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  • Writer's pictureP.E.T. South Africa

How to manage screen time during holidays?

The December holiday is around the corner. Unfortunately, Covid-19 budget concerns will most likely see many families staying home for the holidays. While a staycation certainly has its perks, the risks for a so-called screen time battle increase.

The debate about how much screen time is too much during the holidays is undoubtedly a conversation many parents dread. However, as parenting consultants, we highly recommend that you have this talk sooner rather than later. This way, your child will have enough time to manage and adjust their expectations. The best part is, it doesn't need to cause any damage to your relationship.

Here are three essential things to consider before approaching the topic.

1. Unlock the conversation to the problem at hand

Preaching, screaming, nagging, bribing will get you nowhere. Remember, you have a problem with your child spending too much time in front of a screen. It's therefore crucial that you clearly define the issue, as well as communicate the tangible effects.

Example: "I'm worried that I won't be able to pay my data and electricity bill at the end of this month if you keep on spending so much time on the internet."

Be warned. You might unlock some resistance at first; it's essential to actively listen and try to identify and communicate back your child's needs in the process. Be prepared for a lot of back-and-forth, but once everything is out in the open, you can propose a problem-solving session - a moment for the both of you, or even better, the entire family, to sit down and discuss the problem.

2. Come up with a solution and set the rules together.

Children are far more likely to collaborate and cooperate in rule-setting when actively involved in the process. Thus, allowing your child the opportunity to have a say in the rules can have many benefits:

  • Your child will feel more motivated to implement or comply with the rules.

  • Your child will develop a sense of control over their fate, resulting in higher self-esteem.

  • Allowing your child to be part of the process rather than enforcing power promotes personal responsibility and self-discipline.

  • Your child will become more independent and self-regulated.

  • Your child will feel valued as an equal family member, leading to closer and stronger bonds.

"At some time in our lives, we all have felt unmotivated to comply with some rule or policy that we had no voice in the making. Denied the opportunity to participate in establishing a rule, most people feel imposed upon and resentful of the new rule. But when people actively participate in setting a rule or making a decision that will affect them, they are more highly motivated to comply with it. We call this the Principle of Participation, and it has proven its effectiveness in numerous research studies." - Dr Thomas Gordon

3. Lastly, and most importantly, don't be a hypocrite!

Avoid hypocrisy as much as possible. If you preach to your children about 'screen time with your phone in one hand typing away, then sorry, you've already lost the battle. Your children won't take you seriously and will challenge you, no doubt.

Yes, you are the adult and might feel more entitled to have your way. But be warned. Children look to their parents' behaviours as examples of how they should model their actions. And the solution is quite simple; if parents demonstrate what they value, the modelling process will occur almost automatically.

"Modeling can be a very powerful influencing skill with older children as well as with the very young. If teens like the way you talk to them, they will listen to what you have to say. Of course, it's important to start your modeling at the very beginning. It's not realistic to expect brand-new modelling to abruptly change a teenager's habits and tastes developed over many years." - Michelle Adams,Vice-President of Gordon Training International

The most important thing to remember is to include all the members who will be affected by the rule or decision. The 'screen time battle' is the perfect opportunity to test your knowledge of the skills above.

Happy holidays!

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Disclaimer: The information contained in this communication is not to be construed as medical advice. Consult a professional on any medical or psychological concerns. The articles and blogs are posted only as opinion or ideas, and are general in nature. The administrator takes no responsibility for any action or outcome a reader may make as a result of reading a post.


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