How to Break Through Your
Child’s Screen Time Addiction
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It is so easy to fall into the screen trap. Most of us have probably turned on a movie for our kids to watch so we could make dinner in peace, or handed over our iPads and phones so our little ones will be quieter while we are out running errands. Screens are not evil, they are an important part of the world our children are growing up in. Nevertheless, the addiction to screens is a growing problem that needs to be addressed. If you need some help getting started limiting the time kids in your life spend with electronics keep reading to learn 6 strategies for decreasing screen time for kids.
6 Tricks To Lessen Your Child’s Screen Time
1. Get a timer
You know, one of those wind-up things that your grandma had on her counter to time how long the bread had been baking? A handheld timer like this can go with kids all over the house or wherever they like to look at their screens. Set the timer for thirty minutes to an hour and when the timer goes off your kiddos will know that screen time is over. Just make sure they understand that they are not allowed to reset the timer or move the hand back in anyway. If you’re worried about that or can’t find a handheld timer you can set your oven timer.
2. Show them how to love reading
Don’t just tell them to go read a book. Show them how to enjoy reading by enjoying it yourself. Letting your kids see you reading books shows them that reading isn’t something only reserved for school and homework. Another way to help your kids develop a fondness for reading is to read aloud with them. You can all enjoy the a classic fairytale adventure or read through the Narnia series together. Our family even has weekly tea-times, now where we read and enjoy poetry together!
3. Help them learn a craft
Are they interested in knitting, whittling, model cars, or embroidery? If you know how to do those things, teach them! If not, help your children learn more about the craft they are interested in. A few dollars invested in a pocket knife for whittling or yarn for knitting is well spent. You can even set up an art center for your family which is so easy but makes creating fun and accessible.
4. Be okay with messes
Because when kids aren’t parked in front of a screen they will be running around your house exploring their imaginations. A common side effect of eliminating your child’s screentime is that your tidy house might take a brutal hit. Learn to be okay with kids craft projects, pillow forts, and board games spread out as they play. Just make sure to teach them to clean up one activity before starting a new one.
5. Lock ‘em up.
The Electronics, not the kids. Invest in a locking box, bonus points if it’s clear plastic. Next, create a chart of activities or chores that kids must complete before you will unlock the box and allow them some screen time. Example: 20 minutes of reading + cleaning your room + 30 minutes of playing outside = 45 minutes of screen time. Make the goal easy to obtain at first and gradually make the list to be completed longer and longer.
6. Encourage outdoor play
If you live in an area where it’s possible and safe encourage your children to play outside. If you need to get them sidewalk chalk, jump ropes, or bicycles, so be it. Start by requiring children to play outside for a certain amount of time and before you know it they will love being out in the fresh air and exploring your yard and you will love that they aren’t looking at their screens.
How do you curb your child’s screen time?
They are limited to an hour a day period. They know the rules and when time is up the screen is put away.
Katie Braswell says
THANK YOU!! We have been battling this with our oldest. He’s usually extremely mindful and a rule follower, but he is sneaky with the iPad. You have given great ideas to combat the need to keep their little hands busy! I also love the “chore” chart. Very helpful!
Vanessa / FashionAveMom says
Great tips! I love the timer idea!
#4 is a huge one. Even as an adult, I don’t take on an activity because I know it’ll be a pain to clean up (e.g. cooking in the kitchen, taking out scrapbooking supplies).
But I know the mess is just a small feeling that doesn’t even come close to how I feel when I’m DOING the activity.
Victoria with One Sharp Mama says
This is so important. I have seen so many parents who use screen time as a babysitter. Can’t stand when I see families who are out to dinner and all of them including the parents spend the majority of the time on some type of electronic device, instead of talking and having a family dinner.