In this second part of the technology series I’m going to share some tips and strategies to help reduce the meltdowns in your house when it’s time for your child to come off whatever technology they are on. 

When children (or adults) are using technology, whether that’s gaming or watching YouTube, it has an impact on how their brain functions at the time.  We know that it can become addictive, and it impacts on the brain in the same way as any other addictive substance.  The adrenaline rush that the brain experiences becomes addictive and therefore we want it more and more.  In order to stop it, we have to replace that rush with something else. 

Imagine you are watching your favourite TV programme and I walked in, without warning, and told you to turn it off.  I doubt you’d be happy about it, you’d want to finish the show.  It’s the same with our children.  With this in mind, we need to help them reduce those emotions and transition to the next thing.

Here are my top tips for doing that: 

  1. Don’t just ask your child to come off and expect them to stop immediately 
  2. Give them some warning – say 15 minutes.  Tell them what they will be moving on to. 
  3. About 10 minutes before they are due to come off go up sit with them and start to watch them and ask what they are doing.  Do this slowly.  Your intention is to show them you are interested and to start taking their attention away from the screen. 
  4. Give them 5 minutes warning whilst continuing to engage them and remind them what they will be moving on to. 
  5. Give them 2 minutes warning whilst continuing to talk to them 
  6. At the end time, tell them they need to come off.  Be prepared for them not to switch off straight away.  Don’t start a battle with them.  Keep engaging and reminding them what you are moving onto.  Tell them clearly and firmly, whilst staying calm, that they need to come off so that you reduce the changes of escalating the situation.  Be prepared for any fallout. 
  7. Keep talking to them and being clear and firm until they come off. 
  8. When they are off move onto the next thing. 

The key thing is to stay calm (I know easier said than done!) and show interest in them.   If you escalate with them then the situation is only going to go downhill fast.   

Navigating technology isn’t easy and getting them used to coming off at agreed times will take time, but if you are consistent it should become easier.   

I have used this approach with my son and we rarely have issues now.  Yes, gaming does affect his mood at times, but nowhere near as badly as it used to.  I’ve used the tips above, along with lots of conversations about the impact of gaming on his moods, and it has been effective.  I don’t believe in stopping access to gaming completely, but prefer to help children understand the implications, learn about their own emotions and develop methods to help themselves cope.  Yes, this means digging in when things are hard and pushing through but in the long run you end up with a more emotionally intelligent child (at least that’s the theory!). 

If this is an area you are struggling with come and join us in the Connective Parenting Facebook group and get more help and support in a wonderfully supportive community of like minded parents.   www.facebook.com/connectiveparentingusingnvr  

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