How Much Screen Time is Too Much?

I’m so glad my kids are grown up as I’d be setting a horrible example. I love wasting time on social media, especially YouTube. I end up falling down the rabbit hole of one video leading to another and next thing you know I’m watching pimples being popped and thinking, “How on earth did I get here?!”

So, how much time do your kids spend looking at screens every day? 10 minutes? 10 hours?

10 hours isn’t uncommon for teens. Some teenage boys will spend entire weekend playing video/computer games. I don’t mean just during the day, I’ve talked to some who have done binge gaming starting Friday night and gone right through to Sunday night. Needless to say, getting to school Monday morning is no easy exercise.

What do I mean by screen time? It’s TV, video games, computer, tablet and phone.

So, how much is too much? Of course there’s no set rule but here’s my basic outline:

Toddlers – 0-30 minutes
Preschoolers to 12 years – 60 minutes
13 to 18 – good luck with that one

I see little kids on tablets everywhere. I’m sure it’s an easy way to keep them still but do we really want to keep them still? Is it okay for a toddler to develop without moving anything but their fingers and eyes? I don’t know, I’m not a doctor. But it doesn’t feel right does it?

So what do you do? How do you cut down on unnecessary screen time with your kids?

Set up some ground rules. Put this in a high traffic area on a chart and stick to it like glue. You have to be on it also to set a good example.

Being realistic, just do your best to be mindful of the fact that you may be relying a bit too much on screens to keep the kids busy while you drive, cook dinner, do laundry or even just get a second alone with your thoughts.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Are you a Leader or a Bossy Friend to your Kids?

Almost all of the parents I work with are highly intelligent, successful and confident.  They’re stunned that they’re having problems with their kids because they’re so good at everything else.  The reason their kids are challenging them is usually because they’re Bossy Friends instead of Leaders.

So what’s a Bossy Friend?  It’s a parent who tries to be friends with their kids but when the kids get out of hand they become bossy and often yell and just lose it because the kids won’t listen to them.

I was definitely friends with my kids but I was the Leader first and foremost.  Once you get that figured out, let the friendship and fun and happiness roll right through the teen years.  You just have to exercise your leadership every so often to remind them who’s in charge.

Being in charge isn’t about telling them what to do, being bossy or “demanding” respect.  It’s about being a calm leader, trustworthy, consistent, predictable and always willing to listen.  You give respect to get it.

So what are you putting first?  Friendship or leadership?  Think about it, it’s important.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Note:  Coaching probably isn’t what you think it is.  It’s not about telling me how you got where you are.  I don’t work that way at all.  I just work on moving you forward in a positive direction, it’s all goal and results driven.  For more on coaching.  

 

 

 

 

How to get kids to do what you want || As Soon As Method

If you’re having trouble getting your kids to clean up their room, get ready for school or brush their teeth, then this is for you.  

When I was raising my kids people would often say how lucky I was to have such easy kids.  They don’t just pop out of the womb that way.  I put some real work into those kids when they were little and it paid right through the teen years.    

I can’t remember having trouble getting my kids to do what I wanted them to do after about the age of 3, and here’s how I did it …

I taught them that life wasn’t about handouts, they had to be responsible and accountable.  If they wanted to watch TV, they had to make sure their room was clean, etc.  They learned this so early that they formed with this belief system.  I don’t remember ever reminding them to do their chores, homework or even be polite.  They just knew the rules and took responsibility for their actions.    

The only thing they ever did that got on my nerves was poke at each other in the back seat of the car after school.  Once I realized that was their way of saying hi to each other and releasing some steam after a long day at school, that didn’t even bother me.  

So, how do you do get kids to be responsible and do what needs to be done?  Use the “as soon as” method:  

“As soon as your room’s clean you can play video games.”  

“As soon as you’re ready for school you can watch TV.”  

My kids grew up thinking that they had to get stuff done before having fun.  The TV would NEVER have gone on in our house before they were all ready for school, it just wouldn’t have happened.  They never questioned it as never knew any different.  I never even said anything, it was just a known fact.    

Okay now, I realize you may not have trained your kids to have this mindset but it’s still do-able.  Yes, it’s going to be more work erasing bad habits but I’ve trained many parents on this “as soon as” method and they all say once they get it, the kids do too.  Kids adjust to this way quicker than the parents.  The parents often fumble and say they were too tired to follow through and on went the TV first thing in the morning then they struggled to get the kids off to school with the usual yelling, threatening, etc.  

Every single time you fumble like that you’re training the kids that you don’t mean business and they are once again in charge.  You have to face the fact that you trained the kids to act the way they do, and you’re going to have to train them out of it.  You’re going to have a tough week or 2 or more, but would you rather that or have a tough 18 years???  

Check out my article:  “If your child is a Rotten Brat, it’s all your Fault”.

A parent said to me, “My son just isn’t interested in food.  He pushes his dinner around on his plate for 5 minutes then runs off to play video games.” I said, “Does he have access to video games any time he wants?”  Answer, “Well no, but sometimes it’s just easier than fighting with him to get him to eat.”  Me, “Here’s what you do.  Tell your son that from now on he can play video games as soon as he’s eaten his dinner.  It’s his choice, he can either eat his dinner and play video games, or not eat dinner and not have video games.  That’s it, no more explaining, just get up and calmly walk away.”  

Of course there’s a lot more to it as children will often follow parents around trying to get their own way but there are a variety of different ways to handle that depending on the family dynamics.  Parents often get worn down and give in so I teach them how to stay strong as this stuff works, I guarantee it.

Life’s about choices:

You can eat dinner then play video games or not, up to you.

You can put in some work and have great kids or not, up to you.

If you need help with this, check out my coaching page.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

 

 

Toss Out Time Out || Parenting Advice

If you are currently using timeouts and they’re working for you, then keep going.  Don’t fix what’s not broken.  But if you’re using them and they’re not working then keep reading.

I’ve never used timeouts nor have I ever taught them.  I see them as a form of avoidance, “You go sit over there as I don’t know what to do with you.”  I find them weak as they don’t really teach any lessons other than how to sit in a chair in the corner.

Here are 2 scenarios, one with timeout, one without:

With Timeout:  Johnny hits Sally with the TV remote because she changed the channel away from his favourite show.  Mom puts him on the naughty chair in the corner for 5 minutes (1 minute for each year of his life).  When the 5 minutes are up she tells him he can get up and has to apologize to Sally for hitting her.  There, done.  A couple of days later he hits Sally again and the process is repeated because Johnny has only been taught that being mean leads to punishment.  He hasn’t been taught how to be nice.  Saying sorry isn’t much of a lesson, it’s just empty words to most kids, and adults.  The real lesson is learning how to treat people well and act appropriately.

My Method:  Johnny hits Sally with the remote control.  Mom takes the remote control away from Johnny and gives it back to Sally telling her she can watch her show.  She then hugs Sally to make sure she’s okay.  She calmly says to Johnny, “Come with me.”  She takes Johnny into Sally’s room and says, “For the next 2 days you are going to make Sally’s bed to make up for hitting her.  When that’s done you can watch your favourite show again.”  Then she walks him back to Sally and explains that he’ll be making her bed and says, “Sally, if you tease him about making your bed, you’ll make his bed instead.  Everyone understand?”  Let’s assume they agree then Mom says, “Now, how about we all play a game?”  Johnny has learned it’s not okay to hit people and how to be nice to people.  He’s also learned that TV is a privilege not a right.  The game at the end is a bonding exercise.  It’s to reinforce good relationships instead of focusing on negative behaviour.

Once a child has been punished you have to let it go and move on in a positive way.  Too often I see parents reminding kids about how rotten they’ve been.  Ugh, what does that do to self-esteem?

Oh and by the way, if Johnny doesn’t make Sally’s bed his favourite show is not allowed.  It’s used not as punishment for being bad, but reward for being good.  It’s in line with my “as soon as method”.

If you want help with this, check out my Coaching Page.

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach