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.  

 

 

 

 

Am I a Bad Parenting because I don’t know how to Discipline my Kids?

I’ve had many clients ask me if they’re bad parents just because they don’t have a clue how to effectively discipline their children.  I always answer with a chuckle as if every parent who couldn’t discipline is bad than there sure are a lot of lousy parents out there.  

Not knowing how to discipline children is extremely common.  How would you know how to do it if you haven’t had children before?  Yes, some of it is common sense but a lot is training and practice.  I learned how to discipline kids by babysitting and volunteering in daycare centres when I was about 13.  I was always put with the challenging kids as enjoyed figuring out how to handle them.  I used a combination of leadership and fun which I carried right through all the kids/teens I worked with through out the years and certainly while raising my own two kids.  

So if you don’t know how to discipline, then you can learn how to do it.  Discipline is what leads to self-discipline.  Kids aren’t born with self-discipline, it’s up to us to teach then, that’s why disciplining them is so important. 

You can’t effectively discipline without your children’s respect, but once you have it discipline is approximately:

99% positive encouragement and 1% punishment  (if even that)

So what if you’re currently at 50% and 50%, or maybe even worse?  How long does it take to get respect?  That depends on 2 things:

  • the age of your children
  • your willingness to replace old habits with new ones

I’ve had clients who saw huge changes in just 2 days and others who needed several months to get things sorted out.  It’s all up to you and how quickly you can change your parenting style.  You don’t need to change everything, often it’s something really small that you’re not even aware of that needs adjusting.

What you say and how you say it are extremely important.  Here’s a good example of how NOT to talk to a 6 year old who is consistently cheeky and defiant:

“Why are you always so difficult?  What’s wrong with you?  Do you want to have media blackout for the next month?!” 

A better way:

“You know it’s not okay to be cheeky so there’ll be no media tonite.  But instead, how about we play a board game?”

You’re replacing a negative situation with a positive one.  Family games nights are bonding and fun.  Media blackout is the consequence for being cheeky but that’s it, forgive and forget.  Move on and replace the negative with a positive.  

So how do you handle it if your child flips out over media blackout and throws the board game across the room?  You completely ignore it, let them work it out on their own.  You are calm, silent and disengaged.  

Of course there’s a lot more to it but that’s the basic premise.  You lay down the law, follow through and don’t get pulled into any dialogue explaining yourself.  If you allow yourself to be pulled into conversations whereby you’re explaining your authority … you’ve just lost it.  

Check out how to get your kids to do what you want.  It’s my “As Soon As Method”.  

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Note:  Don’t forget to sign up to my Newsletter to get your FREE “3 Step Parenting Plan” which will help you get started with Discipline.  Just to go the top right of the page.

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