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.  

 

 

 

 

Parenting in Different Countries | My Australian Story

I’m from Vancouver, BC.  Met an Aussie on Halloween 1988 and by Valentine’s Day 1989 I was married, pregnant and living in Australia.  Partner lived in Australia so we’d only spent 3 weeks together in those first few months.  Pretty crazy and not something I’d ever recommend as now I know it takes 2 years to really get to know someone.  Anyhoo, was a successful marriage in that we had 2 beautiful children, lasted 15 years we have a very good relationship as far as exes go.  Spend birthdays, Xmas, etc. together with our kids.

He moved out New Years Day 2004 and we all moved back to Canada in March 2005.  Was not an easy move and not one I ever thought I’d do as Australia was home.  But, my wonderful mom was in her 80’s and had failing health.  She needed help, she needed me here. 

You can just imagine how the conversation went with my ex when I told him I wanted to move back to Canada with the kids, and I wanted him to come with us.  He’s Australian, loves Australia, as I do.  Anyway, he very graciously agreed to the move as visited my Mom and saw the condition she was in.

We had 5 wonderful years with her and 6 1/2 more challenging years as she suffered dementia and several health problems.  She died in my arms in June, 2016.

Kids were 10 and 15 when we immigrated to Vancouver so spent all their formative years here.  So, doubt we’ll ever end up living in Australia again.  But never say never :).

When I first moved back to Canada I knew I was going to start a parenting business but I had a slight disadvantage:  I’d raised my kids in Australia.  It was profoundly different from parenting in Canada, more so than I would’ve thought.  

A friend sent me this great article on Motherhood Around the World, here’s the Australian section.

Loved the article on the mom from Vancouver living in Australia, related to a lot of what she said.  The big difference between us was that she associated with expats.  I avoided that which I think helped me to assimilate quickly.

Funny Sideline:  When I first moved to Australia, the slang was the biggest challenge, didn’t know what they were saying half the time.  I worked in an office in Sydney before my son was born.  My boss asked me to get him a rubber and I just stood there stunned.  A co-worker came over and explained to me that in Australia a rubber is an eraser.  I said, “Thank gawd as I was just about to review my job description.”  Another time I was teaching an aerobics class and suggested they all root for one another as it was going to be a challenging class.  Their eyes widened and everyone just stared at me kinda frozen.  Someone walked over to the stage and whispered, “I’m assuming you don’t know that in Australia to root means to screw.”  My mic picked it up so the whole room heard.  I said, “Okay then, how about we just encourage one another”.  Aussies have a great sense of humour so those awkward moments were great.

The challenge with coaching parents in Canada was helping clients through their insecurities.  They all felt they were being judged.  I was confused by this as had never experienced anything like it in Australia.  Moms in Australia are non-competitive and very supportive of one another.  In playgroups and playgrounds we used to sit around and talk about what lousy moms we were, how horrible our kids were, etc.  Aussie humour is self-deprecating so that transferred right into parenting.  Also had a lot of Kiwi (New Zealand) friends who were the same.

A huge part of what I deal with with my Canadian and American clients is helping them deal with other people’s judgment, feeling almost bullied by other moms.  I rarely see that in clients from other parts of the world.

If you aren’t surrounded by supportive moms, go out and find them, they’re there.  Parenting isn’t about perfection, it’s often just about survival.  There are lots of down-to-earth moms out there to hang out with, you may have to be the one to start the ball rolling, but go for it, what have you got to lose?

I’m planning on starting a little support group for new moms in my area (Mount Pleasant, Vancouver, BC).  I’m just looking for a private space, just for 4-5 of us plus strollers and little ones.  We’ll be sitting around talking about what mothering is really like:  the ups, downs and funny things that happen.  I’ll also be answering any questions but it’s going to be very casual.  The best part is that it’s FREE.  

If you know of moms who would be interested in this group, please let me know.  I’ll be talking about it more once I get the space set up and decide how I want to format it.  Your suggestions are welcome.  I don’t really want to call it a support group, more of just a friendly chat among new moms.

Feel free to email me at:  Lisa@BratBusters.com

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach

Why Schools Shouldn’t be Disciplining Children

When my kids first started school I told the staff, “If my kids ever step a toe out of line, please don’t discipline them.  Let me know and I’ll deal with them.”

There were 2 reasons for this:

  1. My kids’ behaviour is my responsibility.
  2. No one’s going to discipline as effectively as I am.

Not only did my kids never step a toe out of line, but I continually got letters from teachers and principals and coaches about how well behaved and pleasant my children were to be around.

So, why should schools not be disciplining kids?  Because it’s not their job!!!  Or at least it shouldn’t be.  Kids should turn up at school polite and respectful toward others.  Manners, respect and consideration are all up to parents to teach, not the schools.  

One of my most controversial newspaper articles was, “Stop Expecting Schools to Parent”.  

I wrote that article back in 2014 and I’m seeing a shift now in 2017.  Parents are much more willing to agree that we have to stop coddling our kids and start teaching them about accountability.

You have to meet their needs and manage their wants.  You need to prepare them for the real world.  The real world doesn’t have any interested in self-entitled people.

I used to love watching a show called Bridezillas.  All these revolting brides throw fits, whining and making everyone around them miserable.  It was only funny because they were adults so I had zero sympathy for them.  But when I see kids acting like that I feel so sorry for them.  It’s not their fault, they’ve been trained to act like that by their parents.

It’s time we all start taking pride in our role as parents.  We need to raise children who have self-respect, respect for others and are just plain nice human beings.

If your kids are acting out, take a look in a mirror instead of blaming them or others.  It’s all up to you, you have total control.  

Lisa Bunnage, Parenting Coach