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How Do You Calm Your Kids Without Shoving An iPad In Their Face?
Pulling out the tablet is often the easiest thing to do when your child starts to fuss. I know how challenging it is. But, it’s better in the long run if you handle these situations differently now.
We’ve all heard the doctor’s recommendations about limiting screen time for kids (although its way harder to implement in real life. Am I right?) But the context matters just as much.
The American Academy of Pediatrics advises against relying exclusively on media devices to calm children. It may hinder their ability to learn how to manage their emotions on their own.
Honestly, these things are bound to backfire on us anyway. So why keep using them? Studies have shown that playing games and watching videos for extended amounts of time contributes to behavior issues. Including but not limited to- hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and difficulties with paying attention.
ADHD anyone? I’m convinced that kids are being misdiagnosed every day but that’s another discussion for another day.
Related: End The Power Struggles With Your Kids
So. What’s a parent to do when kids are bored at home or about to throw a tantrum at the supermarket? Let’s get to the nitty-gritty and share what works for me:
What To Do WITH Your Child
Limiting screen time can be tough when you’re surrounded by devices at home and away.
Be prepared with a variety of technology-free options that you can use:
Give your child your full attention when they need to talk with you. If circumstances prevent that, let them know you want to sit down together as soon as possible. Validate their feelings even if you disapprove of their behavior.
Let Them Cry It Out
Teach your child that strong emotions are natural. Give them a chance to find their own solutions. They’re likely to settle down faster if YOU stay calm.
Arrange Playdates and Movement-Based Activities
Solo screen time sometimes crowds out the social experiences that are essential to your child’s development. Encourage your child to hang out with friends and participate in after school activities.
Give Them a Chore Chart
In addition to teaching responsibility, routine tasks can be soothing. Structure, schedules, and repetition support a child’s development. Prepare meals together or assign each child a day to vacuum, etc.
Related: This is what you’re doing to your kids when you’re inconsistent
Related: This is why a routine is important
Brain scans show that reading is associated with the superior structure in white matter cells responsible for learning. Keep books around the house and use your library card. At least 15 minutes a day will make ALL the difference.
Nature and exercise both relieve stress. Take a family bicycle trip or play catch in your backyard.
Expressing creativity is another way to relax. Browse online for project ideas and repurpose household materials like fabric and gift-wrapping paper. Pinterest, anyone?
Introduce your children to meditation and yoga. Walk around your living room slowly chanting happy words. Do simple stretches and breathing exercises. If you prefer prayer, use that instead or a combination of both!
Children engaged in excessive screen time tend to go to bed later, fall asleep slower, and get fewer hours of sleep each night, according to The National Sleep Foundation. Set a curfew for turning off electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime.
What To Do For Yourself
Your children pay more attention to your actions than your words. Consider how your daily habits affect your children, so you can provide a positive role model.
Give Your Undivided Attention
Your time and attention are the most valuable things you can give to your children. Plan family activities and one-on-one outings. Staying connected will help your child to feel safe and calm.
Related: The Right (& easy) Way To Listen To Your Child
What are the mornings like at your house? Children are more likely to cooperate when you plan for enough time to avoid rushing around.
Design a Family Plan
Create a “family contract” for media use in your home. Agree to basic rules for using electronic devices, so you can make technology your ally.
Educational cartoon shows, movies, and games can be fine in moderation. However, teaching your children to manage their emotions and entertain themselves offline will prepare them for a healthier and happier life in the future.