When your child starts crying, the easiest thing to do is to switch on the television, give them your iPad / tablet or phone.
However, research shows that using screen time to calm children’s behaviour may interfere with their learning on how to manage emotions on their own.
In fact, playing games and watching videos or television can be disastrous!!!
Some studies have found that excessive screen time contributes to behavior issues, including hyperactivity, impulsiveness, and difficulties with paying attention.
What can a parent do when kids are bored at home or about to throw a tantrum at the supermarket?
Here are some steps on how to calm your kids without a screen.
I. Steps to Take with Your Child
Since limiting screen time can be a tough job when you’re surrounded by devices at home and away…
Be prepared with a variety of technology-free responses that you can use:
1. Show empathy. Give your child your full attention when they need to talk with you. If circumstances does not allow for that, let them know you want to sit down together as soon as possible and follow through with that promise. Validate their feelings even if you disapprove of their behavior.
2. 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.
3. Arrange playdates. Solitary screen time sometimes may be a big reason for reducing social experiences that are essential to your child’s development. Encourage your child to hang out with friends and participate in after school fun activities.
4. Assign chores. In addition to teaching children responsibility, routine tasks can be soothing for them. Prepare meals together or assign your child some tasks around the house. This is where Montessori’s Practical Life Activities are very useful and highly beneficial too.
5. Read books. Brain scans show that reading is associated with superior structure in white matter cells responsible for learning. Keep books around the house and use your library card.
6. Go outdoors. Nature and exercise both relieve stress. Take a family bicycle trip, play catch in your backyard, go to parks or even take walks round the block.
7. Make crafts. Expressing creativity is another way to relax. Browse online for project ideas and do them together. It can be a lot of fun too.
8. Encourage mindfulness. Introduce your children to meditation and yoga. Walk around your living room slowly chanting / singing happy words. Do simple stretches and breathing exercises.
9. Enforce bedtimes. 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 Sleepfoundation.org. Set a curfew for turning off electronic devices at least two hours before bedtime.
II. Steps to Take for Yourself
Your children pay more attention to your actions than your words. So pay attention to what you are doing. They will imitate you.
Therefore, consider how your daily habits affect your children and make changes if required, so you can be a positive role model for them.
Try these strategies:
1. Interact as much as possible with your child. Your time and attention are the most valuable things you can give to your children. Plan family activities and one-on-one outings with each child. Staying connected will help your child to feel safe and calm.
2. Slow down. What are mornings like at your house? Children are more likely to cooperate when you plan for enough time to avoid rushing around.
3. Design a family plan. Negotiate a media use contract for your family. Agree to basic rules for using electronic devices, so you can make technology your ally.
Some online videos or cartoons 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.