Why you need to get rules in place for kids’ screen time

Last week I wrote about the need for parents to work in the interests of their future selves by implementing technology policies early in a child’s life. This makes the teenage years less challenging and problematic. First of all, we need to have a clear idea of ​​the boundaries we want in our home.

All children crave them, they make children feel safe and they allow them to thrive in life. Before I discuss them, think of borders as stabilizers. How does a child learn to ride a bike safely? Parents attach stabilizers so the child can calibrate their center of gravity by bouncing off the safety of the extra wheels to eventually right themselves until they no longer need them to be safe.

Through the safe exploration of cycling with stabilizers, the child will learn how to ride a bicycle. Once they do that they can do anything with the bike, wheelies, jumps, etc.

So borders are stabilizers. You help a child calibrate the world, make mistakes, bounce it off safely, and figure out what they can and can’t do until they fix themselves and embark on their adult world with clear parameters and critical thinking. Healthy borders are not autocratic, you are not the tsar of a small country ruling his subjects with oppressive borders that crush the child’s mind.

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I often meet parents who proudly tell me about their limitations. They describe a static environment in which the child is suffocated by rules and regulations. When I meet their child, they are generally depressed; desperately unsure of how to please their parents.

A border should move a little and then come back into place. If it is too rigid, it will destroy the child’s spirit of adventure.

I have often spoken to fathers who explain that they have taken the games away from their children because they played too much and broke the rules. This isn’t a limit for a kid to learn from, just teaching kids not to get caught. It can make them quite duplicitous as they struggle desperately to hide their behavior from a despotic tyrant.

Parents can also see boundaries as dictatorial, and if they’re too rigid, of course they are too. But it’s crucial to understand that boundaries teach our children to regulate themselves and take calculated risks. Parents who are permissive in their upbringing also create problems for their children as they progress into adulthood. Once a child is given the unrealistic expectation that everything will go their way and that there will be no consequences for their behavior, the adult world will prove incredibly challenging.

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As a couple or single parent, you need to sit down and decide what you are trying to do. What do you want to achieve? How are you going to do this? One of the most destructive things I encounter is inconsistent parenting.

One parent wants to establish rules and ramifications, and the other believes this is unfair to the child and always caves in when their partner isn’t around. It’s such a destructive dynamic for a child.

Remember, as a couple or single parent, you need to sit down and figure out what you’re trying to do and why you want to set boundaries. Once you have decided to do this, you now need to think about how to abide by this rule.

A divided family will never find peace. Conflicting messages have such a detrimental effect on a child’s development. If you are unhappy with how the other person is setting the boundary, never express it in front of the children. Parents must be united for both stabilizers to work.

The child would learn to cycle very clumsily if only one stabilizer worked. The most desirable border type is an authoritative one. This is clear, concise, and in the child’s language, it also has the potential to move slightly and then come back into place.

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For example, let’s say you told your child that they can play for 40 minutes on weekdays and two hours on Saturday and Sunday. Before you set the boundary, you should expect your child to cross the line and break through it. When that happens, don’t overreact, the limit comes into play.

Let’s just say they play for an hour on Monday, they broke the rule and showed they are immature when it comes to self-regulation. That’s OK, here comes the learning. They can’t play on Tuesday and they can play 20 minutes on Wednesday and if they show that they can do that they can bring the game back to the usual time on Thursday.

Well, in this example, you taught your child the consequences of their behavior in a way that doesn’t destroy their confidence. Boundaries are so important to your child’s happiness in adulthood. Give them this gift.

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