Want to have a better relationship with your kids and teens? Do you find it hard to get their attention when they are staring at a screen? Here are some tips for parents who want to unplug their kids and encourage communication.
Limit Screen Time
The goal is to place limits on when and where your child or teen can use their computer, tablet, or smartphone. The goal is not to remove those devices from your kids forever. A reasonable amount of screen time can be stimulating and sometimes even educational.
Parents need to pick their battles with this one. Make a rule like “No devices at the dinner table.” Let your kids know that smartphones and other devices are not allowed during dinner. In order for this to work, parents are going to have to adhere to that same rule.
Your kids are probably going to complain about this limitation at first. That’s ok. Stick to it anyway. Serve dinner, sit down together as a family, and start talking to each other. You have created an opportunity to talk. Parents might need to initiate conversations.
Change the Wi-Fi Password
Want to make sure that your kids finished their homework before they got online? Change the Wi-Fi password. The instant they discover they cannot get online, they will come find you to complain about it. Let them know that the Wi-Fi password has been changed and that you will give them the new password after they finish their homework.
For best results, require your child to show you the homework they have to complete. Make them show it to you when it is finished. Parents should offer help if the child or teen gets “stuck”. Helping your child with homework is one way to initiate conversation about whatever is happening at school.
What if the homework requires use of the internet? Type the password yourself and stay near the computer so you can monitor your teen while he or she works. When your teen finishes his homework, give him the new Wi-Fi password. When parents do what they promised to, it helps teens to trust them more. It is that trust that will encourage your teen to come talk to you in times of trouble.
Plan Screen-less Activities
Take your kids on a camping trip. Pick a campground that doesn’t have Wi-Fi. Spend time together as a family setting up tents, cooking on an open fire, and talking.
Go swimming! For some families, this can take place in their own backyard. Others might need to purchase a family pool pass and visit the local public pools. Your kids cannot possibly be playing a video game, or texting on their phone, while they are in the water.
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