Failing Motherhood

*NO JUDGEMENT* Guide to Screen Time: Part 1

June 28, 2022 Danielle Bettmann | Wholeheartedly Episode 70
Failing Motherhood
*NO JUDGEMENT* Guide to Screen Time: Part 1
Show Notes Transcript

You don't need more reasons to feel guilty for using screens.
You need insight so you feel confident that when you do use them, it's WITHOUT guilt.

In 2022, technology is a TOOL to use while parenting.  I am here to help you make confident decisions about what's best for your kids and your family!

If screen time is affecting your relationship with your strong-willed child, take the action I recommend in this series to reduce the power struggles for good.

In Part 1 of this 2 part screen time series, I address...

  • 3 things to consider when deciding when to use screens
  • The screen time boundary/limit(s) I recommend 
  • Why your child seems obsessed with asking for screens, how you’re inadvertently reinforcing it, and what to do about it


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Share your screen time questions with me over on Instagram - @parent_wholeheartedly

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Danielle Bettmann:

Ever feel like you suck at this job? Motherhood I mean, have too much anxiety. Not enough patience. Too much yelling, not enough play. There's no manual, no village, no guarantees. The stakes are high. We want so badly to get it right. This is survival mode. We're just trying to make it to bedtime. So if you're full of mom guilt, your temper scares you. You feel like you're screwing everything up, and you're afraid to admit any of those things out loud. This podcast is for you. This is failing motherhood. I'm Danielle Bettmann. And each week, we'll chat with a mom ready to be real. Sharing her insecurities, her fears, your failures and her wins. We do not have it all figured out. That's not the goal. The goal is to remind you, you are the mom, your kids need. They need what you have. You are good enough. And you're not alone. I hope you pop in earbuds, somehow sneak away and get ready to hear some hope from the trenches. You belong here, friend, we're so glad you're here. Hey, it's Danielle. And welcome to this bonus episode of failing motherhood. This is your no judgement guide to screen time, part one. Now I was going to add a training to my client portal on this topic because I was going back and forth with several clients. And knowing that screen time is definitely up at my house this summer. But I wanted to share it with all of you. Because I know it's going to be so valuable. There's so much I wanted to add to this, there's going to have to be a part two, hopefully, when that you add your question to that I can answer. So we all know it's summer, depending on when you're listening to this, you have to get things done, you may be working from home, you may just need to wash the dishes or make dinner, your kids might be watching more screen time than you would like or that you had anticipated. Back when you were the best parent ever before you had any kids. I did send an email two weeks ago to my email list with practical suggestions for invitations to play, which was sharing the science behind initiating and sustaining deep independent play. So if you're not on my email list, definitely jump into the show notes and download my calm big emotions guide and then you will be in the loop from there. But let's be honest, it's 2022 screentime isn't going away. It is a tool to use while parenting and one that can create a lot of guilt if we don't have clarity and confidence in how we're using it. So I'm sharing my personal perspective and thoughts so that you can feel more educated and informed in your own families decisions around screentime. I will be narrowing in on screentime that affects two to seven year olds. So we're not talking teenage content down the road. I'm not talking about parenting controls. I'm not talking about content warnings and the internet. That's a whole nother topic. And there are experts in their field that are doing so much important work on what we need to know with apps and things down the road. But right now I'm going to be focusing on screen time with tablets that are just the streaming shows as well as you know some light gaming and things that are really in the the toddler preschool age. So in this episode, I am going to cover three main topics number one, the three things to consider when deciding to use screens. Number two, the screen time boundary or limit that I recommend. And number three, why your child seems so obsessed with asking for screens. How you are inadvertently reinforcing it and what to do about it. The Next Episode Part two is going to cover how to transition off of screens without a meltdown. How to reduce dependency on screens, if that's one of your goals. And number three, why kids become so obsessed with video games and why it might not be so bad. Okay, so if you are not already subscribed to or following this podcast make sure you do that so that you catch part two it will come out two weeks from today whenever this episode is airing, so let's dive into number one. The three things to consider when deciding when to use screens. Remember, screen time is a tool A tool to use and leverage for your advantage, I will never judge you, or shame you, for how much your kids watch. My job as a parenting coach, and your parenting coach, if you choose to work with me, is to help you meet your goals, because you are the expert of your family and you know your kids best. So if a family comes to me that I'm working with, and they have concerns over their use, or amount, or their child's behavior and how it relates to screens, I work to help them make the most educated decision about the best next steps for their family and their kids. So I'm going to share an email that I got from one of my clients in a second here, so that you can see what I individually sent to them and how it might apply to your family. But first, those things to consider when deciding when to use screen time. Number one, the level of stimulation, there is a spectrum to screen use. You can use Common Sense Media, for the quality of the content as in what the exposure level is to maybe higher level concepts. Whether that is conflict, violence, you know, more vocabulary you might not be comfortable with. If that content is something that you want to be checking, especially with movies that might be PG and they might be from 30 years ago, and we're looking at them with a very different lens. Now, as a parent, go to Common Sense Media, I'll link that in the show notes to consider the quality. But I'm not talking about the quality. Here I'm talking about the level of stimulation. And that is more related to the amount of frames per second, that the show is either filmed in or produced in, you want your child to be exposed to the slower, the better, for the most part over time. And what that looks like is you can tell by watching a show yourself how often the frame changes, from what perspective or what camera, even if it's animated, what camera view is being shown to the about those characters, and then how quickly it switches. So there are shows where it shows basically one camera lens frame for, you know, five seconds, 10 seconds before switching to another view or another scene. And there are some shows that have very, very rapid transition where things are constantly changing on the screen. And that means that it has a higher level of stimulation. A lot of interactive games might be very educational, but they still have a very high level of stimulation. And there might be shows that are also very educational that are very slow. So for you as a parent, you want to be able to evaluate why your child is really gravitating towards a certain show? Is it because they really relate to the characters and are having a lot of fun? Or is it because it really is just feeding a craving for them. This stimulation that they then almost go into a little bit of withdrawal as they transition off of it. So you want to choose shows and create limits around what shows are available for them to watch that offer either a balance of that stimulation, or aid towards more of the slower spectrum around. As I was researching this episode, I could not find very good resources online for showing the research behind the overstimulation in kids from certain shows or even you know which shows are good and which shows are bad. So genuinely this is a thing that I think a parent's gut instinct has a lot of value in where if you feel like when a show is on, it feels overstimulating to you then it's a pretty good indicator that it is leading up to many areas of your child's brain and may be feeding and reinforcing a really short attention span. So go with your gut. If you don't like a show, it is absolutely okay for you to say that that show is not an option or is no longer on. Second thing to consider is the lost opportunity cost. Is there something valuable that they could be doing right now instead feasibly In all reality, and for the most part, this is where you can take the guilt off. Because the answer a lot of times when you're using screen time already, the answer is no. That last opportunity cost is, is there a playmate? A, you know, game going on a opportunity to, you know, have a play with friends outside, go to school, play with a grown up? Is there something even better that they could be doing in that moment? A lot of times the answer is no. Because you are an unavailable playmate you are getting something done, you might be sick, they might be sick, you may need to be needing to quarantine currently, there is other things going on, or they are genuinely needing to rest their mind after a long day at school. And unless their grandparents are over, sitting across the table from them waiting to play, and they're on a screen instead. Usually, the last opportunity cost is no, and then you can feel better about putting it on and leveraging it and using it for good as a tool in your home. So times when the last opportunity cost it would outweigh the screen time use is really dependent on your circumstances and your idea of what that looks like. But really it is, you know, are you sitting down for dinner, and could be modeling a family connection moment in some conversation at the table. And instead, you know they're on a device, then Yep, the last opportunity cost would be there. And even when there is there's still a lot of times that we eat dinner in front of the TV as a family. And it does not have to be an all or nothing decision, it is something to consider that helps you feel more confident of when you decide to use it. Number three, the third thing to consider is language development. And while a lot of shows are extremely educational, I have my favorites. I love Daniel Tiger, I love bluee. I think that there is so much that my kids have learned from even the LeapFrog DVDs and other PBS shows that you know create a lot of understanding around grammar and history. They do teach a lot and we can use them as a learning tool. But the most language development happens within a context of a meaningful exchange a back and forth. So there is research that is done on language development or even language learning of like a secondary language and a lot less is received when it is a one way interaction when there is not a back and forth context behind what this word means and how I can clarify it within this context or within the setting or how it applies to me. In this situation. Back and forth. Communication is huge for language development. So if your child is behind or having some goals that they need to meet around language development, wanting to balance out, or just prioritize back and forth communication alongside one way, communication is an important thing to consider. And anytime that you have the TV on in the background, or other loud or distracting stimulation that can make it more difficult for a child that is working to increase their auditory or their receptive language like a young toddler, it may make it harder for them to distinguish the differences in language and vowels and all that stuff that their brain is working so hard to do, when there is a lot of inputs of stimulation going on at once. So that is why you know as a classroom teacher in a toddler environment, we did not have music on most of the time except for nap and things so that we could prioritize that language learning environment. But again, something to consider as you make decisions for your family. So now I'm going to share an email from a client and dive into the screentime boundary or limit that I recommend. My clients can reach out anytime in between sessions with particular pain points and ask for insight and advice above and beyond our coaching sessions or the course content. So here's a question from a client of mine that has three kids, ages four, two and six months. One of the toughest aspects we have been dealing with lately with our child, we'll call him Fred has been his attitude and his willingness to listen and control his temper when he doesn't get his way. TV is normally at the source of many of these battles. He wants to watch first thing in the morning last thing at night, during his rest time in the afternoon. And basically, Anytime he's home, when we say no, or turn it off for a little while it results in a tantrum, especially recently. What are your thoughts on this? Should we implement a screentime? Standard? Or limit? If so, how much time? And how can we positively reinforce this? So I shared with this client, this is such a common struggle, one of the main reasons why I wanted to make this a public podcast episode, because this family is not alone. But it doesn't make it any easier to manage. The important thing is noticing this pattern, naming it and then seeking out the help so that you can create a plan. So I replied, Yes, I do recommend a screentime standard, or limit or expectation. When these boundaries aren't crystal clear as in, sometimes when they ask for screen time, we say yes, sometimes they ask for screen time, we say no, it feels confusing to our kids. Because although they want what they want. They also want to know what is predictable. So what they can count on, because that's very reassuring, whether they like it or not, it's what their brain is craving. So honestly, what I recommend for this family right now is to sit down with him in the spirit of collaboration, and come up with a plan. Try to do this in a neutral moment, where you can show him that you're on his team, you recognize how much he loves TV and how fun it is. And state the problem. Hey, we've noticed you ask very often, if you can watch. And when we say no, or we ask you to turn it off, you have a really hard time. So we'd like to come up with a plan. So both of us know when TV is a yes. And when TV is a no. We can't let you watch TV every waking moment. Because life has so many other things for you to do to learn and grow. Too much of a good thing is a bad thing. However, if you want to explain how that relates to your family's values, let's go ahead and write down the different varieties of the screens you like. You watch some shows on Netflix, you use your tablet, we have the cable shows on PBS games, on mom's phone, movie night as a family, all of the different ways and things that he can ask for that are available. Now, let's decide when are good times that we can always say yes to these things, and only agree on things you can follow through on. So I said, for example, at my house, Sunday mornings, my kids can expect to always watch PBS Kids before we head to the gym. On Saturday mornings, they are guaranteed to have a few hours of uninterrupted tablet time, Wednesday nights after their showers. They're always guaranteed YouTube kids. These are non negotiables that they can count on. It's literally on their weekly calendar so that they can anticipate it and look forward to it. We can make exceptions like more time than that, if it needs to be rescheduled, or if we have a road trip or if it's disrupted due to plans, but they do not have tablets the rest of the week and the other weeknight evenings, we typically say yes to one family show before after dinner or after their intimate practice. We are allowed to change that. But the minimums always stay non negotiable. What this does is it allows my kids to really make sense of when screen time is a yes. And when screen time is a no. They know if they asked to play on their tablet randomly on a Thursday, what the answer is always going to be they know when the next time is that it will be a yes, that decreases. How reinforcing it is for them to continue to ask because they know the answer. It is not a lottery system of sometimes it's a yes, sometimes it's a no, it's my job to make sure that I get the next Yes. So I'm going to keep asking because last time it worked and it got me more time. So there are no wrong boundaries. Every family is different. The key is to come up with what yours are for your family and stick to them. Even if it ends up with more time than you would quote unquote, like it's better to guarantee it than to continue to battle with it day in and day out. So I am not suggesting that you follow my family's screentime boundaries. I am showing you an example of what it looks like for me so that you can visualize what that would look like for your family. If you decided have a similar structure or plan Hey, if you're new here, I'm Danielle. My company wholeheartedly offers one on one and group coaching programs to help families with strong willed kids aged one to seven, prevent tantrums, eliminate power struggles, extend their patience and get on the same page. It's kind of like finances, you can read lots of info about what a Roth IRA is and how the stock market works. But if you really want to get serious about paying down debt or growing your wealth, you go see a financial advisor who can give you very specific recommendations based on all the unique facets of your situation. I'm your financial advisor for parenting. And I've designed the way we work together to give you nothing less than a complete transformation. While we work together, I'm able to help you figure out why your child is losing their mind and why you are losing your mind and guide you to master effective long term solutions through three main focuses. Number one, my cultivating cooperation guide teaching you the tools of positive discipline. Number two, managing your mind by working through my triggers workbook. And number three, establishing your family's foundation by writing your family business plan. My coaching is comprehensive, practical, individualized and full of VIP support. So if you struggle to manage your child's big emotions, if you and your partner's argument seem to center around parenting, especially if one of you is too kind and one of us too firm. If you struggle to stay calm and be the parent that you want to be, it's possible to stop feeling like a deer in headlights when a tantrum hits, effortlessly move through simple directions and care routines without an argument. And go to bed replaying the way you handled the hardest moments and feel proud. If you have a deep desire to be the best parent you can be, and your family is your greatest investment. Find me on Instagram, send me a message that says sanity. And I'll ask you a few questions to see if we'd be a good fit to work together. I can't wait to meet you back to the show. When you have this plan on paper, let him know that he can hold you to this plan. I'm going back to what I shared with this claim. In the same way, you will hold him to expectations around his behavior and be able to stay calm when it's time to shut it off, reminding him when the next TV time is guaranteed. The next time I met with this family over zoom, we ended up discussing the routine and kind of the family's unspoken expectation of always watching TV before bed, and how they felt like it just wasn't working for them. It was making the transition to bedtime much harder. With constantly negotiating how much TV they could watch and felt like it was never going to be enough. And they felt like they could better use that time to split up and give one parent more opportunity to have special time and begin the bedtime routine with one child. And they began to shift their schedule towards that. So it is easier to have absolutes, like no TV between dinner and bed. Or today as a no screens day. Or you know we have screen free Sundays. It is easier to have those absolutes or those environment context switches, like no screentime in your bedroom or no screen time in the car. It's a lot easier for your child to wrap their mind around these absolutes and these boundaries that create environmental cues than it is to constantly negotiate and play tug of war every single day with the same battle them not knowing if it's going to be a yes and if it's going to be a no. So I combined the last two points the screen time or limit I recommend and why they seem obsessed with screens, how you're inadvertently reinforcing it and what to do about it. So the screen time limit and boundary I recommend is literally any plan for your family. You need to be able to decide a few guidelines that help you as the parent feel confident when TV is a yes, when TV is a no and how to help your child understand that in a way that makes sense to them. Even better, if you can use them to collaborate on and engage in that solution or that plan with you for their cooperation in following it as well as allowing them a visual understanding of it where you can add on to the calendar you already have for them and show them Wednesday. Next time, they'll be able to watch TV, and it's already decided, when you create this type of a still open ended but defined boundary, then you will stop inadvertently reinforcing their whining and their constant asking for the screens, because it no longer feels like a lottery. And they just need to keep asking, because that persistence pays off. And because they never know when the next time, it'll be a yes. So the reason that they're obsessed with asking is because it works. And they're confused. And their brain in the first seven years, is genuinely trying to find patterns and absolutes that make sense so that they can feel like their world is predictable. Even if they don't like the answer, they'd rather have that predictability. So you need to be able to have a little bit more of a backbone of when it's yes, and when it's a no, and it's okay. And it might even help the whole culture of your home. If you can always say yes, for a certain time period, that's going to be a win win for both of you, like between, you know, four to 6pm, while you're cooking, and trying to transition and get a bunch of things done after you get home from school, or, you know, on a Saturday morning, when you're going to be able to clean uninterrupted or, you know, any other time use it as a win win. And just help them understand that clear expectation of when it's a yes, and when it's a no. And again, you can always make exceptions to that above and beyond that. But it's better to guarantee it and protect it as a non negotiable than it is to use it as a carrot to try to change and alter their behavior, constantly having it as a motivator, or as a threat to get them to behave. Because again, that is inadvertently reinforcing their desperation to ask for it and work for it. Because you're you're using it as a bargaining chip. That's not healthy over time. Because one, if you're using that as a punishment, it's unrelated likely to whatever the original problem was. So for them, it's not sending the message that you're intending, it's not helping them learn a related lesson for the most part. And you know, their brain is likely not logically inclined enough to connect all the dots. And to it is creating more and more insecurity and scarcity mindset around the screen time. And you would rather than feel like it is a guaranteed thing at specific times, so that you are taking away the incentive for the constant negotiation and drama surrounding when do we have screens? Can I have screens law? Okay, so I know that those two points were very interconnected with that clients example. But I hope that I was able to illustrate enough of what to do instead, so that you can decrease that dependency and that drama around those incentives. So next episode, we are going to in two weeks, the next bonus episode, will be your no judgement guide to screen time, part two, where I talk more about how to transition off of screens without a meltdown. Because even with the best laid plans and expectations, it still happens. We'll talk about why. And we'll talk about what to do about it. Number two, how to reduce the dependency on screens, if that is one of your goals. So let's say you really do use screens a lot. And they are very guaranteed and you have clear expectations, but you just want them to be less or work towards last or have any type of a plan of how to do that. We'll talk about that. And we will address video games. Why there's an obsession and why it might not be as bad as we think. So if you have another screen time related question, please ask over the next two weeks on Instagram send me a message I am at parent underscore wholeheartedly. If we're not friends there, say hi. And let me know what you wonder about with screen time so that I can answer your question in the next episode. Was this helpful? If it was please share it with a friend you are not the only one struggling with a child obsessed with screen time and feeling guilty about it. So please, please share this episode with a friend post it in your stories and tag me and know you are doing better than you give yourself credit for. I know you are. Thank you so much for tuning into this episode of failing motherhood. Your kids are so alike Hate to have you. If you loved this episode, take a screenshot right now and share it in your Instagram stories and tag me. If you're loving the podcast, be sure that you've subscribed and leave a review so we can help more moms know they are not alone if they feel like they're failing motherhood on a daily basis. And if you're ready to transform your relationship with your strong willed child, and invest in the support you need to make it happen. Schedule your free consultation using the link in the show notes. I can't wait to meet you. Thanks for coming on this journey with me. I believe in you, and I'm cheering you on