How to Peel Your Kids off the Screen

A refreshing approach to an exhausting challenge

It’s halfway through the summer, and you’re finding yourself in power struggles over screen time with your kids. “Why can’t they simply obey me and get off those stupid screens without whining, complaining, and negotiating? It drives me crazy!” A reasonable question, but there are a couple of key complicating factors:

  1. You’re up against a giant. Your “foe” is a whole industry with incredibly brilliant researchers, designers, programmers, and marketers with billions of dollars competing in a contest to “capture the eyeballs” of youth. In a famous statement at the height of MTV’s popularity, Bob Pittman said, “We don’t shoot for the 14-year-olds, we own them.”
  2. Your anxiety and anger are contagious. Because of how powerless parents feel against their children’s screen obsessions, they often engage full of anxiety about it (“Will my kid ever get a life, or will he just live in my basement playing video games forever?”) and anger (“I’m soooo sick of this fight!”). When kids sense these emotions and judgments, the conflict escalates.

Knowing this, how can you overcome those factors to effectively guide your child?

The Awesome Thing about Your Kid’s Misbehavior…

The Awesome Thing about Your Kid’s Misbehavior

The rough-looking teen’s tough veneer had softened. I detected tears in his eyes.

“No one has ever said anything like that to me.”

Just minutes before, I met this teen in a line at our local amusement park. After a brief conversation, I dug a little deeper and asked Jared what he was good at. “Are you kidding?” He seemed angry. “Look at me.” Violent tattoos, tattered dark clothes, a defiant countenance and multiple piercings on his ears, nose, eyebrows and lips were suggestive of a hard life.

6 Practical Tips to Tame Your Temper

6 Practical Tips to Tame Your TemperDisciplining misbehaving kids is often a difficult and emotion-laden task. Our oldest son Daniel, sometimes said to Lynne, “Mom, you just bursted all over us!” And he was painfully right. Jim had his share of quick, harsh reactions as well. Those were discouraging times for all of us, and we wished we knew how to get unstuck from that negative pattern.

What I Learned from a Really Ugly Moment Last Week

You know how sometimes you look back and think, WHY in the world did I say that!? I had a moment like that last week. It was ugly… but I learned a lot! Here’s what happened:

In a state of discouragement and stress, I had written some critical, even sarcastic comments about a friend — and then I realized I had accidentally emailed those comments to my friend.

Oh no!

The Real Reason for a Lot of Misbehavior

Have you ever noticed that kids rarely misbehave when they feel truly happy and deeply secure? There’s a reason for this.

When our children misbehave, there is almost always underlying discouragement or anxiety that drives the misbehavior. Rushing to address the misbehavior without understanding the discouragement often backfires, in one of two ways:

  1. It fuels the power struggle flames and misbehavior escalates.
  2. The intensity of effort to make it stop “works” to curb misbehavior in the short run, but feeds the discouragement, which feeds further misbehavior in the long run.

It doesn’t have to be this way.

This Kid Changed Overnight! Here’s How…

Sometimes it takes a while for parents to change in ways that lead to deeper respect from their kids. Sometimes it can happen fast. When Dan attended our weekend workshop he saw an immediate change by practicing what we call a “do-over.” Here’s his report:

An hour before we left for your seminar I was getting ready to go. Our 12-year-old son Will was sitting on the steps. He asked why we needed to go to the seminar. I explained that his mom and I were going so we could learn to control some of the chaos in our household. His reply was, “If you think that’s going to work, you’re retarded!”

Do Your Consequences Build Up or Tear Down?

Do Your Consequences Build Up or Tear Down-

Sometimes, in spite of parents’ most graceful efforts to stay calm, connect well, and parent with grace, their kids still misbehave. They are “beloved sinners” (just like us) and need corrective guidance (just like we do), with the goal of helping them learn the powerful message, “You are responsible for your life, your relationships, and your decisions.”

Two Biblical principles can help parents communicate this message to their children: natural impacts and imposed consequences.

5 Ways to Communicate Love No Matter What (Even in Misbehavior!)

This is part of a series on “Discipline that Connects®: Four Powerful Messages All Kids Long to Hear”.

Communicating “love no matter what” when kids misbehave can seem like a tall order. But when these five simple changes come from a calmed heart, they can powerfully turn the tide of negative discipline encounters.