*** Trusting Connections’ special guest feature for this week’s blog post is Jeannie Long, owner and founder of Behavior Bake, a resource for parents to build confidence in their parenting. Jeannie has provided Autism services for the past 14 years and has experience working with parents and the behavioral health system of Arizona.
All right, let’s dare talk about electronics and our kids. For all those moms who just looked around and thought, “Are you talking to me?” Yes, I’m talking to you. Let’s be real, when it comes to electronics and our children, we have mixed feelings. Why is that? How did the topic of electronics become a taboo of sorts? Let’s review some of the good, the bad, and the ugly of our relationship with electronics as moms.
We are busy moms doing our best every day. Oftentimes, we are drowning in our “had to be done yesterday list,” while simultaneously attending to our children. At times like these, electronics are a lifesaver. Our kids enjoy their e-time, and we get things done. It’s a win-win situation! But, before we know it, electronics have become an extension of our children’s bodies. Everything is smooth sailing. Until…
The bad start to creep up when children start to engage in some negative behaviors (sighing, pleading, muttering underneath their breath, etc.) in order to get or keep their electronics. We unintentionally, respond by using electronics to avoid or pacify these behaviors. We then find ourselves dependent on electronics to smooth over daily activities in public (restaurants, grocery store, wait times, etc.). We make sure electronics are fully charged, games/movies are downloaded, and electronics are at hand. Again, it can be a win-win for everyone. Until…
We know it becomes ugly when children start using severe forms of challenging behaviors (meltdowns, screaming matches, aggression, etc.) not only for electronics but also to avoid chores, social events, spending time with family, etc. We find ourselves in a panic because the wi-fi is disconnected, the charger no longer works, or electronics are broken. Although deep down we know the excessive use of electronics are unhealthy, the good blinds us from the bad and the ugly. We are then frightened by the idea of limiting electronic use. Because of this fear, many moms are left playing the guessing game when faced with challenging behaviors (time-outs, “go to your room,” lectures, losing privileges, silent treatment, etc.)
Behavior Bake Tip: If you find yourself experiencing the bad and/or the ugly, take a step back and gather your ingredients and make a behavior recipe that results in less dependence on electronics. Start by taking notes on when your child is engaged in e-time and what other opportunities they are missing to learn social skills such as waiting, leisure skills, exercise, life skills (chores), etc. Decide which routine in which you would like to reduce or eliminate electronic use. Afterward, set limits and boundaries. Sit down and have a discussion with your child about your new expectations ahead of time (i.e., “complete two chores and homework and then electronics will be available for 1 hour).
I’ll leave you with a question to consider: What about parents who excessively use electronics?
– Written by M.C.
“Trust yourself, you know more than you think.” –Benjamin Spock