I’ve been setting a lot of limits recently. So when my daughter was watching videos on her Ipad this morning, I didn’t want to rush in and tell her to turn it off. For the last week or so I’ve felt like a big of a nagging mum, it seemed like I’d been spending a lot of time telling her to get dressed, clean teeth, leave the house etc. I needed to restore the power balance, and strengthen our connection.
So I decided not to use the Ipad as an excuse to go off and tidy up or go on my own screen. Instead I went over to the sofa, and sat with her, paying attention to what she was watching, and to her.
Then I had an idea. My feet ‘decided’ to sit either side of her, and snuggle up with her to watch the screen. They started dancing to the background music. Then my hands sat on her shoulders to watch to, then my elbows, snuggled up to the side of her.
This was a playful way to stay connected without interrupting her. My daughter joined in the game, ‘feeding’ my feet the fruit she had been eating.
Instantly we felt much more at peace. Now I was playful mum again instead of the nagging one. I was accepting her screentime instead of getting embroiled in a power struggle.
I then decided to get some soft toys to snuggle up next to her and watch. She was watching a video where they build Lego sets, so I had one of the toys do silly things like try to go on the screen and help build the set, or eat some of the toy Lego food on the screen.
So if your child is absorbed in a screen, you can use little bits of play to keep the connection strong. It’s a fine line, between sitting with your child, and being a bit playful and actually interrupting your child, and their concentration on the screen. But having your presence there, can do something to minimize the disconnecting effects of screens.
There will be times when setting limits around screentime is appropriate. With Hand in Hand parenting you can find an approach to screens that works for your individual family circumstances. Check out our free Hand in Hand parenting setting limits booklet, to learn more.