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How to Get Kids Off Technology Without Meltdowns

 

Elaine:
So, another technology question that comes up a lot is how do I get my kid off technology without meltdowns, eye rolls, snarky behaviors, full-blown tantrums ... whatever? We were just talking about it in a group coaching call last week.

Diane:
Yeah, exactly. I think that part of it is understanding why it's hard to get off technology. A lot of it has to do with the fact that it's a transition. So, using technology takes a lot of focus. It takes a lot of effort. And a lot of us as parents don't really have a strong sense of what it really does take to get off the technology.

So, we'll come in and it's like, "Okay, Johnny, it's time to get off your computer," and expect them to be able to just shut it off right then and walk away from the computer. So, think about a time when you've been watching a great movie, and you're in the middle of the movie and you're almost to the most exciting part-

Elaine:
Right. Then somebody comes in.

Diane:
... and somebody comes in and says, "Elaine, it's time for dinner. You have to turn off the TV right this second and walk to dinner." Right? It's not really realistic for you to-

Elaine:
And as an adult, I can say, "Wait," right? But as a kid, they don't have that authority.

Diane:
Well, they do. They say, "Wait just a minute," and-

Elaine:
And then we take it personally. We get offended.

Diane:
Or they have a hard time understanding what just a minute is, which is solving a whole other problem, but part of it is not taking it personally. So, if they say "Wait," or they say, "Just a minute," or whatever else-

Elaine:
That's their thing. They're dealing with it and we have to help them learn to manage it, instead of directing how they manage it, right?

Diane:
And so then the second piece of it is really understanding what does it take to get off the technology? How many reminders do they need? Do they need, instead of saying five minutes, four minutes, three minutes, it may be that ... It's like, "Hey, it's time to say goodbye to your friends. Hey, it's time to go to your safe space online." And part of this is really getting to know your kid and the game. I spent-

Elaine:
Yeah. You have to really understand, if it's games.

Diane:
I spent time... So, Destiny was the one that I spent time with my kid on, but I really sat and watched him. I said, "Okay. So, right now, decide you're going to stop playing."

Elaine:
What does it take?

Diane:
What does it take? So, walk me through all the steps. "Well, I have to go over here and I have to exchange my armor and I have to do this and say goodbye to my friends and I have to make plans for when we're going to play again." It took him 22 minutes from the time he said, "Yes, I'm getting off right now," to getting off.

Elaine:
And that was with you there, making sure he was moving forward with it.

Diane:
Moving forward. And it wasn't that he kept playing, it literally took 22 minutes to stop playing the game.

Elaine:
Wow, that's incredible.

Diane:
It was a huge amount of aha because I knew that a five minute warning or a 15 minute warning, that was just a warning. He had no idea how long 15 minutes was. He had no how long it took him to get off. If I said, "Okay, buddy, it's time to start getting off because in 22 minutes you need to be completely done," it's a whole different conversation.

Elaine:
I want to pull back because there's sort of two conversations happening here at one time, right? One is helping them learn how to get off technology, setting expectations, working with them collaboratively, helping them see what's involved with the transition. And then the other is helping them do that with a good attitude, right? Or reasonable attitude.

Diane:
You might need to tackle those two things differently, right?

Elaine:
Separately. Yes, for sure.

Diane:
And we talked about this when we talk about triggers. If they're having an emotional response, know that that's what you need to deal with first. Help them to calm down, even if it means that they might stay on a little bit longer. You want to focus on them calming down, so you can help them to solve the problem, which is how do we get off the computer.

Elaine:
Right. I remember so clearly back when there were televisions that we would watch and there was a remote control. Remember those days? First, we got my daughter to learn to turn off the television when asked, and then we worked on helping her learn how to do it with a good attitude, without being nasty about it. But we didn't tackle them at once because that was actually too much to expect.

Diane:
Well, so a few key things here. Take it in pieces. Don't take it personally, because then you'll get triggered and you won't be able to solve the problem. And when you think, “oh, I’ve got to get my kid off technology,” ask yourself -- do I really understand what it takes for my kid to be successful in getting off the technology?

 

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