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Limited time: The 5-step strategy to setting effective limits with your child
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Inside: If you want to put an end to screen-time battles and limit screen-time without power struggles, here is an easy idea that works wonders in teaching kids how to manage their own screen-time!
“It’s not fair that you always get to decide!” – This is what my son told me with an angry look on his face when I told him that he couldn’t use his tablet that day.
During the summertime, we agreed that he could have 30 minutes of screen time every day after he comes home from summer day camp. He usually used them to either watch an episode of a cartoon on Netflix or play on his tablet. One day he wanted to watch a long movie and came up with the idea of using his screen time for the next days in advance.
I liked how creative he was with finding a solution, and I gladly agreed. Our agreement was that he can watch the movie and then skip screen time for the next 2 days.
Everything went great the first day, but then on the second day, he came up with the idea of using screen time in advance from other days as well instead of listening to our agreement to skip that day’s screen time.
Although I liked the idea of offering him flexibility and teaching him to manage his own screen time, I could also see a “tricky” trend of using screen time in advance and losing track of how much time he actually spends in front of screens.
I knew that the fact I had full control of his screen time was frustrating for him, so I promised him to find a solution that would work for both of us.
Luckily, as I was looking for a solution, another mom from the park told me about her way of managing screen time. She was using screen time coupons as rewards for her kids, and they were in charge of how to use them.
⭐ Although the idea of using screen time as a reward didn’t resonate with me (here is why), I loved the idea of using screen time tickets! So I decided to implement this strategy in a way that felt okay for both me and my son.
How we use weekly coupons to limit screen time without a struggle
To make this idea work for us, I first talked about it with my son. I asked him if he would like to be in charge of his screen time and have more flexibility, and told him that we could use weekly coupons that he can manage on his own. He gladly agreed and this strategy turned out to work perfectly for us!
⭐ Here is how we implemented it:
- Every Sunday evening during our family meeting, he receives all the coupons for next week. During the summer he receives 7 coupons, but this will change after he starts school.
- He can use the coupons anytime during the week following our family’s screen time rules (I’ll include them below). He can save the coupons if he wants and use them in a different week, but he cannot ask for tickets in advance from future weeks.
- When he wants to use a coupon he simply handles it to me (or his dad) and gets 30 minutes of screen time. He can use several coupons at once if he wants. We use a timer to make sure that he knows when the time ends. (We either use the timer on our phones or a cute frog timer that he bought from a store.)
- Once he uses all the weekly coupons he doesn’t receive any new coupons until Sunday, and he knows that this is a non-negotiable rule.
What are our family’s rules for screen time
The general rules that we follow for screen time in our family are:
- We carefully select the programs our child has access to. If he sees an app or cartoon at one of his friends we check it out and see if we can include it on our list as well.
- We don’t use screen time as punishments or rewards.
- We talk with our child about the effects that screen time has on our brains and why it’s important to limit the time we spend in front of screens and only choose high-quality content. This helps him understand why limits are important and makes him more willing to listen to them.
- We don’t use screens in the first part of the morning or before bedtime (when it overstimulates the brain and makes going to sleep harder). Also, we never use screens during dinner or our daily family time in the evening.
I talked more about these rules and how we put them into practice in this article about dealing with screen-time in a balanced manner.
Other ways we include screen time in our family activities: Usually, we have a weekly family movie night that doesn’t require him to use any screen time coupons. Also, we sometimes invite him to watch TV shows with us and this doesn’t count towards the coupons either. (The last show we watched together was Master Chef Junior and we all really enjoyed it.)
How to start using screen time coupons to teach your kids to manage their own screen time
If you like this idea and you want to try it with your kids, here are a few steps to follow to put it into practice:
- Download the printable screen time coupons below.
- Decide how many coupons you want to offer your kids every week, then print them. (For siblings you can personalize the coupons by adding their names on the blue space on the right side of the coupon.
- Decide on a specific time every week when you will offer them to your kids. If you host a weekly family meeting, you can use that opportunity to hand them the coupons. If not, you can set a reminder on your phone every Sunday evening and give them the weekly coupons then.
- Talk to your kids about the coupons and agree with them on a set of rules for using them.
That’s all! The idea is very easy to put into practice and it can finally put an end to any screen time battles in your home!
How to download the printable screen time coupons
You can download the printable coupons using the link below.
You can print them on cardboard paper or laminate them to make the more durable and reuse them for a longer period of time.
I hope that your kids will enjoy this idea and that this simple strategy will work great for your family!
More parenting tips
- Allowance for kids: How to teach kids about money the right way
- The 5 powerful things that will help your child be more independent
>> Want to remember this? Save this idea to your favorite Pinterest board!
preview photo from depositphotos.com