For weeks I made empty threats. I told him “my patience is wearing thin and next time…”. Sound familiar. If your parenting a child older than 4 then I know you’re shaking your head “yup” “ah ha” “yes”.
This is such a crazy strange and uncertain time. We are all trying to navigate the blurred boundaries of where one role ends and another begins.
I am a therapist and during one of my sessions yesterday I had to tell my patient to “excuse me I have to go tell my child to stop doing something potentially dangerous” that I could see through the glass window of the home office we are currently staying. Outside of this Pandemic this would never have been a reality I would need to address. Because before this pandemic, we had clear delineation of our roles for work, school, social, or home life.
It’s month 4 here in the USA since we began recognizing and taking action against this very real yet invisible threat. As a therapist AND as a fellow human existing during this time it’s been a full throttle roller coaster ride. But I digress…
Yes, I finally ripped off the bandaid and took away my sons electronic privileges. Here’s what I learned…
1. Initially he got sour and mopey, but that didn’t last more than a couple hours. Then, he started playing with actual toys. He started seeking us out and being more engaged in conversations and wanting to spend time with us.
2. The very next day, he seemed to have a sense of relief. His personality was bigger in that he would talk, make jokes, share stories, ideas or ask questions. He was using his imagination to keep himself occupied. His thinking seemed less clouded and to have more room for thoughts and ideas. For weeks his thoughts were consumed with iPad, tv, or video games. It was a rush to get back to them no matter what and he was unfocused with tunnel vision.
3. He expressed more gratitude towards the things and people in his life. He was more thoughtful and took time to do things around the house or for us that we didn’t even ask. He was excited and eager to spend time with us.
4. When we did reintegrate technology back into his day he was more willing to accept the limits and to also express appreciation.
The point of this story is this:
Our children think they love having as much access to technology as they want. We convince ourselves we are bad parents when they have too much access and we are mean for taking it away. Consider these thoughts, as I did:
What if by taking it away you are giving them a gift? The gift of being more aware, the gift of feeling present and connected with others, the gift of using their imagination to create something that brings about a feeling of pride and confidence, the gift of the opportunity to do something for someone else which allows them to experience feelings of positive self worth and contribution.
What if you are being a kind and loving parent? The kind and loving parent who restricts use or access to technology because you want your child to experience other activities or opportunities to build inner growth, confidence and knowledge. The kind and loving parent who is teaching their child that there are other behaviors to reach for during challenging times that promote positive constructive coping.
What if you aren’t a bad parent because you’ve allowed your child too much screen time?
What if you are an awesome parent simply because you worry and are aware that too much screen time is detrimental for the growing impressionable mind?
What if you are an awesome parent because you are juggling working from home with every other role you play in life?
What if you are an awesome parent because you feel empathy and compassion for how challenging this time must be for your child too?
What if you are an amazing parent who is doing the best they can during an uncertain and challenging time?
If any part of this post resonates with you, take a moment to stop and appreciate this moment of reflective awareness. In this moment you can send some love and validation to yourself for how hard it is to navigate life during this time. In this moment you decide what to do next with greater clarity and intent for making a positive impact in both your and your child’s life.
You are strong, courageous, and absolutely capable of thriving during this time. You only need to set aside the constant judgement of yourself for how you are failing and celebrate all the ways you are succeeding.
You got this friend!