Too Much Screen Time

Screen time is a huge problem, in most families. Hours a day in front of the television isn’t uncommon.  How you police your children about screen time? How do you get them to stop watching SO MUCH television, mindlessly surfing? How do you motivate them to watch less? This article is to help you create strategies for less screen time. 

  • Let’s first talk about what NOT to do. Stop harping about the television. Just think about what happens when you urge your child to eat more or eat more of that one thing. What happens? They stall and won’t. So what does work? When you notice that they DID eat the vegetable.
  • So, now what to do: 
  • Make a New Rule (the New Rule is that you have to do three things off your chore list to get 1/2 hour of Screen Time, for instance). Now that you have created a rule, how do you get them to take seriously?
  • You notice when they do the three chores without any whining or they turn the screen off right away when the 1/2 hour is up. You restate the rule at odd times (not when the TV is on or when they are doing the chores – but at more neutral times). You descriptively praise any step in the right direction. Descriptive Praise means that you notice and mention EXACTLY what they are doing right, even if it is only a LITTLE right. Like, that they repeated the rule to you. Or, that they stopped whining about not getting any TV before the chores are done. 

Turn off the TV with a new rule, Master Parenting

In conclusion, Screen Time has to be limited and earned. When they EARN television privileges, they are much more responsible and cooperative. How long should it take them to get used to the new rule and become more responsible? This takes weeks – not much more than that. Good luck! 


How do you get your child away from the screen if he is addicted?

Limiting Screen Time is becoming increasingly important – this means games, television and computers, too. There are easier ways to do this than just pulling the plug. How easy depends on what kind of temperament your child has. Do you expect drama around the television being turned off? Then make a new rule (not while he is watching it). Tell him that screen time will be limited to two shows a day that he chooses before he sits down and he cannot watch it until he feeds the dog, does his homework and takes out the recycle bin. This is obviously an example, but if you enforce it, you’ll get more chores done and your children will get out from behind the television. And when your children earn television, they are more likely to be cooperative and responsible.

  1. Do your children not eat their dinners, while the television is on? This is easy – no one should eat in front of the television as it makes mindless eaters out of us.
  2. Make sure that everyone that watches your children knows the New Rule, too. Even grandparents and babysitters.

Turn off the TV with a new rule, Master Parenting

If you police your children and the television, no one is going to enjoy it, least of all you. So, motivate your children to do other things to get to the screen. And motivation to do the right thing starts with Routines. Routines don’t take more than a few weeks to learn and accept. And that time can go much faster if you use a LOT of Descriptive Praise about how they are adjusting to the New Rule, remembering the New Rule, etc. etc.

Good Luck!


From CNN: Are we SPANKING the gray matter out of our kids?

Spanking the gray matter out of our kids

Master Parenting, Spanking the Grey Matter our of our Kid's Brains

By Sarah Kovac, of CNN

“The more you physically punish your children for their lack of self-control, the less they have,” Sarah Kovac says.

How to discipline the next generation is a hotly debated topic. In 2012, a national survey showed more than half of women and three-quarters of men in the United States believe a child sometimes needs a “good hard spanking.”

Science tells a different story. Researchers say physical punishment actually alters the brain — not only in an “I’m traumatized” kind of way but also in an “I literally have less gray matter in my brain” kind of way.

“Exposing children to HCP (harsh corporal punishment) may have detrimental effects on trajectories of brain development,” one 2009 study concluded.

Harsh corporal punishment in the study was defined as at least one spanking a month for more than three years, frequently done with objects such as a belt or paddle. Researchers found children who were regularly spanked had less gray matter in certain areas of the prefrontal cortex that have been linked to depression, addiction and other mental health disorders, the study authors say.

The researchers also found “significant correlations” between the amount of gray matter in these brain regions and the children’s performance on an IQ test.

Several other studies support these findings. A 2010 study published in Pediatrics found that frequent — more than twice in the previous month — spanking when a child was 3 was linked to an increased risk for higher levels of child aggression when the child was 5.

Another, from the Journal of Aggression, Maltreatment and Trauma, found that corporal punishment doled out from the mother was independently related to a decrease in cognitive ability relative to other children. Corporal punishment had the largest effect on children 5 to 9.

Behind all this science-speak is the sobering fact that corporal punishment is damaging to children. That gray matter we’ve been spanking out of them? It’s the key to the brain’s ability to learn self-control.

“The more gray matter you have in the decision-making, thought-processing part of your brain (the prefrontal cortex), the better your ability to evaluate rewards and consequences,” write the authors of a 2011 study that appeared in the Journal of Cognitive Neuroscience.

The sad irony is that the more you physically punish your kids for their lack of self-control, the less they have. They learn how to be controlled by external forces (parents, teachers, bosses), but when the boss isn’t looking, then what?

Elizabeth Gershoff, an associate professor at the University of Texas at Austin, has been studying corporal punishment for 15 years, and is known as the leading researcher on spanking in the United States today. Over the years, Gershoff has done a systematic review of the hundreds of studies on the effects of corporal punishment.

“There’s no study that I’ve ever done that’s found a positive consequence of spanking,” Gershoff said. “Most of us will stop what we’re doing if somebody hits us, but that doesn’t mean we’ve learned why somebody hit us, or what we should be doing instead, which is the real motive behind discipline.”

Initially it was believed that spanking, at the very least, was associated with immediate compliance in children, and that parental warmth would buffer any harmful effects.

But the finding that spanking produced compliance “was overly influenced by one study,” Gershoff said; it turns out spanking “doesn’t make your kids better behaved. You think it does. … It doesn’t.”

What is spanking associated with? Aggression. Delinquency. Mental health problems. And something called “hostile attribution bias,” which causes children, essentially, to expect people to be mean to them.

This bias makes the world feel especially hostile. In turn, children are on edge and ready to be hostile back. Over time, across cultures and ethnicities, the findings are consistent: Spanking is doing real, measurable damage to the brains of our children.

And yet in 19 states, Gershoff notes, it is still legal for schools to paddle children.

For those thinking, “I was spanked, and I turned out fine,” or, “I spank my kids and they’re great!” consider that you don’t know who you would be or how your children would behave in a world without spanking.

It could be that your children are thriving not because you spank, but in spite of it.


If you have tried everything…IS Spanking the Last Resort?

Most parents that I speak with feel regret, when they spank. They always feel that that there must be another method of discipline. I agree. And here is why:

Spanking doesn’t work. Oh, believe me, it will stop a kid in their tracks to hear the word “Spanking.” But, it is temporary. And it doesn’t teach children to control their behavior, internally (which is every parent’s goal). In fact, spanking may teach your child to fear you! Finally, and this is the worst news: spanking teaches children that it’s all right to hit, and that it’s all right to be hit. Is that what you want to teach your child?

Hitting isn’t a suitable means of solving problems. For children or parents. Here are other solutions.

  • Use a Time In – this is a time when there is little or no interaction from either of you – but the child stays in one spot.
  • Call a ReDo. Let the child do an instant replay – doing the activity the way that he was taught – using his words, for example.
  • Tell the child YOU need a Time Out – and go cool yourself down. Then come in and explain that you were really upset but you don’t want to hit or hurt your child, so you needed to take some deep breaths, count to ten and run some water to get yourself in a place to be able to use your words – remember: children learn what they SEE, not hear.
  • Use tons and tons of Descriptive Praise when your child does bits and pieces of what you want them to do more of. This goes much farther than a spanking. And if you are dealing with a specific misbehavior – make sure you catch them doing less of that (i.e. controlling themselves or being patient or taking turns, etc.).

Yelling, spanking, and time-outs create a child who operates out of fear of being punished, not out of an internal desire to do the right thing.

If you treat your children with love and respect on a regular basis, occasional yelling or a fit of anger will not harm (especially if you appologise, afterwards), but striking them might. If you are having difficulty figuring out how to follow through with Consequences without hitting, it is time to talk.

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Too Much Candy for Halloween – what is a parent to do?

This is one of those situations that you should probably discuss BEFORE they go Trick Or Treating – as to take the candy away, now, you’re going to end up the Bad Guy!

But, all is not lost, and there is a teachable moment, left.

  • You can let them eat one piece of candy after every meal until it is gone.
  • The New Rule Is – can be created anytime that is neutral (Example: choose 4 pieces and donate the rest).
  • You can bribe the kids with MONEY – most dentists buy back the candy after Halloween to send to the Troops.
  • You can eat the best candy, tonight, while they are all asleep – and then donating the rest to Operation Gratitude.

Candy Buy Back Halloween

Do what you like, but certainly don’t let your children eat all that candy! Their behavior will not be pretty, they will not be getting quality nutrition and all those empty calories — eeeesh!

Need more help? I am here to help, offer hope, and help your family life move toward a better life with new boundaries and more cooperation. Fill out the contact form or book a coaching session.