How do you set boundaries around screens for your teenagers during the coronavirus pandemic?
That is today's question on Tips on Teens, where every Wednesday at noon, I answer your parenting
questions live here on Facebook Live. My name is Kent Toussaint. I'm a licensed marriage and
family therapist. I'm the founder and clinical director of Teen Therapy Center, and I'm the
executive director of the nonprofit organization, Child and Teen Counseling, both here in
Woodland Hills, California. Let's jump to your question for this week. We have a limit on phone
-laptop time in our household. Our kids, two high schoolers, both have phones and laptops,
but we asked them to primarily use their electronics for schoolwork. We fought about it a lot
in the past, but finally seemed to hit a middle ground. Their school switched to online learning,
so now both girls are at home and on their phones and laptops all day. We know their school is giving
than usual, but we're worried the girls are using this as a way to ignore the household limit
on screen time. How do we bring this up without it turning into a screaming match? Very apropos
question for today. There's a lot of things about this question. First, how do you bring it up?
I think you bring it up directly, but you also bring it up calmly. You stay calm. Your teenage
girls may not stay calm. You can't control whether they're going to stay calm or not. All you
can control is you. If you approach it calmly and respectfully, they might follow suit. They
might not, but at least they're recognizing that you are in some area in the back of their head.
Again, this may be a journey. This may not just be one conversation. This may be several conversations.
So, you have to be patient with this. And one thing you say in this email is that you guys had it
down pretty well. So I would want to focus on what was working then. How did you guys make it work
then and how can you incorporate that
in now? Now there are some problems. Obviously everyone's on lockdown so they're not seeing
their friends as much. They're probably getting a lot of FOMO, you know, fear of missing out.
All their friends are online all the time. They feel like they have this limited window and they
feel like when they're not there their friends are engaging with each other, having fun with
each other, and they're missing out. And so there may be an opportunity for them to negotiate
and earn more screen time. Notice I said earn and not just give. Perhaps they get more involved
in some household chores or something. Now they will need screens more because of their homework
and their schoolwork and I totally get that. And maybe you guys negotiate something on that
during the school time you know from 8 to 3 or whenever they're doing their schoolwork because
I know they're not gonna have as much schoolwork as they had before. That's what it sounds like
from all my clients. It's less. Maybe at those times they're
doing their homework in a common area, like the kitchen table, the dining room table, something
like that, where you can easily walk by and see if they're on Snapchat or not, or see if they're
on YouTube. And if they are, you need to intervene. But usually, if they're in a public area,
there's less of a chance of them doing that. And then, when they want to have their private time
with their friends, you carve out when that time is. If they want to earn more time, you know,
everyone's in the house more, so the house is getting messier. Maybe they're helping out in
the house a little more. But again, you want to make it a win -win situation for so everyone is
a compromise. So everyone has a win. It's not the girls getting all they want. It's not you, the
parents, getting all you want. It's finding a middle because you all have to live together.
And reducing the conflict is beneficial for everyone. Having a high conflict home does not
help. It's not gonna help them cooperate. You know, coming
in with a hammer is not gonna help them cooperate. It's gonna make them rebel even more. So, making
sure that you have some quality family time. Now, teenagers are naturally distancing themselves
away from parents, and that's totally normal, but there are meal times. There are family times.
Hey, let's break out the board game. Let's bake cookies together. Let's take a walk. Let's go
on a hike. You can still go outside. You're not trapped in your house. You can still go outside
and take a walk as long as you keep six feet from other people and don't start licking, you know,
telephone poles. I think you'll be okay. So make sure you're taking care of yourself. Make sure
that you're staying calm. This is a crazy time for everyone. We're all going through this together.
We all feel stressed. We all feel confused. We all are worried about what's going to happen next.
And your kids may be suffering from that. You may be suffering from that. I think everyone's
suffering from that. And it's important
that we're doing our own self -care to make sure that we're staying calm so we can stay calm for
our kids. Because if we're not, then we're all 16 -year -olds fighting. You know, if you and your
16 -year -old are yelling at each other, no one's the calm adult in the room, and your 16 -year
-old is not qualified. So it's important for us as parents to make sure that we are taking care
of ourselves so we can stay calm. And so that is our question for today. Thank you very much. We'll
be right back here next Wednesday at noon. Great social distancing. I'm at least six feet away
from you here, over here, and where you are, wherever you are. So, so thanks for tuning in. We'll
tune in next week. If you have a question, please send it to us at tipsonteens at teentherapycenter
.com. And I see a message right here, thank you Kent from Gina. Gina, you're welcome, thanks
for tuning in. If you have a question, email it to us or direct message us right here on Facebook.
And again, my name is Kent Toussaint
from Teen Therapy Center and I will see you guys next week. Bye bye.
Now that most schools have closed and moved classes online, parents and kids alike are experiencing new challenges as they adjust to learning digitally. This week’s Tips On Teens question is from a family wondering how to uphold their limited screen time rule for their daughters, while still giving them enough space to complete their homework:
“We have a limit on phone/laptop time in our household. Our kids (2 high schoolers) both have phones and laptops, but we ask them to primarily use their electronics for school work. We fought about it A LOT in the past but finally seemed to hit a middle ground. Their school switched to online learning, so now both girls are at home and on their phones/laptops ALL day. We know their school is giving homework digitally so they will need their devices more than usual, but we’re worried the girls are using this as a way to ignore the household limit on screen time. How do we bring this up without it turning into a screaming match?”
Tips On Teens is a vlog that our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint, hosts every Wednesday at 12:00pm on Facebook Live. He will be answering parenting questions submitted to us by you to our email at TipsOnTeens@TeenTherapyCenter.com. Send us any questions you might have about parenting kids and teens and Kent will be answering them every week!
Head on over to our Facebook page every Wednesday at 12:00pm to watch LIVE! Check out our page here – https://www.facebook.com/TeenTherapyCenter/
If you have more questions or would like more information, please contact our Clinical Director, Kent Toussaint at 818.697.8555.