Tuesday, October 17, 2017

Too Much Screen Time??

"Screen Time" is a term given to any activity done in front of a screen, such as watching TV, working on a computer, using a tablet or playing video games.  Screen time is essentially a sedentary activity, meaning you are usually sitting down and physically inactive while engaged in screen time.

Most American children spend about 3 hours a day watching TV.  Add to that all other types of screen time and it can total 5 to 7 hours a day! Excessive screen time can make it hard for your child to sleep at night.  It can also raise the risk of attention problems, anxiety, depression and poor academic performance.  The more time your child spends watching a screen, the less time he spends being physically active and this can lead to obesity.  TV commercials and other screen ads can lead to unhealthy food choices, as the ads aimed at kids often promote food that is high in sugar, salt or fats.  Children tend to eat more when watching TV, especially when the see ads for food.

The American Academy of Pediatrics suggests children under age 2 should have no screen time at all.  Parents should instead encourage more interactive activities, such as playing and talking.  Children over age 2 should be limited to 1 to 2 hours a day.  Videos aimed at very young children do not improve their development despite what advertisements say.

Tips to Cut Down on Screen Time

Don't allow TV, computers, or gaming systems in your child's bedroom.

Put computers and TV where you can keep an eye on what kids are viewing.

No TV during meals, homework, or when getting ready for school in the morning.

Don't use the TV as a babysitter. 

Don't leave the TV on for background noise.  Try the radio or none at all.

Don't let children eat while watching TV or using the computer.

Decide what programs to watch ahead of time, turn the TV off when those programs are over.

Watch programs with your kids and talk about what you see, such as family values or bullies.

Suggest other family activities, such as board games, puzzles or going for a walk.

Keep a record of screen time and try to spend as much time being active.

If it is too hard not having the TV on, try using a sleep function that turns it off automatically.

Challenge your family to go one week without watching TV or other screen time activities.

Allow your child to be bored!  This is when they learn to be creative and develop the ability to engage in meaningful play. 

As a parent, limit the time you spend watching TV or on your phone.  Children will model their parents' behavior.  Perhaps this is the most important tip to help your children have healthy technology habits.  They will follow your lead!

Find activities to do with your free time that will get your family moving and burning energy.  This could be as simple as taking a walk, or hike down a nature trail.  Going in your backyard and doing cartwheels, or planting flowers.  The possibilities are endless when it comes to children!

Limiting screen time is a challenge for all of us! The most important thing is that we are mindful of what our children are doing and helping them to develop in the best possible way.  No one is perfect at it but we can all help and encourage each other to keep trying.  We hope this helps!


Tuesday, October 10, 2017

Temper Tantrums

Most parents wish they could disappear or become invisible when their child has a tantrum in public.  Onlookers can be very judgmental, thinking that the child is spoiled and unruly or the parents are doing a poor job.  Actually, neither of those notions are the case.  Tantrums are common in children from ages 1 to 4 years old.  They don't happen because the child deliberately wants to cause a scene, or because the parents have been lax in disciplining the child.  The usual case is due to the child's frustration in not being able to express what they want.

A child throwing a tantrum can become quite animated, literally throwing themselves on the floor, flailing the arms and legs, pinching, scratching, hitting or biting.  They have lost the ability to express what they want and temporarily loose all control.  Here are 10 tips to tame your child's tantrums:

Ignore the tantrum

In the middle of a tantrum emotions have taken over, that's why trying to reason with him won't work.  Once the child calms down then you can talk.  If the tantrum is happening in public or someplace other than your own home, try to isolate the child in a quiet place.

Give them space

Sometimes a kid just needs a way to get his anger out, so let him.  Make sure there is nothing in the area he could get hurt on, and other than that don't get involved.  Once he gets his feelings out, he will be able to calm himself and regain self-control.

Create a diversion

Act quickly to help your child forget that meltdown she just had.  Whether it is pulling out toys from your purse, offering a snack, or quickly changing activities, any of these methods can help head off a tantrum or calm a child after the fact.

Discipline without spanking

Spanking doesn't teach a child what he did wrong or what behavior is acceptable.  Instead it teaches a child that his parents will hurt him if they don't like his behavior.  After the child has had time to calm down, explain why his behavior was unacceptable, and suggest other ways he can make his needs known.

Find out what is really frustrating your child

Kids under 2 years of age usually have a 50 word vocabulary.  It is often hard for them to express what they want.  They may be tired, hungry, feeling ill, or just trying to get a certain toy.  Teaching your child how to sign a few basic words such as food, milk, more , tired, Mom, Dad, all done, can help your child express her needs when she can't speak them.


It may seem like the last thing you'd want to do, but a good firm hug is really reassuring to a child and can help them settle down quickly.  Don't talk, it might turn into a battle of wills, just wrap your arms around your child in a good sturdy hug.

Do they need a snack or a nap?

Two of the biggest tantrum triggers are being tired or hungry.  When a child is physically in this state, any little thing can send them over the edge.  If you see this happening around the same time every day, it might be wise to schedule a snack of nap everyday to reduce tantrum triggers.

Behavior incentives

Sometimes kids will be more inclined to be on their best behavior if they know a reward in involved.  Recognizing their best behavior if they know a reward is involved.  Recognizing that some situations are difficult for kids, like being quiet in church, staying seated at a restaurant, or not shining at the grocery store, and offering a "bribe" ahead of time will often result in good behavior.  The time for negotiations however, is before the event, not in the middle of a full blown tantrum.  For example, "If you can stay in your seat and behave at the restaurant, Mommy will make popcorn and watch a video with you when we get home."

Speak calmly

This is difficult in the heat of the moment, but it is the best thing you can do during a child's tantrum.  If you loose your cool, the situation will only escalate into a power struggle that no one wins.  What your child wants at this point is 100% of your attention.  Talking calmly shows your child that you are not going to let her behavior get to you.  Surprisingly, if you speak in a calm manner it will help you stay calm, when what you'd really like to do is yell right back.

Change locations

Quickly getting your child away from the scene of the tantrum can often snap them out of it.  If your child starts melting down over something he wants at the store, take him to a quiet corner of the store or outside until he calms down.  If he does it again, remain calm, and follow the same strategy.

We hope this was helpful!