What This Situation Is Like for Parents


You’re supportive of kids enjoying TV shows and their video games. You don’t even mind if they use electronics as a form of relaxation. (You can relate to that!)

But when being on electronics prevents them from doing what they have to do

… When you ask them to stop playing a game so they can come to the dinner table

… when they rush through homework so they can get online

… or when getting off of their electronics puts them in a nasty mood for the next few hours

You know that something has to change.

But asking them to turn off what they are doing only results in power struggles and unhappiness all around.


What This Situation Is Like for Children


Like parents, children also don’t enjoy that using electronics causes fights with their parents.

And sometimes they truly don’t get off of their electronics because they are intentionally defying us. (When they are low in their overall need for control, not doing something parents ask is a way of dealing with their Yuck!)

But there are other reasons that kids resist getting off of electronics:

Kids struggle to transition, ESPECIALLY when they are engaged in an activity. It’s even hard for ADULTS to disengage when we’re right in the middle of something… but because their brains are not fully developed, this skill is even harder for them  — especially if we haven’t taught them tools to make transitions easier.

Electronics are often where kids get their good feelings. Remember the 5 emotional needs? Any type of game can be a huge deposit into kids’ need for capability and control. And since most of the time when they’re not playing, they are experiencing withdrawals in this area, they are very drawn to those electronics that make them feel good in the moment.

But they aren’t aware of any of this… so all they do is act defiant or disrespectful when asked to stop doing what they’re doing.



How It Usually Goes

When A Child Won’t Get Off Of Their Electronics


Scenario: Ken has been watching a show for over an hour. It’s time for him to stop watching and to go a dentist appointment. But when his dad asks him to get off of his tablet, Ken ignores him.


Dad: Ken, it’s time to go.

Ken ignores his dad.

Dad (yelling, partly out of anger and partly to get Ken’s attention): Ken!

Ken: Fine! I’m stopping (Ken continues to watch).

Dad: Ken if you don’t get off, I’m going to turn that show off.

Ken (looks up): Dad, I’m right in the middle of this show. It’ll be done in 5 minutes.

Dad: We don’t have 5 minutes! We’re already late. Now GET OFF NOW. (Dad walks over to take away the tablet.)

Ken: Gets up and starts to walk away with the tablet.

Dad: Ken get OVER here.

Ken: Fine, Dad. Chill out. I’m stopping now!

Dad: You needed to stop the first time I asked.

Ken (sarcastically): Whatever.

Dad: Do not talk to me like that!

(The arguing continues).


How It Could Go

When A Child Won’t Get Off Of Their Electronics


Scenario: Ken has been watching a show for over an hour. It’s time for him to stop watching and to go a dentist appointment. But when his dad asks him to get off of his tablet, Ken ignores him.

Dad: Ken, it’s time to go.

Ken ignores his dad.


[expand title=”CALM”]

Ken’s dad is annoyed that Ken is not listening. Ken’s dad knows that a dentist appointment is more important than Ken’s shows.

He also realizes that if someone had to interrupt him while he was doing something, he might not jump to respond. He  knows that if he starts yelling at Ken, it won’t motivate him to get to the dentist more quickly. [/expand]


Dad (walks over to Ken and puts his hand on his arm): Excuse me, Ken.

Ken: One sec…

Dad: Ah, you’re in the middle of this scene. (He watches what’s going on for one moment.) Oh, that guy is REALLY mad at that guy, isn’t he?


[expand title=”CONNECT”]

Instead of insisting that his own agenda was more important than Ken’s, Ken’s dad thought about what was going on in Ken’s world. He understands that when Ken is in the middle of something, he will struggle to transition. He knows that respecting Ken’s perspective is more likely to motivate Ken than telling him why he is wrong.

He also knows that treating Ken with respect sets the foundation for his healthy self-esteem.  [/expand]


Ken: Yup! That big guy stole the other guy’s car…

Dad: Why don’t you tell me about it as we walk to the car? We have to go to the dentist.


[expand title=”CORRECT STEP 1″]

Ken’s dad recognized that Ken might need help transitioning from the task that he was engaged in. He knew that if he talked to Ken about what he was doing as they transitioned to the task he HAD to do, Ken would comply. When he considered what was going on under Ken’s behavior, he could give him a tool to be successful. [/expand]


Ken: Aw, Dad!

Dad (starts walking to the car): I know…. So who stole whose car? And why?

Ken starts to talk to his dad as he follows him to the car. 


…And if Ken STILL doesn’t stop watching 

  • Ken’s dad needs to re-state his boundary
  • Ken will get upset while his dad remains firm. That will allow him to release his Yuck.
  • When he is upset, Ken’s dad does not need to defend his position. He just needs to let him be upset.
  • Once he has released his Yuck, he is more likely to get off of his electronics even if only because they know his dad won’t budge.


[expand title=”CORRECT STEP 2″]

Ken’s dad recognizes that Ken will NOT act positively, think rationally, solve problems while in Yuck.

Ken needs to release his Yuck so that he can do what he needs to do, even if he doesn’t want to.   [/expand]



How to Make This Strategy Work

The “proactive deposits” discussed in the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap will make all of the difference in how this situation plays out in the moment.

If you want to be able to handle the situation when your child is not motivated to get off of electronics, remember:


[expand title=”Depositing into CALM”]


Ken’s dad will not be able to stay calm if

a.) his own biological or emotional “needs accounts” are low or

b.) he has the expectation that Ken is going to prioritize doing something he doesn’t care about over finishing his TV show.

When he makes sure his own needs are met and sets realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, Ken’s dad is more likely to be able to stay calm.

See Step 1 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap for help meeting your needs and setting expectations proactively so you can stay calm. [/expand]


[expand title=”Depositing into CONNECT”]

Ken’s dad will be able to connect if

a.) he respects that all behavior has a reason and

b.) he understands those reasons (in this case, Ken will have a hard time transitioning from something he is engaged in).

When he becomes comfortable with the reasons behind behavior PROACTIVELY, he will be able to connect more effectively.

See Step 2 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap to learn the reasons for children’s behavior so you can connect more effectively. [/expand]


[expand title=”Depositing into CORRECT”]

Ken’s dad will be able to correct behavior by offering a tool of

a.) He has demonstrated consistently in the past that he means what he says when he tells Ken to get off of the electronics. (If Ken thinks he can get around this, he will try to.)

b.) He has made enough deposits into Ken’s emotional needs that setting a boundary doesn’t make Ken instinctively want to resist.

When he demonstrates that he means what he says and when he makes deposits into Ken’s emotional needs PROACTIVELY, he will be able to correct Ken’s behavior more effectively.

See Step 3 of the Parenting by Deposit Roadmap  to learn more about improving your influence so you can correct behavior. [/expand]