What This Is Like from Your Perspective



You’re fine with your kids being on their devices — heck, sometimes you’re downright grateful for it! But when you ask them to get off so they can do something else they’re supposed to do and they


whine and complain that they’re not done


start crying and acting like you asked them to put pokers in their eyes


…downright ignore you…


You become livid.  Not only are they being disrespectful, but they’re acting as if their game/show matters more than everything else.


You’re not sure how to teach them to be responsible and respectful when they have to stop playing or watching.




What This Is Like from Your Child’s Perspective



Children love their devices… Playing games and watching their favorite shows is a time when they feel really good (especially when they’re told what to do and how to act all day long).


And then, often when they are right in the middle of an episode or a level… they’re asked to stop. And they are beyond frustrated because:


… They’re not allowed to finish what they were doing (they’re told the timer went off so apparently it doesn’t matter what they were doing)


There’s nothing they can do about it (asking for more time only makes parents more upset at them)


…They’re not even allowed to be upset about being asked to get off (their parents tell them they’re acting spoiled)


Those emotions are so big that they don’t handle them well.


They whine, complain, meltdown, or even ignore you so they feel some sense of control. And things go downhill from there.









How It Usually Goes When We Ask Kids To Get

 Off of Electronics and They Don’t Listen



Scenario: Scott has been playing a video game for about an hour. His dad comes in to tell him to stop playing because he has to go to practice. Scott doesn’t acknowledge his dad.


Dad (yelling from the other room): Scott! 

Scott keeps playing.  

Dad: Scott! I told you to stop the game! You have to change for practice or we’ll be late.

Scott (disrespectfully): Dad! I’m almost DONE!

Dad: I don’t care if you’re almost done! Stop NOW!

Scott (as he continues to play): I AM stopping…

Dad (looks up from what he’s doing, sees Scott hasn’t stopped, and becomes furious): Scott! Get off of the game! We’re going to be late!!

Scott: I don’t care! It’s just stupid practice. It’s not even a game!

Dad: I don’t like your attitude, Scott! Practice is just as important as games.

Scott: No they’re not! That’s so dumb!

Dad (explodes): That’s it! If you don’t get off right now, you won’t have any more electronics this weekend!

Scott (screams): DAD!!!!

Dad (screams back): GO!!!!!!!!!​

Scott (screams): Fine, I’m going to stupid practice. But I’m not trying when I’m there. And there’s nothing you can do to make me…


Scott moves slowly toward his room to get ready for practice, as if to say “I’ll show you” to his dad.
Dad is livid. He doesn’t know how to get through to Scott, and he knows this is going to continue to happen. 



How It Could Go When We Ask Kids To Get

 Off of Electronics and They Don’t Listen



Scenario: Scott has been playing a video game for about an hour. His dad comes in to tell him to stop playing because he has to go to practice. Scott doesn’t acknowledge his dad.



Dad (yelling from the other room): Scott! 

Scott keeps playing.  

Dad walks over to where Scott is. He realizes that he is in the middle of a level on his game. He puts his hand on Scott’s shoulder to let him know he’s standing there.  

Scott looks up briefly.  

Dad: Hey Scott, we have to go… 

Scott: Just give me a sec. 

Dad: Scott, I wish I could. But we have to go.



Scott’s dad is frustrated that Scott isn’t listening immediately
He also knows that yelling at and threatening Scott won’t motivate him more. So he focuses on remaining calm himself (rather than on Scott’s behavior) so he can handle the situation effectively and model the behavior he wants to see in Scott.


Scott keeps playing. 

Dad (looking at what Scott is doing): Ah, I see are right in the middle of this level. It’s frustrating to be interrupted when you’re right in the middle of something. 

Instead of trying to convince Scott of his point of view, he sees the situation from Scott’s perspective. Scott truly is engaged in what he’s doing, and it really is difficult for him to just “stop.”


Scott: YES! So let me play.

Dad (firmly). I can’t, Bud. So you can put down your tablet or I can take it. (More lightheartedly):  But… I’m really curious how you got to this level? Last time we talked you were on level 2. Can you tell me how you got here? I’ll walk with you to go get changed so I can hear. 



As much as Scott’s dad respects Scott’s perspective, he still maintains his boundary.  He does not let Scott have extra time. Instead, he gives him tools to be successful by helping him transition out of the engaging task.


Scott (hands his dad the remote, almost without realizing it since is mind is still focused on the game): It was really cool, actually…

Scott starts to tell his dad about the game as he walks to get changed. 


If Scott still doesn’t stop playing, his dad will have to re-state his boundary, and he may even have to turn the game off. Scott will get upset, and his dad needs to be OK with that. Scott’s will travel the Yuck curve and eventually re-access the responsible part of his brain. 

In either case, Scott’s dad will need to use proactive problem-solving and transition techniques to prevent this situation in the future.







What YOU NEED (Proactively) 

For This To Work Better In the Moment


Scott’s dad was able to balance FIRMNESS with RESPECT when dealing with Scott’s behavior.


However, proactive actions will make all of the difference in whether you are able to stay calm, connect, and correct behavior effectively.


You will only be able to stay CALM if:


a.) your biological or emotional “needs accounts” are met (otherwise you won’t have a reserve to draw from and you’ll immediately go into Yuck) and


b.) you recognize and respect that your kids have have a different perspective and agenda than you do, and that their perspective and agenda matter to them.


When you make sure your own needs are met and you set realistic expectations PROACTIVELY, you are more likely to be able to stay calm.


You will only be able to CONNECT if:


a.) you respect that ALL behavior has a reason and


b.) you understand those reasons (in a case like this, that kids actually have trouble transitioning from one task to another, ESPECIALLY when they’re engaged)


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


You will only be able to CORRECT behavior if:


a.) You have demonstrated consistently in the past that you mean what you say when you set a boundary like “You need to stop playing now.”


b.) You have made enough deposits into your kids’ emotional needs that setting a boundary doesn’t put them immediately into Yuck.


When you demonstrate that you mean what you say and when you make deposits into your kids’ emotional needs PROACTIVELY, you  will be able to correct behavior more effectively.