Q: [Toddlers/Preschool] “Screen-Free Week looms and our family pledged to participate with our older kids. Now I am wondering how to address it with my younger ones (18 months and 3 1/2)? I’m afraid I do take advantage of PBS-distraction while I scramble to get their older sibs out the door to school. Do I get a pass for having four kids? Kidding…kind of.”
A: Making a commitment to participate in Screen-Free Week is a great way for you and your children to unplug from the world of media and digital entertainment and focus on quality time together playing, exploring, creating and connecting. You do, however, bring up an interesting question – are there exceptions to the screen-free pledge you when it comes to your younger children?
Understandably, you have your hands full and getting out the door in the morning can be challenging and hectic. Nevertheless, you have a great opportunity with your pledge to teach your children some valuable lessons about commitment and follow through.
Abraham Lincoln said, “Commitment is what transforms a promise into reality.” Children need to learn that when we commit to do something, it is important to stick to it. A commitment means no excuses. It is a binding pledge that obligates you to carry out a course of set actions. Commitment is one of the most basic principles of success because it cultivates perseverance and responsibility.
One of the most important things you can do is set a good example for your children, even when difficult. They learn values from you. All the teaching in the world can be undone if your children see you do something that contradicts what you have said. If your actions are consistent with your words, then your message is going to be reinforced. The screen-free pledge will be most impactful if the whole family commits to the goal and participates.
The temptation to rely on media screens and digital devices to entertain your younger children is appealing; but with creative advanced planning, you can set up fun alternative activities better for developing brains. You will also be setting a good example for your older children in honoring the commitment you made.
Denise Lindsay is a licensed Marriage and Family Therapist who focuses on helping families strengthen and improve their relationships. A proud mother of three daughters, she believes that the joy of a well-balanced life does not simply happen to us, but must be purposefully chosen. www.deniselindsaycounseling.com