“My kid already has a cell phone. It’s too late to take it away.”
“My kids are already heavily into _________ (video game). It’s too late to stop it.”
Knowing Love and Logic, what would you guess we are going to say about this? You got it – IT’S NOT TOO LATE TO SET LIMITS!
Will it be tougher once some things are already in motion? Absolutely. Are there still battles we absolutely need to fight and win? 100% YES!
What might this look like in your house? Every home is different, but we can give you some general ideas that have been useful in other households.
1. Make the Timing Work for You
Some parents decide to take care of video game problems while kids are out of the house (at school or somewhere else). The kids come home and the game system is gone. It’s nowhere around. They might keep it safe at a friend’s house. They might also have some additional support (emotional or other) around when the kids come home that day and throw a fit.
2. If You Aren’t an IT Person, Get Help from a Non-kid
Many parents have told us they did a favor for a tech-savvy friend who agreed to help them set up internet access, phone access, monitoring systems, passwords and more. Too many families have their teen as their IT person and then are helpless when it’s time to turn off, pause or limit access to a service. It’s best when we are able to pause or block service on short notice from our own device. The tech-savvy friend can also help mitigate problems like “I need it for school/homework” by having options already in place.
3. Be Willing to Take the Phone Away
We provide these devices as long as they don’t cause problems. When they cause problems, we must take the device away. Yes, some kids will try to punish us emotionally. Yes, some kids will threaten that we won’t be able to find/contact them when we need to. Some parents decide to have a phone with limited calling (these are often much cheaper) available to mitigate that problem. There are plenty of excuses to be found if we look for them. The bottom line is that we are the adults, we are the leaders in the home and we pay for/provide these things for our kids. There is a remarkable history of kids getting cell phones taken away because they were abusing the privilege in some way and 1) Surviving the ordeal and 2) Being more responsible when they got the privilege back.
4. Wait Longer Than You Think to Return the Privilege
One other common mistake we see made is giving in to pressure and returning the device or access to service too soon. The adults need to decide the limit and the expectation – and it’s ok to be vague so that you are in total control of the expectation. We like the phrase “when I don’t have to worry about …” instead of a time period like a week (not long enough in most cases).
We know a mom who said, I’ll discuss returning the game system when I don’t worry so much about siblings fighting over it.” When her kids asked when that would be, she asked, “What kinds of things would help me worry about that less?” The kids decided that if they were fighting less about other things, that would be a good sign. And mom got some bonus benefits.
You can do this! Make a plan. Get help from friends. Remember to set limits using enforceable statements such as “I provide phones as long as they aren’t a problem” – and then hope you get a chance to follow through with action. The action you take now will pay off in the long run. It is not too late to reclaim some sanity in your home.
For more, check out the audio Teens and Technology.
Thanks for reading!