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We have a very ADD 10 year old. He will do almost any chores to get to have screen time. I’m not sure how much it will work in the future as he gets older, and my husband works from home and I am home with his siblings, so it may not work for you… But for now this is what’s working:
First, we never allow screens in the morning before school. I’ve noticed it speeds up all of the kids’ brains and makes them impatient at school and dissatisfied with life in general. Even for myself being ADD I don’t allow myself to turn on cartoons for my preschooler until after lunch or at least mid morning. The television can’t turn on until 1030 am. It’s on a power timer. 😉 This helps everyone on weekdays because it takes away the option to watch it play devices.
I try not to have any screens after school on school nights, but this gets relaxed and then things get crazy and we get strict again. So, Sunday through Thursday night the rules are no screens without permission but flexible to a point. But for us, they have to play with a friend or play outside or build something, do a chore and wash a half load of dishes, have a straightened room with any clean laundry out away, and homework done. Usually, I require a few minutes if piano practice as well. Then screens can be played some before dinner.
Our kids have to retrieve their tablet from my husband’s office, so they don’t have regular access. They are mostly loaded with educational games.
We have Republic Wireless Relays instead of phones. They’re like cellular walkie talkies. They have 3 buttons and no screens. Works great for us. We have no intention of giving our children phones.
We do have a wii, Wii u, and children’s computer. These all have to be accessed with permission after completing the above. And sometimes the answer is just no when it distracts someone else, or no one is cleaning up after themselves or responding when asked to do something. And they still get distracted or non responsive when they’re sucked into something and won’t stop long enough to talk to me for a minute. And sometimes that means we turn the screens off, or take a break from reading, or whatever is too engrossing to deal with real life.
Saturday is usually major work day, so screens can be rewarded for the whole afternoon as soon as everything is caught up (mowing lawns, pickup and vacuum every space, dishes, laundry, bathrooms, bedrooms, etc.) I don’t know if it’s just my five ADD kids, but they can destroy a clean house faster than I can clean one room. The screens are Very motivating for our oldest son. So getting his jobs done earlier motivates him very well.
In the summer time, I have a huge checklist of things before they can screen time from between 1-2 hours. We also share time or everyone fights and gets mean. It’s just not worth it. There’s lists on Pinterest if you need inspiration.
Someday, we may have to change what we’re doing again. Originally we only allowed screens on Friday and Saturday nights (non school) and that adjusted. For now, teaching them that they are a fun reward when all the other priorities are completed has worked well for my oldest. It’s less motivating for my daughters. So we use other things. And I have educational shows that each preschooler (when they were home) enjoys after lunch for an hour or two some days. Hopefully this is helpful. And good luck. Screen withdrawals have been ugly at our house!
I will add, there are many things technology can do. My son has asked me for extra things to create stop motion animation, to learn how to code on code.org, or do some other learning things, or watch how to make something on YouTube. I try to allow this use of technology as a tool as much as possible (after homework and chores of course).
Technology can also be locked down in more ways than you can imagine. If you can dream it up, it’s probably been done.