If you have a teenager with a phone, you have at one time or another said, “Put down your phone and talk to me, look at me, or just do something!” Your teen probably responded with an eye roll or a smart comment. You are sick of nagging them, and you just want them to put that phone down with out a fight. Read on to find 5 easy ways to get your teen to put down their phone.
It may take some time to build a new relationship with their phone, but it will be well worth it for the both of you. Teens are striving to be independent, but at the same time still need guidance from you.
Set expectations around phone usage
Instead of rules, which need to be managed and can be broken, leading to more conflict, create expectations for phone usage. With expectations, children have to rise up to meet them, instead of being told what to do. Expectations also allow family members to hold each other accountable.
Create these expectations together. Listen to your child if they don’t agree with an expectation and come to an agreement that the whole family can follow. An example of an expectation is that there will be no phones at the dinner table. Or another expectation is that when a parent needs to talk with a child, the child gives their parent uninterrupted time (not distracted by phones) This may happen later, at an agreed upon time.
If an expectation is not working out, you will need to sit together as a family and discuss why it isn’t working. Listen to your child’s point of view and take that into consideration for a change.
Be a role model with your phone
Your child is constantly watching you and how you interact with your phone. It is important for them to see when and how you are using your phone. This means you will need to follow all family expectations at all times.
You may wish to show your priorities with phone usage and not use your phone during family time, while watching your child’s activities, or during family dinners. If you get to check your phone because of work, you need to remember not to have a social conversation. A social conversation, to a teenager, is just as important to them as work is to you. If you don’t have to follow the expectations, why should your child?
Change your Mindset for phone usage
Often times parents see phones as a distraction for kids. Something that isn’t supporting their well being. Instead, you should take the time to understand why they are using their phone so much. Once you understand why, you can help change how they use it.
Is your child using their phone as a security blanket? For example, my daughter always has her phone with her so that she can listen to music. She needs this as a coping strategy when she is feeling stressed. We have therefore had to adjust our expectations on when and how she can use this tool.
Is your child having issues with friends? Is there drama in the text messages they are receiving and they feel they need to respond immediately? ou may need to help coach them on how to handle these situations.
Or maybe they are using their phone because they are struggling with not having many friends or only on social media. If this is the case, check out this article on how to help your teenager make friends to learn how you can help with this issue.
Lastly, technology can be a positive tool for your child. Many teenagers are using their phones for creative purposes, and not so much for plain consumption or a distraction. When you know what they are doing on their phones, you may be more willing to let them have time to use it for a positive purpose.
Build Self-Awareness to get your teen to put down phone
Help your child build self-awareness of how and when they are using technology. You can have them reflect on their own usage or do a study marking down how often they are on their phone and for what activities.
Help them understand what a healthy relationship with technology looks like. This goes back to being a good role model so that you practice what you preach. It is healthy to take a break from friends, and from texting. It is healthy to not be available 24 hours a day. They need to practice mindfulness over their own actions.
You can also help them to understand what an addiction to technology could look like. Usually the two main red flags of any addiction are when you know it is bad, but you keep doing it, and/or lying to family and friends about how often you are participating in the activity.
Plan Activities Without Technology
Lastly, you may need to help your child engage in alternative activities. They may not be motivated to do these things on their own. So sit down and plan what these activities could be. Maybe your child loves art and doesn’t spend much time painting anymore. Or maybe they used to play a game of basketball with you after dinner, but you have stopped that tradition.
Know your child, along with their likes and dislikes, and involve them in planning some activities. Have fun with these activities, as some of them could be family activities, or solo activities for your teen.
Breaking the cycle of overusing technology is hard to break. It will take patience for you and your teen to make changes. But, with consistency and a positive attitude, you will be able to help your child make healthier choices!