"Dad, can I play on your iPhone?" How many times have we heard
this? Today, it's a huge challenge to get kids to handle a 5-minute
drive anywhere without an electronic device in hand.
Let's be honest, quiet kids make for a much more pleasant drive
anywhere! But there are actually times when we as parents would
like to have a conversation with our children. So where is the
balance? What do you do when you want to say "no" to the
electronics, but seriously want to avoid the attitude from your
child that comes with that denial of entertainment?
Well, you can't just say "stop" to a behavior, without providing
an alternative choice for your child. If you just say "no" to the
iPhone request, you can't expect your child to happily agree and
say, "You're right mom, I have been playing a lot of games lately.
Is there any way I can help you today?"
Instead, you can offer up other choices. I refer to this as
Replacement Behavior. For example, if your child needs something in
their hands to prevent, say, sibling brawling in the 3rd row, you
might hand them one of those mini containers of Play-Doh (you know
the ones that you get in every goody bag and never know when you
would possibly use it), and say, "Let's have a 'Guess What I Made'
contest. You have one minute to make something and then show us
what you have made." You might end up being amazed at the
creativity that arises from what they create, as well as what they
talk about while they are making a mini masterpiece.
Another possible idea is to play "Name that Tune." Put on their
favorite station, or iPod playlist, and play only a few seconds of
each song, and have them name the song and tell you why they like
If you are a parent of a toddler, and this is way above the realm
of your child's ability, and a tantrum ensues, remember: turn up
your music, open the windows and drive a little faster. The rush of
air on their cute faces will make the screaming stop, and you'll be
listening to your favorite music.
Until next time…stay groovy and keep being a great parent!