an unedited brain dump--some thoughts on discipline and screen time / by Lauren DeMarco


I have been thinking about how "discipline", "punishments", "consequences", and "hierarchy" are all words or concepts that get tossed around when the topic of parenting comes up; I want to have more conversations about "connection", "learning together", "presence", "natural consequences to specific behaviors", and "growth" with other mothers/parents.

I don't believe in taking items/screen time away because I believe it puts those items or screens on a pedestal. I don't believe in time outs because I don't want to push her away when she is expressing her needs and put her in a corner. I don't believe in hitting because I want to be a model for my kids; if I hit them, they will think it's okay to put their hands on other people.

I am having trouble finding other women to talk to about these things. I would love to brainstorm ideas and share stories and connect with other moms during this season of my life but when I bring up these topics at play dates I feel the vibe that I "care too much", like I am thinking too much into things, like I am "extra". But is wanting to build a healthy, trusting relationship with my kids and helping them become the best and most authentic version of themselves not only the most important job I will ever have? I try really hard and care a lot.

I would like to talk about perspective with regards to my daughter's emotions, she can be very hyperbolic with her language and I want to help to better differentiate a big emotion from a smaller one so her reaction/behavior can be more appropriate. The word "drama" comes to mind. She can be so exaggerated with her language and it makes it hard to take her seriously. I know she is feeling things but I can also read her and see that she is putting on a little show at times. Its like she needs more attention but she is getting so much attention all of the time, I am not sure how much more she could possibly get. I have been thinking maybe hunger could play into some of her behaviors.

The word "tired" also comes to mind. I wonder if I need to start getting her ready for bed a little earlier. I do think she needs some winding down time after a long day so a little bit of screen time can be relaxing but I am not okay with her crying/throwing a tantrum when its time to turn the device off. I wouldn't want someone to turn a show off when I am in the middle of watching something so I let her finish but I have been thinking about putting a post-it on the Ipad or TV with the date and time on it if she cries/throws a tantrum when I tell her that time is up. She would be banned from the TV or screen for 10 hours.

How I would go about this:

I think I could say to her when its time to shut it off "i know you would like to keep watching TV because it can feel relaxing but too much screen time makes us forget all of our cool ideas. What else could you/we do now?" and if she starts to throw a fit I could say "screens can make us want more and more...mommy has to help you learn how much screen time is enough screen time, I am trying to help you learn. When you behave this way it is upsetting to me because I am trying to help you". If she continues the fit I would say "This activity is to help us relax not to get us upset. I think we may need to put a post it on this screen because we to be reminded that we need a break from it, do we need to put a post it on there?" and when she responds with an angry "NO!" I would ask again, "what else could you/we do right now instead?". At this point, if she keeps it going I would be quiet, let her finish her rage without giving her anymore attention over it. I would stay with her in case she wants to hug it out or apologize.

Once she comes down from a higher level to a moderate-low level I will talk to her and let her know that this time was her warning. I would remind her that she "gets some screen time almost every day and that fits hurt my feelings because we are in this together and I am trying to help her". Any future fits over turning the screen off would result in a post-it with the time and date on it. Knowing my daughter, it should only take a post-it or two to help her quit this behavior. Consistency and teamwork between my husband and I would be the trick with this, she knows he is a sucker (he would admit it) and we can both get lazy at times (I admit that, insert excuse here: after work all day I am tired myself).

Bottom line, its not okay when she acts like that and I really do believe this is one way to help her learn about boundaries so she can set them for herself in the future.

Another reminder: we have to model moderation for them as well. Monkey see, monkey do.

I have soooo many thoughts/ideas on this topic, I could go on and on…

Would love to hear your thoughts…