“I give up!” Have you said this about gaining control over screen time use?
Don’t give up! Shift your thinking, empower your child, and together work through the screen time challenge.
Let’s start by getting very clear on what is happening inside your child’s brain when using screens. It isn’t all bad as technology brings innovative thinking, the pursuit of interesting information, and even positive social exchanges. It definitely brings a boost in dopamine which #1 makes screens very enjoyable and #2 makes breaking free of screens very difficult. Remember the ADHD craves dopamine!
If we look at this through an executive functioning lens when:
You say: Shut it off!
Your child’s brain says: No!
You say: I’m not telling you again!
Your child’s brain says: Huh, what is she talking about?
You say: Don’t you remember what happened last time?
Your child’s brain says: No.
You say: How can you not remember?
Your child’s brain says: Huh?
Executive functioning skills help the brain think in a step by step process. When these skills are weakened the brain forgets recent actions and consequences, loses all track of time, can’t shift easily from one thing to another, and may confuse the order of next steps.
Throw a little boost of dopamine in there and the ADHD brain is definitely not going to pull away easily from anything related to screens.
The key is to create solutions that include specifics! Think chunking (breaking things down into manageable categories) and thinking in a step by step process. Your child has to be part of the process in developing solutions. We recommend using our Screen Time Contract Template to get started. Tweak it however you see fit. Depending on the age of your child you can work on it together or you can each make your own version and then discuss both to come up with a final version. You may be surprised at the limits your child sets for themselves! Make sure the contract is somewhere easy to access so it is available to view when needed. Remember this may take some trial and error to make it work but the process automatically helps your child strengthen their executive functioning skills.
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