I admit it, sometimes I don’t use my “nice mommy” voice when screen time is over and it’s time to turn off the TV or computer. Parents often face a battle enforcing limits or trying to figure out what the limits are. Just because I work in a field where I read about children’s health issues and see the growing number of statistics that make the screen-time-to-childhood-obesity connection, doesn’t mean I don’t struggle as a parent with creating standards in my own house.

There are some front line tips that have helped me the most, however, and plenty more from other parents and experts like the American Academy of Pediatrics (see links below).

Here are my top 5 tips that work for me:

  • Remember that it’s hard because you CARE! If you didn’t care, there would be no struggle. Pat yourself on the back.
  • Talk to your kids about WHY you are creating rules. At any age, you can show your love while setting limits. As kids get older, tell them experts and doctors have helped you know how to set limits. (It’s not just bossy mommy and daddy.)
  • Be VERY clear about what the rules are. If you aren’t clear, they know it, they’ll negotiate, nag, whine and will probably get their way.
  • Don’t BACK DOWN. I can’t count the number of times it would have been easier to sit the kids in front of the TV while I make dinner. Then I remember that no one will die if it takes longer to set them up with a game, homework, puzzle or other activity or let the dishes sit in the sink.
  • Raise FOODIES. We all eat. We all love food. Raise kids who love healthy food and are good cooks. My father used to have an apron that said, “If you can read, you can cook.” Turn off the tube and learn together.

Here’s some more great resources to help you get a grip on that remote:

Get over 25 tips for setting limits at KidsHealth.org

Check out the CDC information on childhood obesity including screen time. 

Learn how TV effects children.

Laura McClain is the Associate Director of the Lane Coalition for Healthy Active Youth (LCHAY) and a mother of two. LCHAY is dedicated to preventing childhood obesity through advocacy and action in Lane County. Learn more at www.lchay.org and get connected with other parents making healthy choices for their families on their facebook page www.Facebook.com/HealthyActiveYouth.