Seriously though, how frustrating is this?
You’re not asking your teen to rebuild the Taj Mahal. You just want a few things done before dinner and are doing everything in your power to stay calm, knowing they’ll waste their time on social media or gaming. Again!!
When you ask your teen why the task didn’t get done, they tell you they forgot or ran out of time. ARRGG!
“No. You HAD time; you just didn’t USE your time!”
Now you’re muttering explicatives under your breath, ready to take their phone or gaming station, throw it on the street and drive over it a few times.
Your teen used to be pretty good about doing what you asked but now they’re so lazy and irresponsible and you’re tired of the exhausting reminding and nagging. Either your patience is taken advantage of, or your consequences are met with even more defensive attitude.
Have you ever been to Vegas?
Social media and technology are built to be like Vegas: no windows, no clocks, and no change in lighting to signal time passing. The casino environment is 24/7 fun and games, so you stay longer and spend (or lose) more money. Social feeds were designed to operate the same way.
Commercial breaks were key to staying up late.
Your brain has a difficult time changing tasks or behaviors without a trigger or external cue. When you and I were growing up, we had television shows and commercials were our trigger, (or when the show ended). Remember begging your parents to stay up to the end and they’d agree if you got ready for bed (pj’s, teeth brushed, etc.) in the commercial breaks?
Your brain needs cues.
Your teenager isn’t going down a path of no return. Their brains need support to understand and develop external cues without having their current use of time thrown back at them as shame, criticism, or condemnation.
The key here is external because let’s face it, when you’re on your phone and the phone timer goes off, you’re far more likely to ignore it because your body didn’t have to move enough to signal your brain to stop one thing and start another. Having to get up and move is critical!
Let your teen take ownership.
We’ve used external timers like the stove or microwave with great success over the years. Our teens create their own time management and set the timer based on what they need to get done: homework, sports, chores, etc. When the timer goes off, they get up out of their rooms, walk to the kitchen and turn the timer off.
He who sets it turns it off.
If you tell your teen how to manage their time, set a timer and turn it off, you ARE their strategy and you disable your teen from learning this skill. Being your teens ally as they create their own strategy (imperfect as it may be) builds confidence and a sense of pride.
This also works with screentime apps when you include your teen in the conversation and support them to decide limits or ways to earn more time. Encourage your teen to lead the process and explain how social feeds work so they don’t think this is connected to a lack of intelligence.
If you’d like more simple tips like this to be your teens ally and create a more connected relationship, jump into my FREE parenting community on Facebook. Every day, parents just like you are sharing stories, challenges, and wins in a safe, supportive environment. I’m always adding resources and tips so just reading the comments will give you instant answers.