2012 Higher Love

Parent Well in our Digital World

Gloria DeGaetano

Parent Well in our Digital World – Parent-Child Screen Agreements

Gloria, founder of The Parent Coaching Institute (PCI) and author of Parenting Well in a Media Age, talks with Amy Armstrong, MSW, LSW, Family Mediator and PCI Certified Parent Coach®. Amy helps parents create a united approach with their co-parent, as much as possible whether or not the parents are married and living together, or if the children are being parented in two separate homes as a result of divorce. In her coaching work at www.ParentStrong.com, Amy celebrates with parents the opportunities to get to know themselves, their co-parent, and their children better with each conflict and each decision. Amy loves to reframe seemingly “problems” into opportunities for the family to get to know one another better and on a deeper level.

In this podcast, Amy presents on a great way to resolve family struggles about screen technologies through the careful and thoughtful implementation of a child-parent agreement.

So often parents and children fight over digital technology use. These fights can become pretty nasty—with the parent increasingly exerting control while the child increasingly resists. Often these on-going struggles turn children, who otherwise could and would communicate openly with their parents, into devious kids who work hard to keep their digital world separate from their parents. And, of course, it turns us into nags—people are kids don’t take seriously enough to listen to! But with understanding, openness, listening, and a decisive plan, parents can limit screen use and help kids make wise digital choices. A contract can help a lot. Coming up with a parent-child contract takes care in the planning and firm resolve in the execution of the plan. Most of all it takes willingness on everyone’s part to find mutually satisfying outcomes.

And that’s what Amy has had success doing with the parents she works with. Amy helps moms and dads identify the specific needs and issues that arise around the use of electronics, and explores with them the ways all family members can truly listen to one another.

For Amy digital and screen technology presents unique situations for families, as children often know more about the technology than the parents! Amy invites families with children of all ages to embrace the knowledge and insight of both the children and the parents; and work together to resolve issues.

When family members feel heard for their individual needs and interests, they become more willing to create solutions that meet the needs and interests of others – in other words, mutually satisfying. Children who are already seduced into a screen world need parents who offer their concerns about the negative effect of screen technology without further alienation.

Tune in to listen to Amy present a very specific plan to create and implement a child-parent agreement with these important six components:
1. Talk with your child authentically and when you are calm—not in the heat of the moment.
2. Invite your child to examine the situation from an exploratory approach. Ask such questions as, “Would you be willing to explore options—so we can put it to rest our struggle around you i-pad, cell phone, etc?” An then let you child know you care about what he/she thinks about this: “ I really want your input…”
3. Describe how you feel about the current use of screen technology by the child, using “I statements” so that throughout your conversation you are not starting sentences, with “you” which only puts the child on the defensive.
4. Brainstorm possible solutions without the outcome in mind. Be open to all possibilities. Amy gives some great examples here that may surprise—even shock you!
5. Evaluate the ideas that came out of the brainstorming session. Be clear on those that you are willing to try and exert your parental privilege by nixing those you are not willing to try because you feel they are inappropriate.
6. Put the agreement in place. But remember to follow-up on it. See how it is working for your child. Most likely you and your child will refine it. Think of it as a work in progress…

When you tune in, you will hear more details about each of these six steps. Enjoy listening and then trying out this positive, and very effective approach to parent-child agreements to further your parenting well in our digital world!

Part Two: The Parent Coaching Corner™

As you may know, I have been coaching Geri, mom of three sons regarding their self-management of their digital devices.

This is our last coaching session. Number 12. Over the past three months, Geri accomplished a lot. Not only are her sons managing their screen time experiences better, they are also more internally motivated to do other things outside of screen entertainment—enjoying life more in the real world.

In this podcast we discuss the strategies Geri found most useful that she wants to keep going after the coaching. We also take a last look at some of her key strengths she wants to keep engaging to be the parent she wants to be for her sons. I want to make sure Geri finishes our coaching understanding all the positive changes she made happen for her family!