Parenting Resources

How to Address The Hardest Screen Time Parenting Dilemmas

Delaney Ruston, MD
February 6, 2024
Father and son arguing

I just released a Screenagers’ Podcast episode featuring a lively and productive interview with Charlie Appelstein, a social worker and the author of “No Such Thing As A Bad Kid,” who has worked with youth and parents for over four decades.

He is full of wisdom about helping youth with behavior management. Having seen his parenting workshops, I can personally attest to the remarkable insights and impactful strategies he shares.

In the podcast, we address challenging scenarios, including how to determine appropriate consequences for lying and managing rude behavior from our children and teenagers, among many other topics.

See below a sampling of some screen time dilemmas and strategies for addressing them that we tackle on the podcast. 

Listen to the podcast here:

Dilemma: A father keeps having to ask his daughter to get off her phone to come to dinner

Strategy to address it: Strength-focused parenting

Appelstein says in the Podcast: “It's all about focusing on what your kids do right. It's when you take a negative behavior and turn it into a positive one. Almost all negative behavior can be reframed into a positive way, which adds chemicals to a kid's brain and opens up pathways. One of the great techniques of strength-based practice is reframing.

If I was that father, I might start with a refrain. “I love the fact that you have lots of friends and you want to communicate with them. What if it was the opposite? You didn't have anybody. You're popular. You're interesting. And I love the fact that you want to communicate a lot. But I'm worried you could be overdoing it.”

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Dilemma: A child stays hooked on a screen when they know they have chores to do

Strategy to address it: Use connecting statements

Appelstein says in the Podcast:  “So if there's a pattern like you just suggested of not doing his chores and hanging out, doing too much with the computer, talk to the kid. You might say, ‘Look, I get that texting or playing a computer game is a lot more fun than doing your chores. Why do I have you do chores? It's not me against you. We’re on the same side.’ That's what I call a connecting statement. It's one of my favorite interventions of all time. Anytime a parent or anybody is having conflict with another person, this isn't me against you. We’re on the same side. What would you do? What if you didn't do any chores? A house would fall apart. Chores are important. They show that you matter. You feel good when you do them.”

Dilemma: A child lies and says they stayed at school late but were actually at a friend's playing video games. 

Strategy to address it: The millimeter acknowledgment approach 

Appelstein says in the Podcast:  “One of my favorite approaches is what I call the millimeter acknowledgment. Take that example you just gave, that they were lying about something, and you know it. I might say to the kid, ‘Can I ask you something? You're saying one thing. I suspect something else possibly could have happened. Is it possible that maybe what you just told me about where you were is a little less correct? Not a hundred percent, just a little less correct than what could have maybe just happened. But because you're a great kid, and I know you don't want to get in trouble or anything. Could you be a little less correct about that?’  I can't tell you how many times that's worked. The kid, because what often happens is they go, I might have been a little wrong. And once they give you a little, that's the whole thing. You don't have to go step by step.” 

Questions to get the conversation started:

  1. Can your child think of specific behaviors they do around screen time that they call you out on in a positive way? 
  2. Regarding chores (which we call “house help” in our home), consider a discussion about what things would get undone if no one was doing house help. And from there, why does doing chores " show you matter”? 
  3. Can your child think of a time they were “ a little less correct” because they worried you would “overreact”?

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Join Today - Members can screen and view our movies year-round, access new lesson plans, resources and much more!

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Parenting Resources

How to Address The Hardest Screen Time Parenting Dilemmas

Delaney Ruston, MD
February 6, 2024
Father and son arguing

I just released a Screenagers’ Podcast episode featuring a lively and productive interview with Charlie Appelstein, a social worker and the author of “No Such Thing As A Bad Kid,” who has worked with youth and parents for over four decades.

He is full of wisdom about helping youth with behavior management. Having seen his parenting workshops, I can personally attest to the remarkable insights and impactful strategies he shares.

In the podcast, we address challenging scenarios, including how to determine appropriate consequences for lying and managing rude behavior from our children and teenagers, among many other topics.

See below a sampling of some screen time dilemmas and strategies for addressing them that we tackle on the podcast. 

Listen to the podcast here:

Dilemma: A father keeps having to ask his daughter to get off her phone to come to dinner

Strategy to address it: Strength-focused parenting

Appelstein says in the Podcast: “It's all about focusing on what your kids do right. It's when you take a negative behavior and turn it into a positive one. Almost all negative behavior can be reframed into a positive way, which adds chemicals to a kid's brain and opens up pathways. One of the great techniques of strength-based practice is reframing.

If I was that father, I might start with a refrain. “I love the fact that you have lots of friends and you want to communicate with them. What if it was the opposite? You didn't have anybody. You're popular. You're interesting. And I love the fact that you want to communicate a lot. But I'm worried you could be overdoing it.”

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parenting in the screen age

for more like this, DR. DELANEY RUSTON'S NEW BOOK, PARENTING IN THE SCREEN AGE, IS THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE FOR TODAY’S PARENTS. WITH INSIGHTS ON SCREEN TIME FROM RESEARCHERS, INPUT FROM KIDS & TEENS, THIS BOOK IS PACKED WITH SOLUTIONS FOR HOW TO START AND SUSTAIN PRODUCTIVE FAMILY TALKS ABOUT TECHNOLOGY AND IT’S IMPACT ON OUR MENTAL WELLBEING.  

ORDER HERE
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