Screen rules in our house: how to say ‘no’ to your child

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Kidslox team


how to say 'no' to your child

Parental control solutions

“Daddy, please, can I play some more?.. Please, one more cartoon!.. Please, let’s download one more game!..” Sometimes we give up and feel like a softie, or we firmly insist on the rules and think of ourselves as cruel tyrants.

Suppose you get tired of your child’s everlasting nagging and decide to do something about it. You download a parental control app, set time limits on your child’s device and block the content you want to protect your child from. That’s exactly what Kidslox can do. Do you think that’s the end of the issue though?

Well, it is and it isn’t. Yes your child is now protected from inappropriate content, yes they can now only use their device at the times you set. But be prepared to continue hearing, “Daddy, please change the time limits!.. I know it’s bedtime, but please, unlock my tablet so I can finish this game…” And so on and so forth… How come?

Parents are still needed

A parental control app can effectively regulate how your child is using their gadget but it can’t regulate your relationship, or completely remove the relational tension created when you deny them something they want. You remain the parent and your ‘no’ is still the ultimate instrument of parental control. That’s why parental controls need to be applied as part of a wider conversation about what your child is and isn’t allowed to do and why.

How to say ‘no’ to your child

But how can we say ‘no’ and not feel bad about ourselves? Some parents seem to have no struggle with this at all, others seem so conflicted about it they end up providing very little protection for their kids at all. I found the following tips on how to say ‘no’ to our kids very helpful:

  • Once you’ve said ‘no’, it should stay ‘no’, regardless of whether your child is asking for the 2nd, 20th or 200th time. This is one reason why it’s good to sit and discuss the screen rules you want to enforce with your child before installing Kidslox. Ideally they should agree with you that the rules sound reasonable. Then when their device turns off at 8pm (according to a schedule you’ve set) and they come running to ask for more time, you can say, ‘no, remember what we agreed, no games after 8pm’. Saying ‘yes’ at that point would show that the rules you’ve set are meaningless.
  • Once you’ve decided to say ‘no’ to your child (even if they’ve agreed with you about the need for the rule) prepare for a bit of a battle before the rule becomes the norm. Forbidden things are often the most desirable. Your child will want to break the rule and it will need confirming and enforcing several times before it really sinks in.
  • Do not be afraid of your child’s anger. It doesn’t mean that they don’t love you any more. It just means they can’t completely control their emotions. Which is why we need the next tip…
  • Be patient! And the next one…
  • Don’t give up!
  • Respect your child and control your own emotions. Try not to criticise, make fun of or be angry with them. Instead show that you understand the reason they’re upset, but insist to the rules agreed upon.
  • Support your child’s attempts to follow your ‘no’s. Quite often we pay attention to what’s doing wrong, but say nothing when everything’s on track. Kid’s love praise! Point out how pleased you are when they follow a rule you have in place.
  • Both parents should be in the know and in agreement about the rules in place. Sometimes though, it’s just not possible to discuss your position on something in advance. In which case a simple “What did mom/dad say?” can help keep things consistent if you encounter new situations.

Parental controls are a very helpful tool. But it’s still up to us to raise our children. Our decisions, efforts and discipline can help them to avoid the risks and temptations the internet offers and maintain a healthy atmosphere in the house.