Setting and enforcing rules is an important part of being a parent. However, parents can sometimes feel like the villain in their home when children complain. Because of this pressure, parents often ease up on restrictions. That’s true even when they know for a fact that such limits are for the good of their children.
Setting boundaries for your kid’s smartphone use is particularly difficult. Cellphones are all the rage these days, and kids are getting hooked at a younger and younger age. Many parents recognize that too much technology is a bad thing. They know they need to set rules to help their children mature and stay safe.
Smartphone boundaries will always be unpopular. This means that you’ll be considered the bad guy for putting them into place. Here’s how you can establish restrictions successfully and still be a rockstar parent when you buy your first kids phone:
1. Stick to Your Guns
Don’t be the parent who changes their mind at the first sign of resistance. If you’ve thought things over, and you know you’re making the right decision, don’t change the rules. Your child might not understand, but don’t let them dissuade you.
Consistency is key here. You’ll have a difficult time reinforcing smartphone boundaries if you change your mind whenever your kid pesters you. You children will learn that the more they bug you, the more likely it is that you’ll cave. So once you set the rule, don’t waver.
Parents can sometimes feel like dictators when trying to enforce rules. If a simple “no” is getting difficult, change tactics. Be positive instead of negative. “We’re staying off Snapchat for now” sounds less draconian than “You can’t go on Snapchat.”
2. Hear Your Kid Out
Consider your child’s feelings and concerns when you put limits on their cell phone use. Teenagers don’t always think rationally, and they may lash out over rules they think are unfair. Instead of sending them to their room or ignoring them, you should listen to what they have to say.
Talking over new rules with your kid doesn’t mean you should give into their demands. Use the discussion as an opportunity to let them feel heard. Plus, understanding your kid’s point of view will help you empathize with them. You might even be able to find a compromise that works better in the future.
The tricky part of the discussion is getting your child to share their thoughts and feelings. Teenagers are notorious for being tight-lipped in front of their parents. Be patient when trying to get them to open up. If you press them too hard, they’ll be less likely to respond.
3. Explain Your Position
As soon as smartphone boundaries are in place, your child will be clamoring for an explanation. They deserve one. Using a logical reason will also make your life easier in the long run. Resorting to the “because I said so” argument will just make your kid resentful.
After a while, you might have to face another round of pleas. You kid might be equipped with new reasons to break the rules you’ve set. Maybe their best friend’s phone has games on it. Or maybe they’re allowed to text at all hours.
It may be tempting to shut down the conversation with a one-line answer. When you’re busy, saying, “My house, my rules,” seems like a great option. But an explanation about health and safety can go a long way toward raising a happy, well-adjusted kid.
4. Practice What You Preach
Do you want your new cell phone restrictions to be adopted at home? Then you should abide by them, too. Your child will respond better if you don’t seem like a hypocrite.
As an adult, you may not be able to follow the strict rule you have about no texting after 9 p.m. Work may require you to be on call. However, be a good model whenever your kids are around.
For example, one of your smartphone boundaries may be to keep electronic devices away from the dinner table. Keep your own phone out of sight while eating. Then your kid will have less reason to argue.
5. Check In Often
When you make a new rule or restriction, don’t just set it and forget it. Check in with your child frequently. This will reinforce the rule over time. And there’s less likelihood of it fizzling out due to you or your kid being absent-minded.
Frequent discussions will also enable you to evaluate your child’s behavior with their phone. If they’re obedient, consider easing up on the smartphone limits to reward their behavior.
If it’s clear that your teen is struggling with the new rules, don’t leap to punishment. Find ways to encourage them to change their behavior. Look for underlying causes of their attachment to their cell phone. They may need your help more than tough love.
6. Express Love
No matter what parameters you set, set them with love. It’s possible that your unpopularity may last a long time. However, a loving bond is much more important.
There are many small things you can do to reassure your child that they’re loved. Of course, you already do many things to support your kid. When your child is stressed, and tensions between you are high, you should make it extra clear that you care about them.
If you have time, make your kid’s favorite meal. Ask how they’re doing with their homework, or take an interest in one of their hobbies. Any of these gestures will show you care even when there’s some prickliness between you.
7. Communicate With Your Partner
You and your significant other need to be on the same pagewhen it comes to establishing smartphone boundaries. Kids are smart. When Mom tells them “no,” they’ll go to Dad to ferret out a “yes.” If you don’t talk to your partner, your rules will crumble like styrofoam.
Before you set a new guideline, you should discuss it with your co-parent. Make sure you both understand why boundaries are being put in place — and that you agree on the specifics. This way no one has to be the “bad” parent.
Parenting is difficult, but it’s incredibly rewarding. In a techno-crazed world, creating rules for your child’s use of electronics can be a significant parenting challenge. Proper preparation and these tips will make laying down the law easier. Eventually, your child will understand your parenting methods. One day, they might even thank you for them.