Such a hot topic right?! Screen time can be a source of frustration, relief, entertainment, anxiety, and the list goes on. I know for us, the impacts of Covid really changed the way we managed screen time in our home.
Up until before Covid, Thomas didn’t have a tablet, computer, laptop, etc. His source of screen time at our house was watching TV. Thomas is also never allowed access to a phone or screen while having dinner at home or out, thankfully this one hasn’t changed!
Once Covid hit, the amount of time we spent at home drastically changed and so did our sources of entertainment. Thomas got his first laptop, now has a desk with a computer, and the biggest change, he could now play Minecraft on Joel’s X-Box. YAY…not LOL. Over the last year and a half we’ve tried different ways of handling screen time such as allowing free access, timed access, taking away screen time for problem behaviors, giving extra time for the behaviors we want to see more of, etc. But lately it felt like we were taking away more time than giving. For those interested, Thomas was losing screen time for talking back.
We needed to revamp things, lucky (or maybe unlucky haha) Thomas’s stepmom (ME) is a Board Certified Behavior Analyst. This definitely is not his first rodeo with a behavior chart. So off to work I went. I knew what we needed was to create a system in which Thomas was completing things independently, without us nagging (which led to the talking back) and earning the things he wanted through a little hard work. In turn, he gets lots of behavior specific verbal praise, and everyone is a little happier!
This past weekend we introduced the new chart to Thomas and I can’t begin to say what a success it was, there were a few kinks, but let’s go over below!
In short, the chart shows a “menu of tasks” that once Thomas completes a task he earns a designated amount of screen time for that task. Thomas has two choices, save up the screen time to use all at one time, or break up his time throughout the day.
I love that this addresses a few different things. First and foremost, motivation, extrinsic and intrinsic motivation. Extrinsic in that he’s working for these video games. I always point out to parents of clients, we ALL work for things that motivate us. You wouldn’t go to work if you were only getting paid $2 a week, but say you’re getting paid $5k a week, you may be a bit more motivated to go, right?! This leads to intrinsic because Thomas has always had a deep desire to please, the look on his face when he had completed his tasks around, especially some new ones, he was so excited to tell us and help! He was also excited because he saw how happy we were! The goal of ALL behavior charts should be that the child is completing desired tasks and therefore creating POSITIVE experiences while getting access to the desired outcome therefore increasing the likelihood that this behavior will happen again in the future and later on with no chart needed! Second, this chart helps with math and time management. All weekend I could see Thomas calculating what tasks he could do to earn the time and “budgeting” that time.
I shared this chart on my Instagram stories over the weekend and to say it was HOT is an understatement! I had so many requests for it so today, I’m sharing it with you!
How to use this chart:
- Edit list to your needs, you can choose to include child in this process by allowing them to suggest tasks they can do around the house. In the downloadable file, everything you should edit is in red!
- Review with the chart with your child, numerous times, daily, so everyone is on the same page!
- I like to laminate so you can write on daily with a dry erase marker!
- Keep track of the time! Laminating the chart and using a dry erase marker to cross of tasks and write down times is SUPER helpful! This was the kink we experienced day 1. Thank goodness Thomas never lies (almost to a fault) and keeps EXCELLENT track of time!
- Hang list in an eye level, easy place to see for everyone!
Be sure to download ASAP as it won’t be a freebie for too long!