‘It’s boring’, ‘the ball is dumb’, ‘my mates are on their screens’ are normal things to hear along the way. Perseverance is key to achieving balance.
Building in new habits and changing your behaviour is tricky. You have to rewire your brain and this takes time. Lapsing is a NORMAL part of behaviour change. It is not failure. It does feel demotivating though. The trick is to see this as part of the journey. Perseverance is key here and just means that you need to go back to focus on the goal you set yourself at the beginning to regain motivation to carry on.
What can a lapse look like
A lapse is essentially when your child starts to disengage from the ball and/or starts to slip back on progress they have made. It will feel more difficult to motivate them to use the ball or harder to keep them off their screen. They might use words like, “it’s boring” and “I just want to spend time on screens like all of my friends.”
Things to consider when a lapse occurs
- What’s changed? It’s harder to stay focused if other things are tricky.
- Have they reached the limit of their current skill set? You’ve heard the phrase fall at the final hurdle - often we feel our weakest in the face of a breakthrough. Think about what you can do to support them on their journey. Do they need you to go and play with them more often, do you need a new challenge? This is where your control over the app’s rewards is good.
- Does it feel unfair that they are getting less screen time than before (in which case you have lost their buy in)? Think about the setup conversation you had with them at the beginning. Go back to your goals and the “why” of your involvement as a family. Focus on the positives of changing your family tech habits to gain motivation. This is why having obtained their buy-in and setting a solid goal is so important - you can go back to this as your “why” when the going gets tough (for you as much as them).
- What do they feel they are missing out on and how can you reinstate this in a non-screen manner (think playing LEGO together, or a LEGO playdate instead of Minecraft).
- Be the change - model your own healthy tech behaviour and talk about the benefits.
- Celebrate the progress they have made so far and be their cheerleader - remind them of the strengths and abilities they have used to get this far.
- Remember that you are the parent. Your child can only use a screen if you let them. If they are struggling to manage their own healthy screen use it is totally legitimate for you to step in and do this for them. Sometimes the absence of the thing they want forces them to do other things.