We were pretty good at parenting around screen time pre-pandemic. Unfortunately we have not got back to where we were, and I’m the first to admit it’s a bit of a challenge. Having said that, I overheard the mum on one of the more annoying shows that my 7 year old watches on YouTube signing off with an inspired quote that has stuck in my head: “Make good choices”.
Now, it might seem like a simple throw away comment. “Make Good Choices” is in fact very powerful for kids and adults alike. It offers your child a sense of autonomy and also accountability. They are empowered to make choices for themselves, but we know this can mean for them that there may be a preferable choice to make.
For my younger kids, who are now 10 and 7, this can be applied to over-indulging on sugar-laden food, or how they speak to each other, or how they tidy up after playing or in fact anything they do.
Similarly, it can apply to a teen about how they might speak to someone online, or be influenced of others behaviour like vaping / smoking / drinking etc.
In fact, it sparked a whole conversation between my young teenager and I about being able to be in a group of people and know why you are choosing to not partake in something you believe to not be a ‘good choice’ for you but, how it doesn’t have to impact your friendships with other people. “You do you”.
As long as conversations about usual teenage concerns are ongoing, then it’s up to the teenager to feel empowered to make the “good” choice. And also not make the good choice sometimes too, but that they are aware that’s exactly what they’ve done! I was a teenager once too, and certainly did not always opt for the “good choices” as my parents will gladly attest.
As a health coach, I often emphasise the power of choice to my clients. Nearly every action we take in any day is a choice. Whether to shower when we get up, what products we use in the shower, to make your bed, what food we eat and when, whether and how we move our body in a day, who we connect and socialise with. The list is endless and yet these are all choices within our control. They can influence an outcome massively, by tweaking these seemingly automatic actions/choices. Bringing awareness to our actions can sometimes be more than half the battle.
Not only can this awareness help shape our choices that will impact our personal health and wellbeing, but in terms of bigger picture it can determine how we behave towards the environment. Our behaviour at home in terms of recycling, using products that are kinder to the planet and the foods we choose which might be better for the planet can influence our children their behaviour around environmental factors is shaped.
We might also allow our behaviour choices to spill over into our workplace too, influencing the day to day practices and also policies that can be improved and positively effect sustainability and climate change.
If we want to change then we can decide on the end result we’d like to reach. We then can look at a granular level at the choices we make that influence the outcome. It can be joyous when we realise that we have it within us to make change to reach positive outcomes we desire for ourselves. We just have to remember to “make good choices”. Well, that, and maintain motivation to maintain the changes we make too.
So despite my dubious parenting around screen time right now, I’m grateful to have overheard this nugget. And now my kids have to hear me say it on repeat in a ‘fun’ American drawl…. “Make good choices!” And on that note, I will be starting my assessment of screen time today.