Pediatric Early Intervention Strategies

Children and Screen Time

If you are parenting a young child, and you are simultaneously working from home during the COVID pandemic, you know all too well this spring has been nothing short of upside down. Your parenting and professional roles have been mashed together without warning or precedent.  How do you get ANYTHING done without occupying your kids with screens all day every workday?

Here are some practical tips for managing your many competing demands while also using screens in a way you feel good about:

1. First – know that you aren’t alone.  As you look around at your house in disarray, the ever-growing to-do list, and what feels like the impossibility of creating stimulating and nurturing experiences for your child/children while also showing up professionally in a way you’re proud of… you aren’t alone.  Many, many, many people are in this boat – and we all need to take a deep breath, lower our expectations for ourselves, and tell guilt to take a trip somewhere else.

2. Decide on your top-level priorities.  If you are parenting + working, with no outside help, you are not going to get everything you’re used to getting done.  Adjust your expectations and define what the most important things are for you to accomplish each week.  Because you have limited time, you’ve got the make the most of it!  Make sure you’re spending your time on projects or tasks that are moving you ahead or have a hard deadline.

3. Find dedicated time to spend with your child(ren).  Carve out three or four 25-minute time frames during the workday that you can give them undivided attention.  No phones, no tv (for you or them).  Get outside if you can – it changes the scenery and helps you avoid the temptation to lean back into work the second your child looks away.

Follow their lead in play – in other words, let them choose the play.  Set a timer and when the timer goes off let them know you need to return to work.  After a few rounds of this, they will get the hang of it! Let go of the guilt otherwise.  It’s ok for you to work while they do other things (including screens).  It cultivates independence, imagination, and creativity.  Your short spurts of quality undivided attention are gold to them. When they need to play independently, consider having some of the following ideas to pull from; coloring pages, activity books, new simple toys, learning apps, a 30 min show, independent play ideas (Go make a fort! Go set up a store!).

4. Recognize that nothing will go exactly as you planned, so a healthy dose of acceptance and patience is necessary – for yourself!!

Learn more about our early intervention services…

Categories: OT Clinical Services