IPAD Tantrum

My Child Has a Tantrum Whenever I Take The IPAD Away. What can I do to Stop this Behavior?

This is a question we hear frequently. In fact, we named our book Toddlers ON Technology to emphasize the addictive appeal of digital devices. This is true for all ages, including teenagers and grown-ups. (I have heard some teenagers say they would rather take public transportation than drive a car to school because that way they can keep texting!) But the tantrums of children under 6 require special attention.

Young children behave best when they know that the rules of behavior are clear and consistent, in their home as well as their school. You should start enforcing these rules as soon as your child can talk. One important rule should be about the use of digital devices.
Have the length of play time be consistent in your home. For example, if you have a child between 2 and 3, “iPad time” can be 15 minutes in the morning and 15 minutes in the late afternoon. If you have a child who delves deeply into things, you may need to set a timer, or give a two-minute warning, or both.

Often, a young child will nod, and perhaps even understand the rules, but still make a giant fuss when she has to give up her favorite device. There is a solution, however, which will make both of your lives easier. Here it is:

***** Just before you give your child the iPad, or any other digital device, tell her what will come next in her day. It might sound something like this: ” Here is the iPad, Lily. You can pick any of your apps and play for 15 minutes. Then we will put it away, and go to the playground.” *****

Choose a follow-up activity that particularly interests your child. If you are staying inside, your child can play with blocks or dolls or Legos. If you have time, you can pick an activity that you enjoy as well. Time with Mom or Dad almost always outweighs digital time. You may still have to deal with complaints about the loss of the iPad, but they will be far less exaggerated as your child becomes interested in what’s next on the agenda. And don’t be surprised if you end up having fun as well!

Published on: October 30, 2013
About the Author
Photo of Patti Wollman Summers

Patti Wollman Summers obtained two masters degrees, the first in English from SUNY Buffalo and the second in early childhood education from Bank Street College. She has been a teacher, director and consultant for over three decades. Wollman Summers recently co-authored the new parenting guide, “Toddlers ON Technology.

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