It's a scene that is repeated in millions of American homes every night: A child is glued to a favorite television show or video game, while her frustrated parent tries in vain to send her off for a bath, to read a book, or to the dinner table. Here are some turn off tips that really work:
- Provide a five-minute warning. Set the stage by telling your child: "In one more commercial, it's time for bed" or "You need to think about saving your game soon."
- Keep a large clock near the TV, and put a sticker on the dial to mark a key transition like bedtime.
- Timing is everything. As much as you want to rush in and pull the plug, wait for a minute and listen to what your child is doing. Wait for a pause in the action, such a commercial, and then ask the child to turn off the TV. With most computer activities or video games, you can safely switch off the monitor without losing the game. Once the image is off the screen, children are much easier to reason with.
- Let your child push the "off" button, not you. This gives her the control over the transition, which can reduce hurt feelings. Plus, pushing a button can be hard to resist, especially for little kids.
- Offer an irresistible, non-TV alternative, such as a bicycle ride to the park.
- Reward good behavior with additional time. "Get ready for bed now, then we can watch the ending together."
- Record the rest of the show for later viewing. For video games, you can usually save a game in progress.