Our children’s attention is often glued to a device. Detaching their attention can feel difficult at the least and impossible at the most - sometimes causing us, as parents, to become unglued! Nonetheless on many occasions we do actually need to have our children transition from the device, the book or the toy to other life activities such as going to bed, going to school or coming to dinner.
During these transitions, it is important to remember that as far as our children’s attention is concerned, we are the dullest thing in the room. Given everything we know (watch this) about the apparent magnetic force field that surrounds what is on the device, our asking children to go from the squishy makeover to brushing their teeth is akin to asking a gambler to stop mid-way through their time at the slot machine and take what money they have left and go put it in a savings account. Wise - yes. Dopamine-inducing - hardly.
Parents will likely always be less appealing to children because we are, well, parents. That said, we increase our chances of shifting our children’s attention when we actually engage with them. Saying “time to get off the iPad! Dinner’s on the table” from afar is not engagement. Sitting next to them and asking “what’s going on there?” or “what would you have done for this craft?” (the possibilities are endless) will increase your engagement with your child and thus, allow for more disengagement from the device. (I will admit to some sarcastic comments such as “oh my, that slime must be impossible to get out of the carpet!” in order to promote disengagement but it usually works better if you truly invest yourself in their interest).
Engagement with our children is not just a useful strategy, it is also a building block to the foundation of our relationship with our children. The more you engage, the more your children will feel that you want to know who they are as individuals, which benefits everyone. This is the super glue that matters most.