Physician: Rewarding with screen-time is a parenting no-no

Dr. Christopher Paynter, father and physician.

May is Screen Free Month, and doctors say finding new rewards is a great way to cut down your kids' screen-time.

In this week's Family First segment, KRCG 13 talked with SSM Health Dr. Christopher Paynter.

Dr. Paynter, a father as well as a physician, said rewarding good behavior can encourage and empower your kids.

But he said using screen time as the sole reward is a major parenting no-no.

"When I do something I'm supposed to or do the right thing, then suddenly, I want that more. I want to do that thing to get more and more of it," he said. "So then, I find myself craving it more, it becomes an idol, it becomes an addiction. It becomes a desire that I have to have more and more."

Dr. Paynter said rewards tell kids what's important and what matters most; therefore, if screen time is the only reward available, it can put technology on a higher pedestal than in-person interaction.

He said that's why he believes the best reward for kids is one-on-one attention and bonding time.

"The biggest thing that kids are going to value is spending time with their parents. That's what they'll remember the most. They're not going to remember the games they played or anything like that," he said.

Dr. Paynter said he's successfully found new rewards for his kids by combining work and play to create family time.

"With my kids, I let them know that I have these things to do," he said. "I tell them, 'If you just help me with it, we can do this together as well, and then we'll have more time to spend together as well,' and then we'll actually have more time together both working and playing."

Dr. Paynter said he knows screen time can seem like an easy answer for busy and overworked parents.

"It is hard to find time. But things that are important to us, we always find time for," he said. "So it's important that we're intentional about it, not just say, oh we'll get to it later. Instead, actually set a time. Say this is when we're going to do it, this is when we're going to spend time together."

This May, follow Dr. Paynter's advice and make quality time your go-to reward instead of screen time. You may find you enjoy giving that reward as much as your kids enjoy receiving it!

Watch KRCG 13 next Friday at 5 p.m. for our next Family First segment. We'll talk with a physician about the benefit of creating a TV Viewing Calendar for your family.

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