Media Time Vouchers

My child does not like it when I make the decisions and she gets really angry with me when I take something from her. Especially when it’s her tablet. That’s hers! How dare I take it? It does not matter that I have set the time timer and that we had a deal and that I reminded her that the tablet time will end soon 5 minutes before, 3 minutes before and 1 minute before. I must not take her stuff. It affects her every time so hard that this may happen at all, that she hits me uncontrollably. Or it’s controlled and shall hurt me.

Here’s our new strategy that helps us both very much:

She gets two vouchers each day. One to watch half an hour DVD, and one to watch clips on her tablet for 15 minutes. She gets the vouchers every day after the kindergarten (in the morning she can only watch DVD with music so it does not get too hard for her to let go of it when we leave). In the weekend it may be she will get them back after lunch so she can use them twice in a day.

The routine is as follows: She hands over the voucher tome, then she may take her tablet and start it, and then she has to set the time timer. I inform her along the way how many minutes are left and invite her to look at the watch. When the time has passed it beeps 4 times and she gets sad and angry. I tell her that I now count to 5, and when we reach 5, she can turn off the tablet and put it back in the drawer. On top of the drawer there is a biscuit. I ask if she can see it. And then I count very slowly to 5.

It’s funny. It works every time. Her brain has registered the cookie, and while I count to 5 and interfere with her attachment to the tablet, her brain begins to prioritize the cookie. When I reach 5, I say “now you turn off the tablet, put it in the drawer and take your biscuit”, while that is exactly what happens. Then we give each other high five and are both happy. Unbelievable 🙂


And then it happens just after I’ve written this post while she watched her tablet that she does not take her biscuit, but instead screams, cries and hides.

Fortunately, I have another good trick in my toolbox: I say quietly (while she screams –  luckily I put on my noise reduction headphones) “Ok, does that mean I may eat the cookie? Look at me, I’m holding the cookie, you can still get it, I’ll count to 5 again so you can now put the tablet in the drawer.” While I’m talking, I open my mouth wider and wider while staring at her biscuit. That’s what helps her to prioritize. Mother should not eat her biscuits at all! She is done exactly at 5, gets the cookie and high five and we are both happy 🙂

With the DVD player it turns out to be a lot easier, partly because it’s my DVD player and not hers. Here it is crucial that it is a DVD with multiple episodes. So, depending on how much time we have, I can tell her that she must choose one or two or three episodes. Then there is a logical interruption every time an episode is over. I’ll correct her vouchers accordingly eventually, but right now this works fine for us.

Here you can see her voucher for half an hour DVD:


This is the voucher for fifteen minutes tablet:



Here you can read more about how we use biscuits and other rewards.

I know that this will not work much longer. Then I’ll find something new. And I do not write about all the fights we have along the way before I find something new that works. But I’ll write about it when I’ve learned a new trick 🙂

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