How To Start Limiting Screen Time – Toddler & Preschooler Approved

Inside: What is crucial to know when limiting screen time for kids and how to start with young kids (toddler approved).

Your child is in the middle of his favorite show or video game. She is totally zoned into what is going on on the screen that she doesn’t even hear you saying it is time to stop and sit for dinner.
After you said it for the third time in a row she realizes it is time to stop … but she doesn’t stop.
Instead, she begs for more. After your firm ‘NO’ she starts to scream and cry, followed by hitting and yelling through tears. She is totally lost in her emotion. She can’t get what she wants so badly.

You see, there is no way she can handle that emotion, especially when a chemical in her brain are forcing her to get more of that pleasure called screen.

Your dinner is ruined. You are mentally tired of fighting tantrums and feel like you don’t know your child anymore.

How many times this week this scenario happened in your house?

While we are assuming things are so clear and reasonable to us, it is not the same to our little ones. It’s hard enough to be little human.

That is why you need to set boundaries and limit screen time for your child from an early age. Also, introducing creative play will have positive benefits for your child’s development and life-long skills.

Young children are incapable of handling things on their own as you often expect them to. By setting boundaries they know in advance what is allowed and what’s not. Furthermore, they will realize that they have guidance from you. Knowing they have guidance and someone to whom they can trust, their confidence will grow.
Boundaries actually give them sense of having control over the things.

Can you imagine how things would be different if your child knew that she can only watch 1 show or 1 game and then is time for dinner?
What if your child knew she can watch it again later that day or tomorrow at the same time, while you are preparing dinner?

That would bring much more control in their lives and give them a chance to stop doing something on their own.

So, knowing this, think about screen-limits you would like to set for your child.

What is okay with you and your family?
What is your schedule?
How many times per day/week you think would be a good amount you would be happy with?

Just to help you with limiting screen time for kids here is what The American Academy of Pediatrics recommends:

  • only 1 hour per day for children age 2-5 of high-quality programming
  • extremely – limited for under 2, and
  • none at all for under 18 months.

It’s up to weather you follow this or not. Once you decide on how much screen will you allow, equally important is to know exactly when (eg. when getting ready in the morning, when feeding sibling, when the baby is napping, while cooking dinner…).

After you have your how much and when in place, it is crucial to communicate that to your child in a way that she understands.

Be creative if your child is young. You could draw together a schedule and place in on a fridge.
Talk with your child a lot about upcoming changes and be gentle. Transition is not easy for the little one.

Neither is gonna be easy for you. No doubt,  limited screen time it’s gonna hit him hard and he will not stop begging you … there will still be some ruined dinners but not for a long.

Transition will take some time. While it’s not necessary, you may be prepared with some creative activities to set for your child to replace screen time with creative play.

Download free guide that includes simple strategy for encouraging our child to play alone + creative play activities to set that may come handy is this transitional period.

Just to make sure, it is not your job to entertain your child. Obviously, when you lower screen-time they will be bored at first, but boredom is exactly what they need and what will give them opportunity to get new ideas for play. With children who were entertained with screen for a long time it can be harder to play on their own. You can help them by introducing new activities and materials for open- ended play.

The truth is it took a lot of trial and error for me until I saw what really works the best when it comes to old fashioned play where there are no screens included. My family had struggles too, and when things got out of the control, and that is when my 2 year old had to have tablet with her favorite show during the meal, I knew I have to change something RIGHT AWAY.  So today, more than two years she really enjoys independent play, making up new creative activities and with a just minimal limited screen-time. She still asks for more but not in a same way anymore and I know how to handle it without provoking tears and tantrums.

That is why created transformational program Exist survival mode where you don’t have to do it all alone.

I show parents how to work smarter instead of harder by providing you with not only the tools you need to engage your kids in to creative play without screens, but the training goes along with it. After the program you will have all the resources you need to continue enjoying calm house and enjoyable kids that is pleasure to have around.

This is your shortcut to success, learn more HERE.

And for the end, if you know parents who struggle with screen time, take a moment and share this with them. They will be grateful to you, same as me for sharing it.

Lily Zunic

I believe every person is creative and every craft project is beautiful when you create for the journey of your heart.


  1. Henry | 3rd Aug 19

    Thank you for sharing Lily. I really appreciating reading this post. I believe there are Apps that control the length of time a child can use a device.

    • Lily Zunic | 19th Aug 19

      That’s true, there are Apps available but I find it too hard for very little kids, they still can’t handle when it’s time to stop. Rather, I would teach kids practice self-control from an early age.

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