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Now Some Families Are Hiring Coaches to Help Them Raise Phone-Free Children

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To Dr. Reischer, the new consultant boom and screen addiction are part of the same problem.

“It’s part of the mind-set that gets us stuck on our phones in the first place — the optimization efficiency mind-set,” Dr. Reischer said. “We want answers served up to us — ‘Just tell me what to do, and I’ll do it.’”

But what seems self-evident can be hard to remember, and hard to stick with.

“Yes, it’s just hearing something that’s so blatantly obvious, but I couldn’t see it,” said Julie Wasserstrom, a 43-year-old mother of two in Bexley, Ohio.

She hired Ms. Moskowitz and found the advice useful.

“She just said things like, ‘Are you telling your kids, ‘No screens at the table — but your phone is on your lap?’” Ms. Wasserstrom said. “When we were growing up, we didn’t have these, so our parents couldn’t role model appropriate behaviors to us, and we have to learn what is appropriate so we can role model that for them.”

Ms. Wasserstrom compared screens to a knife or a hot stove.

“You won’t send your kid into the kitchen with a hot stove without giving them instructions or just hand them a knife,” Ms. Wasserstrom said. “You have to be a role model on safe ways to use a knife.”

Richard Halpern, a former school counselor turned parenting coach based in Portland, Ore., noticed that screen and phone issues were the number one concern people had when they called him.

By the time parents got to him, they were often so frustrated they wanted to just unplug and get rid of everything, but Mr. Halpern says he cautions restraint.



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