Developing an Indistractable Schedule for Children

This article is an excerpt from the Shortform book guide to "Indistractable" by Nir Eyal. Shortform has the world's best summaries and analyses of books you should be reading.

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How do you build an indistractable schedule for children? Why is it important to teach children about their three core responsibilities?

In Nir Eyal’s book Indistractable, he discusses three responsibilities that children should schedule into their days: themselves, their relationships, and their schoolwork/chores. It’s important to teach children responsibility at a young age so they can better balance their lives as adults.

Here’s what Nir Eyal has to say about building a schedule for children.

Teach Indistractability to Your Children

The second practical application of the indistractable model is using it to support your children in an increasingly connected and technologically dependent world. 

Many people blame advancing technology for their children’s distraction, emotional dysregulation, behavioral issues, and so on. Technology has been a popular scapegoat for hundreds of years—everything from the printing press to the radio has been publicly condemned for “ruining” children’s minds and attention spans. 

The reason we keep recycling this tired story is that technology allows us to pin the blame of misunderstanding our children on something out of our control, instead of taking responsibility.  This mindset is a huge disservice to our children, who need help managing today’s distractions.

There’s no difference between the type of distraction you experience and the distraction your child experiences. Like you, they need to learn how to have a healthy relationship with technology—but unlike you, they won’t understand the problem and find solutions on their own. It’s up to you to explain what it means to be indistractable and help them develop indistractable systems that work for them. Help your children by coaching them through the four parts of the indistractable model: understanding internal triggers, schedule-building, reducing external triggers, and creating precommitments. 

This article will focus on making an indistractable schedule for children.

Schedule-Building for Children

The second part of coaching your child in indistractability is helping them understand their responsibilities and how to balance them. Explain traction and distraction to your child, and teach them to regularly check-in and ask themselves: “Does this behavior make me feel good? Do I feel like I’m doing the right thing?”

Then, help them build a schedule that will help them gain traction—like you, having a clear idea of how to spend their time makes them less likely to make impulsive, distracted decisions. Don’t forget the importance of allowing your children autonomy—you’re helping with the schedule, not imposing it. Walk them through scheduling the three responsibilities of their lives:

Responsibility 1: Themselves

Discussing the core responsibility of self-care to children is vitally important because it demonstrates why their needs—exercise, health, hygiene—should be their highest priority. This will help them maintain their physical and mental health throughout their lives. 

  • To help your child make informed decisions about how to schedule their needs, explain the importance of quality sleep so that they can choose a reasonable bedtime. You can also talk about the psychological need for relatedness, and encourage them to spend time playing in real life rather than online. 

Responsibility 2: Their Relationships

Let them determine how much time to allow for family and friends—it’s possible you won’t like their answers, but it’s crucial that you respect their decisions. This can look like: 

  • Not forcing them to reschedule time with friends to spend more time with you. 
  • Being present for the time they want to spend with you. Don’t reschedule or give up family dinners for the convenience of everyone doing their own thing. Make sure you’re mentally present as well, being sure not to check your phone instead of paying attention to your child. 

Responsibility 3: School and Chores 

While time spent in school is non-negotiable, you might encounter arguments when it comes to scheduling household responsibilities or homework. Don’t force them to schedule these activities. Instead, take a two-part approach:

  1. Ask them if they understand why chores and homework are important to them and you, and make sure they understand what will happen if they don’t make time for it. 
  2. If they refuse to make time, let them experience the consequences of their actions—be it a punishment from their school or punishment from you. 
Developing an Indistractable Schedule for Children

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Like what you just read? Read the rest of the world's best book summary and analysis of Nir Eyal's "Indistractable" at Shortform.

Here's what you'll find in our full Indistractable summary:

  • How to become indistractable in a world full of distractions
  • Why your schedule should be based on your values instead of tasks
  • How to start driving your life instead of letting its distractions drive you

Hannah Aster

Hannah graduated summa cum laude with a degree in English and double minors in Professional Writing and Creative Writing. She grew up reading books like Harry Potter and His Dark Materials and has always carried a passion for fiction. However, Hannah transitioned to non-fiction writing when she started her travel website in 2018 and now enjoys sharing travel guides and trying to inspire others to see the world.

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