School's out — or almost out — across the country, which means that  parents are scrambling to fill their kid's days with enriching activities, volunteer opportunities, and moments for peaceful reflection. Just kidding. Most of us are strategizing how we're going to win the war against screen time and junk food — especially as our resolve wares down and parenting exhaustion sets in as the summer goes on.

Earlier today, a report by Michaeleen Doucleff on NPR's Morning Edition outlined a strategy that has the potential to put parents back in charge, or at least give them fighting chance when it comes to common battles over screens and edible treats.

By using an approach she's referring to as "anti-dopamine parenting," caregivers can use science-backed advice from neuroscientists to tap into the brain mechanics that drives desire in kids, she reports. Once that's understood, parents can then, in theory, work to tweak the environment and their childrens' reactions to it, and guide kids to less addictive behaviors. 

According to Psychology Today, dopamine is a neurotransmitter that carries information between brain cells. Historically, dopamine has been linked to motivation and mood, as Insider previously reported. But new research is shedding light on how this response triggers desire too.

"Dopamine makes you want things,"Anne-Noël Samaha a neuroscientist at the University of Montreal explained to NPR. 

Which is why dopamine is a slippery slope. If you eat a chip an enjoy it, you're likely to feel a little dopamine boost, then you're probably going to go back for more. That's because the effects of dopamine are temporary. Once you eat the chip, your dopamine levels get a quick spike before dropping back down — making you crave another spike. This is how dopamine feeds into addiction. 

. . . 

Understanding how things like screens and sweets are potentially intoxicating for kids can help parents devise a plan to set limits and tweak behaviors, the report said. Here's how:

Take 5: Dopamine surges are potent, Kent Berridge a neuroscientist at the University of Michigan told NPR. "If you take away the cue and you can wait two to five minutes, a lot of the urge usually goes away," he said. So, if your child ate a cookie and wants more, put the rest of the cookies away (out of sight, out of mind) and try to wait out the tantrum or verbal protest.

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