We live in a digital age. Most homes have several televisions and they often are placed in bedrooms as well. Computers, laptops, tablets and smart phones are commonly used by children and even toddlers. Kids have access to a multitude of video games options and unlimited games are available for every brand of console. It is easy for children (and adults) to spend hours every day on some sort of electronic entertainment. I firmly believe our grandchildren are wasting their lives on such things and intend to change the situation in our home.
My own precious grandson is incredibly intelligent (yes, I am partial) and should be an A honor roll student every semester. However that does not happen because he becomes distracted, lazy or just plain addicted to some screen. He wants to play computer games, video games or watch raucous cartoons all evening. Then his school grades suffer because he is not giving his work the attention it deserves and requires. So in the interest of his future, a plan was put in place.
He starts each day with no screen time and I mean zero. But that is harsh and negative, leaving no room for recreation which causes frustration and hopelessness. He does extra practice schoolwork after finishing homework and earns screen time. For each hour of practice, S earns one and a half hours of video game, computer or television time, whatever he chooses. This gives him a sense of empowerment which is crucial to building self confidence.We have a chart where he records all Practice/Play times so we easily keep track of his progress. Earned time does not roll over to the next day, it must be “spent” the same day. This prevents the child from piling up hours and hours of play time and calling it due for his/her own convenience.
I will warn you that every child will try to manipulate you and come up with every possible objection and labyrinth to work less and play more. Questions such as:
- “Do educational shows count as TV time?” Yes. Watching a lion tear apart a gazelle is screen time.
- “I forgot to record my practice time.” Then it does not count toward play time. Here is a timer to keep on the desk.
- “None of my friends have to do this. They get unlimited screen time.” Maybe I should call their mom and share this plan with her!
- “I am SO tired. My fingers-back-head-hurts.” I am so sorry. Let’s put you to bed for the evening so you can rest.
Whatever the creative excuse, have a wise answer ready. Honestly though, my own S quickly settled into a pattern and does not complain. He enjoys seeing his grades improve and smirks to know I cannot refuse when he lounges in front of Woody Woodpecker for two hours!
Try this plan. The results of positive parenting are evidence based and rewarding for all involved. It has turned out to help us all spend more time together. When S does not want to practice, we all play some sort of board game or put together a puzzle. So the downside is, well there is no downside!