My boys were not born into the electronic age, so I’m not sure how we got to the place where electronics were so prominent in our house.
It started slowly it seems, a game system with cute car games meant to provide family entertainment. Soon enough, the kids were better than I and it was no longer fun for any of us to play together. Then before I knew it, they were saving their own money to buy updated gaming systems and they were on electronics all the time. I didn’t intend for this to happen, but there we were. Now, all we hear about is how bad electronics are for our kids and how we have to limit their use. I’m so confused since, really, I was the one that started my boys on electronics – how could I have been so wrong?!
Nevertheless, somehow, I had to deal with the electronics issues in my house. I tried enforcing time constraints around the electronics use but that was a lot of work on my part and consistency was hard. I tried putting controls on the wifi and that just shut off things for me as well. Ugh! What was I going to do? There had to be a better way.
I decided to really think about what the true issue was. Was I really concerned with what they did with their free time? After all, I spent a lot of time on my devices too doing my night course work, connecting with my tribe, doing volunteer work. I’m sure seeing me on my laptop really made it look like I was just saying “do as I say and not as I do.”
What I realized was that my concerns were really more about the other problems; getting the homework done, spending family mealtimes together, doing chores, seeing friends, going to bed at a reasonable time and getting a good quality sleep. These were the real problems I was concerned about. If they were all solved, then the electronics use would not bother me so much and I would have less to fight about.
So, I set about solving all these underlying problems with them. Using Dr. Ross Greene’s collaborative problem solving processes (as outlined in The Explosive Child), I tackled all these non-electronic problems. Slowly but surely, the homework was getting done, electronic free family mealtimes were happening, chores were being done, friends were around (albeit playing video games, lol), bed times were being honored and good quality sleep was being had. Not one mention about the electronic time, not one limit on electronics and not one limit on the time the wifi is on. The end result was that they had less time to spend on electronics since all these other things were taking more of their time AND more importantly we were not fighting about electronics or any of these problems anymore!
What underlying problems can you solve that will take the electronics debate off the table in your house?
Penny Mayo, a Parent Solutions Consultant, Helps Families Help Themselves! Struggling with finding support for her challenging kids, Penny changed her career from engineering to working with kids with different needs. Through experience, Penny has honed her ability to see the stressors that kids face and to collaboratively solve the problems that stand in the way of a calm home front. Now, Penny teaches other parents how to do this for their own families. She provides consulting and, workshops and is developing on-line resources for parents.