Yesterday marked the 2nd week since I removed all electronics following my 5yo’s meltdown. I had interrupted him playing Minecraft to take him to BJJ and he lost his shit for 1.5hrs. That prompted me to ban electronics.
Well, he has been amazing! Of course, there are moments every other day, sometimes more than once/day, where he inquires about the electronics. The first day was the worst. He loops back around to it because he is trying to understand what happened and how long until he gets it back. In the past, he HAS gotten them back. I was taking them away as a consequence of poor behaviour and returning them following him upgrading his thinking/actions. That’s why we thought it was working. Now that he has not gotten them back he ends up angry; I don’t budge on the ban and I’m very matter-of-fact about it, and that anger varies from mild to holy crap who’s child are you!?
Usually, he starts off quietly asking about it, to which I reply flatly, “I’m sorry bud, I know you like them -they’re fun- but I’m not putting them back.” That sets him off, even though it’s delicate. He usually tells me that I WILL put them back, and if I don’t then he will do some consequence. Isn’t that a great example of how kids copy us!? He is doing to me what we do to him: consequences for non-compliance.
Today I put the TV back (my wife wanted to use it), but no gaming options are on it. Technically, the Apple TV is connected, but the remote is hidden. This lets us send shows to the TV from my phone or her iPad, or from my work MacBook. Also, he has no say in what it is used for. The new –permanent– rules are:
For my 5yo:
1.) Electronics are invitation-only.
-If you ask for it, you don’t get it.
-If I invite you to use it with me, you may use it.
2.) Zero access to tablets, phones, consoles, and PCs.
3.) Absolutely ZERO YouTube!
-Gawd that site is pure poison for kids!
-If we invite him to watch a show or a movie, we’ve already selected it, or worked out a choice with him. We ultimately choose.
For my 15yo:
She already had her iPhone permanently swapped with a flip phone.
1.) Electronics are for cadet and school work.
2.) Don’t use them in front of the 5yo (unless it’s obviously work).
3.) Fun uses of any device ONLY after completion of responsibilities.
The results have been WAY more human interaction because there are no screens to park the kid in front of so that I can go clean up or take a break. Sadly, he doesn’t seem to care about the activity and learning books I got for him, which surprised me. He likes picking out stickers and putting them in all sorts of places OUT of the book, though. So, board games, cards, toys, crafting, pillow fighting, running around like kids, shoveling snow, cleaning up together, etc. are what we end up doing. No peace for me, but satisfaction in seeing him stabilize his attitude and ability to have normal human interactions.
My 15yo often tells me that there are so many kids in her cadet unit or school who has social problems, like anxiety, and she just doesn’t get it. She is observing the results of getting too much screen time growing up – there is so much less actual human interaction that the kids are literally deficient in this aspect of life. No wonder they can’t handle human interactions – the screens that raised them have been devoid of all the emotions that go with dealing with people.