Today I suddenly realized we were late for Jiu-Jitsu so I jumped up and told my 5y/o that it was time to go to BJJ. He was playing Minecraft and didn’t want to stop (because he was not done building yet). I said what I always say, and what he has always understood: “It’s ok, bud, the game will wait for you; it will be there when we get back.“
Surprisingly, this time he protested – hard. When I was first teaching him the idea that if he is obedient, then the thing he wants will be available, he struggled with it. But, he did get it and we have been doing it very well. That was perhaps a year ago now so I wasn’t expecting a 1.5 hr meltdown that lasted the trip to BJJ, 3/4 of the lesson (on the bench; we left early), the drive home, and still once we were back.
I took him to BJJ and mom came to pick us up. She wanted to take over the consoling and negotiating because I was visibly at my limit, and I let her. I was angry and frustrated because he kept saying BJJ is too long and he wasn’t done building yet. During a meltdown, you cannot communicate, but he just would not stop looping around and around no matter how much we listened to and assured him.
At home, when mom was consoling him in the kitchen, I was busy taking the TV out of the living room. I hid it in my 15y/o’s closet, and I put all the gaming hardware into a box and then stuffed it into the cubby. If that sounds harsh, or if you think there should have been an escalation prior, you’re right. There was. There are criteria to gain access to the electronics here and he knows them well. It is a daily conversation, and because of that, I feel like his meltdown may have been a sign of addiction.
When mom was putting him to bed I went to the dollar store to top-up our stash of activity books and added them to the well-stocked crafting table we have, which gets fully neglected due to electronics. The trouble with electronics is the same as the thing parents like about them: you get a break to do non-kid things. Now that I have removed all of them I will have to train him to work with books and crafting on his own so that I can get my chores and other work done.
Is this sustainable? Absolutely. We don’t have cable so the TV was just a screen for other devices. If we want to watch something, I can crack open my work laptop or put it on mom’s iPad.
Note: the electronics that I packed up were not “his.” They were the livingroom entertainment