- Family and Parenting
Play Before Work
Are you active in your child's life?
My Take On A Common Problem
Despite telling your child to turn off the television, it is still on. How can he/she be doing solid work with such a distraction? You walk by the family computer and notice that, even though you forbid it, your child is playing an online game instead of doing research for his/her paper. What are you to do?
When I was younger, my ultra strict mother would place our Super Nintendo system “on vacation” until the weekend. My brothers and I hated it because this was our first really cool gadget and we loved playing on it. Still, every Sunday night as we slept, the SNES would mysteriously disappear. Each Monday, she would remind the three of us that our system would not come back unless we did all of our homework and made good grades. If we slipped up, she would stick to her word and we’d try even harder the following week. I think the longest the SNES was away for was two weeks. Though we didn’t always get the best test grades, my mother understood the difference between failing because we didn’t understand the material and failing because we didn’t try. As long as we tried and did all necessary homework, the SNES would be ours every weekend. Through this experience, I learned that working hard earns rewards.
We didn’t get the internet until I was thirteen. By this time, my oldest brother was in college and had no need for the family computer. This meant that the computer only needed to be split four ways: Mom, Dad, middle brother and me. My parents rarely needed the computer during the hours when my brother and I were awake. My Dad would use it while we were at school. My Mom would use it at night. After one too many fights over wanting to use the internet, my mother, unbeknownst to my brother and me, set a timer. When we logged online under our username, we were allotted one hour before everything shutdown. We hated it, but it stopped the fights. Being the internet savvy kid that I was, I found a way to log into my mother’s account and turn off my timer. To keep up the appearance that I was still under the timer, I would log off each time with time to spare. My brother never caught on. My mother, on the other hand, did. After promising to never hack into her account again, to not tell my brother what I had done and to sign off when she told me to, my timer was left off. Through this experience, I learned to use the family computer more wisely. I also learned that parents are willing to give a little if you are willing to give back.
One thing that my mother differed from other parents on was that she allowed us to keep the television on while we did our homework. The volume had to be down low and the program needed to be inoffensive to other people. Growing up, she had needed background noise to get her work done. Her children are the same way. Even now, I enjoy working with the television on. I rarely have the volume up or even on, but seeing the pictures out of the corner of my eyes seems to spark something in my brain that motivates me to work.
With these three stories in mind, what am I trying to say? (Yes, I do have a point.) At the core of your problem is a lack of respect. My brothers and I didn’t dare say no to my mother when she told us to do something. By your child refusing to turn off the television and stop surfing the internet, they are showing you that they don’t respect you. By repeatedly backing down and letting them have their way, you are telling them that their behavior is okay and its not. The next time that they won’t turn off the television, turn it off for them and take away the remote control. Let’s assume that they couldn’t hear you over the television. Now that the room is silent, you can tell them that the television will remain off until they complete their homework. If they are like me, they’ll tell you that they need the noise to do work. In this case, set the volume of the television with the remote and watch your child closely. If you find that they are still watching the television in place of doing work, suspend that privilege until the weekend. Let’s not forget that the radio makes for some great back round noise too.
In the case of the computer, this is a tad trickier. As they presumably are on the computer under the pretense of research, any site they go to could be considered, at least to them, research. I know that there are programs out there that limit what sites a certain user can go to. I would suggest that you familiarize yourself with such a program. On the list of acceptable websites, you can place research sites and other sites that you feel are important for your child to have access to academically. I would suggest that you wipe any messengers (AIM, YAHOO, MSN, etc.) off of the computer, or, at the least, put it under a username that can only be accessed during the weekend. If your child uses the excuse that they need to check with their friend over a messenger to get homework help, remind them that their e-mail account still works and to send their friend an e-mail asking for help. Also, remind them at you probably took the subject they're struggling with and are available to help them.
Too often, parents use television, internet and video games to baby sit their children. Finding that they lead too hectic lives to pay attention to their kids, they believe that being in the same house as their child though not in the same room (chat or otherwise) is bonding and showing them that they care about them. They see this as being active in their lives. These parents are wrong. Children don’t become addicted to technology unless they are given time to do so. They don't show disrespect unless given the go ahead.