TV Battles and Video Game Wars

About a week ago I posed a question from a local dad. He was wondering about how to impose limits on his willful kids concerning television at night. “I try to turn off the TV but that is met with heavy resistance. So when I turn off the TV the battle is on. The best solution I’ve come up with is putting it on the weather channel.”

One mom gave an “all or nothing” approach. JMacaroni said, “Give them two choices … 1) turn the TV off when I say it’s time or 2) lose ALL TV privileges for a week. Tell them it’s their choice, but they must choose one or the other.”

I find that the all or nothing approach works wonders. And along with that approach, staying firm is extremely important.

videogamesCase in point…. This summer, the battle that existed in my house was over video games. We have a steady rule that during the school year video games are played only on the weekend. But summertime is kind of like a 3 month long weekend. At the beginning of summer, my son took to playing video games ALL DAY LONG. And I admit it. I let him. It was the perfect chance for me to actually get a break. The house wasn’t getting messy because he wasn’t messing it up. I didn’t need to be on guard if he went outside. I didn’t need to entertain him or feed him constantly or hear him whine. I could even get a nap in if I wanted to. It was great.

Thing is, my son gets so sucked into these video games that he actually forgets how to entertain himself at all without them. He was playing way too much, and would throw fits when it was time to get off them. I knew I needed to set limits and stick with them. But this didn’t go over too easily. If we had to go anywhere, I had to hear constantly how we were cutting into his video game time. He wouldn’t play with friends because of the games. Or if his friends came over, they would sit there while he played, doing nothing. He became obsessed. And when I’d tell him to stop playing, a major fight would take place.

I got to a point where I realized that the video games were causing more harm than good (I know, duh). The very next time my son wouldn’t listen when it was time to turn off the video games, I took the games away for a week. This caused an extreme meltdown. When he continued, it became a month. And still he pushed it. He ended up losing the games for the whole summer. And let me tell you, he pushed my buttons something fierce over it. But when he realized that I wasn’t giving in, that I was keeping to my word over the games, he gave up and decided to start changing his behavior. We ended up having a really nice summer because of it.

My son made friends over the summertime that he didn’t even know lived by us. He learned new skate boarding tricks he didn’t know before. He read lots and lots of books and surpassed the 800 pages required for the summer reading challenge (he read 1,420 pages!). We enjoyed family movie nights, game nights, and times of just hanging out.

But most important, he learned his lesson because I held my ground. More important than that? I learned mine. I survived even without the “video game crutch”. I survived the meltdown in the beginning. I held strong even as he tested the limits, or behaved just long enough to see if he could “earn them back”. I never gave in early. And when I did give them back it was with a reminder that the video games would be the first to go if bad behavior continued.

My advice for the dad of the TV addicted kids is in agreement with jMacaroni. Kids won’t listen? Take the TV away. Let the kids know about your rules beforehand, and if they choose to ignore them then they choose to lose privileges. If you stand firm, then they will soon learn that they need to change some things to get what they want. As the parent, you are the one in charge, so BE the one in charge.

By the way, if you are a parent of a teen, all of these rules don’t apply and the game has changed dramatically. Sorry about your luck.

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One thought on “TV Battles and Video Game Wars”

  1. I tend to think that absloutes don’t work as well as we like them to. Child learns to hate the consequence, i.e. the punishment, more than the idea behind it. My son gets a timer with each game he plays, and we stick by it. The games are a prize he has to earn by cooperating, doing his chores, behaving, for which he earns “stars.” The stars get him things like regular -timed- video gaming, toys he wants, movies he wants to go see. Of course, my youngest son needs a different approach. He’s on the autistic spectrum, so television and video games are a bit of a drawback to his development. Not easy to overcome when he has an older brother. At any rate, this has put an end to the “battle” WineCountryMom speaks of, but I would like to get him more into reading and other forms of stimulation as a way of entertaining himself. Seems a long road back from where we are now. Audio/Visual stimulation is SOOO prevalent in our culture. You have to guard against an interloper most love, and is literally EVERYWHERE. Good luck to all. And yeah, teenagers? All bets are off.

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