**Photo courtesy of the amazing Dudley Dana**
As Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong sang in 1957, it’s “Summer time and the living is easy.”
In fact, if you’re a parent living on planet Earth (or the Missoula valley) and you’re trying to regulate your children’s access to electronic devices, the living may not be easy; it may be infuriating.
Way back in 1998-2000 I had a biweekly Missoulian parenting column. One of the most popular columns I ever wrote was about a popular and challenging phenomenon among children in 1999. It started . . .
Here’s a quick parenting quiz.
Question: “How do you spell opportunity?”
As if you didn’t know, Pokemon paraphernalia – the movie, action figures, and yes, Pokemon trading cards – are red hot items among many grade-school children. Some adults question whether Pokemon obsessions are healthy. Others contend that Pokemon monsters are evil. Still others fuel their children’s Pokemon desire through unchecked spending.
When parents ask for my professional opinion about the Pokemon phenomenon, I put on my psychologist face. I cradle my chin in my hand and look upward in a sort of reflective way. Then I slowly speak Latin (not bothering to mention that I’m using ½ of my Latin vocabulary). I say,
Then, just in case the person I’m talking with speaks even less Latin than I do, I repeat myself in English.
“Seize the day!”
This is a precious moment in history. We have at our fingertips – thanks to Pokemon monsters – frequent, repeating, and unparalleled parenting opportunities.
It doesn’t matter whether your child is into Pokemon, Furbys, Heavy Metal music, whining, or chocolate, limit-setting issues will undoubtedly arise. And limit-setting is absolutely essential. Parents must set limits — because their children won’t.
Here’s the new question: If Pokemon monsters were all-the-rage and immensely challenging back in 1999, what monstrosities are plaguing Montana parents THIS SUMMER??
Cell phones and other electronic devices!
Even though your children’s relationships with their electronic devices is filled with crazy-making energy for parents, I deeply believe that my carpe diem advice from the 1990s still stands. All this points to using knowledge about your child, limit-setting, and logical consequences to transform the pain of dealing with electronic devices into the pleasure of having well-adjusted children.
If you want to take advantage of your child’s obsessions, consider making a short list of mutually agreeable rules (based on your family values or principles). For example:
- Tell your child that rule violations will result in a warning or consequence
- Follow-through and use empathy as appropriate
- Remember that children need to learn from mistakes
- If your child throws a fit or behaves aggressively, NEVER give in
Here’s an electronic device limit-setting example:
Let’s say you’ve talked with your son or daughter and decided that everyone in your family needs time free from all electronic devices. You make it clear that there will be no phones (or other devices) during family meals, during family chores, and during the hour before bedtime. The agreed upon consequence for violating this rule might be something like loss of phone privileges for 6 hours (if you make the consequence small, it will be easier for you to enforce and easier for your child to comply without completely freaking out). Then, if your child violates the rule, you can either give a warning-reminder (“I notice your phone is out. Please put it away or I will put it in our family phone lock-box”) or simply remind your child of the house rule and put the phone in the lock-box.
The cool thing about giving your children warnings is that it gives them a chance to change or improve their behavior. If, upon being warned, your child puts the phone away, you can praise the excellent decision-making by saying something like, “I noticed you put your phone away when I gave you the warning.” If your child makes a poor decision and temporarily loses phone privileges, then you can be empathic and encouraging, “I’m sorry you lost your phone for a while. That’s must feel upsetting. I bet you’ll make a better choice next time.”
Rather than droning on about the virtues of limit-setting to teach your children well, I’m stopping here to point out yet another fantastic opportunity.
The featured Practically Perfect Parenting episode of this week is creatively titled, Inspiring Cooperation in Your Children. And so, for more fun and entertaining information on this parenting topic, you can go to one of the following links.
As always, feel free to comment, share, like, or shun this blog and the accompanying podcast.