It’s not working

OK it has now been a full month since we stopped using screens constantly in our house. Since April 6th 2010 my kids have only been allowed 1/2 hr of screen time per day if they asked me (most of the time they haven’t) and they have been allowed to watch TV/play the Wii on Saturday. I’m not ready to take Saturdays away yet because I need them for me. I am still trying to wean myself off of TV and I still need Saturdays for myself.  I love Saturday though because no one is fighting. Yes, I am admitting that my kids were not naturally peaceful, they were just lulled into tranquility most of the time by their screens. Well they are alive now! And they are making themselves heard in a loudly obnoxious way! I am not exactly sure how to go about dealing with this phenomenon. I have tried intervening and stopping the fighting but then I find myself yelling and pulling ears and other horrible parenting tactics that I, on a whole, do not believe are productive.  I have tried ignoring them and I cry my eyes out as I hear the fighting escalating and getting louder and more violent.  These kids are big (14, 11, 8, 7) and when they fight they can really hurt each other. I don’t want that either.  But I can’t figure out how to get them to stop.  I have tried doling out extra jobs, grounding them from friends, placing them in separate rooms…none of it seems to help and I am just at a loss.  I refuse to give them back their screens just because I am having trouble coming up with a solution. I know that’s not the right answer. I just wish I could figure out what to do.

I keep thinking that the problem lies in the fact that they don’t have any toys.  Last year we got rid of most of our toys when we were thinking of selling our house.  We have a few toys here and there but none are as engaging as the screens were.  I keep thinking I need to buy something to help them have a more productive free time but I have no idea what to buy. We have no puzzles or board games because they always lose the pieces, the older boys have legos but they rarely play with them and they keep them in their room away from the younger kids, we have dress ups and dolls which are great for my 2yo but not for a 14yo boy who loves to design video games and plays with photoshop in his spare time. I keep wishing we had more land so they could just go outside and do something.  Our trampoline has gotten more use this month than in it’s entire 5 years at our house and now the canvas is breaking. Our playset is leaning and I am afraid it will fall on someone. In the front yard the street is busy and I’m always worried they are going to get hit by a car when they are riding their bikes. And I definitely can’t let the two-year-old out there. sigh

The only positive side of things is that my two older boys have definitely become more physically active. They have been going to the pool more often, playing basketball with their friends, and riding their bikes.  I am definitely excited and grateful for this phenomenon and I don’t want to do anything to change it. They have both decided to earn their Physical Fitness Merit Badges this summer and  I think that’s wonderful!

photo by Sullivan my 11yo. He was making a slideshow movies about two bionicles fighting. I find that extremely appropriate for this post.

May 7, 2010 - 11:51 am Emily - Hi Tamra, thanks for stopping by my blog and commenting! I had a couple of ideas for you (although first, WAY TO GO for limiting their screen time! That is such a hard decision to make; we've done the same thing, so I know; but it has such great benefits!) Ok, to the ideas. Something I've found helpful with my young ones is to sit them on separate couches if they fight. I tell them that playing with their brothers is a PRIVILEGE and if they fight, they lose the privilege. They stay there until they ask nicely to play with each other again. It took a little while, but overall this has significantly decreased the fighting in our house. And when they DO fight, I don't have to stand there and tear my hair out trying to decide what to do about it. Just send them to their couches! The other idea is something my mother used to do with me and my siblings when we were older. If we were getting at each other, she would stand or sit us "nose to nose and knees to knees" and we'd have to stay there until we were ready to apologize and be kind. The thing is, it is nearly impossible to stay mad in this pose! You start laughing. And then you forget why you were mad. I know it sounds kind of strange but I do remember it working. :) I hope you stop by again - nice to "meet" you. :)

May 7, 2010 - 11:55 am Tamra - The biggest culprit is my 14yo. He fights with all of them. I will try that and see what happens! He will probably want to kill me though. LOL Thank you for the advice!!!

May 7, 2010 - 1:00 pm Heather - Let me know when you find something that works. Kaitlyn (11) and Kelsey (8) fight constantly and it's starting to get worse. I am like you and just go in the other room and cry. It is very frustrating. I wish I had advice for you, but like I said I need the same advice. Someone recently told me that it was first child syndrome and the first child always acts that way, I find that hard to believe though. Maybe it's just her head strong personality.

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