So… my five-year-old son Omer had a terrible throwing tantrum last month which resulted to breaking-beyond-repair his cousin’s Kindle.
Yikes! Have you ever been in a situation like that? It was my first time to feel so ashamed of a terrible tantrum by my son. I didn’t know what to do and thought I failed to handle the situation well.
Good thing my husband Yuli was there. He was much better at remaining calm in stressful situations like this than I am. He pulled Omer from the group and brought him to a corner, away from everyone. Omer was, of course, crying. Louder than he should. To be honest I did not feel any pity at that time. One of the few times I didn’t. All I felt was anger. More for myself than for him. I felt that there should be something wrong in our parenting that must have brought him to that point. He was our only son, and so my first thought was we may have spoiled him terribly. After talking about it, Yuli and I decided that it was time to put the foot down.
We decided taking Omer off from TV and gadgets for a month.
It wasn’t overall an easy decision. We had to make adjustments at home, and Yuli and I often had to encourage each other to be consistent with our decision. We are first time parents and tend to go soft on our son. But we both knew that we had to be consistent to be effective. The few things we did to prepare for this decision were:
As a replacement for the damaged Kindle, we lent Omer’s Samsung Tab to his cousin and do not plan on getting it back by the end of the month.
We moved the TV from our living room to the bedroom so that we will not be tempted to watch, since we are spending most of our time together in the living room.
I applied for an earlier work shift so that I could come home early and be able to play with Omer outside while the sun is still up.
Our take away from this experience?
A lot. We found amazing things we did that for me was way better than the time we spend being stuck with TV and gadgets, doing half-hearted talks and not really connecting.
We got to play with real toys.
Omer has a box full of toys received from several relatives over the years that are not actually being played with. I have even come to the point of boxing and putting them out to storage for good. If these toys were cast from Toy Story, I bet they would have gone off to find another owner!
But these toys are the ones that kept Omer and I entertained during our off-tech time. When we played with real toys, I noticed that his creativity flourished by coming up with stories using his toys. Instead of being limited by just a few clicks and some buttons, his world became limitless.
There was one time when Yuli and I were busy repairing things at the house, he created his very own space ship using his dad’s screw driver and electrical tapes, and it was pretty amazing.
We even got to try some sports.
It did not surprise me that without TV and gadgets in the house, Omer suddenly wanted to go out. I taught him some basics of ball kicking. We even ran together. He had so much fun, and I got to sweat a little. So win-win!
We got to really connect during dinner.
This is probably my favorite takeaway. I began to love our dining area more than any other part of the house because of the fun that we are now having in there. We enjoy our family dinners without TV and gadgets so much that I am not planning on returning to our old habit when our month’s experiment is up. I think that disconnecting to the virtual world is healthy for any family, especially if you have a five-year-old who looks up to you in becoming a parent someday.
We got to read and write more.
I usually let Omer play games on his gadget a few minutes before we go to bed, so that I could read a book and write on my journal. With our new rule, I let him read and write with me. To accomplish this, I bought additional children’s books (he only had a few) to keep him entertained each night. He complained about it at first. Eventually, though, after feeling that I wasn’t going to let him win, he gave in and made use of what he had.
We got to do chores together.
I love that my son is most of the time if not always up to doing small chore requests. From fixing the bed to cleaning up the dinner table. Now that he is undistracted from TV and gadgets after dinner, it has become his routine task to clean up the table and the stove after we eat. Teaching our kids responsibility and accountability has then become easier without these distractions.
Now, being a month after, we start letting Omer watch TV again for a few hours before going to bed, with the condition that if he had another throwing tantrum, we will take it out again. I’m so glad we decided on being firm on this one.
What do you do to teach your kids lessons when you try to improve their behavior? Have you tried taking TV and gadgets off as well? What lessons have you learned from that experience? Leave a comment below!