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So, P's 10 year old son, C, spends every second weekend with us, and he's a really good kid. He's probably going to be moving in with us full time (every second weekend at his mom's house instead) in a little while, and I'm all for it, except... UGH! this kid watches tv and plays video games every second of every day, and whines nonstop if he's forced to stop! When he was over 2 weekends ago, he literally spent 16 hours a day staring at the friggin' tv screen. It was absolutely infuriating! If he's told to take a break for whatever reason, he nags and complains constantly until he's allowed to play again. We only have the one tv (in the living room) which means that if he's playing video games, the entire main floor of the house sounds like a war zone unless I make him keep the volume off (which he gets whiny about, and of course if he's talking to people on xbox live then the tv volume is irrelvant), and the only place I can lie down and be comfortable is the bedroom, since the only comfortable position for me right now is reclining. Sitting hurts like crazy, especially since I already have to sit all day at work. I am NOT interested in being stuck in bed every weekend he's here, and certainly not all the d*mn time once he's here more often. And once I'm on mat leave, I'll be a SAHM for probably a year at least, and P will likely start taking more out of town jobs, so his tv time will be my problem a lot more than it is now.
P is very permissive about it, I think mostly because he's just happy to have C here at all and he wants to be the "nice" parent, plus he's pretty much only seen C every second weekend for the last 8 years, so naturally he hasn't had much to do with his day-to-day life. And I know his mom is very busy and fairly slack when it comes to manners and such, so I wouldn't be surprised if he was allowed to watch tv and play games to his heart's content while he's at her house. So, all that said, I really can't blame C for this at all, as easy as it would be to get frustrated with him about it (and sometimes it's really hard not to).
Clearly I need to talk to P about it and set down some guidelines, but I don't even know where to start. If we limited C to, say, 3 hours of "screen time" (tv, video games, etc) per day, which still seems like wayyyy too much to me, what is he going to do for the rest of the day? He doesn't like reading, it's pretty cold out so I can't just send him out to play (although I will once it's nice out again), and although he likes helping me in the kitchen, there's only so much cooking that we can do in a day, plus he loses interest in most non-dessert recipes pretty quickly (which I think is understandable for a kid his age).
So please, please, please advise me here.
1. What kind of guidelines would you set if you were in my shoes, and why?
2. How can I approach this topic with P without it sounding like, "you're a terrible father, here's how you should be raising your son"?
3. And most importantly, what sort of activities do you think C would enjoy?
I don't want to deprive him of his main forms of entertainment and leave him completely bored without any entertainment help, although I do think that some boredom is healthy. I was thinking of letting him use one of my ukuleles and showing him how to read music and tabs, so that he could use all of my ukulele books, but I don't know if he'll be all that interested. I have an enormous collection of kids' books (baby books up to teen-appropriate fiction) on a big shelf in the living room, so that's all there for his use any time he wants. And we live only a block from a great playground, so if he wanted to dress for the weather, he could go across the street to play any time.
We limit our children to 30 minutes of computer and one hour of other video games per school day. They can watch about 1 hour of TV. On weekends they get one hour of computer, one hour of video games and about 3 hours of TV.
Yes, they get bored, yes it makes me crazy sometimes, but they learn to deal with it. Provide him with comic books to get him interested in reading. Play games with him. Get him toys that require thinking like Legos, Kinext, wood blocks, trains, etc. My 12 year old is really into marble runs, his slot cars, dominoes (to make 'runs' with and knock them down).
Most kids do very bad with being told to turn off the game if they play more than 1 hour at a time. Limit him to 30 minute increments. You will find that it will be easier to get him to stop. When they play longer they get over stimulated and become very grouchy. He will be miserable at first, but in the long run it will be better for him. When he is living with you it will be easier, he will just have to accept the rules. There is NOTHING wrong with limiting that time especially since it will force him to learn new hobbies and how to entertain himself.
For your husband you will just have to research the benefits of why he should be limited on the computer/tv/video games. I think you will be best off if you let the SS know that this is how it is and that his whining, crying and nagging is not acceptable. We generally have the kids sit on the stairs until they can stop with their negative behavior.
Have markers, paper, coloring books, word searches and other things that you can direct him to when he says he is bored. He is old enough to figure out this stuff on his own, but may need guidance to learn how. When he is living with you it would be a good idea to get him involved in activities, Scouts, sports, chess club, etc.
It is cold here too, and it can be hard when it is -40 and they really CAN'T go out and play. I am pretty easy going and let them play in the house pretty rough. We have an open area downstairs where they do gymnastics, ride scooters, etc. If you have a garage that would work too, clean it enough that he can go out and play in there.
When they persisted in questioning him, he straightened up and said to them, "Let the person among you who is without sin be the first to throw a stone at her." John 8:7 Sail Back to Me
this is the type of situation where you guys have to be firm and tell him no means NO...he can either be thankful for an hour a day or not have any game time at all and if he wants to whine he can do it away from you guys in his room. i know might sound harsh but kids do not need tv/games..my kids get one kid show a day and thats about 30 minutes a day so i think an hour is more then fair but the time will be up to you and his dad in the end but 16 hours is ridiculous imo.
[/COLOR][/B]RIP Jen, You will be missed. [/CENTER]
Thanks ladies! I'm glad to hear that I'm not being unreasonable here. I looked up a bunch of studies about excessive screen time being harmful to children, and holy cow is there a lot of evidence of excessive video game play and tv watching causing problems! Tons of stuff, including obesity, poor social skills, limited vocabulary and poor reading skills, decreased interest in other activities, less physical activity, increased aggression, declining performance in school, and lots of other unpleasant stuff.
That is definitely way too much tv/video game time. It's your house and he is the child so he will have to learn to follow your rules. And you shouldn't be held prisoner in your room while he hogs your TV.
He will probably be very difficult to deal with in the beginning, but I am sure with time he will get used to it. Hide the controllers if you have to to keep him from playing when he's not supposed to and just try to keep him busy until he learns to occupy himself. I think music or arts and crafts activities would be a good place to start. Good luck!!