Parenthood: Small Victories, Life Changing Results

My six-year-old must be an FBI negotiator-in-training.

He’s quick-witted, clever and creative with his demands and compromises.  He never gives in to requests when first asked and calls the big shots when he can. Although all in good fun, my relationship with my son is give-and-take.  I firmly believe the “pick and choose your battle” philosophy.

Recently, TV time was getting out of control. When he woke up, the flat screen was automatically turned out.  He didn’t get dressed.  He was absent-minded while chowing down his morning nutrients and as we were trying to get out the door and I tried to turn off the TV, he just wanted “five more minutes”. We were already running 15 minutes late!

Every evening, the moment we walked in the door, the television was being turned on.  He ran Saturday and Sunday mornings into the living room for his weekend fix of cartoons.

Can anyone say TV overload?

I’ve read that kids over the age of two should only watch between 1-2 hours of QUALITY programming every day.  I don’t know if SpongeBob, Ninjago or PowerRangers qualifies as “quality”.  But I was tired of repeating myself.  I was tired of competing for my son’s attention with a 32″ magic box and getting angry at his addictive distraction.  So, I cut out TV all together during the week.

No TV in the morning.

No TV time in the evenings.

And on the weekend, no more than 2 hours of cartoon time.

My kiddo was not thrilled to say the least.  It lead to constant crying and whining and “plllllleaaaase mommy”s. It was war every day and on the weekend I was berated with “I don’t want play outside.  I don’t want to read a book.  I don’t want draw or play with my toys.” I reminded myself daily, he will not win this battle or this war.

So I stuck to my guns and lo-and-behold, my son is back.  He gets ready dressed quickly, helps me with his baby sister.  He will serve himself cereal and eats in less time that it takes him to watch one episode of Pokemon. He is nicely tanned and sleeps like a rock and goes to bed ON TIME because of his active weekends.

And a funny thing happened as a long-term side effect…

This past Saturday morning Nathan tuned in to get his weekend fix.  About 10 minutes later I hear him making action-figure sounds in his room and that magic box in the living room is playing to an empty room.  I smiled.

“Nathan, please turn off the TV because you’re not watching it and its wasting electricity.”

“But I am watching TV mommy.  I just came in my room to get my toys.”

3 more minutes elapse.

“Nathan, please turn off the TV if you’re not watching it.  Its’ ok that you want to play.  The TV isn’t going anywhere.”

I hear it turn off and the superhero rescue continues.

And just like that…my small victory turned into a life changer.  Now, if I could just get him to clean his room without everything turning up under his bed…

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