PLEASE help with constant battles!! - Mothering Forums
 
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#1 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 03:16 AM - Thread Starter
 
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My son never watched TV until he started school and his buddies in class kept telling him about this and that show. He became obsessed and so we allowed him to watch 20 minutes a day, commercial free shows (TivO), thinking that it would be better than the obsession, feeling like he didn't fit in, etc. Anyway, he is now 6 and has, in the past 6 months or so, started to FLIP out when we turn the TV off after the 20 minutes. He screams and cries and throws a fit and says he wants to watch more. When we negotiate another 5 minutes, he throws another fit when we turn it off then, even though he made the deal that it would be OK. My husband, who is at his wits' end about this, has started telling him that if he throws a fit, then there will be no TV the next day, since obviously it puts him in such a bad mood to watch. Only escalates things, and has my son screaming that we are mean parents, etc. After a day of not watching, he tries REALLY hard to not express his anger, but I hate watching him repress his feelings for fear of another "TV time-out". I've never wanted to use punishment, have never used time-outs or other, but don't know how to handle this!! To top it all off, in the last couple of weeks, he has now taken up throwing yet another fit when we tell him it's time for bed, or when we ask him to either go in the bath or out of the bath, brush his teeth (all with our help) or ask him to get dressed in the morning, or even put on his shoes... the list of situations when he gets very upset is growing. Clearly, we are doing something wrong - he is very angry at us and is listening less and less and everyone gets so upset and frustrated. He is now plugging his ears with his hands when we ask him to do something. Please help me come up with a logical consequence for the "tantrums" so they can stop. How can I make him understand in a loving way that sometimes he needs to do certain things?? None of it makes sense since he is a gentle and loving soul. I don't know where all this anger is coming from! Have we just completely spoiled him?? He is an only child and we've been VERY very present, attachment parenting, never had a sitter, etc. I've tried to discuss it calmly with him and involve him in the search for a solution, but nothing has helped. I hate this power struggle. After the nightime (and now morning) battles I am so exhausted, I just cry. HELP!!!
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#2 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 03:24 AM
 
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My first hit is that his behavior may be tied to what he's seeing on TV or the passive experience of watching TV. Maybe it's time to rethink the whole TV thing.

My next hit is to suggest that instead of you turning off the TV, tell him it's time to turn off the TV. Have an agreement before he turns it on that you will be asking him ONCE to turn off the TV after 20 minutes and if he chooses not to/argues/ignores you, YOU will turn off the TV and he will have the logical consequence of not watching the next day. Something like that.

I think that six is an OK time (depending on the child) to let him have more control of his schedule. Instead of telling him to get in the tub, ask him when he would like to take a bath that day, etc...and have him plan his day with your assistance.

I hope you find some solutions you are looking for.

Me : living with and loving papa and the kids: Dd1 8/97 , dd2 8/04 and my sweet baby ds 5/09 : :
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#3 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 03:29 AM
 
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Allow him to earn more time. I don't know how you feel about that, but it's a fair compromise. Perhaps he can earn minutes by brushing his teeth, getting dressed for school, doing his homework, picking up after himself when you ask...etc. The problem is, he's surrounded by peers that have a freedom that he doesn't have. He wants to fit in, and he doesn't...not the way he wants to. It appears to me that he's blaming that on you and your DH. If he can watch a show that the other kids watch, it gives him a feeling of fitting in....which, like it or not, is important in school. If he can earn minutes, he might appreciate his TV time more.
I wish I had a better solution for you, but this is how I would approch it if I were in your shoes.
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#4 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 03:38 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you for the quick replies!! I've thought about donating the TV, but I don't think it would solve the problem - he's in a Montessori program and ALL his friends watch TV (and even PG-13 movies even though they're 6 and younger, which we just cannot allow) and so he REALLY would not fit in. Besides, selfishly there's no way I'm giving up my Sat video! We don't have a sitter or family around and so we never get to the movies on our own. The idea of having him earn more time is an interesting one, hadn't even thought of it before. My concern is that when we allow him to watch longer, his reaction is still exactly the same. Seems to make no difference. The suggestion of having HIM turn it off is a great one, I'll definitely try it tomorrow. THANKS SO MUCH for being there and hearing me out!
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#5 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 05:32 AM
 
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Are there other shows the kids are talking about? 20 minutes a day means watching one show, I assume. Adding 5 minutes would be frustrating since it would just be a fraction of a story. Have you sat down and talked about which shows he wants to see and tried to come up with a compromise? It's possible if you ask him for ideas to solve this problem, he'll come up with some suggestions you can work with. If I were to have limits, it would be based on entire episodes, not minutes.

Mom to unschooling 4everboy since 8/01
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#6 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 11:24 AM
 
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Quote:
he's in a Montessori program and ALL his friends watch TV (and even PG-13 movies even though they're 6 and younger, which we just cannot allow) and so he REALLY would not fit in.
Oh dear. Dr. Montessori would roll in her grave if she knew.

Seriously, though, have you considered having a "family meeting" with you, your DH and your son present? On the agenda would be the television. You should discuss the problem, listen to your son and express your views. Negotiate with him if you think he raises some fair points and come to an agreement.

Then, still at the meeting, you should write out a contract together (printed out in language that your son can understand, of course - if he can, you could let your son print it out). The contract will state the max amount of TV your son may watch per day (excluding time he just happens to be in the room when you are watching TV), whether missed TV days can be added on to other days, that your son must turn off the TV when the time expires, the exact consequences if he does not turn off the TV, etc. You all should sign the contract.

Your son may see things as less unjust if he has discussed and agreed all this beforehand with you and is aware of the consequences.

Roman Goddess, mom to J (August 2004) and J (April 2009).    h20homebirth.gif signcirc1.gif
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#7 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 11:36 AM
 
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I am really concerned about the idea of "earning" more time by doing things that you have to do anyway. It just leads to every time the child is asked to do something necessary they say "What are you going to give me if I do ####".

I don't know it seems like a 6 year old should have some say in how his life goes. Now I am not saying let him have chocolate for every meal and 16 hours of TV every day, but have you tried talking to him about what he wants to accomplish with his TV watching? You might be suprised at the answer... "All my friends watch <kid show A> and I just want to watch that so I can talk to them about it." His agenda is comming from somewhere, and I don't think you can solve this problem by ignoring his agenda and pushing your anti TV attitude on him. (I am not being judgemental, I don't think your anti-TV agenda is wrong, I am just trying to point out that it is in contrast to his wants)

When I was growing up, we had certain days where we could watch TV and we were not allowed to watch TV in the mornings. This meant that if there was a show on the forbidden days that I wanted to watch (usually so I could discuss it with my peers) I would have to tape it, but I could not watch it the next morning before school. It was very frustrating to me, and frankly I would have traded 100% of my TV time for the freedom to watch that one show at the time it was scheduled so I could talk about it to my friends when they were all still excited about it.
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#8 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 12:32 PM
 
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Originally Posted by 4evermom View Post
If I were to have limits, it would be based on entire episodes, not minutes.
:

This may not be the kind of response your looking for. We are pretty melow about t.v. here. Meaning that during the week the boys can watch tv after lunch if their book work (homeschooling) is done. Untill 5:30, when the tv goes off. They usually watch a few showes a day, sometimes none.

We have tivo and all the channels are locked out except the 2 PBS channels and a few other shows mom and dad o.k.. Tivo Kidzone is great, you can allow certin shows and block others. Way better than the regular rating blocks.

Like you mentioned, it sounds like your son is very upset with you. My first thought was discussing and leting him negotiate the shows (within a set of shows I o.k.) he wants to watch. If he was asking to watch things way too old for him I would stick with no, but offer more age approprate shows.

It sounds like he wants some controll over the tv. Is there a way you can give him that?

It sounds like you have a great relationship with your son, his anger could be mostly hurt because this is so important to him, and to him you may seem unwilling to compromise. As a parent that is totally your call. But I have found it gets harder as they get older. They start to have more firm beliefs as to what they want.

Fair warning is important when it comes to turning of the tv. Same thing with everything we do. 10 min and 5 min warnings. I would never try to turn it off in the middle of a show, or after 5 min, that would be tourture for them.

A friend of mine just had a situation where there was tv in the house for the first time and her 6yo had a very hard time with turning it off and she realised it had to do with the "comming up next, it's ????". The small anouncement they stick in at the end credits to hook the kids into the show on next. PBS dose this all the time. Once her son heard that he would feal he needed to see the next show. After a while he got used to that, and was able to ajust.

Growing pains are hard, good luck.

Michelle , 20+ years with a wonderful DH
Mama to two boys, 12 and 10

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#9 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 02:40 PM
 
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When I as a kid, I earned money for doing my daily responsibilities, and weekly chores. I earned $5 a week from my mom, and anything else I earned was from neighbors or my granny (doing things above and beyond my normal responsabilities) That $5 didn't buy me the skirt I saw at ******'s Outpost that I wanted so bad!!! I had to SAVE! When my mom explained the allowance idea to me, it was presented as payment for a job. It was my job as a kid to do XYZ every day, and 123 on the weekends. My allowance was my earnings for doing my job. It taught me responsability, not 'What are you going to give me if I do XYZ" If I didn't do my whole job, I didn't get my full pay!!! If I slacked off and decided I didn't want to cooperate with any of it, I didn't get paid!
When I say he can earn minutes, he'll need to bank those minutes to earn enough to be able to watch a whole show. The idea should be explained to him thoroughly. What the expectations are, and that if he doesn't comply, then he doesn't earn the minutes. It's HIS choice. He can't be angry with his parents because he will know that the burden of his actions lie on him. I think it's a great opportunity to teach responsability, stewardship and negotiation.

ETA: I was 6 when I started to earn money for chores. The $5 allowance started when I was 8. I remember at 6 saving my quarters to buy a little puppy shaped sachet from Avon. It cost 3.95...I had that thing until I was in High School. I eventually lost it in a move. I saved that little thing all those years, because it was the very first thing I purchased with my own money, and I appreciated it SO much.
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#10 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 02:57 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Wow, so many great idea and thoughts. Thank you all! Just feeling the community helps. This morning I decided to loosen the rope a bit and allowed him to go on the Internet (!!!) to access a LEGO site his friends were talking about. He was SO happy. I told him only a few minutes before school and only if he was ALL ready, teeth brushed, etc and that he couldn't throw a fit when it was time to turn it off. He said "if I forget, remind me". (so sweet!) And when it was time, he was FINE. Went in the car without a problem, all happy that he knew the names of the characters etc. I realize we have been too strict with him because of my fear of TV and the computer, etc. and that he just wants to fit in. We will sit down with him and establish looser rules so he can have more say in his life as you rightfully pointed out. I feel a LOT better already and am seeing the light at the end of the tunnel... They really are our teachers, and we need to listen and learn... THANK YOU all so much! Until the next crisis...
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#11 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 04:30 PM
 
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I think your compromise is a great one. It's hard to let go and let 'outside' influences in. But I remember as a kid needing to fit in, and not having my parents understand.

The rule in our house is that the kids get 2 shows a day or the equivalent in 'screen time' -- so if ds plays a computer game, then he gets one show.

Another thing that REALLY helps our ds is the TIMER. If you let him go on the internet to the lego site (pbs kids has some great games too, by the way), set the timer for the amount of time he gets. When it goes off, tell him to finish up what he's doing and log off. That way YOU aren't the 'enforcer', it's the timer. I usually set the timer for about 3 minutes before I really want ds to be done so that I have time to tell him 'finish up your game'. He hates to have to quit in the middle.

And I would actually NOT let him have 'just 5 more minutes' on the tv. As some people note, unless it's a whole show, why bother? And, it also sets you up for the 'whine and I'll get a few more minutes' dynamic. Instead, I'd do the family meeting and negotiate about screen time together. Find out, as you're doing, what's important to him and why.

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#12 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 05:08 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The timer is such a good idea! And I do think everyone is right about the extra 5 minutes. It just doesn't help. Thanks for all the suggestions!
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#13 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 06:29 PM
 
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To the OP, OT a little, but it seems that your ds is beginning to really identify with his peers. I recommend a truly great book called Hold On To Your Kids. Kind of attachment parenting with older kids. That or something like it may help you and your dh focus some on the *big picture* and make decisions now about things that may come up in the future.

Me : living with and loving papa and the kids: Dd1 8/97 , dd2 8/04 and my sweet baby ds 5/09 : :
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#14 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 09:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the recommendation, I'll check it out...!
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#15 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 10:35 PM
 
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Nathalie, I have a six yo. son also and there have been a lot of tantrums since school started. I think a big part of it is the fact that he is tired out and low on resources, especially after school. He snaps easily. He tends to ask for a LOT of television. I was assuming this has to do with wanting to crash out after school, but recently read "Sleepless in America" and it was mentioned in the book that kids crave television when they are tired because the light and stimulation helps keep their brain on "alert." This makes sense to me, and indeed, helping him get more sleep has lessened the tantrums and lessened the television viewing.

I just wanted to throw that out there, in case in applies at all. But having read the whole thread, I do think you are on to something when it comes to his need to "fit in." I see that with my sons too. My 10 yo. son recently started watching football, which confuses me, because he doesn't really like sports. But then he told me that the kids at school talk about football, and he wants to understand what they are talking about and be able to contribute. As much as I hate having a football game on all afternoon on Sunday, I want to honor this effort.

Also -- Montossori emphasizes making choices and taking responsibility. I imagine your son is growing rapidly in terms of his confidence and knowlege of his own capabilities. It wouldn't suprise me if he wants more control over decision making at home now too.
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#16 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 10:40 PM
 
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I haven't read anything on the TV subject, but just from personal experience with our boys, television and video/computer games do some WEIRD, WEIRD things.

Almost EVERY time we let our kids watch TV or play video games, they are super irritable afterwards.

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#17 of 17 Old 01-26-2007, 11:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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When my son was smaller, whenever he was exposed to any screen, he would watch mesmerized and then become really cranky, even if it was for just a few minutes at a friend's house. I think the fact that the brain has to take in thousands of images per second must indeed do weird things to it. But then there's the valid point of having him fit in, and allowing him to make more choices. I do think we've been too strict and not giving him enough responsability to make decisions, which will no doubt create issues later. So we're working on it. Such a difficult balance, and I suppose different with each kid. Why can't they come with an instruction manual?? Thanks for all the input!
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