Came across an interesting quote the other day:
“One thing I know for sure about raising children is that every single day a kid needs discipline…. But also every single day a kid needs a break.”
- Anne Lamott
Interesting quote, I thought.
And I agree with it.
For some reasons though, the quote reminded me of what someone shared with me quite a while back.
She told me about a 10-year-old boy who – during the school holiday – would IMMEDIATELY play games on his iPad upon waking up in the morning.
He’d play for like, TWO hours in one go.
He’s indirectly trained to place emphasis on self and self-interest, and not other people’sHe’d do this nearly everyday, throughout the school holiday.
Question: Did his parents know and allow it to happen?
Answer : Yes, and it’s because :
- When he’s told to stop, he didn’t stop playing. And so the parents stopped repeating themselves.
- “It’s holiday lah, it’s okay!’
Since it’s the school holiday, the parents felt it’s okay for him to do what he wanted to do. Especially since the boy wouldn’t be able to wake up late and play games that long when school has started.
As I always say, parents have their own ways of running their family.
And, parents are free to do whatever they feel is best for their children.
Having said that though, if I was asked whether I’d let the above situation happen to OUR children, the answer would be a clear no.
No, I wouldn’t let our children play any iPad / computer / mobile phone games upon waking up in the morning.
Regardless of whether it’s the school holiday or the weekends.
And, especially NOT for 2 hours, in one go or not.
[Exploring nature and being out in the open is one kind of activity that our family likes to encourage in our children]
Here are some of my personal reasons:
- I am not against the whole idea of ‘playing games on gadgets’ itself, BUT if what a child desires the most upon waking up in the morning (read: what he feels would make him happiest when he wakes up, what occupies his mind and makes him happy first thing in the morning, what he thinks about when he first opens his eyes) is to play games on gadgets, then to me, that is a HUGE problem.
It is a huge problem because :
- The act of playing games on gadgets then has truly become the ‘idol’ in his life, ie. Playing games is what makes him happiest!
And this is something I wouldn’t want to happen to our kids.
- This means, he’s allowed (by his parents) to focus his time and energy only upon himself.
He’s indirectly trained to place emphasis on self and self-interest, and not other people’s.
[Cycling together at Ocean EcoPark, Ancol - a nice way of spending family time together]
- This means, he’s allowed to ignore interactions with fellow members of the family upon seeing them in the morning.
The first sentences he’d say in the morning would probably be, ‘Where’s the iPad?’ instead of greeting parents / siblings with a ‘good morning….’?
he’s indirectly trained to ‘ignore’ his responsibilities> This means he’d been ‘made to lose’ his ability to find other means of activities that could entertain and occupy his holiday time, … activities that would give more and better variety to his life.
- If playing games on gadgets is what makes him happiest, usually he’ll find it hard to enjoy doing something else, like reading, playing music, drawing, socialising and playing with other friends his age, interacting with siblings, helping around the house, etc.
playing games on gadgets is never a child’s ‘right’> This means, he’s indirectly trained to ‘ignore’ his responsibilities (read: not taught on the importance of ‘knowing and doing our priorities’)
- To me, playing games on gadgets is never a child’s ‘right’.
It’s just one of the things that our kids can do when all other ‘more important’ things have been done.
Eg. Upon waking up in the morning, don’t ask for games if you haven’t even had your breakfast, shower, brush your teeth, practice piano, etc.
[Two older kids prepared dinner all on their own - a nice practice of what teamwork means, and a way to instill responsibility and enjoyment of being a hands-on and helpful member of the family]
- If allowed on a regular basis (though it’s done ‘only‘ during the school holiday), I feel as the parent, I’m allowing my child to be ‘addicted’, ie. The child would ‘expect’ his parents to allow him to do what he usually is allowed to do, … otherwise he’d throw his tantrums!
(‘What else can I do at home?? I feel bored! I don’t know what else to do!!!‘)
loving something should never make us disrespectful / ignorant towards others- Deliberately ignoring the parents when they ask him to do something is a big no-no for us.
Okay, of course this does NOT mean a child is a total robot with zero possibilities of expressing his thoughts or requests.
To me, the problem is on the act of ‘purposely not responding’ because the child is so engrossed with the games in his hands.
I mean, it is fine if you really like doing something, BUT … liking / loving something should never make us disrespectful / ignorant towards others, what more our parents.
[We feel it is a necessity to encourage the ability and willingness in our kids to find different ways of entertaining themselves]
Actually I could still go on and on, but I guess I’ll stop here for now.
The food for thought that I’d like to share is this:
Yes, children need ‘a break’, but there’s a bigger question that follows : what kind of a ‘break’ do we parents ‘give’ to them?
Will the kind of ‘break’ we allow them to have lead them to worse behaviour, addiction, compromise / ignorance of responsibilities and appreciation towards others, etc?
Parenting is such a complex task, isn’t it?
Training and raising our children with a ‘healthy balance of everything’ often seems such exhausting and even ‘impossible’.
I know I myself often feel that way.
May God give us the wisdom to know how we should raise our children, and the perseverance and consistency to walk our talk and be living examples for our children.
May God help us all.