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14 January 2018 – 9:17 pm | One Comment

Someone asked our 6.5yo Brie about her recent Mount Lawu hike:
‘So did you enjoy it?’
And … Brie shook her head.
‘Oops!’, the man smiled and looked at Wilson. ☺️

To us, it is okay if our kids …

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Home » Parenting

Parenting : Are We Losing Authority and Control over Our Small Children?

4 February 201312 Comments

Do little ones decide for themselves what they’d like to have, what they’d like do or say, and their parents are to ‘follow’ their decisions, instead of the other way around?

We all know how parents generally find it difficult to be in control of their children’s behaviour when they’ve reached their teenage years.

But what if their children are still young?

Do small children get to call the shots around the house these days?

Do little ones decide for themselves what they’d like to have, what they’d like do or say, and their parents are to ‘follow’ their decisions, instead of the other way around?

For example:
Child asks for the iPad so she can play games. Parent gives the iPad. Some 30 mins later, parent asks for the iPad back, child says NO. Parent insists, child asserts will and refuses (and talks back / reasons / throws tantrum, etc). Parent gives in and allows child to continue playing. And it happens almost ‘all the time, every day, throughout the day’.

Young children increasingly become ‘decision makers’ and parents give in, allow and follow their small children’s decisions.

Reality is, it’s happening in many families these days.

And it can be about anything. Child insisting on buying a toy, playing games on the internet / gadgets, etc.

ie. Young children increasingly become ‘kings and queens in the house’. They become ‘decision makers’ and parents (despite their ‘complaints’ about their children’s behaviour) give in, allow and follow their small children’s decisions.

I don’t know about you, but it’s heart-breaking to see all this happening in more and more families these days.

It’s a really sad, yet a very real issue that needs to be seriously addressed by us parents, I’d say.

Yesterday I wrote this on my Facebook status :

“If a parent sighed and said, ‘My 5-year-old son doesn’t want to study. He only wants to play games on his iPad all the time.’ … what would you say to the parent?’ 

(Basically, the child is not interested in anything else other than playing games on his iPad, which is what he gets to do everyday)

Here are some of the responses I received: 

“Take back the iPad.”

“I would ask the parent, ‘Who gave him the iPad?'”

“Maybe should lessen the iPad time and more of outdoor? I mean 5 yrs old is not exactly in “studying” mode, but also shouldn’t spend so much on iPad?”

“I would ask the parent, ‘Who gave him the iPad?'”

“Throw away the iPad. It will be painful for a few days but once he realises that it is real he will do other things like reading.”

“I’d say, parents should have the control,..but parenting is so hard. Am guilty of the same crime!”

“Kids should always ask for permission and I agree that parents should be in total control and set a time limit… Stick to it.”

It’s about role modeling too. If the parent keep playing with smartphone or tablet, the kid will do so too.

It’s about role modeling too. If the parent keep playing with smartphone or tablet, the kid will do so too. Change hobbies to reading or walking in parks.”

“There should be boundaries set. Like the duration allowed and when it is allowed. But I do see increasingly, kids as young as 8 carrying iPads to Sunday school, taking down notes. Ah Yo!! Causes envy and strive from other kids. And a temptation indeed to want to play even when the Sunday school teacher is teaching.”

“Parents are responsible for every aspect of a child’s life, until a certain age. Their youth is our time to nurture, instill and give limitations. We live in a tech world now and I don’t see anything wrong with them, but with limits.”

I’ve seen too many families in a restaurant where Dad/Mom are on their Blackberry, and kids are having their own entertainment device.

“Gadgets are good, but NOT necessary for home use. I’ve seen too many families in a restaurant where Dad/Mom are on their Blackberry, and kids are having their own entertainment device. Family dinner becomes an occasion that we look forward to because we could play and be on our own?”

Well, what’s YOUR thought on this?

And, what would YOU say?


  • Elaine says:

    Wow, thanks for the post… this post actually evokes three thoughts…

    a. Firmness in dealing with children. Yes, who calls the shots in the family? I confess, I find myself drifting sometimes, not so much about esteem of my children but because managing an evolving undesirable behaviour can be tiring and at least speaking for myself, I gave in sometimes because it’s so draining. Of course, only to realise my mistake subsequently and picking up from there… Boundaries and limits are important for young children. As much as they seem to want to break free from them, they actually feel secure in the boundaries provided for them (read about this in David Elkind’s The Hurried Child).

    b. Technology. Set limits and stick to them. I’ve recently been reading about young children, as young as 4, getting addicted to videos and games on portable devices like iPad and iPhones and needed counselling for their addictions. Another educator mentioned that keeping kids on the screens’ akin to giving them a mild dose of anti-depressant. Just observe how they are quietly “glued” to the screen. There’s just so many advisories against TV programmes and gadgets for young children but because we, as parents can’t see the immediate effect, we often regard the issue with less urgency and seriousness as compared to perhaps riding a bike on the road. I gave in a little too early to my second child. Am hoping to stick to a “no TV, no videos” rule for my third child till she’s a lot older.

    c. Giving space and time for our children to be bored. Coming from the last FB response… We often use technology to keep our children occupied during waiting times, probably w/o realising that it’s potentially robbing our children of time to daydream (and in the process develop creativity) and learning to wait (and developing the virtue of patience). While it’s tough for a young child to sit through an eight course Chinese dinner (which may well take over 2 hours), is it too much to ask them to wait 15 mins for their meals or to enjoy the scenery on the drive to school? In fact, most of the time, they’ll probably be chatting away, telling stories about what they see on the road or the last field trip or something they read in the morning. Or daydreaming about what they want to do on their next birthday. At least mine do… 😛

  • Sandra says:

    i think some parents feel that it is a “small” thing to allow the child to have the decision on such things but what most don’t realise is that it always starts with the small things… If we are not firm as parents, drawing the line as needed (even with small things), then there is no reason that the child will listen when it comes to big things. Some parents worry that being harsh with a small child or taking a hard line of discipline with a small child would hurt the child’s self-esteem. Not true. If you lay down the rules and stick to it and deliver the consequences of disobedience as you have said you would, you will earn the respect of your child. If you waive and don’t follow through, then your child will learn to play you. It would be like giving a child a sweet and then trying to take it back when you realise it is not so good for the child, of course the child will fight back.
    Parents need to be brave & be parents first and foremost & when the kid is grown, you will become their friend, & not the other way around.
    So with the issue of the iPad, set the ground rules, time limit etc… and follow through. Remember you are the parent!
    Sandra recently posted..The Fund BowlMy Profile

    • Leonny says:

      Thanks for sharing your thoughts on this, Sandra!

      “Some parents worry that being harsh with a small child or taking a hard line of discipline with a small child would hurt the child’s self-esteem. Not true.”

      I agree with you too.

  • Cherry says:

    Oops before I finished I hit the post button.

    I think kids demand for iPad or iPhone or TV only when they have got nothing else to do. If they are occupied they won’t bother. This is just a phase once they start formal education at 7 yrs they won’t have time to breathe even. In Singapore the edu is quite stressful and they spend long hours in school. By the time they get home there’s time left only to refresh , finish any homework and get ready for next day. So they will out grow this . But that dose not mean they can be unruly and be disrespectful towards parents., If my child talks back to me for not allowing to use the iPad then it’s my mistake. Stop giving from then on to teach a lesson. I tried that and it worked.

    • Leonny says:

      Thank you Cherry for sharing your thoughts on this!

      I personally find it interesting how the very tool that can help us can become the very thing that makes us (and our children) addicted to it, so much so that it disconnects us with those we love.

      Just need to be extra careful and aware on this, I think.

  • Cherry says:

    Interesting post! It’s not possible to completely keep them away from iPhone or iPad or TV for that matter. It’s all about being consistent. I do allow my dd to watch selected programmes on TV they do learn certain things from watching certain programmes. But I restrict to 1 programme or max 2 a day. After that if she rebelled I will take the plug off and hide the remote. I always tell her she can’t take for granted the freedom given. And coming to iPhone I don’t have iPad and don’t wish to have one as well 🙂 . Playing on iPhone is a big NO NO to me but she does play games or do colouring stuff when we are travelling and not at home. Just to keep her occupied during the long journey. I have enabled restrictions so
    She can’t go in to the Internet or YouTube. Am always afraid they might get exposed to
    Unwanted stuff. Having said all that sometimes she throws a tantrum and even raise voice at me demanding for the phone. I have realised its an addiction and leads to bad behaviour though it’s not their intention. It controls their mind and they want to be assertive to get what they want. I have completely stopped allowing using my IPHone. Too much exposure to technology children are forgetting to connect with parents.

  • Daddy Darren says:

    Interesting read!

    I think if we spent more time basically engaging our kids, through talking, playing, etc, there will not be a strong urge to play with the iPad/iPhone. It’s the basis human urge to connect with another human (on a physical/emotional level) that will help us prevail.

    I’ve blogged about this topic too in my own blog:

    Daddy Darren recently posted..How protective should parents be?My Profile

    • Leonny says:

      Hi Darren!

      Thanks for your thoughts. It’s always interesting to read a Daddy’s perspective too on topics like this! I went over to your site and read your posts. And yes I agree with you … real games versus virtual games … ‘real’ ones are always better because they let us and our children interact and connect.

  • Jenn Lee says:

    It is abt being firm since young. They live in that environment, growing up in that environment, they will know you mean it when you say ‘No’.

  • applausr says:

    no tv and no iPad in my family. No BB either on parent side.

    family time is playing together time. But still kids are queen and the king on some cases. nice thoughtful article.
    applausr recently posted..Long Distance Relationship (LDR)My Profile

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