FREE PLAY

Anyone who has read my blog previously knows that our family enjoys boating and have a few friends that share our passion for time spent on the water.

The thing I love the most is seeing the kids interact – moving away from screen time and structured play.

The other morning some of our kids and their friends took the dinghy into the beach and spent hours creating their own fun. Years ago they discovered if you rubbed different coloured rocks with water you could make ‘face paint’. The kids were all painted – fairies for girls, snakes for boys.

After that was done they found flotsam and jetsam on the beach and painted them, before creating a ‘shop’ where they could use collected gems (rocks) to pay for the items they made. This imaginative and creative play borrowed some inspiration from minecraft but instead of the kids creating cyber worlds to interact with one another they used nature.

They were only about 100 metres away from us but they were really a world away. They only escaped that world briefly to come back to our boat for snacks and drinks to keep up their energy levels.

I’m sure our kids will look back on their childhood and reflect on days like that rather than the time they made a fort in minecraft!
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BARGAINING TOOL

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For our son’s last birthday we gave him a mini ipad. It was not primarily so he could play games, although he loves doing that (Minecraft is a particular favourite at the moment). It wasn’t to keep up with other kids, as many of his friends have ipads. It was in all honesty so we would have something we could use a bargaining tool. In essence we gave it to him so we can take it off him!

There is no golden rule for what works when disciplining kids. What works for one child won’t work for another or even something that has worked with a child in the past won’t always work in the future! I’ve tried sticker charts, jellybean jars, a chart with $100 where they lose $1 each time they do something wrong, time-out, naughty chair, behaviour star chart app and finally confiscation. All with varied results.

Our son doesn’t mind being put in time-out, he doesn’t really care if he loses stars on his behaviour chart (which equates to money or treats) and in general he doesn’t care if he has toys and possessions confiscated.

He has never been the sort of kid who is particularly attached to things, so in situations where there have to consequences for poor behaviour, he has never cared enough about anything for its confiscation to mean anything to him. In February I confiscated his xbox controller – initially for a week (but he didn’t care); it then became for a month (still his behaviour didn’t change); eventually he lost it until Christmas (at this point he realized the severity of the punishment and gave in).

Sadly, he has just spent money he received for his birthday on Disney Infinity characters he can use on his xbox, except he has no access to his xbox for another few months. Instead, he has to use them like figurines and play with them in the traditional sense, rather than in the interactive electronic way in which they are designed.

We are firm believers of following through on any threats so he will have to wait until December to get back his x-box but in confiscating it for such a long time, it meant we didn’t have any bargaining power left. We came to the realization that we needed a new item that he would love so much that we could use it as a bargaining tool. I’m happy to say that it is working a treat. In the last few weeks he has lost the privilege of using his ipad on several occasions but usually for a few hours or overnight. He adjusts his behaviour and then gets it back at the allotted time. It is starting to work that just the threat of losing his ipad is enough for him to do as he is told. That little Apple device is seriously worth its weight in gold!

I’m sure Steve Jobs expected ipads to be tools for entertainment and business, but little did he know that in our household it would be valued more as a bargaining tool!

What do you use as tools to help when disciplining your kids?

(Photo courtesy of Ambro, freedigitialphotos.net)