Friday, February 11, 2011

Cade's Screen Time Makeover

I’m always looking for ways to satisfy my urge to organize.  My son is the focus of my latest mission.  I posted a few days ago about my quest for a new rewards chart and system for limiting my son’s TV and video game time.  Well, I found it.  I created the ultimate system for doing just that.  At least I think so and my son’s pretty pumped too.

I searched websites (especially this one) for different ideas and tips.  I had a very complex idea, too complex for a preschooler, and simplified it so that he can easily learn and use our new system.  Cade loves numbers and is learning more and more math skills so I incorporated that into tracking his screen time.  We bought him his own timer and made him somewhat responsible for setting his own limits.  I have faith in this approach because for one, kids love feeling in charge and responsible for their own well-being and two, it will help teach him self-control, time management and responsibility.  Inadvertently, he’s also learning some reading and math skills too!  He thinks it’s awesome.

Here’s a look and our new and improved, super duper rewards system:

Let me explain my madness.  Really, all I changed about the first system was the addition of the first page ("Cade's Activities") and new daily goals (chores) to better fit his age and abilities.  I'm thinking about adding new rewards, but for right now we have quite a few and he still loves all of them.  As you can see, there are 12 columns on the "Activities" page, each titled "10", standing for 10 minutes.  Cade gets 120 minutes of TOTAL screen time in one day.  (Right now, we're not counting the TV that we watch as a family in the evenings because it was the time he was spending glued to cartoons or Wii games, without social interactions, that was becoming an issue.  We watch family friendly shows with him and talk with him throughout those shows so it's somewhat of a conversation starter and learning opportunity.  I know, I know...that time SHOULD be counted too, but little steps people, little steps!)  Okay, moving on...

Cade gets to decide how his 120 minutes of screen time is divided (but he still asks for permission before snatching the remote.)  He's learning how to count by 10's in order to track this (sometimes to make it easier we just count the marks that he makes in each square and then his limit is "12" marks = 120 minutes.)  He's also learning that if one row (TV time or video game time) is full, he can't have any time in the other row.  Haha.  Sometimes that bothers him, but mostly because he's obsessive about "completing" things and doesn't like the empty spaces.  Also he has brief feelings of being cheated out of some of his allotted time when there are empty spaces, but then we just count the marks and I say, "12 is 12!  That's your limit!"  Then I encourage him to look at the listed "great things to do" activities to help fill his time and keep him having tons-o-fun instead of pouting on the couch.  Before, I would just spout out orders and threats, "Go look at the hundreds of books you have!  Play with your millions of cars!  I'll just have to tell Santa that you don't like your toys and that he doesn't have to bring any new ones next year!"  Now, he sees that he's met his limit and it's not me just telling him.  He doesn't hear "NO, you can't watch more cartoons!" when he sees that, "YES, I did get my time!"  And now when he's encouraged to try another activity that's listed on his sheet, I hear, "Okay!"  Voilà!

See, visualizing duties, responsibilities, limits, just makes it more fun!  And easier! J


Anonymous said...

Very cool chart system. Wonder if it would work on my husband? Cute new layout, too!

Emily @ Baby Dickey said...

I love it! Omgosh, I feel like I have so much to learn. Good thing you're here :)

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