Thursday, August 11, 2016

Learn with Joy: How I Helped My Daughter "Break Free" from Gadgets and Do the Things She Loves Instead

Nowadays that we are in the age of unparalleled technology, it seems hard for parents to manage and control its negative effects on our children. As a mom who is also struggling to be detached and free from these devices specially when I am with my daughter, I am constantly aware that my love bug is looking at me. 

Now when I say "break free", I am not saying that my daughter (who is just turning 5) has already been hooked on the gadgets. But there was a season when the 15 to 60 minutes iPad time or what she fondly calls "me time" had become two hours every. single. day. The effect: headache and watery eyes. I have finally put my foot down and told her this can't go on. So, how did I help her minimize the use of iPad or limit her screen time?

Get the support of the "authorities" she looks up to. 
Aside from dad and mom, one of the authorities our daughter looks up to is her paediatrician. When her doctor says, "This is good for you," she believes it. So, during one of her regular check ups, I brought this concern up to the paediatrician. She talked to my daughter and explained to her the probable cause of headaches and watery eyes. She then advised to stop using her iPad for a week and then told us (my husband and I) to regulate her use.

our love bug and her paediatrician 
Make a "house rule" together with her and stick to it.
From the time the pedia told us to regulate the use of iPad and other electronic gadgets, we establish a rule that all of us are subjected to: no iPhone, iPad or laptop on the table at mealtimes and on the bed before going to sleep. As parents, my husband and I always make sure that we set a good example to her.

Provide alternative (enjoyable) activities for her to be busy with.
We all know that when we remove a habit we should replace it with a new one. Just like any other kid, our love bug loves to play. That's one thing that she won't forget everyday of her life. But things change when her focus was on the gadgets. So I became more intentional in providing her with activities that I know she really loves to do.

What kid doesn't want to play sand...

playing sand
Or bubbles?

playing bubbles

Our love bug likes to extend help so we make sure we give her opportunities to do so.

cooking pancakes for breakfast
watering the plants

cleaning/washing the car

Childhood happens once; let her play pretend.

"Let's have a tea party, Mom!"

"This is my boat and these are the bubbles."

"Mom, I'm Rapunzel and this is my long hair."

"Let me cook your orders, Ma'am!"

"This is my boat."

"I'm on a sailboat."

Encourage her to be physically active.

Take her out and let her enjoy and explore nature, parks and museums. 

enjoying her swing ride
at the National Museum

Supply her with materials/tools/instruments that will challenge her creativity and imagination. 

watercolor painting

"Look Mom, I made a strawberry and tree!"
musical toy instruments

Enjoin her to workshops interesting and suitable for her.

pretzel-making workshop

Give her books that are fascinating to her and then read them together.

she loves books
For the first week, it was a struggle for all of us. But I'm glad that after several weeks of sticking to our rule and these activities, our daughter didn't look for gadgets as often anymore. Of course, we give her time to use her iPad. It's sort of a "treat" that she gets to enjoy only once a week. The result - no headaches and watery eyes. In addition to that, she is more physically active, creative and responsible. 

These days, it seems impossible to disengage our children from gadgets. But it can be done. We, parents should just be determined and intentional. Hope these ideas help you. If you have anything more to add, please feel free to write it in the comment box. I would love to hear your thoughts.