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Be patient while you deal with ‘addictions’

Be patient while you deal with ‘addictions’
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First Published: Fri, Jun 10 2011. 10 02 AM IST

Avoid a ban: Don’t make TV viewing a complete no-no for your child. Olaf Bender/Thinkstock
Avoid a ban: Don’t make TV viewing a complete no-no for your child. Olaf Bender/Thinkstock
Updated: Sat, Jul 02 2011. 02 14 PM IST
My eight-year-old son wants us to play cricket with him all day. I am sick and tired of it. One of us has to throw him the ball in our small garden every waking moment. He just won’t listen if we say we are tired or bored. He refuses to play with other children because he has to wait for his turn to bat and has to field. And now the holidays are here, so there’s no break from this for us. How should we handle this? It’s been going on for some months, so it’s not a passing fascination with the game.
That sounds utterly exhausting and mind-numbing. There are two things you will simply have to insist on/negotiate with your eight-year-old.
Avoid a ban: Don’t make TV viewing a complete no-no for your child. Olaf Bender/Thinkstock
One, he has to join cricket coaching and/or any cricket game that goes on in your neighbourhood. This is not just so you get a break from it; more importantly, it is so that he learns to be a team player, wait his turn, take part in other aspects of the game, etc. It’s simply not healthy that he should only want you to play with him so he can bat all the time. He’s old enough to join a group activity related to the game. You could use this obsession with the game to push him firmly away from being the centre of things.
Moreover, this will give him new things to master. At coaching, children learn technique, stamina building and, of course, teamwork.
It would be best that you promise to play with him for, say, an hour a day, only if he will go out there and play and learn the game. You will have to be pretty firm and work through the tantrums and sulking that may ensue, but it may be well worth it on several levels. First, you don’t need to then wander the malls! Jokes apart, it will really take his cricket craze to another, much healthier level.
The second thing you can do is to also get him to play other games with you. Children that age get totally “into” things—see if you can interest him in something, such as spinning an old-fashioned top. The one in which you patiently and carefully wind the string around and then learn to throw correctly. It is quite “addictive” once a child gets hooked to it. Think of other games, including badminton, carom, table tennis, puzzles, etc., so you too have a break from chucking the ball for him all the time. You may have to negotiate this too, offering to play cricket with him only if he plays other games for some time.
My nine-year-old daughter watches too much television. We are working parents and now that the holidays have begun and my in-laws look after her, she just does not listen to them and watches TV for hours. I have tried bribing, rewarding and threatening. Once I actually slapped her when she lied about how long she had been watching TV. I even hid the remote. But it led to so much sulking that I finally gave it back. What can I do to control her TV viewing?
Working parents really have a problem on their hands during vacations—trying to supervise their children with so much free time, that too by remote control. However, there are grandparents in the picture here. So one wonders how and why your daughter is disobedient of them? She seems to be treating them merely as “domestic help”, and not people who are there to take care of her and need to be listened to.
You need to remedy this now, and on an ongoing basis. It’s for you to look at whether this will involve pulling up your daughter and asking her to show more respect and love, or whether it will involve you changing the vibe you are giving about the role of the grandparents. It may be a bit of both. Grandparents and other relatives, such as aunts and uncles, in caretaking situations have to be given the space and scope to “parent” your child during this time, and not be mere servers of food and ensurers of safety.
Secondly, perhaps you need to find her some classes to join—hobbies, sports, reading circles/libraries, music, anything you think she may be drawn to. Of course, she’s going to passively watch TV if she has nothing else to do and no interests and hobbies are developed. She seems to be almost addicted to TV and she may not take well to the suggestion that she do something else. However, you have to do your homework, find viable options and then offer her a choice of activities to join. Even if you can get her to be away from the TV for 2 hours and at some other activity, that’s a start.
I would strongly urge you not to make TV a complete no-no. Sit with her when you’re all in a calm state and get her to mark which programmes she likes to watch—involve her grandparents in this commitment. Negotiate what you think is an acceptable number of shows she can watch, and it should not be in one chunk of non-stop viewing. Take a little interest in what she watches, perhaps watch and enjoy some of it with her. This way, the whole TV issue doesn’t become her-against-you, and she isn’t pushed into watching TV in sheer defiance.
Gouri Dange is the author of ABCs of Parenting.
Write to Gouri at learningcurve@livemint.com
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First Published: Fri, Jun 10 2011. 10 02 AM IST