One year ago, I grounded my kids for bad behavior. We were at my cousin’s home and they began running around the house like wild hooligans! First, I was embarrassed. Then I found it disrespectful considering my cousins were doing me a favor by babysitting my 4 month old. Usually my kids are obedient and responsive when it comes to discipline, but this time, they threw care to the wind.
When we got in the car (but before we headed home) I calmly and quietly turned around. Looking them in the eye, I explained to them that I expected more. “When we’re in someone else’s home, I expect you to be respectful, polite, obedient – just like we behave in our own home.” (In our family, we often speak about how good behavior has “benefits” while bad behavior has “consequences”.) So, I told them there would be a consequence for their actions.
Like most kids, my kids LOVE TV. So while still in the car and thinking quickly on my feet (although admittingly coming up with a punishment QUICKLY is never a good idea), I said, “As your consequence, I’m going to take away TV time for a whole week.” As that came out of my mouth, I heard from the hooligans, “What? No, Mom!” and in my own head, the words came, “Woman, are you crazy? That will teach you to speak before you think. A week without TV? So now you’re on duty to entertain them. Yea…smart move, Mom!” Gulping, I stuck to my guns and said a little prayer.
Long story short, we fared that first week much better than I anticipated. With no TV, there was actually less arguing about what to watch and whose turn it was to pick the show. That in and of itself was a huge blessing. Less for me to manage. I was also impressed that they actually LIKED playing together…A LOT! They began to use their imagination (from books we’d read) to create characters and plots, even the brown box in the living room became their “hide-out” and endless hours of play.
After that glorious week of no TV – I gave them a reward: ANOTHER week of no TV! (Snicker, snicker). I was actually having fun watching them take leadership roles in their imagination play, learn to be flexible with each other and growing their relationship. And truth be told, I think they were some what excited to have an excuse not to turn on the tube: Mom’s new rule. Yup – the gift of parenthood: you get to make your own rules!
So it’s been 15 months since that heavenly “grounding episode” and we’ve adopted this new rule: No TV during the week. Only on the weekends and with that – only 2 hours on Saturday and Sunday. This gives them time to watch a movie or two from the library. But on sunny days – sometimes that TV never gets switched on during the weekends. As my oldest recently said, “Mom, TV is really boring compared to what you can do with your imagination.”
Moral of the story: “Groundings” and “quick thinking” do have a long term advantage…for the whole family!