Limits

I think the hardest thing as a parent is setting limits.  I know it’s my job to set limits, and I know that the parenting experts will tell you that children not only need limits but actually crave limits, which is why they test the limits.  Of course they don’t realize this.  They think they want endless freedom.  So when we, as parents, impose limits, they often balk.  And I don’t know about you, but I hate being the bad guy.

My 5-year-old daughter has been known to tell me she wishes she had another mommy when I won’t let her watch TV every time she asks.  And I find myself explaining to my 8-year-old son, when I tell him no more video games, that it’s not because I enjoy saying no, but because I love him and am trying to do what’s best for him, and I know that too much "screen time" is bad for his little developing brain.

He understands this, I think, but he would play his Playstation 24/7 if I let him.  And then there is the daggum Nintendo DS (that’s one of those little hand-held doomajiggies, if you live in a hole and didn’t know that). 

Of course, this means that withholding video games is an excellent consequence for negative behavior.  And a great bargaining chip when I want a favor.  Hey, I’m not above a little bribery once in a while.  You’ve never SEEN a playroom picked up so quickly than when I mention to my son that he can earn some extra video game time that way.

So how do you decide on the limits you set?   How much TV/video game/computer time is too much?  How much is reasonable?  Do you use this time as a reward or withhold it as a consequence?  I need to know.