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.

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14 thoughts on “Limits

  1. 2 hours a day max for the total combined use of computer + video games + television. It goes RATHER quickly. Oh, and never until homework is done and checked.

  2. Gosh. If only there was a formula that worked for every kid! One of my girls MUST have alone time – either drawing or just daydreaming to stay grounded and happy. Another of my girls MUST be around little people her age to be happy. Isn’t it doctor Phil that says ‘Every kid has a currency’? For me, I can’t take away TV from them, because I need the break for my sanity! And hey – they wouldn’t learn Spanish from ME! However, I NEVER let them watch channels with advertising/ or online games with advertising. The advertisers nowadays are toooo good at what they do!

  3. My son (age 11) is limited to video games only on the weekends and only 6 hours for the entire weekend, that includes his NintendoDS. He’s also limited to an hour on the computer every day, but only after the homework is done. I haven’t had to withhold any of this he’s a really good kid and stays out of trouble.

  4. I don’t have any set limits yet and will probably need to soon. Since my kids are in school, I can monitor a little better how much they do each activity. I try to have them play outside or with each other after school, but a little video game or tv time with a snack is ok until dinner. But after that, no more tv or video games. The weekend is a WHOLE other story!


  5. no set limits here either.. WE don’t have any of the major video game or hand held units just the plug and play ones.. and my 8 year old would stay on them all day if they were out where he could see them all the time.. but since most the time it is out of sight out of mind it’s not an issue. I’ll bring them out when it is too cold to go outside or raining or whatever.. but when it is nice they normally would rather be outside.. Now Webkinz and computer play is a different story.. I don’t have a set limit for that either but since there are 6 of us and 1 computer we give them each a limit on it depending on what day it is who wants the computer what is going one, is it nice outside whatever.. the time changes daily. but since my kids on there own don’t spend there whole day playing games, on the computer or watching TV.. this has never been an issue in my house..
    NOW sometimes when I sit at the computer I feel like I need my mom setting a time limit for me, because once I start blogging I can sit here all day ;P

  6. In our family, each child is a different story. My six year old daughter gets tired of the Wii after about 20 – 30 minutes, and she would much rather write stories, color, or play with toys. I don’t tend to use it as a bribe or consequence with her.

    My eight year old son is a different story. He would play video games all day if we let him. He still doesn’t seem to understand why we say no to TV when he’s just finished playing the Wii for 2 hours. I will take away or add to “game time” for him. He is usually allowed no more than 2 hours a day.

    Neither child is allowed to play the video game before homework is done, but I will let them watch a short TV show and have a snack before homework.

    I have to admit – both my kids have a DS, and we are one of those families who let their kids play with them while we wait for food in a restaurant. Usually it’s a Friday night, and it’s a great way for my husband and I to catch and plan the weekend together.

  7. There’s no tv or video games during the week. The one exception is if its a family time and we’re playing Wii together or something special on the tv. Weekends are limited to a little in the morning on Saturday and a little on Sunday afternoon.If they’ve had a bad week then they lose their time on the weekends. My boys don’t complain about it either, at least not yet.

  8. I struggle with the same thing. My son, and I confess his daddy and I, enjoy the Wii plus he has Webkinz and Toontown on the computer and his Leapster although that is pretty much educational. I find that he goes in spurts though where he doesn’t play hardly at all and then it is all he does. I find it hard to limit him sometimes though when I am just as bad with my computer.

    Another thing that I struggle with is spoiling the kids. It seems I am always grabbing them something here and there and then they have their times when they throw a fit when I don’t get something. I like to be able to treat them, but I don’t want to create spoiled brats. I’m trying to find the happy medium!

  9. I wish I could tell you I had it all worked out – after all I only have ONE, WHAT AM I doing all day?! — oh WORKING, yes THAT, that’ll eat up some time fo sho!

    We use it as a consequence and here’s a really sad thing…we withheld xbox for an overnight when a friend was here and they were doing something I had asked them not to and they asked to play a game on the computer – well that led to a computer game addiction where he can have FRIENDS on there (ya know like twitter or a blogroll). Oyyyyy!!! AHHHHHHH

  10. I have no hard and set rules. There are days (mostly in the summer) where she watches a lot of TV and then weeks will go by and she shows no interest at all. Same with her DS Lite also.

    That was helpful, wasn’t it?

  11. I have a crazy terrible time sticking with the limits I’ve set. This is something I really need to work on. I have found, however, that it does work wonders to say their t.v. time will be taken away if they don’t mind, etc. This is something I can follow through with.

  12. Blackbelt – I most definitely think it’s time for you to get your own blog! 🙂 I know of a good designer! 😉

    And I totally agree of course. I like your use of wise and sad. I tell my kids the same thing, although I’m not quite as eloquent. I tell them that TV makes them stupid and junk food will kill them. Same difference, right? 😉

  13. I don’t want to come off like a know-it-all so I’m asking for lenience right from the git-go.

    I, for one, don’t feel badly setting limits. I believe it’s my job to make my son strong in “body, heart and mind,” one who seeks to be like Jesus. I figure “training him” now is a lot easier than waiting until he’s got raging hormones and negative world influences. Ofcourse it does tick me off when daddy is perceived to be “perfect” and I’m the mean one. 😉

    I have always made it clear to my son (just shy of 6) that my job is to take care of him – keep him safe and make him strong, and that his job is to obey me. Ofcourse he doesn’t like it when I put limits on him, but I will tell him that too much TV is not good for his brain. That when he eats too much candy, he gets a cavity and it makes me sad to see him hurt at the dentist’s. Don’t get me wrong, we’ve had trying times, even at this docile and compliant age. One Sunday morning, I was trying to pawn him off to some other mothers, even you!

    I also have taught him that it is up to him to make the choices for his behavior. No matter what he chooses to say or do, I love him, but he has a choice. He can make WISE choices, which makes mom, dad and God smile down at him, and often gets him a reward: good grades, a treat, etc. If he makes a SAD choice, there are consequences he has to live with: mom gets cranky, he loses privileges, etc.

    Here’s an example about cleaning up. I say “Jinsok, it’s your choice. You can clean up, or I can clean up. Remember, if I clean up, I choose where the toys go.” Usually this means somewhere inaccessible and he has to earn it back. (Sometimes this means the trash.) The first couple of times, he acted like he didn’t care, but FUNNY, the next time he cleaned up in a SNAP!

    You noticed I said WISE and SAD, not good an bad. I don’t want him thinking that behavior determines his heart and value. I don’t want him thinking “Oh I make good choices, therefore I’m a good person.” because no one is good; not one, only the Father in Heaven.

    Anyway, I try to show him that I put limits on him because I am a STRONG MOMMY. Also, when other moms limit their children, I am sure to point it out to him and say “See, Mrs. ___ is a strong mommy too.”

    So that was long. Ya think I should get my OWN blog?!

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