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Posts Tagged ‘child

I enjoyed this personal piece by Mimi Ito, How I Bonded with My Son by Ignoring Gaming Limits.

She shared her thoughts and distilled approaches from research, expert advice, and her personal experience. I distill them further into these four bullet points.

  • Negotiate limits
  • Set clear expectations
  • Provide guidelines, not rules
  • Communicate, communicate, communicate

I wonder if Ito might agree with me that strategic and open communication is the most important element in managing a child-gamer. After all, gaming is an opportunity to teach, learn, and bond. In Ito’s own words:

Reflecting helped me realize that our good times are when my son and I respect one another’s interests and integrity, and bond over shared values. This can mean valuing genuine curiosity and learning over a single homework assignment, or respecting that family dinner is as important as gaming with friends. It has also has meant my appreciating that both of us actually understand what a healthy bedtime is, even though at times we ignore it to nerd out on something fun.

Gaming is important to child-gamers. It provides context in lieu of life experiences, shapes their experiences, dictates what they consume, and inspires what they create. Why stand in the way when we can stand beside?

I share my own perspectives that I have collected and created with image quotes.

We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.

How to see possibilities Open your eyes to read. Open your hands to try. Open your mind to new ideas. Open your heart to being a kid again.

Do not confine your children to your own learning, for they were born in another time.

If we teach today’s students as we taught yesterday’s, we rob them of tomorrow. -- John Dewey

I am not sure where I am going with this, so I will let the storytelling tell me where to go.

Last Friday was the final day of the school term for mainstream schools here. I was at a mall and walked behind a mother and her son. The boy, about 8 or 9-years-old, started merrily declaring, “I am so happy there’s no more school!”

Then he started walking like the little girl in the now infamous video. There is even a GIF of her and her younger brother.

As he dance-walked, he kept repeating, “Woo-hoo, there’s no school! Woo-hoo, there’s no school!”

I am sure that many teachers are just as thankful for the break. Inside they might feel like the girl in the GIF and secretly they might want to express themselves like the boy at the mall.

Enjoy the break teachers because you deserve it. And if you gave too much holiday homework, you deserve what is coming your way too. 😉

 
You might be reading this because of the clickbait title and image. I hope you read on even though this reflection is not about punishing your child. It is about inculcating discipline.

Earlier this week, my son decided to share what his school mates do for meals outside of school. Some of them have such huge allowances that they drink a Starbucks coffee every day. Others microwave marked up and over-processed food at a 7-11.

Some might argue that the kids are not drinking actual coffee nor are they consuming good food. I choose not to focus on this health issue. Instead I wish to share some strategies of helping kids manage their money, their time, and themselves.

Managing money
Some of my son’s classmates come from rich households and this shows in their allowances. Their weekly expenditure on Starbucks alone exceeds my son’s weekly allowance and public transport fares combined.

Parents want the best for their kids and for me this does not meaning giving them everything they want or more than they need. It means nurturing good values and attitudes with something as basic as managing one’s allowance.

One simple way to help kids manage finances is to discuss their weekly allowance and to show them how to use it. This means getting down to specifics of what they might eat at breaks and lunch, and how much to spend.

My son also has to save part of his allowance to buy what he wants. This is typically e-wallet gaming money which can take a few months to build up. This teaches him not only the basics of financial literacy, but also how to prioritise and to persevere.

Managing time
Money is tangible in that it can be held or exchanged for some commodity. Time less so.

Kids will spend hours on devices if we let them and if we do not teach them how to walk away. Even adults are guilty of doing this, so who are we to judge? But judge we must because kids need to learn to allocate time to different tasks.

We do two things in our home to help my son manage his computer gaming time. We discuss limits and we use a timer.

When he was younger, we typed up and laminated a contract that stated expectations, limits, and consequences. We stuck the contract on the computer desk where he plays and works.

Now that he is older, we do not rely on the old contract. We have a spoken agreement on how much time he can spend on the computer on weekdays and weekends. He sets the timer, and when it goes off, he has to stop using the computer.

This means that he must decide how much time and effort he can spend with his gaming buddies. His expeditions must be planned instead of leaving everything to chance or emergence.

Managing self
Managing one’s finances and time are part of managing one’s self. But there are other aspects of self management, e.g., social behaviours.

A significant issue growing up is dealing with negative peer pressure. The do’s and don’ts are too numerous to list, so we have opted not to fight that battle. Listing a set of “commandments” does not teach a child to think critically and independently.

Instead I introduced the concept of “spheres of influence” to my son. I told him that when he was younger, my wife and I were the only ones in that sphere. As he grew up more relatives, other adults, friends, and acquaintances stepped in and out of that sphere.

The growing sphere is a natural function of learning in social contexts. However, only his original parental sphere has his best interest in mind. The other spheres may have non-ideal or less altruistic goals.

My son experiences this for himself every day, so the spheres of influence are not just a theoretical concept. If we tell him what and why he needs to do something, he knows we have his well-being in mind.

The spheres shape each person and condense into who they are. The quality of a person manifests itself in self-management and some expressions are more obvious than others.

I look for small evidence of self-management. He clears his food tray without being reminded. He does not abandon his bag in a public place. He greets “uncles” and “aunties” on his own.

Being a mild child, he is shy about the last one and needs constant reminding. But that is why he has parents. We are there to instil that discipline.

I question the saying that it takes a village to raise a child.

I know what it means, but today’s village also has its idiots and perverts. A few of them even become village chiefs or run for president.
 

 
That said, it does take a village to educate one child, particularly if we redefine the village. Today we are talking about the global village. Some teachers and parents worry that this village has more bad people in it. They conveniently forget that it also has a lot of good ones too.

It might take a village to educate a child. It only takes a school to reduce one into submission. To raise a child who is a creative and critical contributor, we need to kids to know and experience their village well, idiots and all.

I had mixed feelings when I watched these two videos of kids expressing their talents.


Video source


Video source

I was in awe of their abilities and I could also see the time and effort they put in by way of practice.

I also wondered how many kids get the opportunity to let their talents shine. And not just the kids with outstanding or marketable talent.

They first need to be aware of their talents or be spotted with them. Then they need to be nurtured at considerable cost of time, effort, and money.

In an inequitable world, a few kids get those opportunities. Most do not and there is little one can do except try to change the world bit by bit.

But in a schooling world even kids with opportunities might have their talents squashed (along with their curiosity and creativity) all in the name of completing curricula and doing well in tests.

Dancers and musicians may not solve the world’s biggest problems. But neither are content that is irrelevant and testing that is meaningless.

The problem solvers are the ones we allow to be curious and creative by expressing their talents. Should we not be doing more to identify and nurture talent?


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