I’ve had a challenging time getting Cody off of his electronics (laptop, iPad, iPod). If I am not vigilant on the weekends, he will spend ten to twelve hours on them, stopping only to eat. Just saying he cannot have access to his electronics doesn’t work. In a way, it is like punishing him for doing something that he really loves to do (he spends the majority of his time on Minecraft building and/or story building or playing the math game Prodigy). So, in order to lure him away from his electronics in a way that puts the decision in his own hands, I had to come up with some creative ideas. Of the many ideas that I have tried over the years, two have been the most successful.
The first was to create a list of tasks for Cody to complete each Saturday and Sunday. These tasks include things like: build something with Legos, write a poem using word magnets, jump 500 times on the trampoline, and read a book for thirty minutes. Additionally, I add a few specific chores like getting his laundry ready to be washed or putting it away, making a meal of his choice, cleaning up after a meal, or sorting recycling items in their specific bins. I write out a list first thing in the morning and give it to him. Then I allow him to decide when he will complete the tasks on the list. This teaches him time management and also gives him the power to decide when it is best for him to complete each task throughout the day. I have had a lot of success with this method as long as I don’t continue to bother him about when he’s going to complete the tasks. I offer gentle reminders if it is getting later in the day, but otherwise, I take a hands-off approach and let him figure it out on his own.
The second idea was to rearrange the living room (where he spends the majority of his time) to include items that would spark his creativity and lure him away from his electronics naturally. I put a desk in one corner of the living room and filled it with all our art supplies as well as other items to spark creativity such as his Legos. This has worked well because when he gets bored with his electronics, instead of looking online for more games to play, he now has available to him physical items within eyesight that he can choose to engage with instead. This has had a miraculous impact on him. There are some days he will now spend a couple of hours engaged with his Legos or creating his own medical report documents and scientific experiments on the desk. Even though the desk had been available to him in another room before, the act of bringing the things he would most likely engage with into the room he spent the most time in helped change the way he did things naturally. Of course, this idea was a bit challenging at first because I kept imagining that our living room would become a chaotic mess all the time. It is the first room people walk into when they come to our home, so I didn’t want it to look too messy and disorganized. However, for the most part, this hasn’t happened. Cody has done a great job of cleaning up after himself and keeping the space in good order – an unexpected positive outcome. This new arrangement has benefited me as well. I’ve begun creating art again now that all the art supplies are so easily accessible to me in a space where I would normally just sit and watch television or read. So, as is usually the case, the changes I made to assist Cody have had a positive impact on my life too.
Something to consider: In what ways might you spark your own or your child’s creativity by rearranging the room you spend the most time in so that it includes the things that you or your child are most likely to creatively engage with?