So I post frequently on here about trying to get my family to live a healthy lifestyle. Quick review: I have a husband and four kids ages 17, 14, 12, and 5. Lockdown was terrible for the older kids and they really suffered with their mental health and remote learning. I’ve tried various strategies to help motivate them to lead healthy lifestyles.
This winter the doctor gave me the idea to get them FitBits and offer rewards for goals met, and to not make it a big deal if they don’t meet those goals. It’s their choice if they want to do it or not. So I did that all winter and spring and it worked out ok. The problem was that there was too much cheating going on. I’m not even sure how this happens, but somehow they can sometimes get 30 minutes of “activity” according to their FitBits even though they are sitting on the couch watching TV. So then we started arguing because I didn’t want to give them rewards for that, and they felt this was unfair because even though they couldn’t recall doing any activity, they felt they must have been doing something, cause FitBits don’t lie, right? (That’s what they think anyway!) The plus side is that they certainly got more mindful of their activity levels and like to brag about their accomplishments.
Meanwhile I think they finally got tired of sitting on the couch. They decided to sign up for some summer classes. They are doing several art classes, dog obedience, and a fashion summer camp.
I mentioned all this to their doctor during their last check up. She gave me a different idea if the FitBits aren’t working: offer them incentives for signing up for fitness classes. They gladly took me up on that offer! The 14 year old signed up for kickboxing. The 12 year old signed up for more art classes and committed to biking there. My 5 year old signed up for T-ball and gymnastics.
My 17 year old just graduated from high school and we told her she needs to get a job.
All the kids are actually excited about their activities! I don’t feel like I forced them at all, I just offered them a bunch of options and they were excited to chose things.
So for my 12 and 14 year old, since they signed up for so much, their reward is that I won’t bug them about screen time all day until the 11pm shut off.
My 17 year old gets a 12am shut off as long as she holds a job.
Now I’m undecided about screen time for my 5 year old. I feel he should have much less than his teenage sisters. He is a hyper-focused kid and WILL not do anything else if the TV is on or devices are available.
To all the other kids out there - what are your screen time rules for young kids around 5 years old?