Powering Down

As unschoolers, we trust our children to make the choices about what they do with their time. Who would know better how to spend one’s day than oneself? This is where, as parents, we often get accused of unparenting. Nothing could be further from the truth and I’ll tell you why.

Parenting a child who unschools means you need to stay in tune with your child. Really see them and know them and understand how they tick so that you can best facilitate their journey. With no curriculum to guide you, the child is the guide and you all know how much they change every day. So, this is no small feat.

I have tended toward the radical unschooling end of the spectrum, as much as our lifestyle allows. B chooses when he goes to sleep, how much and when he eats, what outside activities he wants to go experience, and until a couple days ago, how much screen time he wanted.

When our schedule changed in September, four months ago, he was given carte blanche with the computer, game systems, and his tablet. I noticed as time went on that less choices were being made to do other activities. Science experiments, that were once an almost daily thing, were not an interest. YouTubers were becoming a source of ‘friendship’ of sorts. Our cabinets and closets and shelves of toys, books, games and puzzles were becoming completely ignored.

I was still strewing and asking often if certain activities might be of interest and was increasingly being told, not right now. While months were going by, I was holding the trust that he would soon learn to self regulate his screen usage. Then I started to notice things he would say about sucking at real life or that he didn’t smile much any more. He started chewing his nails until they bled. We talked about it feeling difficult for him to shut down the screens and do other things that he enjoyed. He ‘couldn’t.’

Not every child, or adult for that matter, is going to be that way. Part of the trust and being in tune with your child, is being aware of when you need to step in and help set healthy limits. We all need help now and then. He is upset about having these new limits and I even heard, “you’re not the boss of me!” We will get through it together because, no, I’m not the boss of him, we are a team, but I’m also his mom. My duty is to do what’s best for him and help him be his best self.

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8 thoughts on “Powering Down

  1. SWintuned with B
    You are awesome and I wish I would’ve/could’ve been like that when mine was growing up
    So many things would be different
    I didn’t know. .
    Only what I had been taught 😉
    I know you are helping and changing others life and ways of thinking

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks for reading and for the kind words! ❤ We can only do the best with what we know. That's part of why I have this blog, so I can share what works and doesn't work for us. I guess in that regard I'm still the 'educator' I once thought I'd be.

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  2. We parent in exactly the same way and experienced exactly the same issue with screen time. We then set limits, which are not static and are negotiable. This has led to an happier child. It has become abundantly clear that whenever she asks for the limits to be relaxed and we concede, the self doubt and negative outlook creep back. It affects the whole family. It’s very interesting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. The limit I set was explained as something that can be discussed and it was renegotiated just this morning. In this way he feels more in control and there is still a healthier balance. We’ll see how it plays out, going forward.

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  3. We have been through this with our son too at times since he is 6.5. Currently the only rule for the computer is that once the grownups go to bed he has to turn it off for the night. We had a 2 week break from computer time this summer while on family vacation. When we came back there was a youtube marathon of sorts and now he learning to balance his time with tv (a couple of shows when he wakes up with a drink), then it could be playing with toys, experiments, outside activities, tablet, MInecraft, Lego Dimensions etc. after a few hours he is ready to watch some youtube. It really depends on the subject matter of the youtube videos for the zoning out. It is all about the freedom of choice and learning to set healthy limits. Sometimes adults too can get stuck in a rut of social media, gaming, tv, etc. and we should all look out for each other. This is how it works in our house.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I too have gotten stuck in a gaming rut. We have a whole family tree of addictive personalities so I guess it’s not a surprise that he may need some help taking a step back. When he himself was noticing changes in himself and verbalized those, I felt it was time to step in.

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  4. I notice the same with my little. What I’ve come to realize is that at some point I have to parent. Though we unschool, radical or not, we are still responsible for teaching our children certain things…and self regulation is one. Great job on recognizing it was time to step in. You’ve motivated me to stop worrying about his possible reaction to the change and to just jump right in and parent.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Self regulation seems to be really hard with something like tech that constantly has ways to draw you back in. I’m guilty of checking my phone too many times during the day, at times.
      Glad my post could be motivational. 🙂

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