(I submitted this to MMB a few months ago, but never heard anything so...I'm publishing it here.)
I wasn't against my sons having a video game system so much as I was vehemently opposed to it. So when our oldest, Max, started asking for a Wii a few years ago, I said the following:
"I will never, ever buy you a Wii. (Or Game Cube. Or Playstation. Or Atari!) If you want one, you'll have to buy it yourself!!!"
HA! I showed HIM!
So he saved up his earnings from chores and his $10-for-every-month-you-don't-eat-candy, and approximately a year after our conversation, he bought himself a used Wii from his Uncle Dave.
(Didn't see that coming...)
What's a mom to do? Tell you what Doug and I did: We told the boys they (Max has to share) could play it for one hour on Fridays (assuming chores and homework are done) and two hours on Saturday (assuming chores are done and it isn't a beautiful day outside.)
Also, if there is fighting, crying, or whining, the Wii gets turned off and boys get kicked back out to the back yard. (Where they should be anyway.)
This set-up has been working well since December.
More recently, I've instituted an additional incentive program. If I catch them doing something nice or being extra helpful, I give them a marble in the "extra Wii time" jar. Each marble is worth 5 minutes that they can use ANY TIME! One week they earned 20 extra minutes and I got some extra work out of them!
Surprisingly, the Wii hasn't been too bad to have around. And I'm realizing I haven't even BEGUN to test the limits (or 'plumb the depths') of it's potential.
That is, until yesterday...
See, for the last year or so, I've been trying to prepare child #2, Sammy, (who is extremely averse to change and does NOT like trying new things) for Piano lessons.
Maxwell has been playing for almost two years, and I think Sam is ready to start now. He sits down and plunks on it everyday anyway, AND his best buddy just started lessons--so I figure now is a good time.
He was actually starting to respond favorably to my nudging...until recently. That's when Doug decided to step in and "help". In his defense, he thought he was doing what I was doing...just trying to ease Sam into it. So he said "Sammy, piano is really really hard, but if you practice a lot, you'll like it and get good at it!"
Next time I mentioned piano to Sam he said angrily "I am NOT doing it! It's too HARD!!!" (Six month regression. Just like that.)
I tried to argue with him for a minute but I could see he wasn't backing down.
So I said,
"Fine Sam. If you don't want to take piano, you can no longer play the Wii. If you take lessons and do your practicing, you can still play the Wii."
His eyebrows shot up.
He had no response to that. And no more protests.
He'll be starting lessons on Thursday.
It's called "Parental Currency" people, and I know how to use it!
Post script: He's been taking piano for a few months now and does really well. He actually practices without being asked! Who woulda thunk it?