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Kirstie Allsopp’s toddler tantrum over ipads wasn’t good parenting

PUBLISHED: 11:06 12 September 2018 | UPDATED: 12:37 12 September 2018

When Kirstie Allsopp smashed her kids ipads, she set a bad example, says Rachel Moore PHOTO: PA

When Kirstie Allsopp smashed her kids ipads, she set a bad example, says Rachel Moore PHOTO: PA

Archant

Rachel Moore says Kirstie should not have smashed her kids ipads but instead learned to just say no

Just say no. And mean it.

It’s the smallest of words but the evidently the hardest one to say to children.

Saying no and imposing boundaries and sticking to them is the best investment in a child’s future but one of the most difficult to achieve.

It’s somehow viewed as draconian in today’s parenting and almost as unacceptable as smacking.

Children are being given permission to set the rules as parents try too hard to be liked, giving in to their demands, blurring the boundaries and letting them get away with whatever they want in the hope it will make them better (more popular and loved) parents.

The easiest cop out can so quickly turn into the biggest problem.

Location Location Location’s Kirstie Allsopp confessed this week to smashing her sons’ iPads because they had broken the family screen-time rules.

Temper temper, Kirstie. Hardly the best example to destroy expensive technology in a fit of pique because they had ignored her time limit on screen time.

The less expensive, and more effective way, would have been to confiscate them and lock them in a cupboard, or simply switch off the Wi-Fi.

She’s the grown-up in charge. She should have called time long before if she was anxious about the zombifying effect the games were having on her sons, not smash valuable devices toddler tantrum style in a meltdown.

Children won’t stick to time limits set, unless they know that a parent means business. They will always try their luck. Shut down the games and throw the children outside to play. Or sit and play with them to share their enjoyment.

Hear their argument though. Children need to hear their reasoning heard, listen – really listen to their case why they believe the time limit should be longer – and explain why you’re saying no, negotiate even, but if the answer’s still no, stick to it.

Disturbingly, video game addiction is a real thing, recognised as a disorder by the World Health Organisation earlier this year.

But children, especially young children, only get addicted because their parents have let them, allowing them to play for hours – days even – on end, often to keep them quiet.

It’s hardly a surprise, considering adults’ addiction to their own smart phones and social media. The magazine Marie Claire polled 600 women and found that a quarter of women in their thirties and one in five in their forties checked their phones 200 times a day. Children learn by example.

In response to an avalanche of backlash, Allsopp quit Twitter (in another fit of pique?), a positive parenting model to keep her from checking her feed every few minutes.

Double standards: If you dole out the technology to hush the kids for peace and quiet, then lose your rag when they’re online too much, you’ve created the problem. Mixed messages never make a positive outcome.

I’m sick of hearing ineffectual parents moaning about how their children refuse to go outside in the sunshine, aged six, preferring to stay in darkened rooms playing games for days at a time. They only do it because parents let them.

“They’re always on their iPad, Xbox, Playstation, phone.” Only because you let them. Take away the technology. Simples.

It’s like handing them a weapon and then moaning when they hurt themselves.

No boundaries or rules of course they will tie themselves to their games. The fault’s not with them, it’s lousy parenting, which, before the outcry, is the hardest, most challenging, angst-making, guilt-inducing, painful job in the world. But the pain is all worth it, unlike most other testing jobs.

Technology buys parents a quiet life. Fact. Children are hard work. Fact. Children ask questions and need answers, Fact. Children can talk for England when it’s not always convenient. Fact. Parents must listen to and explain to their children. Fact. Children respect boundaries. Fact.

Years ago, when I worked from home, the TV was a godsend to buy a few minutes peace to get stuff done. Phone interviews were ‘bought’ by intricately timed bursts of Thomas the Tank Engine and his friends, Fireman Sam and, for particularly long work tasks, Chitty Chitty Bang Bang. Thunderbirds and Captain Scarlett.

Thomas the Tank engine did become a bit of an obsession, but the biggest worry then about inappropriate exposure for them was seeing a 12A film when they were still at primary school. Times were different.

A friend, with nine and six year old sons has managed to avoid technology altogether, keeping them as outside boys for as long as she can, who ‘write books’’ and play Lego. Hats off to her.

Constant staring at a screen is stifling imagination and communication skills, for their later education years and adulthood. Ask any primary school teacher and see the despair in their eyes.

Allsopp’s children were big fans of Fortnite, the game with more than 125 million players worldwide. Its developer, Epic Games, has been accused of using “predatory” gambling techniques to entice children to spend money. It just gets worse.

The game is rated as suitable for children aged 12 and over. Allsopp’s children are 11 and seven, so too young anyway. Put your stiletto down, Kirstie.

Young people are needing professional help to come out of their gaming world.

It’s new parents that need help, to curb their own addiction and learn the art of saying no, for everyone’s sake.

Rachel had a big response to her column last week about ‘Norwich has too many fat people’. She says that ‘held to account’ all week but ‘most people agree with me’. Do let us know if you at edpletters@archant.co.uk

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