In our family we have two main rules: 1. Obey (immediately, going the extra mile and with a good attitude), 2. Don't Lie. Those two are the main rules.
1. She is allowed 1 hour of total gadget use a day.
2. She can only use gadgets after homeschooling and after her chores. (Needs first, then wants)
3. She can earn more time by reading news articles and discussing it with an adult (plus 10 minutes for each article).
These rules have been followed properly for a month...until yesterday. She got excited over an app and forgot to time herself. I know it was a mistake of the mind and not of the heart for several reasons. Number 1, she was telling me the entire time what she doing on the computer. She wasn't sneaking around. Number 2, when I asked her if she went beyond the agreed time she immediately said "Oh no. I forgot to check the time." She was honest about this and I know it came from her excitement with the new app.
So I told her we're going to have to have a talk about gadget use. I told her maybe making her keep track of the time by herself without my supervision was too much at the moment. I told her from this point she will only play beside me for a month because I will use that month to teach her how to be mindful.
She resisted. She was polite and kind but she wanted to understand why the consequences were so dire. Why do I need to do this beside you mom, why don't you just track the time? Why does it have to last a month?
It was hard for me to stay calm. But I tried my hardest. I told her "Honey, you don't have to do these things. You are free not to use the tablet. It is a want. Not a need. It is a privilege not a right". She then explained to me that it's easier for her to follow when she understands. So I explained to her the following:
1. She is free to make mistakes but not to choose the consequences of the mistakes. I am very consistent. If I tell her that so and so will happen if she doesn't follow our agreement with gadgets...then that's what will happen. No negotiations after the agreement (she can negotiate before the agreement)
2. The month long period is not arbitrary. The first week will be with me sitting beside her and watching her play. The second week will be me teaching her different ways to keep track of time while she's playing. The 3rd and 4th week will be me observing if she's ready for the responsibility and privilege of freedom on her tablet.
3. Another consequence is that she is now going to be unable to use the tablet when I'm not home. She is sad about that but that's part of the consequence of not being mindful of the time.
She cried during this discussion. She said she was embarrassed of her mistake. I told her I was also responsible. I apologized for not teaching her how to manage and keep track of her time before giving her this huge responsibility.
(Note: I am very strict. Rules are agreed upon and implemented. Consequences are meted out with no bargaining. I do however differentiate between mistakes of the heart and mind. In this case the mistake was of the mind so I am taking steps to strengthen her knowledge by giving her tools to help track her gadget time. If it were a mistake of the heart however like sneaking around to play with the gadgets when she knows it's already past the agreed period then the consequence would be no gadget use for 2 weeks)