Why I don’t believe in unstructured time for my kids

There is a lot of discussion these days about kids needing unstructured time. If I consider a time like summer vacation where the whole day stretches in front of my kids, I can see why unstructured time totally does not work for me and here are the reasons why:

1.Device addiction

 Yes, we are the typical middle class urban family that is gadget addicted. We have iPad, laptops, Nintendo DS, IPod etc. Keeping my kids off the gadgets is a big job and with a lot of haggling and nagging all the time. It wears me out. I would much rather my kids go to a painting class than argue with me on which device is to be used and for how long.

2.Fighting each other

 When my kids have too much time and they don’t know what to do they get on each other’s nerves. They tease each other, provoke each other and soon there is a full blown fight that I have to be the referee of, and find out who did what, why, when and deliver a verdict. This usually ends with “Fine! Mom always sides only with you !!”

3.They Nag me

“I am bored mom; you tell me what to do”. “Go read a book”, “I don’t like the book you have brought from the library”. “Ok, go play outside with your friends”. “Nobody is playing outside right now” “Ok, go bring the board games” “We have boring board games”. “What should we do. What should we do”. “Fine! go watch TV while I finish this thing”. That is where it always ends up. Alternative: “Go to mental math classes for an hour”

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4.Kids need structure

Studies show that kids really thrive better on structure. Right from the time they are babies, routines help them. Teenagers who have better rules and structure in their lives, behave better. Providing them structure for learning, fun and education is a parent’s responsibility. Studies have shown that kids without structure even in a play area can quickly get into fist fights, bullying and other violent behaviour.

5.Kids don’t know better

The latest fad in parenting is to allow children to make the decisions. Let them decide what they want to do. But the thing is, it is a proven scientific fact that children’s brains do not fully mature until they are 18 and sometimes even 21 which is the reason teenagers do the stupid things that they do. They are just not equipped to be rational and logical. So as a parent, I step in to give them direction so that they can channel their boundless energy. Time and again, kids turn around and tell you “Thank god my mom/dad made me do that when I was young”

Be Honest. Let me ask you a simple question. If you had a week’s vacation (where you cannot travel) and you could do anything you wanted, would you take this wonderful opportunity to catch up on movies, hang out with your friends and do other activities that give you pleasure? Or would you choose to Learn Mandarin, the Cello and learn mental math? Yep. That’s what I thought! Unfortunately, these are the things that are going to look good on that college resume when your child is eyeing the college of his dreams!

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