On looking into self-regulation and freedom in more detail I decided to really put it to the test. I’ve always been really restrictive with Lewi’s TV/video watching. Nothing violent, nothing with too much negative talk, all wholesome lovey-dovey stuff. But…for the past 18 months he has been begging me to let him watch…Pokemon. Of all things! The fascination began with his little friend, J (our neighbour at the time). She couldn’t get enough of Pokemon. She’d tell Lewi all about it and taught him about the characters and what they did. Then they started playing ‘Pokemon’ (an imaginary game they made up and played in the back yard). I’d always be on edge over the whole Pokemon thing and would calmly say: “We don’t watch that at our house” whenever he’d ask to watch it and leave it at that (quietly struggling with the idea that MY son wanted to watch violence and what’s more, wanted to play those sorts of imaginary games!).
Then, one day, the day before we moved out of our house, I let Lewi go next door for a play on his own for the first time. The play date ended in tears, blood and three traumatic stitches! To top it all off, the following day (while moving out) Lewi told me he’d watched Pokemon at J’s! Arrgh!! OK, I thought, we’ve now moved, there’ll be no more talk of Pokemon – out of mind out of sight. Hmmm…. was I wrong!
For the next 12 months Lewi raved about Pokemon. He drew Pokemon characters. He played imaginary Pokemon games. He talked non-stop about Pokemon. And I continued to calmly say: “We don’t watch Pokemon at our house.”
On researching self-regulation and free learning though (a huge THANK YOU to Sandra Dodd!), something started to feel wrong with my responses toward Lewi’s constant asking about Pokemon. I was morally against all kinds of shows like Pokemon (not that I’d ever even set eyes on it myself!) My reactions were all based on what I felt was right and on my choices. Saying no (no matter how calmly) was not in the least bit respecting my child’s needs for this TV show that he obviously felt so passionate about. Perhaps my no’s were the cause of the incessant interest he had in it all. Just because I don’t like this type of show isn’t a good enough reason to stop Lewi from liking it. So, I decided to get one out on video and watch it with him. We watched. We discussed. We watched again. Lewi watched about another 10 times! All the while my boy remained the loving, gorgeous little being that he is. His interest, although remaining, is nowhere near what it was. I think curiosity kept his desires burning. He loves the show, no doubt about that. But his passion about sharks, dinosaurs and dragons are still as strong and well-fed as before. He watches no more TV than the pre-Pokemon days. He is, however, happier and more relaxed about discussing Pokemon with me. He now has a listening ear – free from negative (no matter how sugarly coated they were) comments and an interested watcher who can help bring out some of the good aspects of the show (in my opinion at least). We have much more open communication and respect has blossomed to even greater heights.Trusting my child has got to be the best thing I could possibly give him. It shows him he is valued and worthwhile. It shows him that regardless of our differences we can meet together on equal ground with respect, empathy and listening ears.
Now we do watch Pokemon in our house. Who would’ve thought?