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  • 08-07-2022 6:43am
    Registered Users Posts: 519 ✭✭✭

    Just looking for a bit off advice for my 12 year old ....Im seperated from his mum and due to issues she has he is now living with me delighted to have him but he is coming to me with a lot of issues ...his diet is awful all he eats is fast food takeaways and chocolate partner has stopped cooking for him as all he does is throws it out ..His Mum has given him revolut card and he will just go and buy chocolate or chips ..

    He is constantly on the phone and i mean all the time ...we are just finished holidays and he ruined them with his phone time ..

    I was easy on him for a few months as he came to me in a mess he witnessed a lot of bad stuff when living with his mum ...

    I really think he needs to go cold turkey with phone thinking of taking it off him for a week and then gradually giving him a few hours a day im also taking the revolut card and locking up all sweets and treats in house to force him to eat well ..

    My worry is how do i go about this but not upset the house with my partner 10 years and have goood atmosphere in house i know by implementing theses rules it will cause a lot of fights

    I feel if i dont do something for my son he will be destroyed he is a bright lad but his attention span is zero and it breaks my heart seeing the crap he eats


  • Registered Users Posts: 1,578 ✭✭✭JDD

    My kids aren't at that stage yet, but this is what I would do:

    Most teenagers (in fact most adults) will resist doing something even if they know it's good for them, if they don't feel involved in the decision making process. Your son is twelve, and is well able to understand the effects of a bad diet and too much screen time. If he's not one to sit down at the kitchen table and talk, then make an excuse that you have to go to some garden centre a half hour drive away, and you want him to come with you to help. The good thing about the car is that there's no stepping away from the conversation, no door to slam.

    Be honest with him. You have two concerns - one, that his diet is really high in sugar and fat, and not high enough in the things he needs. You're worried that it will effect his sleep, how well he can concentrate etc. Tell him that you have considered taking his Revolut card and locking everything away in the house, and you still might do that, but that he's old enough to be part of this decision and he puts an idea across that is acceptable to you. Have an idea in your head what you might accept - treats only on Saturdays maybe, whether they're bought with the Revolut card or taken from the house. Maybe takeaway once a week on a Friday night - or maybe you guys could go out together to a Chinese/Indian? I find that it's not much more expensive than a takeaway, the kids enjoy being out so much more, AND they are more likely to be a bit more adventurous (e.g. taking a taste from your plate) then they are at home.

    Something that you might think about - though perhaps not talk to your son yet about - is that he is probably self-medicating with food. If there's been a rocky patch with his mum, he probably used food to give that little drip of dopamine (sugar does that) to get him through. That's a really hard habit to break, so be patient with him. Try to get him involved in any kind of exercise - it doesn't have to be a team sport or a sport at all - which will replace that drip of dopamine with an endorphin and help him move away from the crappy food.

    Now, screen time I find is an even harder habit to break than sugar with my kids. Again, explain why you are worried about his screen time. Tell him that you understand this is how he keeps in contact with his friends (and his mum) but the length of time he spends on it will effect how he can interact with people in real life. Also, the amount of time spent looking at blue light will effect his sleep. So, again, start with your opening gambit - cold turkey for a week. But then let him counter with an offer. Even having one phone free day a week will help crack the habit and you'll find that his screen time in the other days will reduce. Maybe no screens (except tv?) for an hour before bedtime? Maybe a time limit on the phone each day?

    Whatever you decide on both counts, make it very clear what the consequences are if he breaks your agreement. Conversely, make it clear that if he keeps to the agreement it will show to you that he is making an effort and is more mature than you might have first thought. Think about other rewards that are not junk or screentime that you could relent on. A later bedtime? Discos? Clothes that he wants? The ability to go the cinema with his mates on his own?

    Make no mistake - there will be a rocky start to this and it is likely to lead to arguments and an atmosphere for a while. You cannot avoid this. I suspect you have mostly been his best friend so far, and it's hard to move out of that role. But he needs to know what your boundaries are.