We gave our kids a Wii for Christmas several years ago, and until recently it really hadn’t been that much of a problem. They would play a little bit here and there, maybe more so if they just got a new game. Then, this past year my 8-year-old discovered Harry Potter. We allowed her to read the first three books, and she just can’t stop talking about it. She’s read each of the books several times and has become a walking encyclopedia of Harry Potter facts. She even has our three-year-old running around the house yelling “Expelliarmus” while waiving her fake wand.
So being the fabulous parents that we are, we bought her the Harry Potter Wii game for Christmas. Bad Idea!! The obsession has now escalated, if that is possible, and she would play that game every day all of the time if we allowed it.
Our first move was to only allow Wii time on weekends after the chores were done. You have no idea how fast an 8-year-old can clean a bathroom, (code for “it wasn’t really cleaned.”) By 9am on Saturday she was ready for her Wii time which would then last all day because, “Mom, it’s the weekend.” Clearly this wasn’t working.
On to plan two. My sister-in-law told me about their Wii rules where the children had to earn their Wii time, and she and my brother would keep track of their time which they could use after chores and homework were done. I loved it, so I came home and made our own Wii time chart. Now of course, being the Harry Potter obsessed household that we are, our Wii chart consists of the Hogwart’s houses, and the children have each been assigned a house. Then, as they are doing their chores, helping each other or doing something extra special I can call out, “Five points to Gryffindor,” and the child assigned to that house gets to add 5 minutes to their Wii time for that week. They can also lose time as a disciplinary action.
It was a huge hit. So much so that they didn’t even seem to notice that we were severely cutting down their actual Wii time from all day Saturday to whatever was on their chart. We typically start them out with 1 free hour of time each week, and they add to that as they earn “house points.” We have added that if they turn in a completed Piano Practice Chart for the week, finish all of their homework or we if don’t have to remind them to feed the dog then they can get points for that as well. Our Wii time is now at an acceptable level, and the children have a sense of control over it. It was a win win. Thank you Harry Potter!