Chicken asks: In the past few weeks I’ve been staying up late on my iPad and playing games when I’m supposed to sleep. I try to sleep but I can’t. I’ve been tired in the day, and if I tell my parents I will get in trouble. I can’t stop staying up late on my iPad. Please help!
Hi Chicken –
Okay, let’s start with the obvious here: the iPad is fun! Of course you like staying up playing with it. Also, computer games can get pretty addictive, and while you’re trying to master one, it’s awfully easy to lose track of time and suddenly find that hours have gone by.
Because of this, you are experiencing what some call a “teachable moment,” Chicken! What I mean by that is that, while your immediate problem is sleep, the lesson you need to learn here will help you in a lot of other ways later in life.
So far, in your years, your parents have been the ones who’ve set limits on you. They’ve turned the TV off, put the cookies on a high shelf, and pulled you away from teasing the cat. But now you’re getting older, and need to learn to set limits on yourself.
And how do you do it? Well, you start by arguing with that statement you made, about how you “can’t stop” playing on the iPad.
Yes you can.
If I could stop jumping on guests, eating off the table, and digging under the fence, you can turn the iPad off.
You can. Just do it.
Now, does that mean that the first night you do it, you’re going to happily curl up and snooze the way I do? Nope. Not a chance. You’re going to toss and turn, thinking about those games, and getting very frustrated. But guess what you’ll do next. You’ll fall asleep.
And the next night, when you turn the iPad off, you’ll fall asleep a bit easier. And the next, and the next.
But there’ll be another night when you have real trouble falling asleep. And you know what you do then? Do you log on and dive back into Temple Run and DoodleJump? NO!!! DON’T DO IT!!! Pick up a boring book instead, and read it till you conk out!
You’ll find this is a lot easier than you think, Chicken. But the skill it teaches you will help later, with much harder issues of self-control. Such as (for a few common examples): leaving a really fun group of friends so you can do the studying you need to do that evening, stopping drinking alcohol when you’ve reached the legal limit for driving, and stopping texting that special someone before you make yourself a total pest! Oh there are just countless examples!
So enjoy this battle you’re in, Chicken. Next week you’ll be less tired, but in the long run, your life is becoming WAY better!