Creative Parenting Solutions

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By Tracey Matthews Wynter, Supervisor of the Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department

This month’s theme is “Creativity.” I can tell that I am ready to assume my impending role as a full time parent of three boys as my first instinct for this month’s article was to write about how to parent children creatively! Let us know what you think about some of the parenting ideas below that are not only creative, but also almost guaranteed to be very effective as well!

When Our Children are Hooked on the “3T’s” (Television, Tablets, and Telephones)

“The most corrosive piece of technology that I’ve ever seen is called television-but then, again, television at its best, is magnificent.” –Steve Jobs

These three wonderful devices oftentimes take the place of meaningful family time, reading time, learning/study time, or other higher quality activities. But instead of trying to continuously monitor the use of these devices (one more thing to do), allow your children to earn timed “3T’s tickets” to watch television, play games on their tablets or other devices, or talk to their friends on the telephone. They could earn timed tickets based on the amount of time they spend in more meaningful activities* or you could simply give them the tickets as a part of their allowance.  You should still reserve the right to veto certain programs, games, etc. and even limit the days of the week when television, for example, can even be watched.  Each ticket might be worth 30 minutes and, depending on your child’s age, you could limit them to 3-5 hours of 3T activities per week. Here’s the best part – any tickets remaining at the end of the week could be “cashed in” for something of greater value to your child (e.g., cash, a number of minutes involved in a different activity, etc.)!

Variation: After establishing a limited amount of time per day (e.g., one hour) for the use of these devices, your child could “buy” extended time with earned tickets.  Also, think about using dollars instead of tickets, and place a “time value” on each dollar.  It’s harder to give up actual money for “time” but as the old adage suggests, “Time is money!” This method could even be used in place of an allowance if desired.

When Our Children Won’t Clean Up After Themselves”Cleanliness is very important. If you let kids make a total mess in the kitchen and then leave, you’re really not teaching them anything.” –Emeril Lagasse

All you need is a closet or cabinet with a lock or simply a place that is out of reach for your child – the “black hole!”  When something (e.g., toys, a favorite pair of sneakers, etc.) is left out that should have been put away, place it in the black hole for 24 hours. 1 Be sure to establish rules regarding when to put things away or everything will end up in the black hole!  Homework, schoolbooks, etc. should probably be excluded from the “black hole.”

Variation: You might simply charge a “fine” (to be taken from allowance, birthday money, etc.) for “maid service” when you have to move the excluded items or any item out of the way.  The key is to be so consistent that it becomes a reflex for your children to make sure NOT to leave their things hanging around. Then watch your children jump up and get the items every time they see you walking towards something that belongs to them!

P.S. Did you notice how parents can earn money with many of the ideas above? Well, they did say to be “creative!” 

*Meaningful Ways to Earn Tickets:  Reading, learning new things, and teaching someone something new (exercising their minds); playing outside (exercising their bodies); doing things for others in the family, neighbors, or in the community (exercising their hearts).

Please let us know if you try any of these ideas, and share your success stories!  We’d also like to hear from you if you have other related tips!  To share your ideas and/or make topic suggestions for future articles, contact Mrs. Tracey Matthews Wynter, Knox County Schools Family and Community Engagement Department Supervisor, 865-594-9525, For more information and resources available to Knox County Schools’ students and families, please visit us online at and



Metropolitan Drug Commission

The Metropolitan Drug Commission (MDC) provides substance abuse prevention resources for families, teachers, businesses, faith leaders and physicians in Knoxville. The MDC is the only local non-profit solely dedicated to evidence-based drug prevention. To support their mission, on September 20, the MDC will host the Race Against Destructive Decisions (RADD) 5k race. The RADD 5K will include fun family activities, performances by a live band and numerous information booths. Race proceeds will support local Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) chapters. For more information on the Metropolitan Drug Commission or the RADD 5K, please visit the MDC website at

For additional local resources, contact Mrs. Tamekia Jackson, Knox County Schools Family Resource Center Director,, 865-594-1192.

We hope your school year is off to a great start!

Tracey Matthews currently serves as Knox County Schools’ District-wide Family and Community Engagement Supervisor. In this position, Tracey has been entrusted with the responsibility to facilitate the district’s course toward building stronger and lasting partnerships between families, schools, and the community. For more information, please visit the Family and Community Engagement at

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