Parenting is hard. Just when you think that you are making progress, getting a head, your child goes through another stage, hits a new struggle or presents you with a new challenge. Recently, it has been smooth sailing in the 1Heart1Family household. The kids are becoming more independent, working well together and enjoying the newly finished basement which gives them their own place to stretch out and play.
Maybe because everything is going so smoothly or that I’ve been so busy with the hustle and bustle of the new year, that I didn’t notice the problem that was slowly growing in our family. It began as an annoyance. When the TV was on the kids, especially my oldest, would stare at the screen like a zombie. It would take repetitive calls and shouts to drag their attention away from the tube. Then chores started to be neglected. Simple things like asking him to put away a book and his book bag or make his lunch would only be half done and he would disappear to the basement to play video games. From the minute he got up to the minute he went to bed, he was either playing, begging to play or watching videos on how to play. The conversations he had with the kids on the bus, at the dinner table and with his siblings all revolved around what he was going to build, play or beat next on his game. When he gives me attitude or doesn’t complete a task, I ground him off his video games for the day, week or month, depending on the severity of the crime. The problem is this leads to whining, complaints of “I’m bored” and constant badgering of when he will get it back.
Then report cards came home. My smart child, who normally receives A’s and B’s, got mostly C’s. The comments from his teacher kept saying, he is a smart kid who knows his stuff but the problem is he is rushing through his work to move on to the next activity. When we questioned DS9, we asked how he felt he did at school, if it was hard or if he was struggling. The response we got was that he is was bored and uninterested in the stuff being taught. As DS9 attempted to rush us through this conversation to return to video games, we began to wonder if he was addicted.
Although this isn’t a scientific diagnosis, I began to worry that my child may be on his way to a video game addiction. It was hard for us to identify because he is very technologically smart. Where as other boys his age began joining sports teams, my DS gravitated towards computers and technology as young child. He be playing with computers since he was a year old, smashing on the keyboard, and now can fix problems that I can’t even comprehend. With technology being such a large part of society I encouraged this passion, but now I see it is time to nip it in the bud.
Being a social media junky, I went to Facebook to see what kind of advice I could get from my Mommy friends. I was surprised to hear that many parents are dealing with this problem right now and here are the suggestions I received to help tame the video game monster:
- Keep tabs on how much times he is playing video games and set rules
- Limit playing time to weekend
- Encourage him to pursue other interests (i.e. sports, biking, art, etc.)
- Make him earn gaming time through completion of responsibilities (i.e. grades, homework, chores, etc.)
- Explain that video gaming is a privilege not a right
- Make it a family lifestyle change instead an individual one (i.e. family board games, family reading, dance parties, etc).
- Make it educational. Instead of penalizing him for his love of gaming, make it a learning experience (i.e. teach coding).
- Create Play days (i.e. Monday- LEGO, Tuesday – READING, Wednesday- CRAFTs etc
It’s been a week of limited video games. After a rough start and lots of tears, I am proud to say that it is going well. The kids are playing with toys that haven’t been touched in years, their imagination is waking up and they are becoming more helpful (although I suspect its in hopes that I’ll give in to more video games). After the discussion with DS9 I discovered that the boredom at school was possibly related to the FEAR of missing out. He worried that if he didn’t finish first or fast enough, he would miss out on other fun activities. To help settle his fear, we have been administering Orange Naturals Worry+Fear for Kids. This product is a homeopathic formula that soothes nervous tensions and agitation, reduces over worrying and helps to promote healthy sleep patterns. Although its too early to tell, I have noticed that he is sleeping better and appears more rested in the mornings.