Over the course of raising six children basically to adulthood with my husband and working as a counselor for the past 9 years, I have learned that the well known technique of taking everything away abruptly is not the way to handle things with kids when they are not doing what they need to. This technique really doesn’t solve the problem and creates a lot of hostility and anger from the teen. What we really want to do is help our kids to learn how to manage their lives and when we take everything away we are not doing that.
I recently asked our school psychologist for some advice on how parents can help a teen who appears to be spending too much time playing video games on the computer and here is what she said.
“I think that the best way to approach the gaming issue is to talk about balancing work and play. We all need to work and play to be healthy. If we do too much of either, and not enough of the other, our lives are out of balance and we create massive amounts of stress for ourselves. First, I suggest just having the student keep track of how much time they are actually spending gaming. They need to be in charge of keeping track of it. Then, I suggest having the kid make a list of what they need to do at school and home everyday. The parents shouldn’t create the list but they should discuss it with their student and ask questions about self-care (including sleep), hygiene, keeping personal space comfortable and clean, as well as contributing to the household chores. After discussing it I would suggest that the student spend an hour working on their personal chores and self-care everyday before they do anything related to gaming or computers. Homework is the last thing that I would discuss. The student needs to feel better about themselves and realize that their life is out of balance before they will actually be open to looking at school and homework.”
This reply resonates with me and I know that it is sound advice. It’s about our kids figuring out the “what” in life and also the “how.”