Published On: Wed, May 14th, 2014

How To Deal With Your Child’s Love Of Game Time

Danielle Mantakoul

Danielle Mantakoul

BA of Ed Early Childhood and Editor at Mummy Weekly
She's described as one of the most engaging & dynamic speakers in the early childhood industry today, now having educated hundreds of thousands of parents & teachers. She has lectured for organisations such as KU Children’s Services, Only About Children, Qantas, National Australia Bank, Child Protection Australia, Goodstart and hundreds of council & private centres. She also developed and ran the popular parenting series for the Australian Financial Review.
Danielle Mantakoul

How To Deal With Your Child's Love Of Game Time“You’ve got 1 hour do you hear me? I mean it! And don’t be fussing when it’s time to get off”. Sound familiar to you? More than likely it does or you wouldn’t have found yourself on this page. My son has recently started playing Minecraft, and it has quickly become one of his great loves, so for our family, game time rules were suddenly a necessity.

Somebody somewhere on this earth must have said if your child is on a computer having game time, you should not be happy about it! With all the research and media focus surrounding kids and game time, I believe the pendulum has swung so far, in that while we are still allowing game time, we feel guilty if we are not ranting and complaining about it while it’s taking place. To help you too develop some boundaries and ditch some of that guilt, I have some advice to help you restore harmony and balance to your game loving child’s life.

Don’t offer games you’re not happy with! This might seem obvious, but the mistake can be easily made of letting your child play a game they wanted to play, then once invested in it, you decide it’s not appropriate and take it away causing tears and tension. Once your child comes home requesting a certain game, go online, read reviews, find out what the game is about and whatever you do ensure there is an offline option to the game. I believe addiction to games can arise from a feeling of missing out. In an online world it revolves be the child there or not, and once kids work out things can happen in the world without them, they begin to feel a sense of missing out causing the desire to play to intensify.

Let your child have uninterrupted play. Comments such as “You should be outside playing or boy it bugs me when you play that game,” can ruin your child’s game time adding to feelings of dissatisfaction with the time they have spent playing. Let them enjoy the time you have allotted them. Your complaining and comments during this game time can easily cause them a feeling of anxiousness which leads to a continuation of this feeling once they are off.  Don’t make game time an opportunity to lecture. If you feel you are lecturing then you are more than likely not happy with your game time rules and need to relook at them or even start them.

Once you are happy with your game time rules then BE happy and let your child know this. Instead of “Mum can I play on the computer” and you respond with a yes that has an air of annoyance about it try, “Mum can I play on the computer”? “Sure buddy it’s your time to play now, have fun”. I even go as far as to ask my son what his plans are today in his game. If it’s not their time, simply tell them it’s not and when it is in a PLEASANT manner. You can even express to them that you understand how much they enjoy the game, but it will be game time soon enough. DO NOT get into a debate about this even if your child protests or even cries. Ignore this behaviour and explain to them that if it’s too difficult for them to have a game time schedule then you will have to think about taking the game away altogether. It is IMPORTANT that you speak calmly and rationally when saying this so your child understands these consequences are about them not you.

The secret to accepted game time rules by your child is your commitment and consistency. Routines where the child know when and for how long they will be able to play sets the stage for less battles. What can also increase the success of the following of these rules is if your child has assisted in their creation. Include them in discussions on what is reasonable and the effects of too much screen time.

I just want to wrap it up by saying don’t get me wrong. I want outdoor time, reading time, family time for the kids just as much as with any mum. But I choose to have game time with boundaries that I am more than happy with, and to be happy in the moment of game time, relaxed, guilt free and even share excitement at my son’s gaming achievements. Games are here to stay and if we can teach our kids healthy gameplay, we are setting them up to make good decisions with their time as they grow.

Danielle Mantakoul
Copyright 2014
www.mummyweekly.com.au

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