We know that playing video games with your child is a great opportunity for bonding and relationship building. Studies like those done by Bringham Young University have shown this in research, and any parent who has spent a good few hours playing with their kids has experienced it firsthand. Just as important as this type of bonding, however, are the ways that you can use this playtime to model good behavior and Self-Control for your child, particularly if your child is getting emotional about playing video games. Then it is important to help him to learn how to handle his frustrations by watching you handle your own right beside him.
Part of what makes video games so compelling is that they engage our emotions, immersing us in the moment, and taking us to the heights of frustrations and excitement. Surely you’ve seen your child getting emotional about playing video games, yelling at the screen, squealing with glee, or even jumping around the room during a particularly challenging and intense round of gameplay. These extreme emotions don’t just happen to kids, however: parents and adults are just as susceptible when they allow themselves to really get immersed in a great video game.
Not only do you need to be aware of your language and your behavior when encountering the normal frustrations of a challenging video game, but you also sometimes need to be careful that you don’t get too excited and do something such as jump up and knock over a lamp (which happened to yours truly) or otherwise “lose your cool” in front of your child.
For many adults, challenging video games are an excellent opportunity to practice their own skills of Self-Control. Unless you are a particularly tranquil and enlightened individual who knows “inner peace,” you are likely to continue to learn (and relearn) this skill over the course of your life. So it’s okay if you’re not perfect in your modeling of self-control when playing games with your child. In fact, I often think that the best way to teach your kids is to let them observe you while you’re learning to do something, rather than simply presenting yourself as the expert at everything. Being real with your kids, letting them know you are frustrated with parts of the game, and showing them that even you sometimes need to take a break, may be one of the best ways to help them learn Self-Control from playing together.
Here are a few basic rules to help parents display Self-Control when involved in video game play:
1) Limit your time; don’t play to an excess.
2) Watch your language! Learn some new words like “Shucks”, “Shoot”, or “Sheesh”.
3) Don’t get too competitive; remember those kids who you are playing with are your children .
4) If you’re going to lose it, take a break.
5) Ask for help sooner rather than later.