Did you know that playing video games can lead to peace, happiness and contentment? Well, maybe I am exaggerating a bit, but by building flexibility skills, games and apps can help children to learn how to adapt, adjust, and handle a world that does not always conform to their expectations. Some games and apps excel at building flexibility skills by teaching relaxation techniques such as breath control or giving autonomic nervous system feedback. Conversely, others may be good at building flexibility skills by confronting the player with difficult challenges that require learning from mistakes, handling frustration, and changing one’s approach in order to be successful.
Some games and apps improve flexibility skills by helping your child to be more mindful and relaxed and use biofeedback (Journey to the Wild Divine) or teach breathing and meditation (Breathing Zone-Relaxing). Many of these games and apps were developed for adults, but can be readily used by children. If your child is overly rigid and inflexible or if she gets disproportionately frustrated when playing video or board games, you might want to try some of these tools to help her in building flexibility skills.
A very different approach using fun, but challenging games as a tool for building flexibility skills can be successful because of your child’s level of motivation and interest in them. In contrast to a difficult homework assignment, where she might want to crumple the paper and give up, video game challenges and frustrations are often met with trying something new, asking for help, or increased resolve to “beat that level”. Building flexibility skills won’t just magically appear by beating a tough video game, though — you’ll need to help your child reflect on how their efforts to adapt, adjust, and improvise in the game can also be used in real life.
Many video games such as Angry Birds require flexibility in order to adapt to changing situations in the game. In fact many the best games frequently require changing one’s approach and recognizing that things aren’t always as you’d like them to be in the game. Flexibility is also helpful in games where the player needs to quickly identify when a previously useful skill needs to be discarded for a new strategy. Games such as Angry Birds: Star Wars and Bad Piggies are opportunities for building flexibility skills in this fashion.
Now, while this type of game-based flexibility is not exactly the path to peace, happiness and contentment, it does require a degree of adaptability, acceptance, and versatility. Being flexible in life and in video games helps an individual to not be stuck in repetitive patterns. Flexibility in video games helps a player to change when the situation calls for it, recognizing that what worked in the past may not work in the present. Flexibility also has an introspective, self-examining component where being thoughtful and reflective are a part of the problem solving process.
So, if you want to get your child to be more adaptable and flexible in their problem solving, think about games and apps that might help them to become more mindful and relaxed or conversely to develop the problem solving resources to deal with a highly frustrating situation. Either might work, as long as you help them to take these game-based skills and apply them to their daily life.