What to Do When a Child Becomes Irritable After Playing Fortnite

Learning in Fortnite

As much as many kids love playing Fortnite, it’s also a source of irritability and anger for many kids. Many Fortnite players become frustrated when they lose/die in the game. Losing is a part of the game, given that only 1 in 100 players can win in the popular Battle Royale version. Fortnite players who are intensely focused on the game can become extremely frustrated and upset when their focus on the game is disturbed within the game by other players or outside of the game by parents. These behaviors, which can be mistaken for video game or Fortnite addiction, are often problematic in kids diagnosed with ADHD, Autism, Learning Disabilities, Executive Functioning problems, Anxiety, or Depression. At the conclusion of game play, many kids continue to think  about their performance and of the decisions they made. A child may become irritable after playing Fortnite because he is overly competitive in game play and cares only about winning, even when he recognizes the low percentage of actual”wins” he might achieve.

While video game addiction is rare, extreme irritability and frustration may be an indication of this. However for most kids, irritability is due primarily to the intensity of the experience. These Fortnite players care deeply about their performance, want to do well, and are frustrated when they don’t do as well as they would like. While this could be a teaching moment for parents, kids often do not want to hear about it at the time. Instead, their frustration and anger are directed towards parents, siblings, or whoever else is in the area. 

Here is what to do for a child who becomes irritable after playing Fortnite:

  1. Develop a regular decompression time and routine after the game. Identify an activity that your child finds to be relaxing after he plays. If he benefits from talking through frustration, have some open-ended questions that express an interest in his game play so he can talk about what might have been frustrating.
  2. Prior to game play, initiate a discussion about having fun and looking for challenges in game play rather than focusing solely on winning. Disappointment is likely in a game where only 1 player out of 100 wins. Encourage your child to think about doing something new in the game, having fun with friends who might be playing with him, and re-framing his game play from being solely competitive in nature to something where meeting a new challenge becomes the most important goal.
  3. Before game play, be clear about the consequences of  irritability and anger directed towards others and describe exactly what that behavior looks like. Help your child to articulate what that behavior looks like, as well, and explain that he will lose game-play privileges should he act out that way. Follow through with taking the game away for a limited amount of time should this behavior occur. Children who display extreme irritability may need to be fully restricted from the game. If this is the case, it may be useful to consider working with a psychologist or therapist who has expertise in this area.
  4. If necessary, own the technology, so that your child has to borrow the screen on which he plays Fortnite. It may also be necessary to have strict and enforceable controls over access to the technology so the child cannot play the game except in a limited fashion and time. This may mean having control of the Internet in your bedroom, taking away phones, or contacting your phone company to shut off Internet access.

Still looking for more ideas on how to help you child? Try this article on what to do if your child is infected with Fortnite.

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