If you’re like me, with an adolescent or teen boy in the house, I’d say there’s a good chance you have similar battles over videos and online games. These COVID times have been tough, with activities cancelled and the isolation. So, online game play has been one of their only opportunities for connecting with friends. There have been limits imposed but i’m guilty of allowing far more negotiation in these past weeks than I typically would. I’ve been distracted trying to work from home, and it’s not been a major ordeal if he gets that extra time. But life is getting back to normal, so I thought I would share a few tricks that are working here in my house.
If you know these games, you know how difficult it is to just turn it off. In fairness, most of us would give out a bit if someone tried to turn off our show half-way through. Scheduling can help, but I don’t find it works well in this household. Our schedules vary so much from day to day right now.
Strategies to avoid arguments
On most occasions, I’ll try to make sure he’s not on the games in the lead up to any time-sensitive activities. So if we’re headed out the door in the morning, then there’s no games until we get home. Or even in the lead up to dinner, I’ll try to make sure he’s transitioned to another activity before dinner. It might be a game together, or even some chores.
But I also really like to use a visual timer such as the time timer. I’m lucky of course that I have one of these because of the work I do, but there are also plenty of options on the tablet or phone. These are great because they put the control in his hands, and help encourage self-management.
I’ll approach with the timer 10, maybe 15 minutes before I know I need him off. I’ll remind him that the game MUST BE OFF by the time the timer goes off. He knows otherwise I’ll just turn it off. He’s encouraged to get off at the next natural transition (e.g battle ends, next save point), even if there’s still 8 minutes left on the timer. By now, he’s learned that it’s much better to get off with time remaining than to get into another battle and have me turn it off mid-stream. Actually, I’m quite lucky, I’ve not had to turn it off on him, as he’s always done it himself.
In my case, the difficulties are related to videos and online games. But the very same strategies apply to videos, or really any activity. And if you need more tips on how to prevent behavioural difficulties, be sure to visit our learning page. You can view Top Ten Tips for Preventing Behavours that Challenge free for a limited time.