We had developed a pattern. On Sunday afternoons the kids would all dash home from church and run straight for the video games and spend the rest of the day glued to them. Despite the fact that they collectively spent five or more hours playing, there were always shouts of “But I didn’t get a turn!” when the time came to turn the games off. I realized that I did not particularly like the pattern that developed and so I mentioned it to the kids. They agreed that there were better things we could be doing with our Sunday afternoons. Collectively we decided that each child could have a 30 minute turn playing either a video game or a computer game. Then the electronic entertainment would have to be turned off.
Last Sunday was the first one on the new plan. It went really well. The turns went like clockwork and then the games turned off. The kids spent the rest of the afternoon playing games together. Today was a little rockier. The kids were more inclined to squabble than to play nicely. But I still resisted the allure of letting them play electronic games. By about the third hour of squabble intervention I noticed something. Most of the squabbling occurred when Gleek attempted to seize control of the activity. If the boys resisted her control then she would yell or begin behaving in ways that ruined the game for everyone.
This reduced video game experiment has proved worth the effort just for this insight into Gleek. I don’t yet know where this need to control is coming from, but now I can be watching. Once I identify the emotional need or developmental stage which is driving the need to control, I can begin addressing it. If the need is filled or the stage weathered, then the controlling behavior will evaporate and so will the resulting conflicts. I’ll be observing more in the coming week.
The week days retain the same amount of video game time that they had before. This is fine. I believe the kids should get to spend time in the activites that they enjoy. I also expect that the nice weather will be drawing them outside more and more often. That will be good too.