Monday, March 14, 2016

The Forgotten Rule -- Anger Management

There's one very important rule I forgot to mention in the previous post. It's also the toughest to figure out. First, a look at my own history with anger.

I really liked playing racquetball in college. I really hated losing. Somehow, I had gotten into the habit of breaking my racket every time I lost. What a stupid habit. I'd then have to go buy another $15 racket so I could keep playing a sport I liked with friends whom I enjoyed playing. Until I lost again, broke it again, and spent $15 again. A really dumb cycle.

So I started hanging the broken rackets on the wall of the townhouses I rented. I figured seeing the broken rackets would be a visual reminder of the money I'd wasted on new rackets. It didn't work. The cycle continued (luckily, I was either good or my friends stunk at racquetball).

Fast forward to 2001. Madden online. Wow. What great times! Same cycle. I'd get mad about a play, a loss, or any other stupid thing (sometimes it wasn't even online, but against the computer!). SLAM! Break the controller like it was a racket. This time, I was out more than $15 though. I didn't keep track of how many new controllers I had to buy, but I'm sure it was more than 2 dozen. What a stupid waste of money.

So when my son started playing games, I kept an eye out for any signs of similar anger issues. I wanted to nip them in the bud. Luckily, I didn't notice anything until he started playing Destiny. Probably because it was more competitive than Lego Star Wars or Disney Infinity. So that led to the forgotten rule:

If you get mad, either make yourself take a break -- or I will.

This rule has worked great. The first couple times, I had to make him take a break (obviously -- what gamer would voluntarily quit gaming?). After that, I only had to remind him to either calm down or I would make him take a break. The warning sufficed. Even once (a Saturday morning), he came upstairs and said he took his own break because he was getting mad. Perfect!

Here's my worry, though: what to do once this method doesn't work? What's Plan B? I'm really not sure. Eliminating gaming altogether is obviously an option, but doesn't address the real issue, which is anger management regarding competition. 

My personal epiphany (I don't break controllers or rackets anymore) came through my faith. It worked better for me than any other solution could have, but I realize it's not everyone's first choice. So what are your methods for dealing with anger? Not just for yourself, but with your children?

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