Friday, April 22, 2016

Dealing with Disappointment

Twenty days since my last post? Sorry! Shame on me.

Monkeyami and I uploaded our first YouTube video earlier in the week and we talked about how to have fun playing Destiny. While that's important, I also want to talk about how to deal with disappointment -- especially when our children feel it (no, not disappointment IN our kids).

Being the researcher I am, I try to look for legit advice based on studies. Child psychology is outside of what I'm used to researching, so I'm a little new to it. But I'll share what I've found and some of the sources to back it out. Please note, this info is also available in our next YouTube video, so if you're interested in that form, check out Family Gaming on YouTube.

Note that we're talking about disappointment, not anger. Getting salty because you lost a match isn't disappointment -- it's just a bad mindset.

One of the toughest parts of dealing with disappointment is knowing when to address is as a more serious issue as opposed to something that happens on a daily basis that we need to learn to cope with. Sure, life isn't always fair. Get used to it.

How can we tell the difference? First, if a child would be humiliated by something, that certainly merits a parent stepping in. This article mentions a child forgetting their school play costume. Turn around and go get it. Don't try to turn it into a teachable moment for being more responsible. Another marker for me is if the situation is extraordinary. Extraordinary events don't happen daily or even weekly, Intervening once or twice a year is not helicopter parenting and will not diminish the other lessons you teach them to be accountable.

So there's a situation that fits as humiliating or extraordinary -- how can we help? This article provides several ideas. First, empathize. This doesn't mean you have to acknowledge that their emotions are justified based on what has occurred to disappoint them. So that kid you can't stand turned down their invitation to the dance -- big deal. But to THEM it is. Acknowledge that they're upset and disappointed. That's it. Next, provide perspective. Point out that this isn't the end of the world. From experience, however, I can attest to their likely not accepting your statement. For them, this very well might be the end of the world. Especially if this is the first serious disappointment they've experienced. If it's not, though, you could always point back to their previous experience to show them that they got over those past experiences.  Lastly, be a voice of reason. Life is unfair at times, Decisions are often unfair. Merit does not play into every life event. Luck is often a part of it -- whether good or bad (but that's a whole 'nother can o' worms). Focus on what your child CAN do to both deal with the disappointment and work to improve.

Most importantly, let them know you love them and they're safe.

Sunday, April 3, 2016

The Games Together Litmus Test

My goal is to start sharing research on gaming and children. The common argument is that gaming is bad for children in almost all ways. If you can't tell, I don't agree with that. I think gaming can have positive benefits. Not just the ones that come to mind first, like hand/eye coordination, problem solving skills, but also ones that you might not think of. Reading, for example, or even social skills. This is the OPPOSITE of the commonly cited research. If anyone has ever tried doing research on such a topic, it's not the easiest to find. So bear with me while I work on my Boolean search chops.

In the meantime, an easy test to see if your family is gaming together, or if you're just playing video games at the same time under the same roof.

For me, if you are active in your gaming together, you're doing it right. Are you showing interest in what your child is playing, and vice versa? Do you watch them while they play (note: this is different from supervising)? Do you help them when they get stuck? Do you celebrate with them on successes and help console them on failures (to help keep that ugly Anger at bay!)?

The tough part of this, as with parenting in general, is knowing at what point "help" becomes "doing it for them." Kids like playing games in different ways than adults. My son loves driving his Sparrow off cliffs and jumping off the Tower (in Destiny). So be it. That's fun for him. When he plays alone, I'll let him do what he wants. Once he's in a fireteam, though, I make it clear that now he's just one of three people working towards a common goal and he has to play that way.

The opposite of active gaming is passive. There's an easy way to describe passive gaming -- babysitting. Is the game service as a babysitter? If so, consider ways you can become more involved in your child's gaming.