I can pretty much feel your judgement as you silently read the title to my article. Yes, we’re the a**hole parents that bought our son an Xbox One for Christmas. We saved for a few months prior (those things are expensive!), bought it, had it shipped, and as it sat in our closet for about three weeks prior to Christmas, my husband and I could feel our excitement grow with each passing day. Now, a half a year later, I am despising my decision and starting to question all of the decisions I’ve ever made.
I guess in my mind I thought that it would be this fun little addition to his life, not the center of it. He would only want to play kid-friendly games and abide by the time limits we set for him, and everything would be peachy keen. Instead, he only wants to play war games, has gotten emotionally attached to the games, and I’ve been introduced to his angry side. I get it. When I was six I didn’t want to do six-year-old “things” either, but this has gotten out of control.
At first, we really wanted him to enjoy his new toy and the couple of hours he spent playing with it were fine because it was intertwined with other activities. But as time passed, I noticed a shift. Our walks to and from school became consumed with conversations about Xbox instead of what he learned that day or how much he loved the song they were performing for the spring concert. His teacher even told me that he acted out his favorite game during class! Things needed to change.
I’m not an expert, but we have been working hard to turn things around. Here’s the advanced warfare we are taking:
1. Limit the time
At the beginning, I will admit that we didn’t really place time constraints. My bad. But we talked it through with him so that he understood why we were cutting back, and that helped some. It also helped setting a physical timer so that he was able to see the countdown and expect a favorite song of his to play whenever it went off.
2. Get them excited about something else
We spent time pulling information out of him to find out some new things that he’s interested in doing that would be easy to fit into our schedule or take time to research and learn about as a family.
3. Start a new activity
Does you kid love baseball? Great, now try something else! Kids easily become interested in things that are new and exciting to them and want to learn more about it. For us, the goal was to get him out of the house (and engaged in an activity) after school and on weekends. We chose karate since they had classes during both of those times.
I’m happy to report that everyday this past week Branden has come home from school and begged me to take him to the park to play—there was no mention of Xbox. While he still enjoys his 30 minutes of play in the evening after homework and bath time are done, it has become secondary to the more important stuff in his life. Now, if only this would work on husbands.
Can anyone out there feel my pain? How are you phasing Xbox or other gaming?
Originally published in Mommy Nearest Magazine.