Archive for the ‘Video game addiction’ Category

PostHeaderIcon What’s Your Child Doing Online?

What’s Your Child Doing Online?

Teens textingI get a lot of questions about online and cell phone activity by kids.  Should we respect their privacy, or be checking their texts? How about what goes on with video game chats?  Is it our business to know what they say and receive on social media?  And how do we handle talking with kids about this sensitive issue?

Consider these points:

1. Modern parenting requires knowing what your kids are doing on social media and saying in texts (the two most common ways they communicate with peers.)  We now have a “private” life to monitor about which our parents did not have to be so concerned.

2. When children’s brains are not fully developed, their impulses to say and do things that they would not normally do if a parent was present, put them at greater risk for bullying – either being the bully or receiving bullying.

3. Perpetrators are seeing their opportunities, and we need to closely check to be sure the “kids” our children are contacting online are actually kids, not sexual predators.

4. Social media is here to stay, so it’s best to confront these issues head-on, to protect our kids.

5. Open, honest discussion and consistent monitoring are your best strategies for keeping kids safe.

How to talk about it?

First, become familiar with the technology. Set aside a specific time to go over each outlet with your child.  This will include Facebook, but less and less with the advent of these more youth-driven applications:

Texting apps

Kik Messenger

Micro-blogging apps and sites



Self-Destructing/Secret apps

Burn Note
Yik Yak

Chatting, Meeting, Dating apps and sites



When I look at the list above, it seems overwhelming, as I am sure it is to many of you.  Keep in mind that if you are paying for a phone, you have the right to know how it’s being used.

And what’s a Self Destructing/Secret App?  The message only appears for a few seconds, and is gone forever.  This makes it much harder to monitor, and these apps should not be allowed.  Children are regularly posting inappropriate photos of themselves and their friends.  I know, it’s tough being a parent in these times.

Call a family meeting, and focus on the teens.  If you have younger children, it’s good for them to hear your stance on social media and texting.

Make these points very clear:

1. Yes, kids love connecting with their phones.  You understand that it’s a wonderful way to stay in touch.

2. We need limits on the phone and computer use, because so much can go wrong when kids are using them, even when they don’t mean to get involved with something they shouldn’t.

3. As long as parents are paying for phones and computer service, they have access to all account passwords, and run frequent checks.

4. Phones sleep in the kitchen at night, so kids get their sleep.  Research now shows that the blue light from electronics interferes with sleep, so this is non-negotiable, for health reasons.  (Also, it eliminates “too much freedom” to text at night.)

5. Respectful use of language when using electronic devices is not optional.  The best way to make sure it is respectful is to give positive feedback when you see respect.  Also, include your child in a discussion on what feels respectful to him or her, and how important it is to always show consideration to others.  Kindness does not only apply when adults are present and included.  It’s the way our family communicates at all times.

Challenging as this topic can be, it’s also a fabulous opportunity to share values with your children.  It can be so enriching to your relationship to face this topic with respect and appropriate limits.  That’s what keeps a child feeling safe.

If you would like help with this or any other parenting issue, please click here.







PostHeaderIcon Making the Present Moment New with Your Child

5 Ways to Make the Present Moment “New” with Your Child

Tina Feigal, M.S., Ed.  Copyright © 2014

stock-photo-5368788-young-boy-playing-video-gamesParents ask about how to make the present moment more “real” to themselves and their children.  Does it really mean letting go of all past information about your child’s behavior?  And does it really mean putting an end to fear of future behavior?  Yes to both.  At a recent presentation by “The Mother of Mindfulness” Ellen Langer, I learned the phrase “making it new.”  I thought that was helpful, so I’m sharing it with you today.

Eli’s mom and dad came to me with this scenario. Their 9-year-old was habitually using bad language, refusing any household help requests, and opposing just about every request from his parents.  Tony and Marsha love their son.  They are feeling traumatized themselves by the constant resistance to everyday life with Eli, and they are desperate for help.

Here’s the way the scene usually plays out:

Tony: “Eli, it’s time to get off the iPad and get ready for bed.”

Eli: “No! I am in the middle of the game.”

Tony: “Eli, I said it’s time for bed.  I don’t want to hear another word from you on this.  We’ve talked about it 100 times.  It’s time for bed and I mean it!”

Eli: “I don’t care what you say. I’m finishing my game!”

Tony: “OK, if that’s what you want.  No iPad for a week.”

Eli: “That’s not fair!  You can’t do this to me!” and a huge meltdown ensues.  Tony feels out of control and awful, and Eli is completely out of his body with rage.

This is a regular occurrence at bedtime, and Tony and Marsha are ready to try anything to make it better.

Here are the five ways to do just that:

1. Realize that for Eli, it feels like the first time he’s ever played this game.  I know, it’s hard to imagine, but children’s thinking and adults’ thinking are very different.  Eli is completely absorbed, as the game feels new every time he plays it. Respect that turning it off is a big jolt to him.  Use a quiet and calm voice, and avoid letting it rise at the end, signifying, “I have this expectation and you’d better fulfill it!”  That triggers opposition.

2. Decide in advance (together) what time the game is turned off every night, and help Eli count backwards from bedtime, so he can get finished with the game at an appropriate time.  In the PRESENT MOMENT, when the game needs to be shut down, place your trust in his knowing of the rules, and stay with Eli’s emotions.  “I know you know it’s time to get finished.  It’s a disappointment, yes.  Let’s turn it off now, as this is the time we chose.”  Then don’t waver.  It’s a gift to Eli to hold your ground.  It makes you predictable, which is very helpful to him over the long term.

3. Give Eli heartfelt appreciation for turning off the game, even if he’s not cheerful about it.  “When you do as we planned, I feel relieved and relaxed.  Now we can both have a good night’s sleep.  Thank you, Eli.”

4. Remember that Eli doesn’t want to be out of control.  Deep down, when you are calm and certain about bedtime, he’s reassured. Again, it feels new to him to hear your calm voice, even though it’s a regular occurrence.

5. Let go of past incidents.  Talk to Eli about the game, how many points he has, what a feeling of accomplishment he gets from excelling at it, and how you feel accomplishment in your life.  This takes the fight out of the conversation about video games, and allows Eli to get perspective on it.  If you hold on to your authority over Eli, he needs to counter it.  If you just share your life with him, he can let go and make good decisions.  Again, there’s a feeling of newness.  That fresh interaction with you can help him ride a wave of cooperation.

Every present moment offers the opportunity to 1. connect with the feelings your child is having, 2. make a plan for when typical conflicts arise, 3. express heartfelt appreciation, 4.  present a calm and certain demeanor to your child, and 5. create a casual, interested conversation with your child that conveys, “I’m sharing my life with you” rather than “I’m in charge of you.”

Each step of parenting is a new learning experience.  We grow as our kids grow, and there’s nothing wrong with not knowing what to do or say when conflicts arise.  Give yourself a break if you blew it, but then resolve to improve the situation next time.  If you need help with this process, visit for all the info on ways to set up an appointment and get started!