If you got a smile or a laugh from the picture in this post there is a good chance you have had some fights with your teenager over video games.
If so, you are not alone!
However, there are definitely some practical things that you can do today to decrease the amount of video game related conflicts that you are experiencing in your family.
Here are a few things to think about and some actions to take.
1. Honest assessment
It is important to take an honest look at several key areas within yourself and your family.
Consider these questions.
- What are the values that you have for your family?
- What is it about your son’s use of video games that really bothers you?
- What are the negative ways that you have contributed to worsening the problems?
- What is your best guess on why your son is gaming so much and what does he need from you?
- What is the smallest change that could make the biggest difference in your family?
I could go on with these questions for a long time, but you get the idea! You may need to talk to your spouse, a trusted friend or family member to bounce these questions around and gain some more understanding. The more clarity you have on these core issues the easier it will be to create a successful plan.
For more support and strategies check out my parenting resource.
2. Strategy plan
There is no doubt that you need a plan. It needs to clearly lay out your expectations and the consequences that follow. Your plan should also address the reasons why your son plays too many video games. Setting limits is often not enough if you don’t address the underlying reasons for the behavior. Take a look at my blog post on how to help your son find more balance in his life.
It is also important that all the adults in the family are on the same page as much as possible. This includes stepparents, ex-spouses and even grandma if she lives with you! Whether you sketch it out on a napkin or paint a mural on your living room wall make sure you develop an excellent strategy plan.
3. Family meeting
If your plan has a chance to be successful you will need to get input and somewhat of an agreement from your teenager(s). Call a family meeting. Keep it light, positive and focused on finding solutions. Use the opportunity to ask questions, get input and adjust the plan accordingly. You can also decide together what happens if/when the expectations are not met.
You will absolutely decrease the conflict in your family if you have clear, fair limits that you back up with consistency and action.
Your son does not have to agree with all of your decisions, but you do need him to be on board with the plan, even if he is not thrilled. He will also likely be more engaged if he feels he has some input and you are really listening to him and understanding his needs.
You may have heard the quote that says the best laid plans often go astray. You have probably experienced this in your family as well! It is super important that you make a genuine effort to implement your plan. I wish I could tell you that your son will keep his end of the bargain, but it is more likely that he will find any loophole that he can to play more video games.
Your teenager will adjust to most limits when you maintain your consistency and your teen knows exactly what to expect. One of my rules is that my kids never play video games before their school work is done. I have been consistent on this point and my kids don’t even ask because they already know the answer.
You may need to get some accountability to stick to your plan. Find a friend, family member or even your therapist to help you with your follow through. If you choose to change the rules on occasion make sure you explain why you are making that exception.
5. Counseling or Parent Coaching
You may have tried every strategy you can find and you are just worn out. Don’t give up. Sometimes you need a mediator and there is absolutely nothing wrong with that. It may be time to call in a support team. A good family counselor will help you and your son communicate, negotiate and be able to find some agreement on a plan of action.
On the other hand, you may feel pretty capable of implementing a good plan, but need some help working through a few issues or getting some answers to specific questions. In this case a parenting coach would be a great idea.
Whatever it takes, make the commitment to find workable solutions that will decrease the conflict in your family.
If you need more guidance and creative solutions check out my Parenting Strategy Guide on teenagers and video games.