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On 19 October, Benct Philip Jonsson wrote:

> I'm sorry for this completely OT question, but since you guys
> are my best friends on the net I put this question to those
> among you who are parents.
>
> My six year old son has become totally obsessed with video
> games.  He either plays sports games on the computer, or
> watches sport on the TV, and has totally creased to play
> in the more traditional sense.  We don't want him to play
> *all* the time, but when we try to make him do other things
> he flies into a rage. So my question to the parents among
> you is: what is your parental policy on video games?


    Speaking (typing? ;-)   ) as a parent, it seems to me that the
key words here are "totally obsessed". IMHO, I don't think any
child (or adult for that matter) should be totally obsessed with
_anything_!  IME, setting limits is extremely important.
The only question is how one does it.
    Stopping someone in the midst of something fun
is guaranteed to evoke a strong negative reaction.
    IME, it's better to try and set limits ahead of time.
(How much time will be allowed; how many levels of how many
games,etc. Not forgetting to mention the penalties for
trying to get away with more.) These decisions should be
reached, as far as possible, by discussion with the child
(it's possible, even at age 6 -- you just have to adapt the
discussion to his level of comprehension).
    Then you must enforce, not the "rules" like a tyrant,
but rather the _agreement_ (part of which, as stated above,
is what happens if he breaks the agreement).
    This all has the added value of teaching him about the
process of making and breaking agreements and the
art of negotiation, things that will be valuable for him to
know in the future!
    Can he read? Write his name? If so, you could even
write up a simple version of the agreement, giving him
a copy to keep.
    If he follows sports, you might also remind him that
his favorite sports heros all have signed agreements
which they must live by (ie contracts) or else they
don't get to play.
    When my kids were little, we didn't have computers
or video games in the house to worry about. But we
_did_ have TV and I well remember a rather noisy
family gathering that resulted in a detailed contract being
hammered out, covering each  family-member's duties,
rights, and penalties for breaking the terms of the contract!
(It all got a bit theatrical! :-)   ) There was a grand signing
ceremony (each family member signed all copies of
the contract). But bottom line: it worked --- and afterwards,
when one of the kids stepped over the line, instead of fighting
with him/her, we simply pointed to the agreement
and either they resumed following the rules or punishment was
invoked. (As dispassionately as possible, I might add.
The idea was to try and teach them about living by laws
and not about coping with parental frustration and anger!)


Dan Sulani
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likehsna rtem zuv tikuhnuh auag inuvuz vaka'a.

A word is an awesome thing.