My daughter’s been struggling in school a bit these days. She goes to an alternative school and typically moans her way through the weekends saying “I’m soooooo bored, MOM, why isn’t it a school day?”
So we were pretty surprised to find her claiming she’d rather stay home with us for a “special day” than go to school. I had to gently remind her that watching mommy and daddy work doesn’t really make a day particularly special, and she needed to tell us why she didn’t want to go to school.
After much screaming and crying, I asked her if she wanted to draw. I remember reading somewhere that sometimes kids are more willing to talk when they are doing something else, and I thought the drawing might focus and relax her.
Sadly, not so much. After more screaming and crying (some of it from her), I suggested we turn on the Xbox and play some Disney Infinity. Now, I’m not a gamer by any stretch of the imagination. I just don’t get into it. So my playing this game with her (I was Sulley, naturally, because I’m big and have weirdly colored hair) mostly just involves her telling me what to do, because I’m clueless, and her just generally bossing me around.
I think allowing her to switch the power dynamic was what finally got her to crack. She was in trouble for something, and she was going to have to face the justice committee today and get her sentence for her behavior (her school has a democratic model, and the justice committee is comprised of students of all ages and staff).
But my heart broke when she said, “I keep trying to have fun, and I just mess up.”
We shut off the game and sat together cuddling as she finally poured her heart out about her fears. As a mom, I wanted to wipe away her tears and tell her it would be OK, but I couldn’t do that, because she does have to live with the consequences of her actions. We talked about that for a while, and then we played another game, and had another cuddle. Finally, she was willing to go to school.
Sometimes I worry about the time my daughter spends playing games, and according to an article in the Journal of Adolescent Health there is something to be concerned about.
According to the article, “time spent playing video games was associated with several negative outcomes, including heightened internalizing and aggressive behavior and lowered prosocial behavior.”
But it might surprise you to know that changes when you have parents co-playing with girls.
“However, co-playing video games with parents was associated with decreased levels of internalizing and aggressive behaviors,” the article states, ” and heightened prosocial behavior for girls only. Co-playing video games was also marginally related to parent-child connectedness for girls, even after controlling for age inappropriate games played with parents.”
You can read the full article here.
While my daughter is not an adolescent (she’s only 7), this statement rang true to me. My daughter loves it when my husband and I play games with her; she is patient with us, too, helping us navigate the unwieldy Xbox controller (seriously, does it need THAT many buttons?) and generally stop being the middle-aged parents we are. So there will definitely be more playing video games with my daughter.
Side note: One of my few complaints with Disney Infinity was the limited number of female characters. I am THRILLED to report that next week Disney is releasing Anna and Elsa from Frozen for the game! We’ve already pre-ordered and my daughter cannot WAIT to play with me. I get to be Anna. Lucky me.