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© 2023 by inTune Pathways 

ABN 78 435 698 441

On Gaming.

September 28, 2018

 

I struggle to comprehend the alleged insight many adults believe they have into why children engage in gaming habitually.
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“They need a good kick in the arse”, “The parents need to get back the bloody control”, etc etc.
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We are so quick to vilify children. 
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Children.
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Why are we so contemptuous toward our children? 
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Why are we not asking the more important questions, such as WHY a child might be attached to gaming or any other activity?
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I applaud the experts (I’ve seen three, and that alone saddens me) that have stepped forward and have strongly recommended we ask WHY? That we look deeper, that we actually approach these difficult challenges with LOVE.
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In our home, we’re gamers.
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Not so much me. But I do play when my children play - with them.
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I do this for a number of reasons.
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Firstly, because when I was a teenager and my siblings and I were into gaming, our Mother played with us. It was a family activity and it was fantastic.
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Did we spend hours doing it?
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Sometimes.
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But when Mum said “ten more minutes”, “five more minutes”, “Okay kids, time to pack it in”, we listened and we abided (she was a bit ahead of her time there with the subtle countdowns-crucial for kids on the spectrum).
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As a Mum myself, I’m not so much a fan of it anymore. When my girls ask me to play, I’ll often have an internalised groan. A big fat one. In fact, I really hate it.
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But here’s why I game with my girls..
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When our children are interested in ANYTHING, even when we don’t like it, we don’t agree with it, it doesn’t interest us, we don’t understand it, we join in. 
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Especially when asked.
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When we take something our children love and we make it a family affair, we TRANSFORM the REASON they love that thing.
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Children are always seeking connection.
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Many children who are addicted to gaming have underlying issues. Anxiety, fear, social isolation, and many of these underlying issues can often come along with the package of having an autistic brain.
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Many children on the spectrum do NOT cope well with being told what to do.
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It can be received as a demand, a taking of their control, freedom and choice and from there, a need to take back as much control for themselves will result in many challenging, oppositional, habit forming behaviours.
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It isn’t because autistic children are bad. It isn’t because they’re lazy. 
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It stems from anxiety.
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And..
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It’s because more often than not, they’re autodidactic learners. 
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Self directed, wanting to learn what they want to learn, when they want to learn it and how they want to learn it.
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It isn’t because they WANT to challenge us.
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They are born with a brain that is AUTistic. 
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Aut= of the self.
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Self directed, self paced, self taught, self soothing..
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And when these aspects of our children aren’t heard, accepted, respected, it can result in self loathing, self hatred, self rejection.
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When they feel the disapproval, the contempt, when they suspect their freedom or control is being taken away (even when it may not be the case), they can shut down and/or engage in unhealthy behaviours.
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Am I saying we should back off and allow our children to engage in addictive and unhealthy behaviours and do whatever they please?
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No.
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But I am saying that what we resist will persist.
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If your child is what is termed as addicted to gaming, there is always hope.
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And it isn’t necessarily your fault. 
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If your child is autistic, they’re on a different wiring system and you may still be trying to understand, process, tap into how they think and process the world. 
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Because it is different.
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And for non autistic parents, learning about and understanding your autistic children can be like learning another language. And vice versa.
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We join our children in their activities. We detach the urgency. We remove the stigma our children believe and feel is attached to their gaming.
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And it is stigma - disgust, disgrace.
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We make it okay. We make it fun. We join them. We remove judgement. We engage wholly.
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And slowly, but surely, they reconnect with us.
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They realise we’re on their side. We’re willing to do whatever it takes to stay connected to them.
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And they begin to crave connection with us when the going gets rough. Not the gaming so much.
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We replace the activity with the connection, slowly.
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Is this a guaranteed solution? No.
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It won’t be for everyone.
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But the more we engage and connect, the more we’ll be invited into our children’s lives and, in turn, the more they'll be looking to join us in the activities and ways that we choose. Because they enjoy us!
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The more we use authority and control with our children, the more we lose and the more they disconnect.
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I know. Our friends and family often won’t agree. They’ll let us know too.
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But remember this.
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We’re all just products of our environment, of the generation we were raised by, the generation we grew up in and it’s ideals, understandings and social constructs.
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We’re humans. We evolve. 
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Our children’s brains are changing.
Switch off the tele and tap into your intuition.
Don’t let the media tell you who your children are. 
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Choose love. Choose connection.
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<3

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