why is my 10 year old son so angry
Like a werewolf right on the strike of midnight, my seven-year-old transformed. He clenched his jaw, turned his hands into claws and came at me kicking and scratching and even trying bite me, like he hadn t done since he was two. Don t you know I was building a fortress? he shrieked. Shooting me a death stare as he attacked, he was severe. The only thing standing between me and a serious injury was his pint-sized 7-year-old body. Because he wanted me hurt and if he was any bigger he would have done it. One part of me wanted to laugh at the preposterous situation but I couldn t because I was too disturbed. So I bent down on one knee and hugged him until he settled. To bring you up to speed, Minecraft is a gameplay phenomenon that enables players to build worlds castles, thrones, houses, trees, animals, fortresses, cities, countries out of textured cubes in a 3D world. The game also involves exploration, resource gathering, crafting, and combat. Once adept, a player can devise, plan and execute the creation of entire worlds that are all their own. It sends kids nuts. It sends some adults nuts too. According to the telltale Wikipedia, Minecraft has more than 100 million registered users worldwide and is the most purchased PC game of all time with 17 million copies sold by late last year. For some it s like corn chips for the brain. Once you ve started it s hard to know how to stop. At first I didn t make the direct link between Louis s behaviour and the Minecraft game; I just thought it was the iPad.
But then when I thought a little harder, I acknowledged that Louis had had his iPad for three years and he had never come even close to displaying this kind of feral behaviour. I immediately went online to investigate Minecraft and kids, certain there d be widespread outrage about its ill effects. That it would be the scourge of our children s digital worlds. But no. What I found was praise. Minecraft is kid friendly, it teaches real world skills, it builds imagination and creativity, it teaches perseverance, a generation of architects and it s fun for the whole family. Unconvinced, I put my theory to the test on one of my son s rare sick days. But to be fair I walked through the key issues with him beforehand. Mate, you know how angry you got the other day when I asked you to stop playing Minecraft? I asked. Yes Dad. Well did you like feeling that way? That angry? No Dad. Well I m worried that it s Minecraft that made you feel that way. But I m not sure so I m going to let you play Minecraft again today because you are sick and I know you re getting bored. But when I ask you to stop I don t want you to get angry. I want you to stay calm and accept that game time is over. Okay Dad. I ll try. While he was playing, I got to thinking. One thing I always try to do, wherever possible, is see the world through my boy s eyes. And no matter which way I cut it, I can t get around the fact that it must be terribly disempowering at times.
Fetch your school bag, take your plate to the kitchen, do your homework, we re getting your hair cut, it s bedtime, it s school time, we re going to swimming class, no we re not going to Luna Park, it s a school day. But in Minecraft, he owns the joint. He gets left alone while he builds his world from the ground up and he calls the shots. Every shot. So putting this outburst of fury into my son s context, here is this big bloke who calls all the other shots and, on some level, must represent his disempowerment, taking away from him the one thing over which he has complete control. Minecraft. After about 90 minutes of sick day screen time I called out to him that it was time to down his Minecraft tools. He ignored me point blank. I walked towards him and repeated myself. This time he reacted and put the iPad down. Dad I m getting angry again. I think its Minecraft that s doing that, he actually said. Then do you think now is a good time to stop? I returned. Yes Dad. It s time to stop. After some trial and error, he s is now restricted to a maximum of one hour screen time per day and all anger issues seem to have been resolved. For now. Have you experienced similar problems with your kids? Share your thoughts in the comments below.
Dear Father, Your daughter is not a young adult, she is still a girl, and there is a long way to go and much that can be done, so please stop catastrophizing about her future. The most important thing is that you recognize your family needs help, so start with some gentle honesty.
You need to tell your daughter how much you love her, and name specific delightful qualities of hers. Then tell her that while everyone gets angry, you see that sometimes she gets so angry that she loses control, and you know when she feels like that it makes her unhappy. The reason you know is because sometimes you are like that, too, and when you get like that, you are angry at yourself. Tell her you have gotten help for this, and have gotten better at controlling your temper, but that you aren t perfect, because sometimes when you get frustrated you are mean to her. Say you are sorry this happens, and that you want her to know at those times you are more angry at yourself than at her. Explain that you want to help her so that as she grows up, she doesn t have to struggle with this as much as you have. Dad, you do want to address this now before the storms of puberty take her thermonuclear. Start by getting a copy of The Kazdin Method for Parenting the Defiant Child, read it, and put the principles to work you will be training yourself as well as your daughter. Alan Kazdin is director of the, and you also contact them for help and referrals. As Father s Day approaches, instead of berating yourself for what a botch you ve made of fatherhood, you should seek help yourself for controlling what you do that keeps you from being the father you want to be.
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