Who knew that the arrival of a new toy would end up being an opportunity for me to blog about intuitive parenting in action! The kids got an XBox 360 this week, along with Halo Reach. After my husband was done working, he unpacked it and started setting it up. As a part of setup we needed to pick a username. He asked the kids to brainstorm some names and pick out one that they could agree on. He thought it would be a great exercise in working together. Sounds reasonable, right?
Now mind you, the kids knew the system was coming and had been counting down the days. When it arrived, they knew that it was in John's home office and as soon as he was done working he would set it up so they could play. Ethan and Colin were pacing the house all afternoon just too excited to do much else.
The four of them are now in the kitchen, doing their best to do what their dad asked of them and started throwing out ideas for usernames. After about 5 minutes of this, the kids were fighting and completely frustrated with each other. John was telling them to hurry up and pick one so they could play already. The kids were calling each others' name ideas "stupid". And the volume and intensity was turned way up to the point where no one was even listening to each other and nobody was very happy.
What would you do? What do you think was actually going on? Would you be militant and force them to pick a name or they couldn't play? What do you think that teaches them, really?
I quietly told my husband to hold on a second; which he knows means "I've got this". My visibly upset 13 year old was beyond frustrated, and being the loudest, so I calmly asked him to go upstairs where he could concentrate and write down all of his ideas for names and bring them back down. I asked Colin and Ethan if we could see what Jody comes up with and pick one of those if they liked one. They agreed. The fighting stopped. Everyone calmed down. And not even 3 minutes later, Jody rather contentedly brought his list down, read off the names and the kids picked one. Done!
Since I had been with the kids all day, I saw firsthand how built up they had been about getting a new system. They had been so patient and so excited that the last thing they wanted to do was wait a little more or have a task to complete in order to play. They just didn't have the patience anymore. This task was not only preventing them from getting what they had been waiting for but the expectation had been set that as soon as dad hooked it up, they could play. In that moment, it was not within their abilities to do what was asked. It would have taught them absolutely NOTHING to have forced them to work together at that moment. We already know that they know how to do that.
Being an intuitive parent means stopping, taking a step back, and looking at the big picture. I knew what each of the kids' moods were and I felt that what was most important right then was coming to a peaceful resolution. Taking into account the relationship John and I have, I also knew that he would agree with me.
Recently our 10 year-old son, Colin, discovered we had the original Halo for our old Xbox. He saw it in storage and asked me if he could play it. After checking the rating on it, and seeing that it was rated M, I told him that I didn’t think it was appropriate for his age due to violence, language or intensity but I wasn't sure so I’d ask dad about it. Since I don’t have very much time, or desire for that matter, to play video games anymore I rely on published reviews and friends’ opinions on the appropriateness of certain games. This was one game that I heard mentioned within some gaming circles as not necessarily deserving of the “Mature” rating.
We ultimately decided to let him play it. I figured I could watch the kids play it as well as ask them if there was anything that bothered them about it. After my husband also played it with our son, we decided that our 8 year old, Ethan, was mature enough to play it as well. I’ll admit that I still had my reservations but I was taking a watch and see sort of approach with it.
About two weeks after the kids started playing it, we had an incident that made me realize that my kids were way more in tune with reality no matter what studies try to show about kids and video games. It was right after dinner and the six of us were running around the house chasing each other. Everyone was laughing and having a great time. We were all at the point where we were out of breath so I decided to run upstairs to check the afternoon’s emails before it got too late.
It was about two minutes later that I hear our four year-old daughter, Keira, crying, and about sixty seconds after that Colin and Ethan came running upstairs with tears in their eyes saying “Dad needs you.” You can imagine what I started to feel at that instant but I managed to take a deep breath and quickly go downstairs instead of panicking.
As soon as I walked in the kitchen, I was thankful that the first thing I saw was the quarter inch long, tiny cut above Keira’s eye. If I had seen all of the blood first, I probably would have been as upset as the boys. She was covered in blood from the top of one side of her head, down her arm and elbow, and down the side of her leg. My husband was holding her and trying to calm her down so he hadn’t been able to determine where the blood had come from yet. All I can figure is that since she had just been running around, her blood was really pumping and then when she hit her head of the side of the table, the first thing she most likely did was rub where she hurt herself, spreading the blood everywhere.
I got her cleaned up and put some medicine on her cut which had stopped bleeding just as quickly as it had started. Then my ten year old looks up at me and says:
“Halo is nowhere near as scary as THAT was!”
My eight year-old, who was standing next to him with big tears in his eyes says, “Yeah! I thought Keira was going to die.”
I will never, ever wonder if my kids truly understand the difference between video game violence and reality ever again!
(Thankfully, Keira didn’t need any stitches and it looked like a tiny scratch above her eye by the next day.)
As a Parent Coach and Mentor, my passion lies in empowering parents to make the best decisions they can for their children and their families as a whole. As a well-trained coach, I can be your facilitator and accountability partner for long-lasting, meaningful change that has a permanent, positive impact for your family. By focusing on the values that you hold most important in your life, I can help you create and maintain the type of parenting relationship you want to have with your children, now and into their adulthood.
I am a homeschooling mom of four children in Massachusetts. I am also the author of a book called The Herbal Beverage Book, which can be found on amazon. When not coaching, writing or spending time with the family, I enjoy Hayao Miyazaki films, new and classic Dr. Who episodes, anything related to American history and a great glass of mead.
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This blog is a collection of thoughts, articles and perspectives I have at any one time. While I am pretty consistent in my beliefs, life changes and evolves along with experiences. You may feel a connection with me through my writing yet I never want any of my readers to misunderstand that the connection you feel is with a perspective I have shared and not me as a person. I am continually humbled that I am able to connect with my readers, and I hope to continue to be able to for many years to come, but it doesn't make us connected in any way beyond this. If you connect with what I write and know me as an acquaintance, this in no way reflects that I have any knowledge of you, your situation in life or that I am writing with you in mind. It is merely that I have shared a human experience that most likely very many others have had has well. This also goes for anything I post on my Twitter account, Facebook Page and Facebook personal page. I wanted to make this disclaimer as clear as possible so you know that any misunderstanding you choose to have is not my responsibility.