Learning about anger management with video games

Teaching your child to deal with disappointment without throwing a tantrum.

Being an Atheist in Christian America had a wonderful blog post about how she accidentally taught her kid to deal with is anger management problems using Super Mario Bros. (See: http://beingatheistinachristianusa.org/?p=1597)

Her approach is wonderful, responsible and compassionate. She says, “it is my responsibility as a parent to teach my children how to handle anger and frustration appropriately.  And handling our anger is in no way an easy task.”  I agree.

Here’s how she did it.  Whenever her son got mad while playing the video game  - and he would start throwing a tantrum, she would tell him, you are too upset to play right now – go outside and burn off some of that energy. He didn’t like it – but she was consistent. And then, one day – after her starting to think – this isn’t working, he just suddenly – was able to catch himself getting mad and calm himself down so he could keep playing.

From a technical standpoint what she did is she provided a delta – a signal that the behavior isn’t ok. Notice, she did not give him a punishment. She gave him a consequence – he’s not in control, he needs to go outside and work it out until he is in control. This wasn’t about his emotions being wrong or bad. It wasn’t an argument. She didn’t punish him – as soon as he was calm, he could play again. Just – you can’t play video games while throwing a tantrum.  And, she was consistent. And it took a while and eventually – it just clicked and he got it.

What made this work was her consistent approach and the compassion she had for her child while he was upset. Will he be able to transfer these new found anger management skills to other situations? I suspect he will.

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