Dr. Daniel B. Nicholas
November 7, 2012

This is an issue that often creates problems between parents and their children. It seems that it primarily involves boys but it can involve girls as well.

Here is the typical scenario. Homework may not be getting done, with almost nightly conflict. Frequent meltdowns or temper tantrums occur when the parent tries to stop the child or teen from playing the game. These conflicts tend to dominate the emotional climate in the house. It can be very toxic for everyone.

At first, the parents take the game system or computer away from the child. However, the child or teen will often find the game system and continue to play. Sometimes, the parents will move the game system or controllers into a locked room or the trunk of their car to prevent this. Then, the child may try to go to a friend’s house to continue the gaming.

Eventually, the child will attempt to bargain with the parent to get the games back. Sooner or later, the parents will let the child play the video game again, for a certain period of time, if the child does his homework or chores first.

Usually, this “bargain erodes over time and the excessive game play, at the expense of responsibilities, continues.

This type of situation is all too common now and can be helped with effective counseling. The typical outcome involves increasing the communication and conflict resolution skills between the parent and the child. Being mindful of voice tone is a must for both parent and child when discussing these issues. Appropriate negotiation skills also need to be taught to both the parent(s) and the child in an effort to work towards a mutually satisfactory solution.

Of course, no one gets what they want all of the time. So anger management skills will be needed to increase the distress or frustration tolerance of the child.

If done correctly, the skills learned from this experience can also be applied successfully to other conflicts that may occur between parent and child.