My 8yo LOVES the wii. We got it for Christmas. We've never really imposed limits on screen time and have definitely gone through times when screen exposure was really, really high, but eventually they'd balance out with hardly any, and he was learning to manage his time on the screens quite well and doing a variety of things (very little TV, mostly old-school computer games, blogging, YouTube videos, etc). But then we got a wii for Christmas. (It was even my idea!) Aaaaaaaaaaaaarrrrrrgghhhhh.
After about a month of full-on playing I limited his time on it. At first it was only after dinner, then we changed it to just an hour but at any time during the day (with some exceptions allowed). I never ever took this approach to screens before the wii. The reason for the change was that he gets super frustrated at times with the game with stamping feet, kicking, growling, yelling, crying, he would often be grumpy for some time after playing it, he was quickly losing interest in anything else, and I also have a toddler and I am not keen on the screen being on heaps for him to watch (and the wii is in the main room where we hang out - that's not going to change). Also, to be honest, I'm cranky and sleep deprived and my tolerance for the wii and his frustration is low.
So we limited it and he responded really well to the limits! No complaints. Honestly, he seemed relieved. The only problem was the policing aspect of it and him waiting on the edge of his seat for it to be after dinner and asking all the time how long to dinner (which is why we changed it to any time during the day), and then when it was limited by time, him wanting to know if 'this' time counted etc. Plus, I detest being the police. I also don't feel that me policing it for him teaches him anything in the long run. And so gradually, over time, we stopped limiting it.
We are back to lots of crappiness and drama. It's driving me nuts. We could limit it again. On one hand, even though I don't think it's the best strategy in the long run, like I said he responded well before and seemed relieved - so maybe he just really needs me to be the police for him at this time. And really I'm not sure what else to do! As with the other screens we've had lots of conversations about purposeful playing, taking a break when needed, making sure you have time for other things that are important to you, etc. But it doesn't seem to make much difference. Maybe we just need more time, but I'm not sure I have the patience for it.
At the moment the frustration is coming from a particular part of a game that he is having trouble with. He is determined to beat it. I think his determination is great, and it's wonderful he's working hard on it! But the drama around it is not great. How to help him find a way to meet his goal but deal with his frustrations in a more acceptable way?
So, any suggestions? Please?
My first thought is maybe it's a badly designed game...
We never went through that sort of thing (the frustration). I don't know if it's because ds avoids games that have to played in a rigid way or what. He mostly plays on the computer which essentially has unlimited games. You can even play "hacked" versions of many online games or "sandbox" versions. Ds loves that because you can try out the special high level things without tediously working your way up the game level by level. Now I'm remembering there were a couple of inflexible games he had for the nintendo ds that we actually returned because they were frustrating...
We've had the same problem. Sometimes I think it is the game that's the issue, but for us, sometimes it's just ds being at the end of his rope. I wish I had an answer for you. What we do is to just make him stop when it's not fun anymore. I would be thrilled if we could figure out a way to work through it. I'm sure that would be a great skill to have.
In a lot of ways, though, I think the wii has been really good for ds. He's worked through some things that he didn't think he'd ever master and I think it's given him a lot of confidence. He tends to go in spurts where he wants to play it all the time but they don't last for very long, a few days or so. We have a loose time limit for screen time, one hour in the morning and one in the evening, but he will often skip one and we're not too serious about the time limit.
Just out of curiosity, what game is it?
Jayne, sewing up a storm mama to ds1 9/03, ds2 2/09, and 2 sweet furbabies.
I don't think it's the game's fault since it's happened at some point (or rather, many points) with every wii game he's played so far! ;) At the moment he's playing Kirby's Return to Dreamland.
He didn't play the wii after dinner tonight and it was so lovely! We had a real nice time together as a family. My dh will often play the wii with him in the evenings and they do have fun together doing that. It just frustrates me when it's every night as I'd like us to do other things too!
I definitely do think kids can learn useful skills from games, especially around working through difficulties, mastering skills, being determined. I'd like to help him work on that *without* all the frustration and tears! :) On the other hand, it's not like I never get super frustrated with things either and, uh, yeah I guess I've been known to stamp my feet once in awhile. Pot, meet kettle?
What about removing it from your home completely or shelf it away for a long while? Then you do not have to police it and he does not have to play with it. Maybe he is just not ready for it yet.
Is it possible that the frustration is partly due to the time of day he's playing? Could he be too tired after dinner?
FWIW, we have a rule in our house that if the person whose playing can't handle the frustration, it's time to turn off the wii. I try to watch for signs that they are getting past what they can handle and talk to them about it, so they can learn to stop themselves before things get out of hand. It's not fun to get to the point of crying or stomping feet.
Good luck figuring this out!
We limit screen time, and for reasons similar but less dramatic than yours, video time (just videos, not games yet) is first thing in the morning.
We might have other issues to negotiate regarding videos, but "is-it-time-yet-is-it-time-yet-is-it-time-yet" is not one of them.
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