I need help with my 11 year old son

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by Charmy21, Feb 20, 2010.

  1. Charmy21

    Charmy21 New Member

    My son is just too addicted to games now a days. All he does is play Modern Warfare 2 (under my permission). When me and my husband grounded him for crying over his game, he started mumbling how he hates his life and it is scaring me. I don't want my son to kill himself, and I don't know what I can do. Does anyone have some opinions on what I should do before it is too late.
  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Hi. It's sometimes slow on the weekends. Welcome to our board...sorry you have to be here.

    Can you give us more information on your child? Let me ask you a few questions that will help us help you. First of all, how old is he? Is your husband his father? If not, does he see his father? Any siblings?

    1/Has he had any problems before? How was his early development, including his speech, eye contact, cuddling, imaginary play, activity level, and did he have any strange behaviors or obsessions? Can he socialize appropriately with kids his own age? How does he do in school, socially and academically?

    2/Are there any psychiatric problems on either side of his genetic family tree? Any substance abuse?

    My son has Aspergers Syndrome or high functioning autism and he gets very obsessed with certain things, including games. We let him play them as long as he is willing to do other activities. He doesn't like doing them, but he does. There are many reasons for your son to be saying the things he is, but we need more info.

    Has he ever been evaluated for anything?
  3. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    We also have allowed a lot more gaming because with both our boys, they use it as a coping strategy. To remove gaming is to remove their safety valve.

    To outside observers, or boys appear to be game addicts (if it is possible to be addicted to gaming). But if we assume addiction exists, you don't control it for an addict (they have to learn self-control) so imposing your will is not the way to long-term success. You also don't ban it form the house or other such measure. What you need to do is work with them.

    We did our best to explain game programming to the boys so they could understand that games are designed to lead you into continuing play. Some of the recent, more responsible games will tell you that you've been playing long enough and you need to go and do something physical outside. But in general, games are like soap operas (and you van get addicted to those too, if you can get addicted to games) in that there are multiple plot lines running concurrently, so as one plot line is finishing, another is building to a crisis. That way there is always some reason to keep watching on the edge of your seat. With soapies, the aim is to keep you watching so ratings stay high and they can sell advertising. With computer games, the aim is to keep you playing so you want to buy more games in that series. It always comes down to making money.

    We found that once our kids understood advertising, we didn't get so much nagging for the product being advertised; the kids don't like being manipulated. And tis has also been the most effective way to not only teach social skills, but to explain how even computer games can manipulate you.

    Yes, it is better for kids to get outside and get physical. But computer games are not so evil as all that. When I look back to the computer-game-free childhood I had, and I compare it to the technology-rich environment of my kids - I know which I prefer. And it's not the good old days!

  4. LittleDudesMom

    LittleDudesMom Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Marg's philosophy on gaming is very similar to mine.

    However, you have given us really no information to go on. We don't know how old your son is, how much time is "too much time" on gaming? We don't know if your son has a diagnosis or is on medications.

    Not sure I understand why he was grounded for crying....was he frustrated over something and cried during the game or did he cry because you told him to stop playing? When you say he started membling he hates his life was that right after you told him he was grounded, or by started do you mean he's saying it all the time?

    I'm really sorry but I don't think I have enough information to really answer or comment. As the mother of a gamer, I would like to support you, but I need a few more details first....

  5. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Hi Charmy! If you feel your son is playing too much video games (I am assuming this is an x-box or computer game?), you can set time limits for each day. Those types of games can get very addicting. I would set aside a certain time each day that ends about 1/2 hour before bed time. Make it for about 1 hour max (we know how fast time goes when playing a video game). Set the time for about 10 minutes before time is up so that your son can finish whatever he is doing.

    When you state he crys over the game, it reminds me of when my son was that age (11 years old) and would get so frustrated because he could not accomplish a certain level of a game. You state that you give him permission to play this game leading me to believe that there may be controversy over kids his age playing it? If it is marketed to an older age, it really may be too hard for him even though he enjoys it. I remember those days and my comments would be "If it makes you so upset, then don't play it!" Of course, that comment didn't go anywhere with him - he would be angry with the program and work that much harder to overcome it and win. So, I am assuming that the grounding was not so much that he cried but more so that instead of admitting that he was in over his head, he kept at it thus getting more and more upset making for a very ugly scene at home where you are telling him to stop and he is bound and determine to conquer this before stopping.

    I think I would sit down with him when he is calm and before he plays again and set up some ground rules. Explain to him that the game was built for older kids and there may likely be parts of it that he is just not ready to understand. Ask him to try to be aware of his frustration level and ask himself if being angry is really worth continuing that level. Maybe taking a break for a day and coming back rested may help or maybe it is just something he has to wait until he is older to do? Can you find a game that has similar goals but more toward his age group?

    Hearing your kid say he hates his life can be scary. I think it is common for kids these days to express that but as a parent, only you can pick up on how serious that is. Many times kids do not even think about ending their life if they hate it but then again, there are kids that do. Being 11 is very hard. Definetly too old for little kids interests but also too young for older kids activities. Too young for the most part to leave alone at a movie theator or bowling alley or local skating rink (depending on the kid and where you live). So still needing adult supervision but feeling like they should be able to do more grown up things. If his comments really do scare you, talk to his doctor.

    Getting him involved with an activity with other kids would be very helpful. Is there a sport he is interested in? A reading club at the library? Does he have siblings who will play board games with him? I bet he would love to play a board game with you. That may even become a way to get him off the computer or x-box or whatever he is playing on each night - once he is signed off he gets to challenge you to a board game or card game.

    So, in a nut shell, set up limits so that he knows every day how much time he has, talk to him about his reactions to a difficult level on the game, and when you do take this time away, find something positive to fill it with.
  6. Andy

    Andy Active Member

    Hi again! I was thinking about what you can have your son do during the times he is not allowed on the computer. At that age, my son was still very much into legos - he loved to build things. That was also the age he started painting bird houses. We get them from hobby/craft stores. This is usually for when the weather is nice enough to do outside or have a ton of newspapers and cheap vinyl table cloths on the table and the floor. There are also put together vehicle kits. We found this to be rather messy if he actually does the first step of painting each piece so have him put it together first and then paint it. You can walk through a craft store kid's section (actually Wal-Mart has a craft section also) and see if any ideas pop out at you. Take him with, he may be interested in something you would be surprised at. Or he may not like something you think would be fun (my son hates to color but he loves to paint - most kids love wood projects). Clay! My son loved making things out of clay at that age.

    Recycling projects at home can sometimes fill spare time. Give him cardboard boxes to paint and/or build with. How tall is he? If he is still short enough to fit under the kitchen table, put a bedcloth on it and declare that space his fort. He will spend time setting it up. He may need a flashlight in that. Use 10 plastic pop bottles and set up a bowling lane down a hall way.

    Collecting sports cards can take time. Watch garage sales for those.

    Does he like to help in the kitchen? He can start cooking. With supervision on the stove/oven, he can make cookies, cakes, bars. If you are uncomfortable with him working the stove/oven, you can atleast have him mix up the batter and you take it from there. That was the year also that my difficult child started using the grill (under supervision).