It’s early on a Saturday and my neice and nephew are over. Five kids have embarked on a raucus round of gaming on our game cube. With Mario themes at the decibal level that seems painful on a Saturday morning, the kids are haggling over who gets to play which character and what strategies to play.
On occassion, they can get really terse with one another. The oldest of the bunch, my son, is showing that ‘oldest child attitude’ and barking orders at the others. I listened from another room, until I went in to make a cup of tea.
I called him over, and pointed out how from the other room, he was barking almost as much as our Great Pyrenees. (Any Pyr owners out there will understand, but they can be quite the barkers when they’ve decided they have something to say.)
My kid looks at me, a bit hestitant as if he’s in trouble. He is not. Kids squabbling is part of working out dynmics of kid-dom, a place where Mom’s have little domain. But, he understood, and said “Oh, I didn’t realize that…ok.”
The last hour has been just as loud, but filled with more random singing and w00ts and hollars.
I won’t be around for most of the times when the kids have opportunities to interact with others their age. From the moment they are on the bus, I lose sight of how they treat others. As they get older, that is just more pronounced. So why not take a moment here, and now, to address it? Not in a confrontational way – the idea is not to model barking – but in a sensible “hey, I noticed this…” kind of way.
This isn’t solely a gamer mom tactic. You’ll have this opportunity with other things certainly. But games provide a unique cause for everyone to work together towards a goal. In multiplayer games, someone is likely to take on leadership and forge a strategy. Is a 12 year old too young to learn to be a strong leader that people like working with? Nah, the timing is perfect.
Now, if only the dog would stop barking…