Our kids are brain-hungry and brain-heavy. They need to eat properly (yeah, right- you can’t convince my kid to do anything he’s dead set against), but they also need to learn how to veg out.
Oh, I’m not talking about whipping up a vegetarian plate (though I did try Jessica Seinfeld’s book and loved the chocolate-avocado pudding), but I’m talking about helping our kids to manage their lives. Our kids are constantly thinking, discovering, and creating hypotheses that must be proven, but they also need time to slow down and unwind. If your child has discovered video games (God help you), you know the constant pull that comes with them. Though your child is learning through schoolwork and maybe even a project or activity on the side, you might be thinking that video games are the calming mechanism that your gifted child needs to unwind. You might be wrong.
Think about it. When your child is playing video games, does he seem to be in an “urgent” state of mind or a relaxed one? Though we might be relaxed sharing Facebook posts or Tweeting funny memes, as gifted adults don’t we find ourselves being pulled towards more substantial news articles and reading for information too? Thank goodness, Facebook sprinkles in humor and lots of photos. Otherwise, it can quickly become another job or thought process added to our plate. I know sometimes I need to walk away.
What got me thinking was actually a post in one of the Facebook groups for parents of gifted kids. Someone was speaking about meltdowns from all of their children on the same day. If you have gifted kids, you know what those meltdowns are like and how draining they really are. I began thinking that immediately during a kid meltdown, I find myself being drawn to my veg-out activities- playing on Facebook (sparingly), putting on my headphones and watching a movie (to isolate myself even more), or sitting outside in the peace and quiet. But, what do our kids do to manage their minds?
The other trigger for my post was a conversation I had with my son just yesterday. He was talking about how he and his brother beat the Jurassic Park Lego game in just a few days so they began looking for and creating “glitches” to keep themselves busy. It still didn’t hit me until he said, “We finished Hyrule Warriors too, though we haven’t upgraded 100% of the characters and haven’t collected every single one of the costumes and their weapons, so we still have more to do.” (As we speak, my son is explaining in great detail all of the weapons that they still need to get.) It’s a task list. It’s something to be ACCOMPLISHED.
My point is this: Video games aren’t relaxing to my son. Yes, they’re fun, but they’re a LEARNING activity. Just as I feel a NEED to discover and read EVERY SINGLE ARTICLE and BOOK about giftedness to learn it all (even though I find it extremely fun), my son is using video games as a discovery and learning tool. Yes, my boys are battling, creating characters, and playing, but it’s more of a “brain” kind of fun. No wonder he has a hard time “vegging out”. The only time he learns to do that is when video games are off.
So, next time your child is stressed and you’re thinking, “Ah, let him play some fun video games to chill out”, you might be hyping him right back up again. Though I realized long ago the pull of video games for my kids, I never thought of it as a journey into more learning. It is. I guess I’ll have to sit down with him and find some genuine “brain release” activities for when the going gets tough so he can learn how to manage his own stress and veg-out.