Raising Teens

A site for parents of teens striving for sanity

Tag: video games

A Dad’s Perspective on Helping Teen Boys Reach Their Potential

Are you a frustrated parent  whose teen boy comes across as lazy or too busy with video games to give you his attention?

In honor of Father’s Day, we have a guest blogger who is a dad and a psychologist with a practice in New York City and New Jersey. If you’re a father (or mother) of a teen boy, Dr. Adam Price offers some extremely helpful tips for averting clashes with your son, especially during the summer months. I hope you find his insight as useful as we do.

–Cindy and Raquel (moms of teen boys)

The first things that comes to mind about boys and summer is to let them enjoy it. I often get concerned when parents say they want to make sure their sons’ don’t lose ground over the summer, and enroll them in academic enrichment courses, test prep courses, etc. There are some wonderful programs at college for students, but it has to be something the teen wants to do.

Kids are under so much pressure these days, and I really think they need time to decompress. That being said, they still need structure and supervision. A few weeks of sleeping late and lazing around is ok, but a few months is too much.

A summer job can be a great opportunity for a young man to take responsibility, feel effective in something other than school, and learn a little about ‘real life.’ So many boys I have worked with who have struggled in school really thrive at a job, even if it is scooping ice cream or working construction. If no job is available perhaps parents can pay their son’s to take on a project at home. One summer a friend and I painted my parent’s house. Not my favorite summer, but it worked out.

Depending on a family’s budget there are also many wonderful opportunities for travel, camp, etc. However, colleges are less impressed by a teenager whose parents paid for them to travel the world than one who went on a church-sponsored community service trip. One young man I worked with went on a Habitat for Humanity program and learned that some of the families he worked with lived on less money than his parents gave him each month.

If you are pushing your son this summer and he comes across as lazy,  you must realize that the phenomenon that presents itself as teenage apathy can have many sources, including adolescent psychology, parenting styles, family dynamics and sometimes learning disabilities. Laziness is not on the list. Calling your son “lazy” will only make him more oppositional than he already is. Here are a few other parental habits worth breaking (and summer is a great time to start!)

Stop telling your son how smart he is. Better to praise him for working hard. My son has 15 soccer trophies sitting on his shelf, most of them earned just for showing up to practice, a vestige of the 1960s self-esteem movement. Constantly telling children they are good at something actually discourages them from trying harder at it.

Stop doing the dishes for him.  Teens are not helped when parents take care of household chores because their children are “too busy” with homework, sports, a summer job or other activities. Treating teens like royalty whose only job is to bring honor to the family gives them an unrealistic message about life. Successful people tend to be those who are willing and able to do things that they really don’t want to do.

Don’t let him off easy. Clinical psychologist Wendy Mogul has written that it is easier for parents to feed, shelter and clothe their children than it is for them to set effective limits. But not enforcing consequences for the indolent teenage boy reinforces the notion, yet again, that he is special, and that the rules of the world do not apply to him.

Don’t make him shine for you. In a culture where teenagers scramble to amass credentials and gain admission to the best colleges is more intense than ever, being considered average or even a little above has become unacceptable. But by overlooking the good in the quest for the perfect, parents saddle children with unrealistic expectations. A college counselor know likes to say that a good college is one that fits your kid, not one whose name adds class to your car’s rear window.  Think about this during the summer months and let your teen boy be a teen boy. Most important, you be the parent who teaches him how to grow up.

To learn more, check out Dr. Adam Price’s Book on Amazon, He’s Not Lazy: Empowering Your Son to Believe In Himself.

Help! My teenage son won’t get off the computer!

boy on computerSummer is here! The sun, the heat, the bbq’s, the beach,  the fun vacation time,  and for parents with teenage sons.. so is the all day video game playing and computer time!

I have to admit my 14-year-old son LOVES his online video gaming and spending time on the computer. He is literally on it for hours and hours! My biggest challenge with him is his screen time and trying to get him OUT OF HIS ROOM! I make deals with him in which he has to do the following:

  1. Read at least one chapter in his summer reading book a day
  2. Ride his bike/Go outside
  3. Visit his Nanny (great-grandmother)
  4. Spend time with his family
  5. Do his daily summer online virtual school homework for high school Spanish
  6.  Do an activity with friends

If he doesn’t do any of the above, his computer time gets reduced.

Let’s just say it’s a work in progress. He is only doing TWO of the items above so far so I have been reducing his computer. I do have to get on him to make sure meets the other items on the list. It’s not easy. To get his attention to do anything but play on the computer is a bit of a struggle.  Every day I make it a point to enter his room,  talk to him  and ask him how his day was spent. I also give him a hug and make sure he read and went outside.

I know it’s the summer and kids should do what they want, but I also believe teenage boys need to get out of their rooms!

This is a HUGE challenge for me so I am very open to any suggestions  you may have.

I have to say he has gone with his dad to the movies, he is spending the weekend at his grandmother’s and I am taking him to visit my cousin who will take him fishing.  We are trying but it’s not easy to engage a teenage boy!

Look forward to hearing your ideas and advice.

 

Video games are driving me crazy!

boys on xbox

“Get that guy! Nice shot! These phrases along with other yells and screams have been the background noise of my home this summer.

Video games are driving me crazy!

For some reason, when my sons have friends over, video games become the immediate entertainment. I know there is some benefit: it must help with hand eye coordination.  There may even be skill involved. It’s just that there so much noise from the soundtrack of the games and from  kids screaming at the screen that it makes me insane. Then, there’s the arguing about who gets the control next and who had the highest score.

It’s not only the actual playing into the wee hours of the night that’s driving me crazy. It’s the content, too.

Video games have been at the center of conflict between me and my sons this summer. Recently, my 14 year-old-son, Garret, and I had a battle at GameStop. He wanted to buy an M-rated video game and needed my permission. I asked the guy who works there why the game is rated M. He explained it is because of the extreme violence and scantily clad women with  big breasts jiggling committing destructive acts of terror. We left the store without the game!

The next day, I overhead my son plotting with his now 18-year-old brother, Jake, to take him to GameStop. It sent me on a rampage, screaming at my sons and asking why these games need to be so violent and why they need to feature half-naked women .  I have to give it to Jake, he explained it to me in terms I could easily understand. “Mom, their target market is horny 18-year-old boys!”

Action games with big battles are incredibly exciting, but it seems like the video game industry assumes girls don’t play them. There are not many female heroes in games. In a lot of video games, the default character is a guy. If you want to play as a female character, it’s not easy. Often you have to pay. That makes me furious. My boys don’t seem to be bothered by that — at all.

Last year, when I moved my daughter into her college dorm, I noticed the boys across the hall had not unpacked a single item of clothing or even made up their beds. Instead, they were deeply engrossed in playing Xbox. I recognized the  sounds coming from their room: “No way! You’ve got to be kidding me! That’s bullshit!” …. I turned to my daughter and said, “I guess Xbox even follows teens to college!”

Recently, when the sounds of explosions and gunfire from Xbox had give me a giant headache, I told my sons and their friends to go outside and play basketball or good old-fashioned hide and seek. Their response was to continue playing. It seems these all-consuming video games make it difficult to hear a mother’s voice.

Now school starts and we go back to homework and activities, the Xbox will go into hibernation mode. I will miss the lack of routine, but I will not miss the sounds that emanated from my playroom this summer. I realize I can’t fight the video game generation or the superfans the video game developers are targeting, but I can insist that school and homework come first. Most importantly, I have a shot at restoring some peace and quiet at home and I plan to take it. Score one for mom!

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