Have you ever noticed that crazed look in your children´s eyes, when they´re playing video games? Their eyes are glued to the screen, and their hands are on the console. They´re controlling all their player´s moves. One bad move, and it´s all over. That´s why kids must tune out all distractions. Everything they have is on the line. They must think fast on their feet. They make spontaneous decisions, strategize and problem solve on the spot. There is amazing eye-hand coordination, hyper focus and concentration.
Isn´t this a good thing? Sure, most parents are frustrated by videogames. These games distract our kids from doing their homework, going outside to play, and interacting with other people in a meaningful way. All of these things are disempowering. That´s why it may be useful to consider the good that comes out of videogames.
Have you ever thought of videogames as a tool for teaching life skills? Every parent wants their child to be a winner in the game of life. This is exactly what videogames teach our children. Videogames equip kids with a winning mindset that they can take into the classroom, playground and home. Consider these five winning concepts that videogames teach kids:
1. Practice makes perfect. Nobody wins the videogame the first time they play it. That´s why kids play the same game over and over again, until they get the results they want. The more you practice, the better you become. It´s the same thing at school. The more kids read, write, and do math, the more proficient they will become. If we want to become proficient at something (or master it,) then it´s going to take a lot of practice. Repetition creates mastery.
2. Winners are resilient and bounce back. If you lose a game, how do you respond? Do you pitch a fit; cry your eyes out, or call it quits? No way! When you lose, you flip the control switch and start over. It should be the same way in everyday life. There will always be disappointments, frustrations and setbacks. A winner is someone who bounces back and gets back into the game. The only way you can lose is by giving up or stop trying. Remember this when your child gets a bad grade, or is disappointed about not making the soccer team. They will need to bounce back and try again in order to succeed.
3. Winners adjust their approach, until they get the results they want. When playing videogames, kids usually recognize their mistakes. They know when something isn´t working. They start to lose points, crash, or explode. In life, we also receive visual clues when things aren´t working out. These “red flags” should alert and motivate us to try a new or different approach. Obviously, you don´t keep doing the same thing when something isn´t working. You try something new. Or you make slight adjustments in what you´re already doing. This quality is called flexibility. It is the opposite of being rigid, or “my-way or-no-way.”
4. Winners love the thrill of victory. The adrenalin rush of winning gives you courage to try new things. Remarkably, the energy that we get from winning gives us courage. We start to think of ourselves in a more optimistic way. We also crave more success. If we pushed ourselves just a little further, how much more could we accomplish? Every success fuels in us a desire for more. Somehow, the possibility of failure no longer matters, because success would feel so good. Our newfound courage inspires us to attempt more than we thought possible. Suddenly, the shackles of overwhelm, indecision and procrastination are broken. We step out of our comfort zone, and attempt things we previously thought were impossible or unattainable. In other words, we´re going for it, and there´s no stopping us now!
5.Winners spend more time on solutions, than the problem itself. When faced with a problem, it is counterproductive to feel hopeless, complain or be immobilized by indecision. This is what happens when we hyper focus on our problems. For a fresh perspective, spend a few minutes identifying and defining the problem. Then begin to brainstorm about possible solutions.
The neat thing about videogames is that it encourages you to think backwards. You think of the end result (or outcome) you want, and then you ask yourself, “What can I do to make this happen?” With kids, the desired outcome is winning the game, and this motivates them to think of all the possible ways to make this happen.
Sometimes this is called “outcome-based thinking.” How about trying this approach when your child fails at math, or gets into a fight with their best friend? If they want to do better at math, they need to apply themselves and practice more. If they want to restore a friendship, keeping this outcome in mind will give them the courage they need to take action.
Yes, videogames will equip our children with a winning mindset. With a little creativity, I bet you could think of more examples to bring this message home. It´s time that parents take their power back, and use videogames to remind our children to be the winners they´re meant to be.
Writer Nicky VanValkenburgh is the Director of 20 Minutes to Less Stress. Check out her website and receive a free e-book, “Seven Things That Turn On Your Brainpower.” www.20minutestolessstress.com/