When I am speaking with families who are struggling with a video gaming or screen addicted child, at times, I find a parent who has difficulty implementing rules and following through with consequences. These parents tell me that they don’t want to damage what appears to be a good relationship with their child. They are choosing to be the “popular” parent or their child’s “friend” instead of taking a harder stand and choosing to be more disciplinarian in nature, because they’re operating from a place of fear.

When this friendlier approach is taken, it becomes much more difficult to help a child realize they have an addiction problem and even harder to implement any kind of harm reduction plan to help the child reach recovery.

Parenting does require a delicate balance between nurturing and discipline. As parents, it’s natural to want to form a strong bond with our children and be their confidant and friend. However, it is equally vital to understand the significance of providing structure, rules, and boundaries in their lives. It is essential to prioritize essential elements of parenting rather than solely striving to be your child’s best friend.

I was on fairly friendly terms with my own son, but I also parented from a place of discipline. When he had his third detox relapse, I understood that I was going to have to take a tougher stance and that there would be risk to our relationship bond. I literally told my son he had permission to hate me for the rest of my life, but that I was going to do everything in my power to save him from himself. It wasn’t easy to take that stand, but at that time, I knew, instinctually, that I was making the right decision. My son had completely lost his way. I had to take charge.

Children thrive in an environment that provides consistent structure, rules, and boundaries. These elements create a sense of stability and security, allowing children to develop emotional resilience and self-discipline. By establishing clear guidelines, children learn to manage their emotions, understand consequences, and develop self-control. Promoting this kind of emotional development helps a child to understand healthy limits for screen time. 

When parents focus solely on friendship, they may hesitate to set limits or enforce rules, inadvertently depriving their children of the valuable lessons that come with structure. Children may struggle with self-regulation with gaming and screen time and become entitled about how much they should get to play. Without firm parenting, these children may also have difficulty adapting to authority figures in the future. 

Structure, rules, and boundaries around screen time and other household activities, helps children develop a sense of responsibility and accountability. By adhering to routines and expectations, children learn to prioritize their commitments, manage time effectively, and fulfil their obligations.

When parents prioritize friendship over discipline, they might find it challenging to enforce consequences or hold their children accountable for their actions. 

It’s easy to see children who are gaming addicted become confused about the amount of time they should play; they lose track of time and cannot prioritize what is play time and when it is time for school and household responsibilities. Everything just becomes a blurred folding into playing video games with their online friends for hours and hours.

However, understanding the importance of boundaries allows children to develop essential life skills such as problem-solving, decision-making, and taking responsibility for their choices, including how they spend their time with their digital devices.

Children who grow up with clear structure, rules, and boundaries tend to develop healthier social relationships. They understand the importance of respecting others’ boundaries, empathizing with different perspectives, and cooperating with their peers. 

While being a friend to your child is essential, providing structure and guidance helps them navigate social situations effectively. Children who have experienced consistent discipline and boundaries are more likely to develop positive relationship skills, including effective communication, conflict resolution, and empathy. This is extremely important for social development online. Gaming chat rooms and social media can be a toxic environment and it will be important for your child to understand how to navigate these kinds of interpersonal exchanges.

Structure and boundaries play a crucial role in nurturing a child’s personal development and fostering achievement. Setting expectations and goals helps children develop discipline, motivation, and perseverance. It instills a sense of purpose and enables them to understand the value of hard work and effort.

When parents focus primarily on being a friend, they may unintentionally inhibit their child’s growth by not encouraging them to challenge themselves or strive for personal excellence. As a result, these children gravitate to playing video gaming endlessly as a place to both challenge themselves and seek out an avenue to build a sense of higher achievement. And when they become addicted, they see this online reward channel as their only source of achieving success in their life.

Structure and boundaries, on the other hand, provide a framework within which children can flourish, explore their interests, and pursue their passions in a regulated, healthy manner. 

While it is essential to build a strong and loving relationship with our children, it is equally important to recognize the significance of providing structure, rules, and boundaries in their lives. These elements enable children to develop emotional resilience, learn responsibility, foster healthy social relationships, and reach their full potential. By balancing friendship with discipline, parents can create an environment that supports their child’s growth and equips them with the skills necessary for a successful and fulfilling life.

As much as it was a risk to tell my son he could hate me, he definitely doesn’t. He thanks me for saving his life. 

Was it easy to make that decision and follow through – absolutely not. But it was necessary. 

We can do what’s easy or we can do what’s right. The more we choose right, the more you teach your child to also make good, and sometimes difficult decisions.

I can help you find this balance and create strategies for change in your home if you are a parent struggling with a gaming addicted child.