Angry Birds has sold more than 12 million copies since it was introduced last year. Why is it and other video games so popular? What can they teach us about parenting?
- The rules are consistent: The rules are simple and you know what to expect from each bird. In parenting, it’s extremely important that our rules are clear and consistent so they know how to “win the game.”
- The levels start easy and then get harder: In a behavior training I attended the presenter explained how they train dolphins at Sea world to jump out of water through a hoop. He described that they start by putting the hoop low in the water where the dolphin is already swimming and then reward it for going through the hoop. In parenting, we need to set our expectations where the child is at so they can feel successful then higher the expectations as they improve. Expectations need to be appropriate for their age and developmental level.
- The games use positive reinforcements and a reward system: Everyone needs positive reinforcement. It’s especially important for children to hear praise. Some parents have said, “I want my child to behave because they want to not because they are bribed.” Using a reward system is not bribery, it is how the world operates. We go to work to get a pay check, even if we love our job. It becomes bribery when you start to add prizes when they are acting up instead of rewarding them for doing what is expected.
- When you make a mistake in a game, you can start over and try again: A big mistake that may parents make is lecturing or bringing up past incidents. Everyone makes mistakes, it’s what we learn from them that counts. Love and Logic parenting teaches that when we lecture we take away the child’s responsibility and opportunity to think what they have done. Instead, be empathetic and let them start over. For example, “That’s sad that your friend is mad, what are you going to do to fix the problem.”
- The games provide distraction: Children need to be children. They need to play, it is how they learn and grow. I am not recommending that they play video games consistently, in fact the opposite. Cultivate opportunities for age and developmentally appropriate play i.e. dolls, house, trucks, trains, legos, playdoh, etc.
- The games involves surprises and extra rewards: Make parenting fun. Introduce rewards and surprises that let your children feel appreciated for who they are regardless of behavior. They need to feel unconditional love.