During our trip to Great Britain we walked a lot, to and from the tube to our flat or whatever location we were visiting. The Navigator and I would walk ahead of the three of us so that we would not take up too much room on the sidewalk.
It frequently gave the Navigator and I a chance to talk, like when we would walk to school each morning. Sometimes we would talk about the history or culture of where we were or what we were seeing.
I would check in with him to see how he was doing and feeling (which might then guide what we were going to do that day – I was incredibly pleased and proud of him that we rarely needed to change our plans based on these talks).
After he sat on the tablet we brought for him, the talks became more centered around his feelings of frustration and less about where we were and what we were doing. His frustrations came out in black-and-white statements related to wishing life was easy and that he did not have to take any responsibilities.
I explained to him that two of the most important things in life are
- being able to make choices, and
- being challenged
without which people can feel like their lives have no meaning or purpose. And that choices and challenges also sometimes include difficulties in life and dealing with consequences.
I am pretty sure that what he heard was “blah blah blah blah” – an explanation and platitudes from me was not what he wanted to hear at the time.
Fast forward to a few weeks later. Not wanting him to spend the remainder of his summer after our trip just sitting around doing screen time, I signed him up for some summer camp classes.
The first class he took was a beginner video game design class. He has been talking about wanting to design his own video games (dinosaur themed, of course) and I was really pleased to see this foundational class being offered in his age range.
He was nervous when he started the class and asked me to stay. I had packed my laptop to go work at a coffee shop anyway, so finding a seat in the back of the room was easy. It had the added bonus that I got to hear what they were teaching him.
The class had a great approach which went right to strengthening his executive function skills, providing him with the basic building block concepts for any video game as a step-by-step process. I worked with him afterwards to help him see that he could analyze any video game he played or wanted to develop using the basic concepts he was taught.
More importantly, the class focused on what made video games interesting to people – being able to make choices and being challenged.
I love it when the stars align to help him better understand something important.
Also published on Medium.