Child therapist explains why you should never say ‘it’s just a game’ to kids

By Staff

Any parent trying to get their child off video games knows how hard it can be, but a child therapist says parents need to stop telling their child ‘it’s just a game’ – even if they get angry

It’s no secret that getting kids to stop playing video games can be a mammoth task – but a child therapist says there is a way you should handle it.

From Fortnite to GTA or Call Of Duty, the most popular video games on the PS5 and Xbox scene often involve scenes of extreme violence and the use of weapons. You may have often heard gamers scream that they ‘just died’ after trying to beat an online opponent or make it to the next level.

A child therapist, Cathy Knibbs, says that parents often get worried when their children exhibit anger while playing such as throwing their control or shouting at the screen.

While parents often blame the nature of the games for causing outburst reactions from their children, Cathy says it is “less to do with the game and more to do with the child not being able to regulate their feelings”. She insists parents should never tell their child “it’s just a game”.

Cathy, who specialising in technology therapy, took to TikTok to explain that there is a “big difference” between children feeling aggressive because they are playing a competitive game – like sport – and that aggression turning into violence.

Speaking via her page @cath_knibbs she said: “Some games are more violent than others and you might be worried about how seeing violent things will affect your child. Stop telling your child it’s ‘just a game’ when they’re getting angry playing video games. I hear from loads of parents who are worried about how aggressive their children become when playing video games.

“If you’ve witnessed your kid screaming at their game and smashing their controllers, you might start to think it’s the game that’s making them do this but that isn’t the whole truth.”

Child naturally have a harder time regulating their emotions and this is where you get to help as a parent. How your child expresses their emotion is often more about how they’ve been taught or what they’ve witnessed.

“Your child isn’t wrong for feeling angry at the game, so instead of telling them ‘it’s just a game’ or ‘calm down’, you can help to make them feel heard.” The therapist said it is a “good thing” if you find your child is smashing things, she said, but they “might need you to help regulate their anger.

She suggested showing the child how they can get their angry out without hitting things – you could try shadowboxing or jumping jacks. Her video raked in over 4,700 comments – with some saying how they used the technique but others strongly disagreed.

One parent said: “I always tell my child that it’s okay losing, that’s how we learn to be stronger and have a chance to win that calms him down.” Another parent added: “My son gets angry playing Minecraft. I say ‘it’s just a game’ pause it, deep breath and try again. I don’t actually blame the game. I just want him to breath and process his emotions which he can’t do.”

Another shared how she handles her son’s anger on games, and commented: “I’ve never said it’s just a game, I do tell him if it’s annoying/frustrating him, it’s time to step away, take some time to calm down, then try again when he is calmer.”

But another, who claims to be a “professional Fortnite player” wrote: “If you broke something expensive while playing your parents have failed.” Another added: “But it is just a game and losing a game isn’t the end of the world, they need to realise that games are made to be lost and won and getting aggressive like that won’t change anything.”

One other commented: “Or just don’t let your young children be baby sat by screens and limit scream time as they get older, my boys are both glad I did this and said they would do the same with there future children.”

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