1. “I thought I told you 10 minutes ago to get off the computer in 5 minutes!” This kind of scene repeats itself in countless homes every day. It adds to parental stress by making the parent the time keeper and allows the child to see how long he or she can get away with it before the parent notices. Here is a simple tool to help: set a timer and tell the child that when the timer goes off then he or she needs to immediately start on the task (if it had not been started). And let the child know in advance that if they make the decision to not comply then ____ is the consequence. The timer becomes the reminder and the parent is not in the position of being a nag. (You may need to set up a consequence for a child messing around with the timer for the more devious kids). The parent can then go about their business and when the timer goes off can then check on the child. For other parenting tips and resources on counseling, see me.

2. On the importance of play

We have all heard the saying “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”. Well, not playing would have a detrimental impact on a person and their relationships. Through play, kids have the opportunity to try on ideas for different careers and for learning how to handle conflict. Kids can pretend one day to be a doctor and another day to be a teacher or firefighter or anything else they can imagine. All of which gives us great opportunities to help kids dream and encourage them. Kids can learn the cause and effect of relationships – such as what happens to my relationships with others when I wipe out the board (or threw the controls or the gaming device) when I lost. Or perhaps I won the game but went on and on with bragging – and later others don’t want to play with me.

Play also provides great opportunities for deepening relationships – and this is across the board in the age spectrum. Play provides the parent-child bonding as well as bonding between siblings and friends. In a marriage, a couple that has lost track of how to enjoy time with each other is one that is on perilous ground. A frequent assignment in marital counseling is for the couple to prioritize a date night. Play time provides those deposits in the relationship account that not only deepen the relationship, but also allow the relationship to withstand those difficult times when there is conflict and strain. Some of the best memories in friendships and families revolve around having fun together.

So our challenge is to not view playtime as a frivolous waste of time, but to work on enjoying and deepening our relationships by having fun together. In a day and age when each person in a family may have their own personal gaming device it can be a challenge to engage with one another in fun. It is not hard to imagine each person being isolated even in their fun if all they do is play- alone. Far from the problem of being dull – if we don’t play with others, our relationships will suffer and we will be the worse off for it. So get out there… and have some fun.

– Marty Plog, L.P.C