Parenting, Indirect Learning and Electronic Games

When I was 5 or 6, I remember my dad taking me down to his work.  It was a Saturday morning; there was to be a parade that morning and we were going to watch from in front of his office.  Dad found a broken bottle of ketchup on the sidewalk several feet from the office’s front door.  I watched as my dad swept it up with a broom and dust pan and commented that no one would now step in it.

I also recall sitting around the kitchen table at lunch or dinner or in the evenings when my parents’ friends were over, listening to them talk about their lives, events , situations they had encountered.  To this day, I recall what I overheard…how  my mother, father or their friends handled situations; what the situation was, what they did and how it turned out.  I learned what to do and what not to do in such situations.

What I am describing is “indirect learning”…learning not by directly experiencing the situation but by hearing about it and learning from what others said or did… by watching/listening.

Now days, I believe, there is no indirect learning going on in homes.  Why?  Because mom and dad and the children are all on their electronics, playing games.

Recently, I talked with a working parent.  They got off work at 5:00 pm., home by 5:30.  They reported they played their games for 2-3 hours per night and their child went to bed by 9:30.  The parent had only one hour to spend with the child and we haven’t even discussed making supper and the child taking a bath before bed!

Frequently, I see children in my office who display behavior problems. When I ask about the child’s interaction with the parents, frequently, there is little and often it is because the parents are playing video games.

My instruction in such situations…Turn off the electronics, Turn OFF the electronics, TURN OFF THE ELECTRONICS!!!

Children learn from interaction, direct and indirect.  They listen to how mom and dad describe dealing with a “bully” (a.k.a. boss/pushy friend), they learn how you calmed down when you were upset, how you expressed your anger when you were mad.  They learn (from listening) that you can be mad but don’t show it and when that is appropriate and when that is not appropriate.

Consider this…One night a week, you/the family, everyone turns off all the electronics and sit around a table for one hour.  Then, everyone takes a turn talking about something that happened in their life that day and how they dealt with it or a memory they have that is important to them.  Then, after each person talks, people can comment on what they think about how the person dealt with the situation (This is what is called the “feedback” part of the conversation.).  The person speaking can “pass” on the feedback part if they wish.

Try to make it the same night, same time, week after week.  If you wish, invite others…friends, neighbors, etc. to take part in this.  After a few weeks, you WILL find you are interested in what this person or that person has to say about what happened in their life that day or what is going on with a particular person in that person’s life.

This is what we are really watching when we watch reality shows on TV.

This will be difficult to create.  Everyone, including Mom and Dad needs to participate.

I challenge you to try it and send me feedback on how it worked. I will post the feedback…I believe in this that much.  Send feedback to


More later.