Narrowed interests, – difficulty engaging and motivating son! Advice please.

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    • #171646

      Hello all,
      Hope you are managing okay in this lockdown.
      So, at present I’m really struggling with motivating my son who has inattentive ADD, and substantial executive function disorder. He is 7 (8 in July)). It seems in the past year, his interests have narrowed so much, despite once having had so great an imagination and aptitude for play. We introduced minecraft to him this past Christmas gone, and I don’t know whether to rue the day we ever did – or to be delighted, as the reward of it, or threat of taking it away seems to be the only thing that motivates him any more.

      Basically he is only allowed to play it one day a week – and he earns his minutes on it – by doing jobs, effort etc. However it has taken over his headspace to such a huge extent that it is all he seems to be able to think about, talk about or engage in.

      Of course during the lockdown it’s difficult – as much of the scaffolding that would have previously been around him – ie the swimming lessons he enjoyed, sea scouts, soccer lessons, gymnastics etc etc – have all ended (or are on a hiatus).

      However even at that – when involved in those activites – he was only semi present – and is so eager to find someone who will engage in talking about minecraft all the time. I get it – many boys this age love minecraft or the like. But there is so much more out there in the world…so many engaging and wonderful topics. He seems to be only motivated by this one thing….. I query whether he may be on the spectrum…but teachers etc – haven’t really thought so. He has started stimming quite a bit since lockdown.

      Anyway – we do need to quit our children some slack during this lockdown – (I get that), and allow them their thing – even use it for a positive and to motivate. It is however so concerning when you see their headspace, thoughts – so overcome by one narrowed area of interest – that they can’t engage with their family. We do meditate, do plenty of exercise etc in the morning.

      How have other parents dealt with this, broadened their children’s interests. Have any of you super engaging resources you can recommend….(or are we allowed that on this forum)?

      Thanks in advance,
      ADD parent – Ireland

    • #171692

      One of my cousins high functioning ASD also obsessed with Minecraft.
      They are using it to home school, not by playing the game but for example in creative writing saying they can use characters/items/events that have happened in game to write there own story and the same with art, say draw the dog but in the Minecraft world ect.
      Then continuing the tasks away from the minecraft theme by highlighting part of the writing that was good or needed improvement either spelling or grammar and teaching from there.

      In terms of getting her completely away from narrowed focus it depended on we were trying to get her involved in, for example her sister wanted to go to archery lessons so to get her excited about it was watched brave and some other interesting videos on the history of archery on youtube. The more excited we were as a group the more interest she took.

      What would you like during lockdown for your son to do as all his physical/social things are on hiatus?

    • #171775
      Penny Williams

      Minecraft is stimulating, offers easier social interaction, and is something kids with challenges are often good at, when they struggle to be good at much of anything. Plus, the majority of his friends likely talk all about Minecraft too. It’s providing so many opportunities he struggles with…

      I understand the concern over screen time, but technology is part of all our lives and it’s not all bad. As long as he’s taking care of all other priorities (exercise, school, chores, in-person interactions with others when we’re not in lockdown), then screen time is ok. It can even be used to teach problem solving and executive functioning skills! 🙂

      How Can I Break My Child’s Minecraft Obsession?

      ADDitude Community Moderator, Parenting ADHD Coach & Author, Mom to teen w/ ADHD, LDs, and autism

    • #172027

      Have you considered letting him earn it every other day or more frequently for a shorter amount of time? I know it can be a hassle, but keep in mind that getting off when he’s supposed to with the right attitude, and finding something else that’s productive or enriching to do afterwards, are skills he also needs practice building. If he’s motivated to build something great with LEGOS for 2 hours after he gets off the computer on Monday, it really doesn’t matter if it started out because he’s motivated to play again on Wednesday. He’s still learning the skill he really needs to practice, which is to develop free time play skills and habits (which can become coping skills), and you have a way to motivate him to do it more often. If it’s a matter of limiting screen time, maybe consider spreading the same amount throughout the week and linking it to his other free time habits. If it’s a matter of getting him off the computer afterwards, link that behavior to playing next time. Supervision can also be solved creatively by adjusting the time of day, location of the device, etc. to adapt to your needs.

      Maybe make a project out of creating a poster, list, or a jar of popsicle sticks with “I’m bored activities?”

      My kids earned all of their screen time with a “star” system when they were younger. Every once in a while it meant a longer marathon because they ran around doing extra jobs, reading, and doing nice things for each other, but it was totally worth it. They were practicing the important skills way more than they were on the computer, and it didn’t happen as often as you might expect.

    • #172028

      I forgot to mention, it’s really great that he is recognizing and connecting with other kids over Minecraft in the real world. You can use that to to his advantage because so many kids are interested in the topic. It will be easier for him to practice conversation skills, and you can guide him by offering suggestions. If he practices asking questions, and then actually listening and responding to what the person says, starting to watch for social cues, in time he will be able to generalize those conversation skills to school and other social situations. Kids more than ever are really struggling to develop conversation skills that really go back and forth and aren’t two people in their own monologues. Most kids with add need one part or another of the social stuff spelled out for them a bit, even the highly social ones.

    • #172041

      Mindcraft is known to be a favorite of children with ADHD/ADD as well as ASD (I agree that it sounds like your son has some characteristics of a child on the spectrum). He may be obsessing more on the game because he is feeling anxious or scared during this time. If his activities are being canceled, his routine is also being disrupted even more than the closing of the school building. Playing Minecraft helps him cope.
      I agree that offering him shorter, more frequent play periods would likely help. If he is using it to cope, waiting a week to feel better would be agonizing for any of us. Also, kids with ADHD like playing Legos, so you could offer that as another activity, and one during which you can join him to play. You can also try board games to engage as a family and build social skills. You may find that as your son grows older, his behaviors may change, especially in stressful times. Boys hit prepuberty around 10, and I have seen boys with ADHD and ASD have big changes in behavior because of hormones.
      You may also be able to find some online programs or apps that help your son practice executive functioning skills in the form of playing games that will help him build those skills.

    • #172088

      I totally know what you are talking about! I don’t have any advice, just want you to know there is someone else who understands.

      • This reply was modified 1 year, 6 months ago by tulmom123.
    • #172150

      Instead of trying to resist or replace his interest in Minecraft, can you explore ways to leverage it?
      Joy in discussing Minecraft could help grow friend relationships and boost social skills. Perhaps you can help him find like-minded friends (and maybe help other frazzled parents).
      Minecraft is an excellent gateway to teaching software development. Ask him how he might change Minecraft to make it better, then mention that he can learn how. Local bookstores and websites have plenty of teach-yourself resources even for younger children. Plenty of skills are possible to encourage, including math and statistics (especially for dice-rolling activities), project planning your work, carefully designing and building and testing software, sharing your work with others, working with others as part of a team…

    • #172157

      In this time as an Adult with ADD, I am leaning on my computer games to get through the days.
      Can I suggest that maybe have your son teach you about Minecraft, sit with him, play t with him to see exactly how it is maybe expanding his creativity instead of narrowing it.

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