Ask the Experts

Helping Kids Transition to Another Activity After Playing Minecraft

“Can I help my children from transition from playing video games to another activity? My 6- and 10-year-old literally melt down when told to get off the screens — especially Minecraft.”

Minecraft is a particularly difficult game to disengage from due to its sandbox nature, with no beginning, end, or clear transition points. Because it is difficult to make a “mistake” in Minecraft, kids with ADHD and LD often find it to be an activity where persistence comes naturally, in contrast to what they may experience with schoolwork. As a result, sticking with the game and transitioning, which are already more difficult for kids with ADHD, become a challenge. However, here are a few strategies that might be useful:

1. Learn to practice and reward appropriate disengaging techniques from Minecraft and other fun activities. Reward appropriate transitions with a snack, an alternative activity, or one-on-one attention.

2. Use traditional strategies such as a timer with a ten-minute warning. Try the timer method with other activities, as well, so your children become accustomed to it.

3. Have them engage in a specific routine after video-game play such as a brief game discussion, a healthy snack, or going outside.

4. Apply clear and routine consequences for meltdowns and inappropriate behavior. Parents sometimes need to take away Minecraft privileges for a brief amount of time (one to two days or longer) to show that they mean business before the kids respond.

I’ve also written a more extensive article about other strategies to help in transitioning from Minecraft that will provide you with further details.