In this article, I wrote a list of 20 things I’m doing to manage tics. I broke the list down into simple changes/habits vs. more technical. Because it’s Christmas and I have so much to do that pretty sure I’ll be ticking myself, I am starting with the easy changes. I’d love your opinion, too!
# Tip to Limiting Tics: Less Screen Time/Video Games
This article by Psychology Today suggests a screen fast of up to 3 weeks to calm the tics down. “Electronic screen media—since video games and computer use increases dopamine and tics are dopamine-related, it’s understandable that electronic media worsens tics. For bothersome tics, I recommend a three week “electronic fast”(link is external) to normalize brainchemistry and improve sleep (restful sleep improves tics in and of itself).”
Having gone back and forth with this for over 8 years (see this post from 2011 when I attributed the Nintendo DS to devil’s dung) I have a few things to say about an electronic fast.
- It works.
- But is it worth it?
Yes, there are many moms (such as this post from ACN shows) that have seen improvement with their kids’ tics by eliminating screen time altogether, but this can be tricky if you have a child like mine. Sometimes the pressure and sadness over not being able to do what he loves make my kid tic more.
Many of my super holistic friends, as well as Stink’s naturopath, are of the ilk that just because a kid likes something doesn’t mean it’s healthy for them. For them it’s a no-brainer (no pun intended on the messing up one’s brain-er part) that if something is bad for you, it must go.
As an alcoholic, I choose, for example, not to drink wine at all because 1 glass turns into 4 glasses and, well, bedtime on Cabernet is not exactly the best parenting move on the planet. (My kids gave up their bottles so I did, too.)
The thing with video games is that I don’t find the usage – in moderation – to be the same thing as drinking and driving over squirrels with my kids in the back seat of the SUV (who would be, of course, playing video games).
I’ve decided, after battling the video game demon for 8 years, that a few tics in exchange for moderate video game use is okay. It’s not an all or nothing thing for us. Combined with many other healthy alternatives, I’m okay with it. For my kid, I let him play as long as there are adequate boundaries around it.
Here’s how I handle the video game usage
- None Monday – Thursday
- 2 hours/day Friday/Saturday/Sunday
- Exercise is a must – at least 30 minutes Friday/Saturday/Sunday
- Continue with healthy diet (Zero gluten, dairy to be removed in January)
- Adequate sleep
- More to come when I go through the list
Video Games – The Great Motivator
My kid likes video gaming enough that I use it as a motivator to get stuff done. “Hey, Stink, want an extra 20 minutes of Mario today? I need my windows cleaned.” He wins, I win.
I Know Who My Kid Is
With my kid turning 13 in January, I am more and more aware that he is not a kid who fits the “norm” by any means. (And if “norm” translates into skinny jean, too-cool-for-school, potty mouthed skirt chaser” I’m okay with that.) He doesn’t play sports. He doesn’t care about popularity. He reads a book a week. He loves drama. He still collects Pokemon. And… he connects with other boys who play video games. I am not willing to take away this love for him.
ADD vs. Tics
I am now looking at video games more from the angle of ADD and less from tics. Do they affect his school work? If so, they have to go. If they’re a nice break from the pressure of a big project, I’m okay with it. For my kid, the tics aren’t a concern for him on a personal level, hence gaming is okay for now. He has friends (all who game) and none of them mind his twitches and noises. The issues he has stem from ADD, not the tics themselves, and this is the new lense I am viewing the computer time through.
To the Young Moms of Kids Who Tic
With your little tickers so little, you have the opportunity to set up the culture of your home in a way that works best for you. When they are small, it’s easier to make big changes. It’s a personal choice but I say you should think about it.
Looking Back, Would I Make a Different Choice on the Video Games?
As for me, would I make a different choice on video games if my son were younger and I could set the parameters early? Maybe. But then again, even when he was small, I didn’t make the choice to eliminate them altogether. My husband is a gamer. My kid, even at 3, loved to play Elmo on the computer. I suppose, deep inside, I wish my kid was into other things, but he’s not, and guess what? He’s not me. (And really, what do I do for a living? I write articles and books – on a computer! Um, screen time hypocrite me!!!)
What are Your Thoughts on Gaming?
Think I’m nuts for letting my kid play video games when maybe they would be less without them?
Less Tics in Da House – Taurine to the Rescue!
My kid is back on Taurine and his tics are down 50%. Video game usage hasn’t changed. For me, I made the right choice. More to come.
Until next time, May God grant you the serenity to accept the tics you can’t change, change the tics you can, and have the wisdom to know the difference.