I witnessed Namine’s very first ragequit while playing on the Wii yesterday.
Last night, Namine asked me if she could play a few games on the Wii before she went to bed. We still had some time, so I said sure.
One of Namine’s favorite games is Table Tilt on the Wii Fit. Sometimes she plays it standing up in her walker, and sometimes she sits on the Wii Fit board. Since the walker was in the car, she played sitting down. And she did really well — she beat her previous high score, even tying with Jessica’s score.
The fifth level proved too difficult for her, though, and she started to get frustrated. After the third or fourth try and no further success, she was pissed.
“That’s it! I QUIT!” She yelled. She got off the board and ran into her room*, slamming the door behind her.
Jessica and I looked at each other. It was hard not to laugh, especially because Namine was a mirror for our own reactions to a frustrating video game. I went and knocked on Namine’s door.
“I’m not playing any more,” she said to me through the door.
“I know that, honey. Can I come in and talk to you?”
She scooted away from the door enough to let me in. I sat down on the floor next to her. She wouldn’t look at me at first. I asked her, “Do you think I’m mad at you? Or that you’re in trouble?” She nodded. I explained, “I’m not mad. Heck, both Mommy and I have gotten mad at video games. Getting mad at video games is perfectly fine.”
Namine looked at me, listening.
I repeated, “Getting mad is fine. But acting on your anger is another thing entirely, right?”
“So you have the decision of how you behave. It’s all up to you, whether you control your temper or have a tantrum. So take some time to think if you need it, and if you want to play some more, you can.”
Namine thought a moment. “I think I’m all done playing for tonight.”
“That’s fine. Why don’t we go pray with Mommy, and then we can tuck you into bed.”
“Okay, Daddy. I love you!” Namine gave me a hug, then bounded back into the living room.
Controlling one’s temper is rarely easy. I know firsthand, being a fairly hot-tempered person myself. It’s taken me most of my adult life to reign in my temper sometimes, and I’m far from perfect. But yelling at Namine for getting mad at the Wii wouldn’t have done either of us any favors. It certainly wouldn’t have taught her a lesson on controlling her temper, a battle which she sometimes wins and sometimes loses. Sometimes, we just need a loving hand to guide us through.
1 Namine can’t run, but saying “Namine scooted into her room” doesn’t give the sense of speed or urgency with which my daughter moved. Since she moves around the apartment primarily on her hands, she generally moves at a more leisurely pace. (It’s tiring to move using only your arms — I’ve tried it, and it’s incredibly exhausting.) But when she has the motivation — for example, when she’s infuriated at a video game — she really can move.