Worried About Your Child’s Video Gaming? Here’s How to Make Peace, with Eric Lanigan
Are you worried about your child’s video gaming habits? If so, here’s interesting conversation with Eric Lanigan about two topics that I know are relevant, and perhaps concerning, to many listeners out there — video gaming and motivation. I reached out to Eric after learning about an online course he runs for parents called Making Peace with Gaming, because I was curious to know just exactly how we do that, and what that actually means in the context of everyday life with kids who are really into gaming. What I love about this conversation is it went so much deeper than video gaming and into the heart of the emotional lives of our children. I found our conversation to be highly thought-provoking—I hope you get a lot out of it.
About Eric Lanigan
Eric Lanigan is a Motivation Coach who has helped hundreds of people to get clear on what they want -and then do it. He guides his clients in directing their attention inwards instead of blaming themselves or external events. A former video game addict himself, Eric offers an intimate view of the world of compulsive gaming. Eric has delivered dozens of workshops on emotional intelligence, motivation, and procrastination. His online course, The Big Shift, has served over 750 people from more than 15 countries.
Things you’ll learn from this episode
- Why many children get so deeply involved in their video game worlds
- The emotional payoff many children get from engaging in games
- Eric’s ideas around how parents can respect and understand their child’s video gaming
- The connection between motivation and gaming, and what parents miss when considering these
- Why Eric says the problem isn’t the games themselves but the way we relate to the games
- The biggest fears and concerns parents have surrounding their child’s gaming
- Eric’s thoughts on parents legislating their children’s gaming and how rewards and punishments associated with gaming may be counterproductive / result in the opposite desired outcome
Resources mentioned for parents worried about their child’s video gaming
- Asher Talks About the Pros and Cons of Banning Video Games (podcast episode)
Eric Lanigan 00:00
Not all gamers have this pattern, but some do. And that’s sort of part of that process where gaming becomes unhealthy or when any habit becomes unhealthy. It’s when we’re using it as a coping mechanism for avoiding unpleasant emotions and unpleasant feelings.
Debbie Reber 00:14
Welcome to Tilt Parenting a podcast featuring interviews and conversations aimed at inspiring, informing and supporting parents raising differently wired kids. I’m Debbie Reber, your host. And today I’m sharing with you a very interesting conversation with Eric Lanigan about two topics that I know are extremely relevant and perhaps concerning to many listeners out there. Video gaming and motivation. I reached out to Eric after learning about an online course he runs for parents called Making Peace with Gaming, because I was curious to know just how do we do that? And what does it actually mean to make peace with gaming in the context of everyday life with kids who are really into their gaming. What I loved about this conversation is that it went so much deeper than video gaming, and it really went to the heart of the emotional lives of our children. And a little bit about Eric, he is a motivational coach who helps people get clear on what they want. He guides his clients in directing their attention inwards, to develop a deeper awareness of their behavior and habits. In addition to making peace with gaming, he runs another online course called The Big Shift. Eric is a former video game addict himself, and he offers an intimate view of the world of compulsive gaming. And he also gives workshops on emotional intelligence, motivation and procrastination. I found this conversation to be very thought provoking, I hope that you get a lot out of it. And I should share that Eric is offering listeners of this podcast some discounts off of his online course, he’s offering $50 off the teen section of The Big Shift in June if you register by May 15, and $50 off the Making Peace with Gaming course also if you register by May 15. So if you want to take advantage of that, go to the show notes page, and there’ll be a link to connect with Eric for more information. Before I get to our conversation. I also wanted to let you know that next week, I’ll be presenting at the breakthroughs in twice exceptional education conference. That’s an annual national conference devoted specifically to eat children, those who are gifted and learn differently. The conference, which is now in its fourth year, is presented by the 2e’s Study Center at the quad and the quad Preparatory School, which is an innovative school for two EU students in lower Manhattan. This year’s conference is being held from May 16. Through the 18th in New York City. It has a great lineup, including keynote presentations by Ross Green, and LeDerrick Horne, and more than 20 breakout sessions. I’ll be speaking on the morning of Friday, May 17. And I will be doing a book signing afterward. So if you’re in the New York City area, and you would like to attend and come see me there, you can get all the details by going to quad prep.org and just click on the conference tab. And lastly, I just wanted to give you a heads up about some exciting episodes we have coming up for the podcast. So next week, I have a really interesting conversation with Eric Carlin, who is a college admissions coach. And he is going to go deep into the application process and tell us everything we need to know about the SAT and the ACT and accommodations and essays and basically how we can navigate the application process. And when we should start thinking about that. So that’s next week. And then in two weeks, I’m going to be sharing an episode with the authors of my favorite book of the year. I’ve talked about it many times the Self-Driven Child and that is written by Dr. William Stixrud and Ned Johnson. And they are both joining me for a conversation about how to help our children be more autonomous, have more control in their lives so they can be more self-directed and motivated and really reach their fulfillment. It’s a conversation I’m very excited to share with you. So, enough announcements for today. I’m going to go to the episode and my conversation with Eric Lanigan. Hey, Eric, welcome to the podcast.
Eric Lanigan 04:48
Thank you, Debbie.
Debbie Reber 04:50
So we were just talking before I’m really excited about this conversation. I think it’s a kind of a fresh subject for us and and a different take on this Do games and some other things we’re going to talk about today. So as a way of getting started, can you just give us kind of a brief introduction to who you are and what you do in the world?
Eric Lanigan 05:11
Yeah, well, my name is Eric Lanigan. And I work as a coach and teacher around motivation and self-connection. And that expresses itself in many forms, often with young people who are wanting to do something with their lives, and don’t quite know how to do it, sometimes with professionals who are already successful, and are wanting to refocus that in a direction that might be slightly more fulfilling, or to really break through around a project. And now with parents supporting their kids, and developing their relationships with their kids around gaming, passions,
Debbie Reber 05:56
Gaming passions, I love even just hearing those two words together. And I’m just curious how you, you know, kind of your personal why in doing this work? How did you come to be doing this?
Eric Lanigan 06:12
Well, it starts with me being rather insecure as a kid, being insecure about my height and feeling unattractive. And then having this sense of inadequacy, which I looked out at the world, the big world for me, as a 12-13-year-old, and thought, what would make me adequate? Well, it seems like money is really important. So I picked money. And I started trading stocks and 13 and derivatives at 16. And I started a business in college and had a day trading mentor in college, and I thought this was going to be my path. And fortunately, I recognized that there was no amount of money that was actually going to make up for this sense of interlac. And so I did change my trajectory, around age 21, and started trying to figure out what would actually make me happy. And that was a bit of a multiyear journey living at retreat centers, taking as many personal growth courses and retreats and seminars as I could. And that path led me to Canada, where I lived with a mentor there who did addiction therapy, and emotional intelligence training with horses, where horses were helping people sort of reconnect with themselves. And after that, I started coaching, and so my personal why is essentially wanting to help people avoid the pain that I had on my path of confusion. And one person once said to me, either you love people and use money, or use people and love money. And I loved money and used people for the majority of my young life. And I wanted to love people, and I didn’t even know how, and that I’m happy to say that it’s now shifted, but that whatever it is, looking outside yourself for validation in any form was, was a painful process to resolve. Because at least when you have validation, in whatever context, you pursue it there, it’s a structure for motivation. And to give that up is very scary. Because if you give up people pleasing or whatever, then at times, it might feel like you don’t even know what you want. Right? Yeah.
Debbie Reber 08:58
Wow. It’s a fascinating story in so many ways. And I can imagine just that loss of identity, you know, and the fact that you had that aha moment. So Young, you know, at 21 had the wherewithal to realize I need to pivot here. And that’s a pretty incredible thing. I think so many people don’t ever get to that point in their lives. And that’s remarkable that that happened to you. It’s so young and age.
Eric Lanigan 09:26
Yeah, it was one pivot point. I think I immediately pivoted to seeing myself as a wise, smart person. And that became my new identity, which was equally problematic or pretty much equally problematic. I pushed a lot of friends away because I thought I knew better and all of this. Eventually I learned that connection happens through emotion, emotional self-connection. And now don’t act as if I have the answers, or at least not like I did around that age.
Debbie Reber 10:05
Wow, so interesting, you know, just as you’re describing this, I know so many of our kids, you know, in the community who listens to this podcast, our kids are often kind of concrete thinkers, black and white thinkers. And so I think it’s easy for them to get wrapped up in this one aspect of who they are. And that can be really challenging, because a lot of them are perfectionist, or it’s their intellect. That is their identifying factor. And I think a lot of these kids are potentially setting themselves up for challenge down the road when that when they realize, oh, maybe I’m not who I thought I was, or other people don’t value me the same way or always looking externally for that validation. So it’s really interesting.
Eric Lanigan 10:52
Yeah, and the most meaningful pieces of life that I’ve found are in connection, not necessarily in getting validation for, you know, being valedictorian or whatever else.
Debbie Reber 11:04
Right. Absolutely. So, lets us pivot for a moment. So I heard about you through Blake Bowles, who listeners might remember as the unschooling guru, as I call him, and we had a really fascinating conversation about self-directed learning and unschooling, and you had partnered with him or he was involved with you for a program you were doing on gaming, which really caught my attention. Because we were talking before the show, you know, my husband is a gamer . Actually I will just say that I didn’t know he was a gamer until after he moved in. So during the dating process that was kind of hidden from me, and then he moved in, I’m like, oh, well, this is interesting. I didn’t realize so much time would be spent doing this. But anyway, it’s his passion in many ways. And, and I’ve come to peace with that. And my son is a gamer. But I know that a lot of parents in my community, their kids are really involved in gaming in it. Well, I’m sure you know this, quote, unquote, screentime, you know, we’ve had, we’ve talked about a lot on the show. It’s a divisive issue, it creates a lot of concern around addiction, and habits and motivation, and all these pieces. So I would love to talk about your work involving helping parents make peace with video gaming. So I guess let’s, let’s start there. Tell us about your work with gaming. And again, maybe your personal connection to that work.
Eric Lanigan 12:36
Yeah. So with gaming, I was a gamer. Growing up, I remember, I beta tested World of Warcraft, I bought a new computer to play that game. And I remember my big transition was in junior year, when I spent probably 12 to 16 hours a day, all two weeks of winter break, playing World of Warcraft. And at the end of the two weeks, I felt this sort of emptiness. And I stopped. That’s not everyone’s path. And I was really obsessed. And really sort of trying to squeeze all of the excitement and juice out of the moment in this sort of perpetual instant gratification cycle of gaming. And I would also say there were many other games that really taught me how to think in systems because games are systems, and you learn the system. And life is a system, a job is a system. And then as you learn how to play the systems, you can contribute more. So there’s nothing inherently wrong with games. It’s just about the way we relate to games. And so the way I support parents in this through the gaming course, might be helpful just to go through the first few weeks of that course, it’s a four-week course, than the first week we spend time examining fears that the parents have about gaming and their children’s gaming.
Debbie Reber 14:20
Yeah, I can imagine, but you know, you hear from parents all over the world on this topic. What are some of the biggest fears that you hear?
Eric Lanigan 14:30
Will they ever stop? Will they ever have a meaningful life outside of gaming, they’re spending so much time gaming? Is this going to impact their future? They’re spending so much time gaming, is this going to impact their relationships, their friendships? So it’s just a general fear? I think, in many cases, what I hear is just that this is going to impact the fulfillment and joy of their children going forward.
Debbie Reber 14:58
Yeah. I I know that even you know, just me personally, like, I see that connection. And that sometimes obsessive behavior when there’s a new game or you know that focus is really all on one area. And I know that I, I will go to the future like, what is this going to look like in you know, five years if he’s like college, and he’s got coursework to do, but he’s discovered a new game or, or whatever it is. So I imagine this is one of those runaway fears of kind of worst-case scenarios often.
Eric Lanigan 15:34
Yes. And then we legislate sometimes from our fears. And so we impose rules, or whatever else that might create distance in the relationship between the parent and the child.
Debbie Reber 15:49
Can you talk about that? Talk about the rules? You know, this is in every parent community that I’m in? There’s, of course, the discussion around how much is right how much is too much, I did an episode with my son, who used to be a regular guest on the podcast, about whether or not it’s okay for a parent to ever ban a game completely, or when is that appropriate. And also, I hear from parents that they often will use the game as a reward or consequence, you know, access if this if you perform well here or take it away if this happens. So what are your thoughts on parents trying to legislate their child’s gaming?
Eric Lanigan 16:33
Yeah, let’s start with the reward piece. So life is an opportunity for us to explore, learn, create, connect with ourselves, and others can express ourselves, right. So when we add reward and punishment around games, we are creating a dynamic where we make schoolwork, often schoolwork, this thing that you wouldn’t inherently want to do, we make learning this thing that you wouldn’t inherently want to do. And then if you do this thing that you wouldn’t inherently want to do, then you get a reward, which in my perspective, ruins the desire to learn in and of itself. Now, that desire to learn is already not helped by our culture as it stands, because the way we relate to work is that work is a pain. And it’s kind of a bummer. And life would just be better if we could spend all day every day on the beach, drinking, whatever it is that you drink. Right. And, and that’s not true. It might be true if you’re really in a painful place, but in a bigger picture when you’re connecting with the world, when you’re doing something that’s making a difference, which not all of us have the privilege of doing. But that is what makes life fulfilling. And so my approach with parents and with kids who are gamers, instead, it all comes down to the relationship to their emotions, which is how do you know you, you are enjoying something? It’s a pretty simple question. But you know, you’re enjoying something when you’re enjoying it when it feels good.
Debbie Reber 18:41
So it seems like a simple question. But it’s also seeming like a profound question, because I think it’s something that we never consider, right? Yeah. So how do you even encourage kids or parents to help their kids and tapping into that question?
Eric Lanigan 19:00
Well, first, I just want to point out that on the surface, it might say, Yeah, it feels good. I really, like I’m really captivated. Right? And it might actually be that what the person is experiencing whatever sort of addiction or compulsion they’re in, is adrenaline. And if you’re actually sit with the experience for a longer period of time, you experience this tension, this sadness, this anger, or frustration underneath it, this inadequacy, or fear, right, so. So this is the big sort of pivot point in people’s relationship to motivation, their relationship to their emotions, is that coming to understand that emotions are signals and that the surface most emotion or the thing that we see if we just take a glance at our emotions, isn’t necessarily the bigger emotion that’s at play and at work and In terms of what’s going on, so with parents, I encourage parents, first and foremost, to develop their relationship with themselves and their own emotions. And just take time, noticing how you feel every day, right? If there are things you procrastinate on, and we all procrastinate on things, in the moment that you are about to procrastinate or are moving to a distraction, pause and feel into your emotions in the moment. And almost always, what you find is some kind of uncertainty, some kind of, or some kind of emotion that’s unpleasant, that sometimes this even present itself in conscious awareness, it stays sort of in the unconscious, and we’re just automatically on autopilot reacting to it. But if we pause and are able to feel that emotion, listen into that signal, it might tell us, you don’t have enough information to make this decision. So the next step isn’t making this decision, it’s going out and getting more information. And then you actually have your next action for whatever project you’re working on. And that gets you back on your path. And this applies equally to students or to kids.
Debbie Reber 21:25
So let’s talk about the kids’ emotional experience, this tension, this anger, frustration, that might actually be going on underneath where it might on the surface of like enjoyment, or they might disbelieve that they’re enjoying it. But in reality, there are all these other things going on. So for a parent to kind of get more connected with their process, their emotions, does that help us better? Identify what our kids are going through? Tell me about that connection?
Eric Lanigan 21:56
Yes, absolutely. So as we get more in touch with our emotions, we are also our senses of what another person is experiencing, also get better. And so if you as a parent are trying to connect with their child and seeing how the child is relating to their emotions, or their gaming, in the context of gaming, you can ask questions like, how does it feel when you’re gaming? And I noticed that when you come to dinner, sometimes you seem frustrated, is there something that’s frustrating you about the game, things like that, that start to connect the child’s own conscious awareness to maybe their underlying emotions, which is how we get unstuck in any aspect of our lives? To begin with, right? It’s all about connecting with emotion, because emotion tells us what is right for us what we want, we can use our mind to figure out what would be beneficial for us. So let’s go to a maybe give an example we can give an example of a child who is identified with their intelligence, maybe, who feels like maybe even they have some amount of potential or something where they want to, they feel this almost this needs to do things, but at the same time, they’re spending a lot of time gaming. Does that sound like something that an example that would be sure, yeah. helpful to explore? Yeah. So there is an inner sense of obligation to achieve, often coming from like, I described it, in my own process, that sense of, of needing either validation, or needing achievement to, to feel worthy. And that creates pressure. And that creates obligation. And so that obligation is motivation, it might express itself in what I call conceptual, beneficial level assessment, which is where you can sit there or a child who might deeply want to do something big in the world can sit there and think about what would be beneficial to them. And then that shows up as an obligation, which they might feel trapped by. And then that pressure from needing to succeed and follow all of these obligations they’ve pinned, pinned down, creates an unpleasant, overwhelming experience like they’re on a they’re trapped, and then they turn away from that to some sort of distraction. Not all gamers have this pattern, but some do. And that’s sort of part of that process where gaming becomes unhealthy or when any habit becomes unhealthy. It’s when we’re using it as a coping mechanism for avoiding unpleasant emotions, unpleasant feelings.
Debbie Reber 25:09
Makes absolute sense. And I think that that is going to resonate with a lot of listeners. So, if we understand that that is what’s going on, and I actually, I love this conversation, because all of our guests and what we’re often talking about on this show is, there’s always a reason for behavior and to kind of look at the underlying what’s really going on with our child, and how can we support them there. So if we recognize that this isn’t just, you know, our child just not prioritizing or not being motivated, or you know, all these things that we make up or they’re ruining their future, and they just don’t care if we can get to that place and realize, oh, this is this is some sort of avoidance behavior because of areas of pain or insecurity, or not feeling worthy. How do we move forward from there? How do we support them through that? And I guess, yeah, to use your language come to peace with the way that they’re using it. But also, or do you have strategies to help parents help them engage in the game in a different way?
Eric Lanigan 26:18
So yes, the reason that I work with parents in the gaming course, is because it’s all about the parents developing their relationship, in many senses with themselves first. And the biggest thing parents can do is to live the life they want to live.
Debbie Reber 26:41
You say more about that. I love that statement. And then I want to know what that means in your context.
Eric Lanigan 26:47
Yeah, well, it means getting a sense of the things in life that they are tolerating, and then seeing, what do you actually desire in those areas. And there’s not, obviously you can’t work on all of these areas at once. But there’ll be a few that will stand out as pain points. And by going through this process yourself, it’s really, really helpful for your child, because this is exactly what your child wants to be doing. They also have things in their life that they’re tolerating. They also have things in life that they want that they desire. So by going through the process, and understanding your own sticking points, and even being able to vulnerably talk about your own sticking points. And not just show up as someone who sets the rules, but actually connects in a vulnerable way. Not obviously, using your child as a therapist and sharing too much, but sharing your process, and a vulnerable way that feels appropriate to the moment to the circumstance to the age of the child. Because the child is going to be going through this whole process themselves and learning how to navigate life and navigate their own emotions and navigate their own emotions as signals. And we all have coping mechanisms and coping mechanisms. And most cases aren’t bad. They give us a break from the emotions that are too strong to feel at the moment. And starting to not hate ourselves for using them allows us to not add guilt, or shame on top of already a situation where what we really are trying to do is get in touch with what we want. And what we want is found in our own emotions, then if we flood our emotional space with shame and guilt, it becomes really hard to get in touch with what we want. And so creating that same context with your child, in terms of not making them feel ashamed or guilty, but also asking them what do you want what what feels best to you. And it’s tricky with gaming, because if there’s, if the child is in a defensive position, you might just say I just want to play my game, leave me alone. This is sort of another can of worms in some sense, but the whole process does start to unwind as we start to become more open, emotionally self-aware and, and vulnerable about our process.
Debbie Reber 29:39
And what I’m hearing again, it feels very much in alignment with what I believe and what many of my guests talk about that you know, this isn’t a this also isn’t a quick fix, right? This isn’t like, Okay, do this process and the battles are going to end but this is we’re looking at the long game here. We’re looking at Helping our kids develop a healthy relationship with gaming and know themselves better understand their emotions and help them eventually opt into things that feel more positive and that are less avoidant behaviors. But this is something that is not going to happen overnight. Absolutely. And I’m curious, you know, in terms of the parents that you work with, especially surrounding the gaming piece, is there an age, at which point this work can be more effective? You know, I think a lot of the parents I hear from who are really having those big battles, it’s with younger kids, where the parents might be giving their child less autonomy than a parent of a teenager might do. So I think it looks different for those age groups. Where do you find this work most effective, or is it never too early to start?
Eric Lanigan 30:56
It’s absolutely never too early to start. It starts all the way back when a child is one or two years old, they’re exploring their environment, they might not know any better to push another child. And this is a beautiful sort of first opportunity, or one of the first opportunities where you can connect a child’s own awareness to their emotions, which is when they push someone or hurt someone. And I know this is going off topic. But it’s I think it’s important when they push someone that the person who gets pushed to the baby who gets pushed, might fall down, and start crying, out of fear out of scared, it probably didn’t hurt, but it was scary. And then the baby who did the pushing in, in hurt someone else, right? There’s emotional connection between all of us as humans, they’re also scared, I didn’t mean to do that, I don’t know what’s going on. And when they’re in school, that is being bad, don’t do that. That is a problem. Because it doesn’t help the child connect their action to their emotion, it creates, often a sense of, of, I’m bad, rather than yeah, when you push someone, it scares them. And then when you scare someone else, it’s scary yourself, because it doesn’t feel good to scare someone else doesn’t feel good to hurt someone else. And so you can take that process of helping or guiding your child to connect with their emotions and their actions at any stage of development. So as an eight-year-old, it might be, you know, helping the child notice if they’re sleepy, or if they’re frustrated, or grumpy, or whatever else. And as a 14-year-old, you can talk about motivation. When do you feel motivated? When do you feel excited? When do you feel inspired? When you feel stuck when you feel frustrated? And these are all conversations and questions because as a 14-year-old, are in a stage where they’re really looking to start to find self-expression and creativity in the world and find their own niche.
Debbie Reber 33:03
Yeah, I mean, I am the mother of a 14-year-old. And it’s been really interesting, because we do not have listeners know this, we don’t have screen time limits, and I homeschool and there’s a lot of merging of interests. And a lot of his interests are related to gaming, and he has learned a ton about systems and organizing ideas. And he makes spreadsheets to go with his like he’s, you know, it’s a whole thing. But it’s just been interesting to notice when he’s also got a lot of creative projects. And if he’s feeling creatively stuck, he’ll not want to do anything, right. And then he gets, he’s feeling unmotivated. And that’s when he’ll grab a game that he hasn’t maybe played in a year, and just kind of go all in. So in some ways, it might seem like it’s an avoidance behavior, but really, for me, I’m looking at it now. It’s him kind of resetting, and he often after, you know, a couple days of that will come out the other side and be motivated to work on one of his projects again, but I kind of am recognizing that cycle. And I guess I’m just supporting it. Is there anything you know, if other parents are listening in, they recognize that and they’re their kids as well, that they kind of turn when they’re feeling bored? Or they’re feeling like they don’t want to do anything? Do you have any advice for parents? How to just kind of be with their child in that kind of a circumstance?
Eric Lanigan 34:33
It can be tricky, right? I mean, the first time he did that, how did you feel?
Debbie Reber 34:42
Well, I think I probably felt concerned, you know, like, is this just it felt like almost giving up, you know, and I was concerned that it was such avoidant behavior that it was going to bring them down more, you know, it was not going to get him where he wanted to be any might end up feeling even more blue than he was?
Eric Lanigan 35:05
Yeah, it sounds like what you did was you observed? Maybe you stayed connected? Did you have conversations with her better than how you felt? Or at least just let it happen and observed?
Debbie Reber 35:19
Yeah, I mostly let it happen and observed. Oftentimes, it wouldn’t lead to any more happiness. So we might have talked about that, you know, just like, oh, it seems like this has been kind of frustrating, or, you know, that kind of thing. But not I didn’t go too deep into it, because he wasn’t in the state to have a mom conversation.
Eric Lanigan 35:39
You’re totally, totally, totally. Yeah, well, and so that’s, that’s perfect. I mean, just what you just shared, I feel is perfectly appropriate. Because sometimes they’re, they’re wanting that support the mom conversation. And sometimes they want to figure it out on their own and being able to sort of feel the truth of what’s going on in their inner experience. And maybe I think the hardest thing as a parent is to let your child suffer. Yeah. Because if you try to help them avoid suffering, they never learn how to navigate suffering themselves.
Debbie Reber 36:19
Yeah, pretty much. I think he just nailed it, you know, who wants to see their child feeling down and turning to something for comfort that we might deem as a bad choice or an unhealthy choice?
Eric Lanigan 36:33
Yeah, yeah. And it might actually make them feel worse, because they’re avoiding the thing that they want to work on, or that they, they might feel obligated to work on in some way, right. But this is the exact same pattern that as adults, we have, where we have our coping mechanisms, and we turn away from things. And so I really want to draw that parallel, which is that our child or children are, in many ways going through similar things that we go through. And so when we look at what they’re doing, we can look at how we’ve had that go on in our lives, how we might act if we have this going on in our lives in the moment. And then that might even inspire some reflection, or some experimentation with how we act in our lives and creating a life that we want.
Debbie Reber 37:24
That’s great. Wow, okay. So before we say goodbye, is there kind of if there’s one thing you hope that parents take from this conversation, one thought that they can ruminate on over the next day or the next week, if their child is involved in gaming? And they’re concerned, what would that be?
Eric Lanigan 37:43
So, yes, there is one thing that I think would be the biggest thing, which is, we often engage people that we love, when they are experiencing pain, whether it’s our partners, or our children, or friends with the desire to reduce their suffering. And typically, we throw ideas or suggestions at them, sometimes even rules in the context of parenting. And my suggestion for exploration is, rather than doing that, if you can be aware of that happening, to open yourself up to just connecting with the other person and feeling what they’re feeling if, if they’re able to, which is a really brave thing, especially if it’s your child, and they’re suffering, and being with them. And maybe, even if they’re in a moment of vulnerableness, ask them, you know, what do you want from here? Right? Parenting is guiding another human being and learning how to navigate their life. It’s not forcing them to go down a train a set of train tracks that will somehow continue on into a happy future, right? Because if you force them down a set of train tracks, they don’t want to be on they’re going to go way off the rails as soon as they can.
Debbie Reber 39:15
Thank you for that. That was great food for thought. And I love that question. What do you want from this? I’ve never heard that before. You know, we talked about empathizing and holding a space for child a lot. But I think that question, it’s, it feels non-judgmental, and it feels supportive. And it sounds like it has the potential for some great discovery. So I love that. Okay, so before we go, would you just let listeners know where they can connect with you and learn more about your work?
Eric Lanigan 39:48
Sure. Ericlanigan.com that has links to the gaming course. My other personal growth course is called The Big Shift, which is for teenagers up to adults, and then ericlanigan.com has my own one-on-one coaching work as well.
Debbie Reber 40:12
Fantastic. Well, Eric, thank you so much. This was a really interesting conversation, we, as I said, I’ve done episodes on screen time. I had Jordan Shapiro on the show recently to talk about his book, The New Childhood. And we talked about helping our kids engage with technology and games in a healthier way. But I think this took that conversation to a completely different emotional level, which I just really appreciate. So thank you again for coming on to the show today.
Eric Lanigan 40:43
Thank you for having me, Debbie.
Debbie Reber 40:46
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