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My apathetic son is driving me nuts! - long sorry

(11 Posts)
PTFsWife Mon 09-Dec-13 10:27:58

My son is almost 10. He seems to have two interests in life:
- playing video games/watching minecraft videos
- playing sport

He isn't interested in watching sport or supporting a team. He isn't even that interested in the training side of playing sport. He just likes playing in matches (and he is pretty good at most sports he tries).

My concern is that he has so little interest in anything else. At home trying to get him to do anything other than stare at a screen is a nightmare. Even when I turn all screens off and suggest other ways for him to entertain himself (books, board games, nerf guns, lego, drawing, helping me cook a meal, going geocaching, bike riding etc) he just sulks.

It is as though he lacks curiousity in almost everything. My younger son (8) also loves sports and video games, but he will do other things like those mentioned above. He will ask his brother to play with him, but his brother just says no.

I suggested that perhaps he goes to a PGL camp with some friends next year as they have a huge number of activities. He said no, that it would be boring. I asked if he was just anxious about being away from home, but no, apparently everything on the extensive list of activities was just boring.

I asked what he would like for Christmas. All he wants is an xbox one as 'all his friends' are getting one. I have said no (he only recently got an xbox 360). He wanted a rugby top and that is where his list ended because he couldn't think of a single thing that he wanted, despite me making plenty of suggestions. But is annoyed as his brother has an extensive list and says it's not fair that his brother will get more than him.

It is as though he is completely apathetic and depressed. I want to tear my hair out with him. I try really hard to get him interested in other things - but I think perhaps I am just trying to hard and that I need to just remove all screens and tell him to rediscover his imagination.

Any suggestions on how to get him to do this? Am I being unrealistic in expecting a 10 year old today to play like we did when we were kids i.e. on our own, using imagination and entertaining ourselves?

Charlie50 Mon 09-Dec-13 20:09:17

Hello, I could almost have written this myself. My ten year old is very similar; when he's at home all he wants to do is play or watch computer games and when I say he has had enough his first thought is to go and slump in front of the tv or go on his itouch.
It feels mean to ban him from the computer cuz he has actually got a lot going on in his life outside.., after school club, piano, cubs etc. In his down time he wants to go on the computer. So that mother's guilt thing takes over.. Not happy with his interests but don't want to not let him pursue them...
The only advice I have is to not take no for an answer re: bike rides etc. Once he is out on that bike he will love it. If
you have a garden get a trampoline. And also I'm sure he will love PGL camp if he goes.
Anyway. Totally TOTALLY understand your frustration!!!!

ninah Mon 09-Dec-13 20:11:01

ds is 11 and I share your pain!

PTFsWife Mon 09-Dec-13 21:09:53

so glad it's not just mine then! This evening I stuck with my new rule which is they can be on screens when they get home from school till dinner (about an hour). After dinner, they have to play and not rely on me to be the one to entertain them. And they actually did it without fighting. I did end up playing a game of cards with them, but they played nerf wars and marbles first. I have told them that this is how it is going to be from now on. They are both so much happier this bedtime too as a result.

zooweemumma Tue 10-Dec-13 08:13:44

Turn off the screens? Eventually they will pick something else up. Add another sport to the one that he dies?

zooweemumma Tue 10-Dec-13 08:15:05

Sorry, does!

We have a no screens Mon - Thurs rule

No screens for whatever reason. Once they got their head around it they accepted it happily.

zooweemumma Tue 10-Dec-13 08:16:11

He almost certainly doesn't want to stay away from home, it's quite intimidating.

sicily1921 Wed 11-Dec-13 20:12:14

I too can sympathise OP, I have been driven to hair-tearing out stage by the constant screen hopping from comp to TV to DS to Wii, there's just too bloody many and it does feel like fighting a loosing battle at times.

I got to the stage with mine where I spelt it out to them and showed them the health and safety leaflets for one thing re not using screens for too long for the video games!

The best approach I think is not to be wishy washy, that means set some clear rules/times for screens. Set a timer near him if necessary so that he knows when it beeps he comes off. Remove any hand held consoles to a hidden place when you want him to do something else. Then, this is the other tough bit, tell him if you don't see him doing other things (let him choose as long as it's nothing connected with Screens) and he just sits sulking then he has no time on screens the following day. It's hard but once you show him you mean it (and why) then he should get the message.

I have put complaints on MN before now that being a parent in this day and age of multiple screens can be a nightmare. Whilst we can't expect them to play exactly the same games we did I think we can still expect them to take an interest in the world and use their imagination for other things! Best of luck. Keep strong

sicily1921 Wed 11-Dec-13 20:15:30

PS I think it's also important to show some positivity for their comp games etc , ie show him that you are not completely against them and show a bit of interest in what he does, just as you might about a book he could be reading (!!) This shows them that you don't have a complete downer on all things screen-related which would not be a good thing. Hope this helps

PTFsWife Wed 11-Dec-13 22:57:32

good advice sicily - I have been pretty firm recently and am getting a lot of push back but I have been holding my ground and it is working. He is so much nicer when he isn't on screens

pasanda Thu 12-Dec-13 13:31:30

My DS is a bit older (12) but is a bit like this. I find I get massive sulks and strops if we suggest doing anything other than playing on screens. But we do them anyway, and he does usually have a good time. It's the thought of doing stuff that puts him off, not the actually doing iyswim.

Also, I think deep down he is sometimes grateful to have screens taken off him because someone else is taking charge. I think he finds it really hard to make the decision for himself. I liken it to days like today, when I have sat on MN for far too long and then the site goes off line for a while or my connection is lost. I am a bit pleased really because it gets me off my arse and doing the things I need to be doing! Left to my own devices, I would find it really hard (sometimes!)

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