Need Advice for a Room Vampire

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2010
Need Advice for a Room Vampire
Thu, 07-22-2010 - 10:00pm

My 14 year old lives in his room. I feel like he's been in there the whole summer. He has ADD and likes to play video games. I work a lot of when I am home he just wants to go upstairs even if I plan things (walks, biking, trips, etc). He has little motivation and he not into sports. Any ideas?

Avatar for sabrtooth
iVillage Member
Registered: 12-03-1999
Thu, 07-22-2010 - 10:54pm

#1) If he wants to: veg in his room, play video games, avoid the plans you've made--just say NO. #2)Get RID of the video games. #3)Get the computer, TV, and any other machine OUT of the bedroom. Put the computer in a public area, password protect it, and only sign him on where you are HOME, supervising what he is doing on it. #4)Have him sign up to volunteer at the park district, the church, and anywhere else you can think of, and then drop him off there on your way to work. #5)Make a WRITTEN list of chores that he must do each day while you are at work, and also list the consequences if they are not done. Having it in black and white makes everything easier. #6)Have him get a job. At his age, he can babysit, mow lawns, help garden, go to the grocery for shut-ins, my kids helped muck out the neighbor's stable and curry the horses. I'm sure you can think of other things.

I had 2 ADD teens, who are now ADDults. To THIS DAY, they know to either AVOID or find ways to limit things that cause them to hyperfocus and lose themselves. We NEVER had video games in our house, and they do not have them in theirs. TV is limited to 3 hours a day, except for weekends. FIRST we work, THEN we play. Housework, exercise, laundry, walking the dog--we just made it MANDATORY that those things had to be COMPLETED before anyone sat down. *I* get lost in reading--so I only BUY books--I no longer go to the library. I gave myself a book budget and I stick to it. DD#2 does the same thing with books and dvd's. Plus, we resell to Half-Price Books, so there is no temptation to read or see it again.

It's kinda like being on a diet. You KNOW what you have to do. The problem is doing it. So, what really helps, is having someone be the personal trainer, or the police. Mom, you are the police. You are the boss. Get him out of his room, and don't let him go back in there except to sleep.

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2010
Thu, 07-22-2010 - 11:41pm

Thanks, sabrtooth, I appreciate the advice and agree with what you said.

iVillage Member
Registered: 03-09-2009
Fri, 07-23-2010 - 12:38am

It may be the age. When my step-kids were about the same age, they didn't do much more (and hidden away in their rooms, as well) than your DS does. I worried about them and initiated many anxious conversations with my DH about "what to do about this BIG problem" (forgetting, of course, that when I was the same age I didn't do much more than watch tv or read). When they each hit about 16, their social lives took off and it was only the very odd day that they would stay in and just play video games.

I think that many kids this age hit an awkward phase where they've kind of outgrown going out to play, but don't have the freedom that an older teen would have to be out and about. That leaves indoor amusements such as tv, internet, and video games. Kids this age are also entering the phase where they would rather poke hot knives into their eyes than spend time with their parents, LOL. My DS is 13, and he only wants to spend time with us when we either force him or bribe him.

Tonight, not even the bribe of a treat (he's still young enough that usually a chocolate bar or pack of gum is an enticing treat) could tempt him to abandon the PS3 and accompany me on a bicycle ride to the grocery store. However, when a couple of neighbourhood kids called on him later, he was out of the house like a shot.

My DS isn't sporty either, but he spends Friday evenings at the local YMCA for their Teen Night, which is largely a social event. Look around for activities like this. You might be surprised to find that there are a couple out there, and that he'll either love them or grow to love them.

Edit: Oh, and both my skids have mild-moderate ADHD (with SS being also mildly MR), and my DS has fairly severe ADHD.

Edited 7/23/2010 12:40 am ET by debbidoeskeyboarding
Avatar for suzyk2118
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Registered: 07-30-1997
Fri, 07-23-2010 - 8:19am

I'm in this line.

iVillage Member
Registered: 01-05-2005
Fri, 07-23-2010 - 8:55am

I am with the "get the TV out of his room" camp. We have a TV in a public area and it has a time-monitoring device. My boys get one hour a day on TV or computer (our computer also has one). We have kids come over for a playdate (my boys are younger, 8 and 10) and I'm just shocked that so many of them don't know what else to do except video games. UGH. I don't think my boys are more special or creative or anything - I just think that they've been forced to do other things because the monitor shuts it off after their time is up.

I also think that you need to find things for him to do if he won't. He's only 14, so I'd be okay with some down time, but I would expect a moderate contribution. My dd17 isn't employed this summer, so she's doing 35 productive hours a week - they can be babysitting her brothers, cleaning house, volunteering, doing errands for me, etc..

iVillage Member
Registered: 07-22-2010
Fri, 07-23-2010 - 9:03am

Ugh, driving. That scares me. I saw a report on the news how you can install this thing on the car that shows where your child is, how fast they are going and you can even stop, stall or slow the car down if they are driving reckless. I swear he will get that.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-28-1999
Fri, 07-23-2010 - 11:08am

I have a son who will be 15 on 9/1. I work full time in the summer. He has a college age sister so sometimes she is around but if she works at night and has the whole day off, she'll go to the beach w/ friends (he doesn't like the beach, so he won't go /w her even when she asks him). Last summer he was pretty content to do nothing all day except watch TV & go on the computer. He does have some video game systems but he is not that into the games. He also does read a lot. But my point was that I kept nagging him to call a friend and he never would. Now he wasn't spending 100% of the time alone because his dad (we're divorced) gets out of work at 12:30 p.m. so he was w/ his dad a couple of days a week & dad would take him to the gym even if he didn't want to go, and he spent some time at my mother's house. Now this year, it's a total opposite. He always wants to go to his friend's houses--of course, a couple of them have pools, so why not? Even if he has to walk a couple of miles to get there, he'll go out. Yesterday he planned a surprise party for a friend. He has another friend whose mom does ceramics so he is going to ceramics class w/ the friend & her mom (and he says the rest of the class is old people).

So my point is that some of this might be the age as other people have said. Where I live, it's impossible for a 14 yr old to get a real job so unless he can do babysitting or dog walking or something like that, forget it. It's even hard for 16 yr old kids to get a job w/ the bad economy. So I can see him sitting around playing games during the day when you are at work. I do really know nothing about ADD so I can't help you there. I think that you do need to kind of push him though when you are home, to come out of his room & do other things. You can just tell him that since he had the chance to play games all day, that's enough & he has to find other things to do--either read a book (don't they have summer reading requirements?), play a game that's not on the computer or do things around the house. I do think he could do some chores during the day. My DS doesn't like sports either & he'd rather be w/ his friends, so it's hard to find things that he'll do w/ me. But he will go play mini-golf or pool or bowling, so sometimes if it's something you know he'll like, you do have to push a little to get him out of the house.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-21-2004
Sat, 07-24-2010 - 6:06pm

Sabrtooth gives excellent advice to the OP. And no disrespect to her at all, but it's not easy to follow it to the max, especially when you are a working mom.

But here's the thing. I have my computer in the family room. One of my son's got into some pretty racy online stuff there till I wised up, learned how to check the history and finally, much too late for me, password and put on protections to stop him from looking at stuff I was totally against. I think you can figure out what he was doing. the thing is, no teen has to be under your thumb every minute, but it sounds kinda depressing to me to think of one holed up in his room totally plugged in and disconnected to the world.

That's why Sabrtooth's suggestions sound so darn healthy don't they?

Best of luck, you're entering the hard years, I'm starting to come out and it was rough.

iVillage Member
Registered: 11-25-2007
Sat, 07-24-2010 - 10:54pm
What I did (and mine is 15 ADHD and quite challenging) is give him a time to be off the video games (say between 4 and 9) - now some days he will still be in the room, but most days those times he will end up with friends.

mom_uk2socal - Mom to DS22, DS19, DD16