Does your son come home from school and lock himself in his room? Does he not want to come down to have dinner with the family? Do you see temper tantrums when you ask him to spend time with you? It is hard to experience this much resistance from your child. You might have concluded that your son hates you and wants nothing to do with you.
It doesn’t have to be that way. Here are a few ways to reconnect with your son if he wants nothing to do with you:
- Allow him his space.
- Validate his emotions.
- Ask open-ended questions.
- Use reflective listening.
- Be patient. Change takes time.
- Ask for support from other parents.
This article will explore why your son wants nothing to do with you and how to disarm his resistance to your efforts to interact.
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Often times, your child may not want anything to do with you because they are obsessed with their video games. You can use this quiz to determine if that is the case:
Signs Your Son Wants Nothing to Do With You
- He locks himself in his room after coming back from school.
- He doesn’t want to come down for dinner.
- He talks back often.
- He throws temper tantrums when you force him to sit with the family.
- He resists all attempts to interact.
- He does not listen to you at all.
All these signs may make you think that your son hates you. However, that’s not necessarily true. His behavior is probably defensive rather than aggressive. He likely feels attacked when he interacts with the family.
When Does Your Son Act Out?
You can learn a lot by studying the instances in which your son acts out. What are the triggers for his behavior? Here are a few situations:
- After he comes back from school.
- During his gaming sessions or when he is on YouTube, TikTok, Instagram.
- When you talk about schoolwork/grades/his gaming habits.
- When you ask him about future plans.
- During conversations about his friend circle.
Why Your Son Wants Nothing to Do With You
Your son’s actions don’t mean that he wants nothing to do with you. If you observe his behaviors, you will realize that he gets defensive when confronted with particular situations. That means that his disconnection from you is less about you and more about his internal emotional state.
Our mind tends to run away from negative emotions. Therefore, when you talk to your son about something he feels ashamed about, he tries to shut down the conversation by lashing out. In turn, that adds to his guilt, making him more likely to lash out in future attempts to interact with him. It is a vicious cycle.
There are a few reasons why he could feel shame and guilt. Some of the most common ones are:
- His performance in school is suffering.
- He is stuck in life and does not know what to do.
- He gets bullied at school and is too afraid to open up to anyone.
- He is ashamed about being ashamed to ask for help.
- He is ashamed about using gaming and technology as an escape and not having the “strength” to face his problems.
Your son may not feel comfortable confiding in anyone, including his parents. As a result, he bottles up his emotions. From your perspective, it looks like your son wants nothing to do with you.
Over time, the pressure from these suppressed emotions becomes too much. When you attempt to have a conversation with your son about something he’s ashamed about, he has an emotional outburst. That is because the feelings of shame and embarrassment rise to the surface of his mind.
At that moment, the part of his mind that wants to protect him from negative emotion takes over. He tries to do anything to stop having that conversation. That is the source of his temper tantrums, fits of anger, and in extreme cases, violence.
Moreover, if your son uses gaming to escape from his emotions, then any attempt to get him to stop gaming will result in an emotional outburst. That is because video games suppress your emotions. However, these emotions lurk under the mind’s surface and rush to the forefront whenever the mind isn’t distracted. That is one of the major reasons why it’s hard for kids to stop gaming.
How to Reconnect With Your Son
If your son wants nothing to do with you and gets defensive every time you attempt to talk to him, then the first step to repairing your relationship with him is to understand the source of his defensiveness. However, if you ask him questions about why he gets defensive, that will only make him more defensive. It will create a bigger divide between you and him.
Here are the few tips that will help you understand his defensiveness and reconnect with your son:
Allow Him His Space
If you go into your son’s space (like his room) and try to have a conversation with him, the chances are that he will get agitated. In his mind, his room is his safe space, and asking him questions that make him uncomfortable will appear as an infringement of his space.
The best course of action is to invite him to have a conversation in a neutral area, such as the living room. Help him understand that if he does not want to talk right now, that is okay. Be careful not to force him to talk to you because that will make future attempts to talk more difficult.
Parents often get impatient when their child doesn’t take their invitation or become excited when he does. However, approaching the situation with a neutral mind yields the best results. Parents need to manage their own emotional state if they want to reconnect with their child.
Disarm by Validation
When your child agrees to talk to you, you can use some techniques to disarm his defensiveness. In this conversation, it is important to be transparent, compassionate, and non-judgmental. You can tell him how it feels not to be able to connect with him. Share your emotions and your thoughts. At the same time, acknowledge that he has his reasons for not wanting to engage with you and that you would like to understand those reasons.
The more authentic you are, the more easily he will open up to you. However, this may not happen in one conversation.
Let him know that if he wants to leave the conversation at any point, then he can. He should not feel like he has to sit there and talk with you. The less bound he feels in that conversation, the easier it will be for both of you to connect.
Ask Open-Ended Questions
Ask open-ended questions. Avoid leading him in any particular direction. Moreover, when he responds to your questions, start by summarizing what he said and how he must be feeling when saying that. It will help him realize that you are actually listening to him, which may not be something that he feels often. This technique is called reflective listening.
For example, you can ask him, “I feel that over the past few years, we have stopped connecting as much as we used to. That makes me very sad, and I wish you, and I could share a mother-son bond (or father-son bond). What do you think about that?”
He may not have a good response to that question. He may agree that you guys haven’t shared a good bond but not have much else to add. That is okay. It is a long road, and progress will take time.
Alternatively, he may express his desire to repair your relationship, but he doesn’t know how to do it. That response is a big step forward. However, likely, it won’t happen for quite a few conversations.
Use Reflective Listening
If he shares any thoughts that have an emotional backdrop, attempt to validate those emotions first. For example, if he says, “I feel really ashamed about where my life is right now”, don’t try to solve his problem for him. It will lead to more conflict because the issue is that he does not know how to use your advice.
Additionally, attempt to cultivate understanding by reflecting what he said back to him. “It sounds like you’re really stuck. I can’t imagine what you’re going through. It must be tough to wake up every day and feel that shame.” Validating these emotions will make him feel understood and release much of the pent-up emotional tension in a healthy manner.
Your relationship with your child did not get to its current state in a day, a month, or even one year — it has taken a long time to get here. Therefore, it will take equally as long, if not more, to repair it.
If you manage your internal emotional state as a parent, it will give you the resilience to stick through the tough times. You will be able to ensure that your child reconnects with you and has the skills to be a functional adult.
Ask for Support
One of the most underrated aspects of helping your child live his best life is to have access to other parents who are non-judgmental and understanding of your situation.
Healthy Gamer Parent Coaching is a 12-week virtual coaching solution created by Dr. Alok Kanojia, known as Dr. K, the world expert on video game psychology. It covers the most frustrating, difficult, and common dynamics around excessive gaming.
- 12 Weeks of Parent Coaching: Work with your Healthy Gamer Coach in a group format with up to 5 other families to develop strategies and reflect on progress and setbacks in a supportive environment.
- 12 Learning Modules: Cover key concepts of gamer psychology, parent-child communication, and boundary-setting to create an alliance with your child.
- Approach your child’s unique circumstances and psychology in weekly 90-minute Parent Coaching Sessions with a Healthy Gamer Coach.
For 12 consecutive weeks, participants get access to a workshop and Q&A with Dr. K and weekly support groups led by Healthy Gamer Coaches. The dual support structure helps parents get started and follow-through in helping their children combat excessive gaming.
Click here to learn more. Program starts on November 11th, 2021 with limited spots.