Ellison’s Mightier Story
Ellison is a 9 year old kid who lives with his family in the southern United States. We talked with Ellison’s mom, Deena, on a sunny summer day, six months after the family had embarked on their Mightier journey.
Deena encountered Mightier through a social media post in late winter, at a time when Ellison was experiencing difficulties with anxiety. The family had tried many tools to reduce his anxiety and add to his coping skills. During the pandemic, Ellison’s anxiety had increased, as it did for many people around the world. When Deena noticed that Ellison had started to develop tics, she was spurred to look around for new tools to support him. Deena thought that Mightier looked like a cool, unique idea. She thought it might be a good fit for Ellison, who loves digital games and challenges.
Deena wanted to generate excitement about Mightier in their family. She also wanted Ellison to see that he was lucky to be able to give Mightier a try. “I told him he was going to have a unique opportunity to try something that none of his friends had played before.” Ellison leaned into the excitement. “He said, ‘I’m going to unbox it!’” It was a real family event, modeled after unboxings that Ellison had seen on YouTube. His grandparents were even in attendance, calling in over video conferencing software to share in the happy moment.
The excitement of Mightier extended beyond the unboxing and into early play. “Initially we just let him have fun with it. It wasn’t something we told him he had to do. It was a privilege to be able to play Mightier.” When Ellison’s birthday rolled around, his enjoyment of Mightier had not waned, but he received new games and toys that made it a bit more difficult for Ellison to naturally gravitate to playing Mightier.
Knowing that kids are more likely to benefit from Mightier when they have a regular routine of play over several months, his parents decided to adopt a slightly different strategy to support Mightier playtime. “We switched to, ‘If you play X amount of Mightier, then you can do these other new and exciting things.’” Deena can usually hear Ellison when he’s playing Mightier, so it’s easy to follow-through on their Mightier playtime incentive system. “There’s a big difference between him playing Mightier and something else. There’s a lot more satisfaction [when he’s playing Mightier]. ‘Oh! I got this! … I collected this cool guy!’.”
How Mightier is helping Ellison
Just a few weeks into their Mightier journey, Ellison’s parents saw signs that Mightier was helping him. With his anxiety peaking, his schooling virtual, and his family being careful with social distancing, Ellison was spending most of his time around the house. His family was taking daily walks to give everyone a chance to get some exercise and get out of the house.
One day during their walk, the family turned a corner and saw a bunch of families playing. There were lots of kids with their parents, and it was looking fairly crowded. Crowds were one of the things that had been triggering Ellison’s anxiety. Deena shared, “He was looking panicked. I said, ‘Buddy, is there anything you can do to help you feel better? We’ll get around this crowd, and we’ll be okay, but is there anything you can do that would help right now?’. And he started tracing things in the air. I asked him what he was doing, and he said, ‘I’m doing something from Mightier.’”
It was a major Aha! moment, and the first of many signs the family has seen that Mightier is helping Ellison. Many times in the past several months, Deena has seen Ellison using his Mightier calming strategies in real life; sometimes with gentle prompting from one of his parents, and sometimes self-initiated.
Deena can also see that Ellison feels a sense of pride in moments when he is able to bring his anxiety to a manageable level by using his Mightier skills. She feels confident that Ellison will continue to play Mightier, and to build on his Mightier success.
Ellison is pretty sure that he’ll keep playing Mightier too. We asked him why and he said, “It’s fun! I mean, there are lots of things to say about Mightier, but the number one thing is that it’s fun to play.