Managing the Red Zone
Kids tend to approach their Mightier gameplay and choices around heart rate control in different ways. While some children avoid the red zone and intentionally keep their heart rate low, others are excited by the red and go out of their way for that increased challenge. The fact that they can choose how to control their play experience is incredibly important here. Jessica Ragnio, MSW, LICSW and Associate Clinical Director, talks through the different pausing and cooldown styles we tend to hear about. Play and practice are what matter, and as long as your child is getting their 3 play sessions in every week, they’re doing exactly what they need to.
Pausing in Red requires awareness, recognition of an elevated heart rate, the ability to make a choice during a moment of emotional intensity, motivation to calm, and finally, the ability to calm.
Avoiding Red requires constant awareness of emotional state and heart rate, the division of attention between gameplay and body-awareness, and the regular use of calming strategies to avoid entering the red zone.
Playing Through the Red is often a reflection of children enjoying an increased level of challenge, or preferring to not pause during an enjoyable tasks. To be in an elevated emotional state, maintain focus and attention on the task at hand (gameplay) and bring your heart rate back down to a calmer state is incredibly challenging.
Should I Remind My Child to Take Deep Breaths or Watch the Gizmo?
In general, a child’s engagement with and enjoyment of Mightier tend to be tied heavily to two main things – feelings of accomplishment and feelings of autonomy. What it takes to truly experience accomplishment and autonomy, however, might look different based on a child’s age, development, gaming abilities, and personality. Many children view Mightier as “theirs” and prefer to play without feedback from others. The discovery process is important for these players, and they’ll find what works for their body in their own time, on their own terms. Other children might need more encouragement, guidance and support from parents in order to feel successful during gameplay. Kimberly Siefkes, MSW, LISW and Senior Program Specialist talks about how, for all kids, parents can support and empower their child’s play by keeping those goals of accomplishment and autonomy in mind throughout the Mightier journey.
Can Mightier Be Used as a De-escalation Tool?
Mightier is best used as a tool to practice cooldown techniques outside of moments of intense stress. That is because this is a skill that needs to be practiced for a few months before it becomes more ingrained and accessible in the real life moments it’s needed. That means that it would likely be difficult to play Mightier successfully during moments of escalation if a child is on the earlier weeks of their play. That being said, sometimes kids do find our games to be helpful when they are worried or when they need a calming tool. Some kids bring our tablet to the airport before they fly or use it to calm down before bed. We love to see kids asking to play the games to help them relax. In these types of situations we encourage them to play as long as they need.