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Ask Karen


Karen Anthony, MA, LPC, IMH-E, is a state licensed counselor with 20 years experience in the field of Early Childhood.  

She provides therapeutic services, support, and advocacy to young children and their families. Currently, Karen is the Early Childhood Mental Health Consultant at Oakland Schools.

Challenges with Video Games

Dear Karen,

My 6 year old loves to play video games. I try to keep it at a minimum, only for a couple of hours on the weekend and sometimes I use it if I just need some peace while I’m making dinner. I noticed that while he is playing he will completely forget about going to the bathroom and will have an accident while playing. It is as if he is too consumed with the game to go to the bathroom. When this happens, I get worried that this is turning into a horrible video game addiction and he loses privileges for about a month. And then I worry I have now created a “forbidden fruit” in my home. He will want it even more now that he can’t have it. What should I do when this happens and what boundaries should be placed when it comes to video games? I don’t want my child to become overly consumed with this form of entertainment.

- Frustrated Parent

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Dear Frustrated Parent,

I would definitely set some boundaries around screen time now. A good way to start is to construct a “family media plan”. This link is supported by the American Academy of Pediatrics. This will help you create a plan with some limits based on your child’s age, school schedule, and after school activities, including playing outside with friends. I believe that electronics are a part of all of our lives and they are not going away.  However, with the right balance they aren’t so bad. Electronics or screen time includes television, computers, video games and phone/tablet use.  

A few tips that I like to share with parents include: 1) no use of screens at least one hour prior to bedtime. It has something to do with the blue light and how it affects children’s brains. 2) No screens in the bedroom, even the television. 3) No YouTube. I don’t mean to call them out specifically, but YouTube has videos that lead to more videos and soon your child is down the rabbit hole. 4) Supervise children’s use of screen time. Know what your child is doing on the screen at all times. And for your child in particular, make sure he uses the bathroom before he begins and you may need to remind him intermittently to go again.  When concentrating at the age of six, stopping to use the bathroom is not a high priority.

For more information on screen time use in young children visit:



For more ideas and support feel free to contact our Care Coordinators by email or at 844.456.5437.

- Karen

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Afraid of Shadows

Dear Karen,

My 2 year old daughter loves Daniel Tiger and we watched an episode where Daniel Tiger is afraid of shadows. Ever since this episode, she has been afraid of shadows. She is afraid throughout the day and even at night. She doesn't want her night light because it casts shadows and she's also afraid of the dark. As you can imagine, this makes bedtime very difficult. Any suggestions on how to handle her fears? 

- Perplexed Parent

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Dear Perplexed Parent,

This sounds very frustrating for you and your daughter.  Children are complex beings at every stage.  At the age of 2, children often have difficulty distinguishing the difference between reality and fiction.  However, shadows are real and can be scary.  Your daughter may benefit from ‘defeating her fears’ through repetition.  Although it may seem contrary, watching the episode of Daniel Tiger again might help her with overcoming her fright, and with your support she can see that shadows are really within her control. Don’t force it though. If your child responds adversely, you might try to do some shadow play at home during the day, in a darkened room, to help her gain control and feel more at ease. Reassure her that you are nearby to help her when she’s afraid and support her in feeling safe with you. 

For more ideas and support feel free to contact our Care Coordinators by email or at 844-456-5437.

- Karen