Written By Linsy Hunsaker | Healthy Magazine
1. Get Them Involved
After school activities, like band or theater, are there for a reason. And if your child’s school doesn’t have anything, local YMCAs and “rec” centers always have something.
2. Embrace the Outside
“Kids can’t be couch potatoes without the couch,” says Kelly Murumets, former CEO of the Canadian fitness nonprofit ParticipACTION. She suggests just bundling them up and sending them outside. Whether they just soak up vitamin D or play with friends, the change of scenery will do them good.
[infobox title=’The Right Way to Wean Kids Off Video Games’]
The old-fashioned approach is to simply pull the plug or hide the system. Before you congratulate yourself for drawing the line, however, be aware that your child will probably find video games elsewhere. Furthermore, you’ve just communicated to your child that he lacks self-control (which is fine in some cases—kids need some help in the self-control department).
Here are some tips for a better way to redirect your child’s habits:
- Play video games with them. This will remove your kid’s excuse that “you don’t understand why I like it so much.”
- Keep (you or them) a log of video game time. After a while, show them the percentage of their waking time they’ve been playing video games. This can help put their habits in context. This also erases any argument like “I don’t even play that much.”
- Have a real defense against “I have nothing else to do.” Reading doesn’t count. Come up with a few activities that your kids could do after school. Help them find a long-term project, like building something, to keep them occupied. This will often involve friends, which is great.
- Know your enemy. Video games provide instant gratification, meaning that you can be a winner and a hero with minutes. Real life doesn’t work like that, so your child needs encouragement in other life pursuits.
- Consider limiting solitary video game time. Playing with friends at least can be somewhat social.
3. Transform the Inside
If you want your kids close by, turn the inside into a playground. Create a track for toy trucks with colored tape, make indoor bowling with marbles and erasers, or just put up a tent for an indoor campout.
4. Make Some Rules
Of course, at a certain point, you might have to lay down the law, because they’ll probably pick Mario over homework and Sponge Bob over outside play most days. Establishing rules and being consistent are vital.