Getting Kids off the Couch
We’re pleased to introduce this guest post from Amy Williams. Amy is a mother of two and a former social worker. As a parent, she enjoys spreading the word on positive parenting techniques in the digital age and raising awareness on issues like helping kids stay active.
In the past year, parents everywhere spent a lot more time at home with their children. Even though the loosening of COVID restrictions are encouraging many families to be more active, some parents still face the challenge of maintaining a healthy balance of screen time and more engaging activities for their kids.
The advent of technology has turned many of today’s children (and adults too) into couch potatoes, but it doesn’t have to be that way.
So how can parents encourage their kids to exercise and spend less time with their handheld devices? Here are a few helpful ideas to get kids off the couch and into more active pursuits that are sure to exercise their growing minds and bodies, even from the comfort of your own home.
A major culprit of sedentary habits for kids is gaming, whether they’re playing in front of the TV or behind the screen of a smartphone. Try making a trade-off with them: 30 minutes gaming versus 30 minutes of activity. Additionally, you can encourage them to play more active games on Wii instead. If you don’t already have a Wii system or something like “Dance-Dance Revolution,” consider investing in one and getting your kids to play more active indoor tech-related games.
Pets and Play
If you happen to have a pet, encourage your kids to participate in play-time with them. After all, our pets need physical activity, too. For example, following some simple training, dogs love to play hide-and-go-seek. Any dog that knows how to sit and stay, can be taken into a room, given those commands, and called by their child to come find them after they have hidden somewhere else inside the house.
Turn everyday activities and events into a competition between siblings or parents and their kids. Getting from point A to B can become a foot race. Consider getting an indoor basketball hoop. A quick game of H-O-R-S-E after dinner could decide who does the dishes. Given a little incentive, kids love a good challenge and a chance to outshine other members of their family.
Give Them the Choice
Children like to think they’re in control sometimes and planned activities are a great opportunity to turn the reins over to them for a change. Decide as a family that you’ll be doing a weekly or daily activity, game, or craft and rotate the person who gets to choose. Group painting, a dance party, or a puzzle: you may be surprised to learn the activities your children enjoy.
Participate with Them
When it comes to being more active, the best way is to make it a family affair. Pick up the paint brush yourself, dust off your jump shot from across the room, or design an exercise routine everyone can do in the living room. After all, children learn from the examples you’re setting for them.
Maybe you’ve seen some of those PSA announcements about getting kids to be more active by getting them to do things like looking for their Mom’s purse. In another spot, the Mother cuts power to the entire house to stop some boys from playing a video game. Just remember: parents don’t need to be dishonest just to get their kids to be more active, they just need to get a little more creative.