This may seem like a daunting task, as anyone who has tried to separate a toddler from a tablet well knows, but there are so many ways a child can get their brain working nowadays that the possibilities for active play are pretty much endless. But what are these possibilities? Are there better things out there for your child than apps and videogames?
If you find that your child is sitting around all day playing video games on their computer or cell phone, then you need a plan to nurture a more active lifestyle. Children need to be active to stimulate brain functions, prevent obesity, and maintain friendships.
Start in SchoolTo get your child active, there are a few things you can do. For starters, you can encourage them to get active in school at a young age. In the United States, there are 5.3 million PK-12 students in 30,861 private schools, and millions more in public schools. Your school likely offers extracurricular activities such as sports, theatre, dance, and a number of other physically-involved groups. Getting kids moving after school with their friends can help motivate them and get them off of the couch.
Try Recreational SportsIf you find that your child needs some sort of "boost" to get them away from the video games, try and get them involved in competitive youth sports leagues. Not only will the sports get them active, but the idea of competing against others will keep them going. There are so many different options for competitive sports out there, so you’ll definitely be able to find one that sparks your child’s interest. Team sports like basketball and soccer are great options, but don't forget about sports where kids compete individually, such as swimming, running, and gymnastics.
Set Rules at HomeWhen your child won’t exercise, sometimes you need to take steps from inside the home before getting them outside. Virtually all parenting experts agree that limiting screen time can help with this. Staying off of the computer or phone can be hard. Even adults find it hard to put down the phone and walk away. For kids, it’s even more important to be able to do so. Enforce rules that restrict the use of devices after 7:00 p.m. or tell your kids that they can only use them for a set amount of time per day.
Turn the Backyard into a Playground
It’s normal for kids to want to sit inside and play on their phones and gaming consoles all day, but by encouraging them to get outside and get active, you’re helping to prevent a lifetime of problems. If you don't feel comfortable with the idea of your kids wandering the neighborhood with their friends, then try to turn your backyard into a safe playground. Even a simple trampoline can turn your backyard into a kid-magnet. A simple 10 minutes of jumping around is a better cardiovascular exercise than 30 minutes of running, and your kids won't even know they're exercising.
Whatever you need to do to get your child active, do it. They’ll thank you later!
Kelsey R. is a writer and an avid world traveler. When she’s not writing or listening to 80s music, you can find her exploring different countries, taking selfies with her dog Lady, and in constant search for the perfect brownie recipe.