The holiday season is quickly coming to a close. There is a good chance that your kids were overloaded with electronic gadgets this season, considering their popularity, and if you aren’t careful, these nifty electronics can quickly become a dangerous obsession. Not only do these items promote a sedentary lifestyle, but research has repeatedly shown that too much screen time can have detrimental effects in the learning, development, and behavior departments.
So how do you go about promoting plenty of physical activity, especially considering all the wintertime competing factors like cooler weather and exciting new gifts?
First and foremost, as the parent or caretaker, you make the rules. Set the standard of your expectations by establishing guidelines for daily activity. Create time limits and passwords on your electronic devices that prohibit kids from playing more than the suggested amount each day. Be the parent.
Once you have established authority over the issue, you can move on to creating an environment in which kids choose to live healthy, active lifestyles.
Engage and participate with your kids. Put on your tennis shoes, grab a jacket and head outside to be an active influence in your kids’ lives. After all, you cannot realistically expect your kids to be physically active if you aren’t setting a good example.
Schedule a weekly bike ride, hike, or outdoor activity for the entire family. Make it a priority on your busy calendar, and don’t let this habit fall by the wayside. Free indoor activities might include exercises like yoga, step aerobics, and Zumba.
Similarly, allow your kids to choose a fun activity or venue to attend once or twice a month. Indoor trampoline parks, the skating rink, or an indoor pool are excellent ways for them to stay active. If it is within your budget, sign your kids up for an organized sport like basketball, soccer, or cheerleading.
Cut off the cable. Not only will this household reduction save you a tremendous amount of money, but it eliminates the temptation to binge watch TV for hours on end. With so many resources for digital streaming, you probably won’t even notice that it’s gone.
Instead of using the word ‘bribe,’ I prefer ‘incentives.’ Let’s face it, kids love their electronics, and cutting them out completely is only going to make them angry. Use these devices and screen time to your advantage by making your kids earn it, rather than giving it freely. Create a chore list that must be completed each day before their devices are unlocked or the wireless internet is activated.
Encourage your kids to start their own business of helping neighbors. Regardless if it is through babysitting, yard work, or house cleaning, your kids can earn a little extra spending money by serving those in your community. This will also help them get up and get active!
Create productive opportunities for healthy competition. Play games around the house like minute to win it, Simon says, Twister, and charades. Kill two birds with one stone when any of these activities double as chores like picking up toys, yard work, or collecting laundry. Remember that even traditionally outdoor activities can be modified for indoor play. For example, use balloons to play volleyball in the living room or recycle empty soda bottles for hallway bowling. Socks and a container of some sort make for a great game of safe, indoor basketball.
Build a fun obstacle course indoors or out and see who can complete it the fastest.
Set up a scavenger hunt.
There is endless potential for encouraging your children to be active, but the biggest impact are parents that promote and participate this lifestyle as well. Bonus: Most of these activities are free!