Play vs. Television: Teaching Our Children to Play Again

 In Healthy Kids, The Value of Play

Studies have made the news again regarding television and our children. What are they saying? Too much television is not good for our kids. The very presence of a television in your child’s room can be a determining factor in how well your kids do academically. Kids today are continuing to be “plugged in.”

What is the solution? Limit television viewing. Move the TV out of you kids’ rooms. Be involved in what they are watching.

Our kids are so used to being plugged in they don’t know what to do…They’re bored.

It doesn’t matter if your children are 6 or 16, the answer is the same. It’s time to teach our kids how to play again. Having a time for quiet and play are important life skills. How else will their imagination start working on its own again?

Start with the following ideas to help your kids in their unplugged play:

Take the kids to the local playground…unstructured play is one of the best tools for social, physical and cognitive development! To adults, a playground is a bunch of posts and slides, to a child it’s a rocket ship, a pirate’s cave, a treehouse or a space station….allow them the joy of discovery and imagination!

Go outdoors. Outdoor games like marbles, jacks, hopscotch not only occupy your kids, they will also strengthen coordination skills. Too hot or cold out? The garage, basement and/or kitchen floors will work fine too.

Play a game. Dig out your board games and playing cards. Uno, Go Fish, Old Maid, Checkers, Chess, Monopoly and Sorry! are all great games.

Be a bookworm. Go to the library in your home or your community. Scour the thrift shops and yard sales. Be a part of a book exchange. There are also some great audio books available at the library. You can also purchase audio books at thrift stores, department stores and online.

Hands-on fun. Bring out the clay or play dough. Your teenagers may roll their eyes at this one too, but you would be surprised at how they will sit down and keep themselves entertained with this one.

Build something. LEGO’s, Lincoln Logs and K’nex. How many of our kids still have these in the back of their closet?

Become an outdoor artist. Buy a tub of colored chalk from the local discount store and give your kids a theme to create their own masterpieces on your front or back sidewalks. Take pictures of them for your family album.

Are these new ideas? Of course not. But when our kids are given a choice of any of these “offline” activities or the chance to plug in to their TV or games, what are they going to choose? When you unplug your kids, they will learn how to play again simply because they have nothing else to do. They will find other activities to keep themselves entertained.
Be prepared for a little bit of whining or frustration on your kids’ part. It’s normal. It’s so much easier to sit in front of a screen with mindless entertainment. It won’t take long and your kids will be able to find other things to do instead of plugging in and tuning the world out

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