Is your child is spending a little too much time on the Xbox? Are you concerned that he/she may be becoming addicted to the PlayStation? It’s probably safe to say that if you own a video game console, and you have children, then you’ve wondered how you can get your kids away from their video games and doing something else. Whether you’re really worried or mildly concerned, here are some great ideas to help them make better use of their time – at least some of the time!
- Send them outside! What ever happened to the days when kids would go out to play? Even teenagers can have fun going outside to play. All they need is a Frisbee, football and a couple of friends. If the weather is cold, bundle them up and send them out with a crazy carpet or sled in search of some snowy hills! Your kids may strongly resist the idea of going outside, but if you can get them out there for a couple of hours, it’s almost guaranteed that they’ll come back inside refreshed and happy!
- Ask (insist?) for some help with a job you need done. Kids need to learn how to work, and how to be responsible. They also need to feel valued, and that they contribute to the family. Think of some task that needs doing, and ask your kids to help. The key here is for you not to necessarily assign a task to them, and then leave them to it, but rather to actually do the task with them. That way, you can teach them how to work, ensure the job is completed, and spend worthwhile time together.
- Along the responsibility lines, help your kid(s) find a part time job. Kids these days have way too much free time on their hands. If your kids have this problem, then you could ask around, and see if you can help them find a part time job. If you have teenagers, they may be able to find work at a store, or McDonald’s. If they are a bit younger, how about dog walking, snow shoveling, or gardening? Try your neighbors and extended family. There are plenty of opportunities for work for youth these days – all you need to do is ask! Your child will learn to work, and the extra pocket money will be enjoyed as well!
- Volunteering is a great way to teach kids to help others, and the good feeling that accompanies doing something good for someone else. While video games are temporary entertainment, volunteering brings happiness that lasts longer than just during the actual volunteer time. Ever noticed that your kids are cranky after playing too much video games? The opposite is true for kids who volunteer. Even if they don’t really feel like going, once they have done something nice for someone else, they will be feeling like they are on Cloud 9! Teach your kids that life is about helping others, and in return, you will get kids who know where to go and what to do to be truly happy!
- Get your kids involved in sports. Being physically active is so important in today’s sedentary society. With unlimited possibilities, it is easy to find a sport your child enjoys. It doesn’t have to be competitive, but competition is great too. Basically, you need anything that will keep your kids moving on a regular basis. Not only will your kids be healthier, but they will feel healthier, happier and more satisfied too!
- Teach your kids to cook, and let them cook a family meal on a regular basis. Kids eventually grow up and move out. Teaching them to cook is not only fun, but a very important life skill. You could also give them a set budget, and have them research, plan and cook a healthy meal. Send them to the store with $20 and let them go to it! Kids are also more likely to eat something healthy if they have prepared it themselves. Don’t forget that younger kids will need help and supervision with cooking!
- Go to the library. This one might not be popular with some kids, but it should be! Reading is so essential for success and reading for pleasure seems to be a lost art for some. Help them re-discover the joy of books. Find books that will interest your kids – you could even find books about video games if you must. Getting them to read something is key.
- Play some games – you know, board games! Kids (even teenagers) want to spend time with their families. Have a regular family games night where you play your favorite board games or card games. There are so many fun board games out there that your kids will love. Of course, this will take your time too, but it is a wise investment. Show your kids that you love to have fun with them and that you enjoy their company!
- Teach your kids a new skill. Knitting, woodworking, card-making, car repair – whatever you know how to do, you can teach to your kids. Many of these skills will come in handy as they grow up. Certainly any new skill or knowledge is valuable.
- If all else fails, unplug the darn thing and put it away! Remember that YOU are the parent and THEY are the kids. If you are seriously concerned about the time they spend playing video games, set a time limit and stick to it, or simply put it away. As a parent, it’s not your job to entertain your kids 24/7, and it’s ok for them to be bored once in a while. In fact, kids need time to think and ponder their lives, to set goals, to dream and just to be still. And if they are really bored, they’ll find something to do…eventually…
By setting limits and finding alternative activities for your kids, you are truly doing them a favor. You will help them to see what life is REALLY about, to find their purpose and meaning in life. You will help them to grow up to be responsible, caring and successful adults.