By Sandra Goldstein
It’s tough to match the appeal of today’s video games when it comes to keeping kids engaged. The action is fast paced, the challenges are thought provoking, and the sound and visual effects are unparalleled. But when children and teens spend the bulk of their time in front of the TV, computer, or hand-held devices – they develop an increased desire for immediate entertainment. This can cause a significant decrease in their attention span and ability to retain information elsewhere (school for instance). The concerned parent will often find themselves frustrated, and feeling helpless when it comes to encouraging a balance between video games, and physical fitness. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends that children get at least sixty minutes of physical activity everyday. Finding creative ways to get your child out and active – can be the tricky stitch!
Why Not Start By Playing A Video Game With Your Child?
This will take away the defensive barrier between you and your child that so often prevents effective communication. When your son or daughter feels that have taken the time to relate to their interests, they will likely be more receptive to other ideas and suggestions you may have regarding extra curricular activities. Playing video games with your child from time to time, also helps you keep a keen eye on the types of games they are playing, without invasive to their privacy. That, and there’s nothing wrong with upping the ‘cool factor’ just a bit as a parent!
There are literally hundreds of things to do that will encourage your child to get outside and be physically active, without it feeling like a chore. We forget that in our communities, there are activities just as challenging and thrilling (more so in fact) as any video game on the market. Consider Go Karting, paintball, laser tag or wide game activities like capture the flag in your community parks. If you live in a community with accessible water activities like canoeing, knee boarding, scuba diving or parasailing, take nature up on its opportunity. Sometimes it’s not that our kids aren’t interested in living active lifestyles, it’s that they don’t actually realize all the cool things that an active lifestyle could entail!
Get Your Child On Board With An Organized Sport
According to the NYU Child Study Centre, organized sports help build physical, psychological, character, cognitive and academic development in children. Sports will help your child build muscle and bone while improving memory capabilities, the ability to focus and reduce any stress or anxiety your child may be experiencing. Organized sports also build self- esteem, assist with cognitive problem solving abilities, teach children the value of working together, build leadership skills and encourage kids to set and achieve personal goals. Getting your child involved with sports will also expose them to people from other cultures, which encourages empathy from an early age.
The benefits behind encouraging your child to be physical active and involved in his or her community are really boundless. The important thing, is to make sure your they know you are on their side, and want to get, be and stay engaged right along with them. So, while you’re encouraging your kids to be active, make sure you’re ‘walking the walk’!
– Article supplied Sandra Goldstein.