6 Ways to Encourage Kids to Play This Year

Is your home full of zombie kids with glazed eyes? Too much time spent in front of the TV negatively impacts your child’s health. Screen time encourages a sedentary lifestyle filled with constant distractions. Additionally, continuous entertainment squashes the imagination and affects a child’s ability to entertain themselves. Instead, urge them to spend some time playing. Playtime fosters creativity and personal development.

 Are you wondering where to start? Here are six ways to encourage your kids to play this year.

1. Limit Screen Time

Kids spend more time in front of screens than ever before. While educational shows and games exist, too much of any single activity can have negative consequences. Aim to limit your child’s screen time and divert their attention to other activities.

Screen time includes periods spent on:

 

      Smartphones

      Tablets

      Computers

      Game Systems

      TVs

If your children frequently surpass these limits, set restrictions and unplug the TV or gaming system. Keep in mind that it’s much more challenging to monitor their usage if the devices are in their bedrooms.

2. Schedule Playdates

One of the best ways to encourage your child to play is by scheduling outings with other kids their age. Reach out to a neighbor, friend or school parent and schedule a playdate for your youngster. Think back to when you were younger — did you have a favorite game to play with your friends?

While the kids are having fun together, they are simultaneously strengthening their emotional and physical development and growing their cognitive and social skills. More specifically, playing will allow them to problem-solve and develop their language and reasoning skills. For younger children, playtime will be one of their first social interactions outside of meeting family members.

3. Try a Family Activity

Everything is better when you’re doing it with a friend. Plan family activities to get everyone participating and having fun. Think of games that are fun for children of all ages. For instance, if you have teenagers and young children, ask the older kids to build a scavenger hunt or obstacle course for the youngsters. They’ll have a chance to think outside of the box and express their creativity, and the little ones will have fun playing.

The time spent together will help your family bond and grow closer together. As you laugh and have fun, you can monitor your child’s play skills firsthand. To keep things fair, ask each of your kids to submit an activity idea. You’ll be able to alternate each week to ensure everyone has a chance to play their favorite game.

4. Go to the Park

A trip to the park provides numerous opportunities for playtime. If your kids love sports, you can bring a ball to toss or kick around. By spending time outdoors, they are expelling excess energy and improving their concentration. Alternatively, guide them to the nearest playground and watch as they fly down the slides and swing on the swings.

As they crawl, walk, run and jump around the playset, they’re fine-tuning their gross motor skills. This type of play will influence your child’s reflexes and movement control — improving their overall health. Even simple games and activities can teach time sequencing and balance.

5. Show Support

Praise and congratulations are nice to hear regardless of your age. When your child decides to play, remember to show your happiness and support. Parental pride can be a strong source of motivation for kids. They love to see a smile cross your face, and it’s even better when they receive recognition or rewards. For young children, it reinforces positive actions.

As the child develops, you may choose to reword the sentiment. Some teenagers will feel like a parent’s pride is stifling their independence. In this case, look for non-verbal ways to show your support.

6. Lead by Example

Parents act as a child’s first teacher and role model, so you should try to lead by example. If you want your child to play more this year, then focus on dedicating playtime for yourself. Invite them to participate and have fun together. As your child gets older, they’ll remember the importance of prioritizing fun. This is especially important as kids gain more responsibilities and goals.

It’s easy to forget what’s important in life when you have school and work deadlines to meet. However, teaching balance and healthy living through play can help to mitigate stress. All you need to do is take the first step. When possible, try to have your words and actions align so that your child knows your efforts and thoughts are genuine.

Choose Active Play

Utilizing these six ways, encourage your kids to play this year. It will help their social and cognitive development, and they’ll feel better physically and mentally. Kids 6-17 years old require at least one hour of moderate-to-vigorous exercise each day, so remember to promote active play when possible. As you encourage them to play, take a closer look at your own life. Are you prioritizing family playtime? Everyone deserves to have fun.

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