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How To Get Your Children To Watch Less TV Without Any Tantrums
Society's BIG Problem
Today, computers, games consoles and televisions are basically the 21st Century babysitters.
Child obesity is higher than ever and our children are becoming TV or gaming addicts before they have even reached their teens. Who is to blame? Parents? The kids? Society? Does it even matter? We all need a break sometimes as parents - even if it is just to have a cup of tea with a friend and some adult conversation. If you feel like you need this kind of break, sitting a child in front of a screen isn't helping you or the child - ask a grandparent or friend to watch the kids for two hours or so - they will benefit from socialisation and a fresh face and you will benefit from a refreshing break!
There are so many issues surrounding children watching TV and playing computer games before their language skills and other important developmental skills have been fully explored, and I just wanted to provide some ideas for parents who have exhausted their ideas of how to entertain... Before they've exhausted their children...
Why do Kids Watch TV?
Frankly, kids watch TV because they are feeling bored. And then their brains begin telling them that they will have fun and enjoy the experience of watching television. So you end up with a child who is glued to the screen all day and doesn't interact very much with the people around them.
Pull the plug for a day and get your kids involved in some of these great activities which the whole family can enjoy together.
Bake, Decorate then Eat Together!
Whatever age your children are, there are always options for an hour or two of baking. Muffins, sponge cakes, flapjacks, iced buns or other decadent treats will always go down extremely well and you can do this sort of activity as a group or one-to-one.
Let your children choose a recipe out of a cookbook, then go shopping for the ingredients together and let them help pick up all the things you need - you could even be creative and give them each their own shopping list and make '1st, 2nd and 3rd place' medals out of tin foil, cardboard or anything else you have handy, for the child who comes back with all their ingredients first.
After baking, and once the tasty treats are cool enough, you can begin decorating. Have lots of different decorations handy - or make your own from scratch. Don't be worried about it getting messy - that's part of the fun!
If you feel like you don't have the time for baking something sweet, have your children help out with dinner - peeling, chopping, juicing and washing all the ingredients will make all the difference and teach your kids a little about cooking! Maybe they could help with the washing up too?
Diggin' for Dinosaurs!
A lot of parents want to broaden their children's knowledge of certain subjects, and some of the kits you can buy today are perfect for just that! I tried out this kit quite recently whilst babysitting a neighbours 7 year old boy. He really loved finding the hidden dinosaur skeleton and I was amazed at how inquisitive he was throughout - asking me loads of questions such as "how big was tyrannosaurus rex?" and "what did they eat?" and so many others.
I only wish I knew more about dinosaurs so I could have answered all his questions! His birthday is coming up soon and I think I'm going to have to get him a dinosaur encyclopaedia!
Crack the Hieroglyphics Code!
This is a great project for children who like puzzle solving, or for kids who have been learning about the Egyptians or pyramids at school.
The kit comes complete with everything your child needs to unlock the pyramid and get inside to begin their discovery of what lies inside the pyramid...
This is a great project for a child on a rainy day - both boys and girls will enjoy unlocking the secrets within and it isn't too expensive either, which is always a good thing!
Learn a Card Game Together, or Play Board Games!
There are so many fun card games that you can teach to children. Never underestimate their ability to get the hang of even relatively tricky games. My dad taught my brother, sister and I many card games when we were little as well as chess, backgammon and draughts.
If you know any card games, pass them on to your kids - who knows, they may even be beating you at your own games soon!
Counted Cross Stitch Kits
Okay so most people would say this is an activity for girls, though personally I don't see why it should be any more than cooking - which both men and women excel at professionally. It is completely down to what you think as a parent, and how your children feel about the activities you suggest.
Counted cross stitch is a great craft for children who love creativity, art and the fulfillment of making something. You can get a huge range of kits depending on your child's age, gender and interests. For instance, if you have an eight year old boy who wants to try a cross stitch kit, and he has a favourite cartoon, there are thousands of Disney character kits where the child-friendly needle is easy to handle and not very sharp. Children can also make holiday themed cards at Christmas, Easter, Halloween and on other special occasions which are wonderful mini-projects for short attention spans as well as being a really personal way of wishing someone holiday cheer.
Two each and six players for the ultimate water fight!
Have a Water Fight!
The summer is definitely a time to combine cooling off with fun and the great outdoors. Water fights are a family favourite with most households and as long as some ground rules are set about not getting carried away (older children can forget their strength when they're excitable), everyone can get involved and have a great time.
One year, we had my cousins coming over - the youngest of which was just four years old. We decided to have a water fight and naturally she wanted to join in, so we made a rule that water balloons were to be thrown at people's feet only, and water guns should only be used very gently with her. She adored it! As we all did, and we ended up having a second round after lunch. No one got hurt, and everyone had a fab time.
Have a Teddy Bears Picnic
Most children have a favourite toy - even if it isn't a teddy bear or other stuffed animal. If you don't have a park or wood near your home that would be suitable for this activity then just have it in the garden!
Get the kids - even the very youngest - to help out with packing and making the picnic, as adults really underestimate how much children enjoy doing this kind of things - even if it's just fetching bits that their parents need. They are biologically programmed to please their parents, so if you need a 'helper', 9 times out of 10, your little infant will be only too happy to oblige.
Use your imagination and be a kid for the day!
Make a Den in the Garden and Have a Bonfire
Be imaginative and creative - use sheets, old curtains, pillows, throws, bean poles from the garden shed... Anything that could be used as construction material for your ultimate hideout.
The making of the den is always great funk and it is really good for teaching children about balance - they soon figure out what works and what doesn't!
When my two siblings and I were younger, we owned horses and therefore had a lot of hay in our barn each year. When I say "a lot" I mean well over 100 bales! My brother used to make the most incredible hideouts inside the bales...
One time he granted my friend who was visiting at the time and myself entrance to his man-cave and we were completely amazed. I swear I'm not joking - he had set up a computer in there (the barn had electricity and he had used an extension cable) and a mini desk, he had brought some pillows into the den so that he could nap there... I mean, I've seen bomb shelters that had fewer essentials!
So, my point is, be as imaginative as you can. Remember that in the eyes of a child, everything is a toy or building block or something else that requires further investigation. Don't stifle this by saying " you can't use that!" or "don't be silly, that'll never work!" - Let them try things out (even if you know a house made of cushions isn't really viable), and just enjoy the quality time together.
Copper Foil Engraving Kits are the Best!
Kids of all ages are able to do these kits, and they come complete with the required tools and boards needed to finish the project. It is a project that doemt require adult supervision, but you can easily spend time with the kids whilst they settle down with their engraving.
I got my first foil engraving kit when I was around 8 years old and I absolutely loved it! It was a regular appearance on my 'Santa List' every November.
They are great for children who are artistic and enjoy creative projects, but because they are so clearly marked out, they can really help develop a child's confidence even if he or she isn't quite as artistic as friends or siblings. Adults can do them too - they really are great fun!
What's So Bad About TV?
This is such a delicate topic because so many healthy, happy children watch TV and I would hate to ever sound like I was judging or forming unfair opinions about other people's parenting skills. I assure you, that is not what I am doing.
What people choose for their kids is a deeply personal choice, and to say that every child who watches TV has lazy parents who don't give said child enough attention would be unfair, ignorant, wrong and downright rude.
I merely want to put some facts down - tangible, REAL studies, conclusions and evidence that TV is or isn't harmful to our children, and also try to give other parents some ideas about what to do when you have a bored, irritated child on your hands and you are desperately busy with other things - for all those work-at-home parents, this is probably a pretty familiar scene... And this is where kits really come into their own - most can be unsupervised and will provide hours of entertainment. Stickers and sticker activity books, colouring pages (which can be printed for free off the internet), loom band bracelet making, paint by numbers kits... It's a very near endless list.
But now, a few facts you may be interested in about our beloved screens and television sets.
1. There are huge numbers of studies and research being carried out to find and establish whether or not there is a link in child aggression and attention disorders regarding the weekly allowance of television. Almost every single study I have come across (and i have spent many hours scouring research papers and books etc...) conclude that a child's brain activity is detrimentally affected by screen viewing, regardless of whether it is a TV or computer screen, and the areas in the brain that are affected are known to be responsible for aggression and irrationality.
2. Did you know that recent research has shown that children who watch more television are more likely to become obese. Not just because they see adverts for sweet, sugary, snack-foods which they then request, and not just because they are sat around doing nothing for hours, but because watching television actually slows your metabolic rate. This is true for adults and kids... Oh, and you are far more likely to want to eat whilst watching television... Which doesn't help.
3. Children who watch a lot of TV, and/or watch television right before bed are less likely to sleep well, and are at far higher risk of developing sleep disorders such as insomnia.
How Much TV is Too Much?
Should parents monitor and limit children's tv viewing?