How To

10 Ways To Get Your Kids to Swap Their Devices For Outdoor Games

Vishal Ingole

All parents want only the best for their kids. While the world around us is rapidly changing, we are constantly trying to find our grip in a new lifestyle. The way we did things when we were kids is probably archaic and alien to kids today, including playtime. For kids today, playtime means being glued to an electronic device. Studies have shown that children spend anywhere from 40 to 60 hours every week playing on their smartphones or gaming stations. Due to the lack of any strenuous extracurricular activities which stimulate their creativity and problem-solving skills, children are starting to exhibit many problems such as reduced muscle development, childhood obesity and a myriad of physical ailments. If your child is refusing to swap his devices for the great outdoors, there are a few things you can persuade them to do to change their mind. Here goes:

Take the indoors outside
Slowly ease your child's journey outdoors. If they are fond of a particular toy (not gadget), have them take it outdoors and encourage them to find new ways to play with it. Lego, playdough, blocks, and other such creative toys open up a whole new world of possibilities for children when they are taken outside your home.

Create a safe space for your child to play
If you are going to constantly hover over your child with a list of do's and don'ts about outdoor play, they are going to get turned off very easily. Instead, survey the area where your kids are going to be playing yourself beforehand and see that it is safe. Set out a list of basic ground-rules for them to follow and trust your kids to abide by them. If you live in an urbane setup and don't have a lawn or a yard of your own, take advantage of local playgrounds and parks in your area. Take your children there for about an hour, and while they explore the place, romp around and make new friends, you can catch up on your reading or even get some exercise in.

Spend family time outdoors
Even if it is just a quick half an hour evening walk together, do it as a family. This will ensure that every member gets to spend some much-needed time outside and children start to inculcate healthy habits early on in life.

Explore a wide range of outdoor areas
Parks and playgrounds are great, but there are so many other outdoor environments that kids would love to explore. Visit a botanical garden, go for a walk on the beach, have a picnic by a river, or a nearby nature preserve. Get creative and your kids will follow suit.

Make outdoor play a social activity
The more the merrier and where children are concerned, this is especially true. Kids will be more likely to explore the great outdoors if you invite a few of their friends over to join in the fun.

Use water as an incentive
It's no secret that kids love playing in water. Studies have revealed that as a sensory activity, playing with water can assist brain development and as a cognitive activity, can lay a foundation for future mathematical and scientific learning. But for kids, the thrill of splashing around is more than enough. Give them a few water pistols and watch them forget about those gaming devices.

Don't worry too much about the mess they create
Kids love to get messy and are rarely concerned about how much mess they are creating. If you want them to let their hair down and truly lose themselves in play, you have to give them the freedom to create as much of a mess as they want. If you don't want them lugging mud all over the house, have them remove their shoes outside itself and give them a wet washcloth to wipe themselves with at the end of playtime. Remember, kids are very perceptive when it comes to their parent's feelings, and might get inhibited to thoroughly enjoy themselves. So don't make too much of a big deal about how filthy they are or how much of a mess they have made.

Make going outside a habit
Make it a point for your kids to step out of the house everyday for at least an hour without their gadgets. They can spend that hour doing pretty much anything they want to do as long as they are outdoors in the fresh air.

Give your kids a job to do
Kids need to feel like they have a purpose. If they feel they are contributing to their family, they will feel more valued as individuals. Give your kids a job or a chore that they can do outdoors. Maybe they could water the lawn, or tend to a vegetable garden or help wash a car. If your child has a green thumb, give them their own little garden to tend to. Have them visit it every day to weed and water it. You could even set up a little container garden on your window sill. Guide your child whenever they need help, but largely let them responsible for their own outdoor chores.

Organize a treasure hunt
The joy of discovery is big with kids. Get your child and a few of their friends together and send them out on a treasure hunt. If you have a lawn outside your home or building, leave clues in strategic spots and have your kids find one to lead to the next. The final clue can lead to the grand prize, which could be a snack of their choice. This will ensure that kids spend much of their time outdoors and explore the space around them.
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