These days, children seem more keen on playing with tablets and hand held devices than playing on their bikes. Partly I think this is the perception by parents that it’s safer inside the house, which it probably is, but partly I also think that children genuinely enjoy playing games and the like on a “computer” – as they’ve always done. My sons are really obsessed with apps like Angry Birds and Plants vs Zombies, even though personally I find games like that totally infuriating. I sometimes have to literally snatch the iPad off them after their allocated time, otherwise I think they’d be happy to spend the entire day just sitting, staring at the screen. I started introducing a time limit after my 6 year old complained of neck ache and I realised it was because he was constantly looking down at the screen, rather worrying!
So now I’m trying to find ways to get my children outdoors a bit more, which is clearly more challenging in winter, but not impossible. I have a rule that they have to spend some time in the garden each day, unless it’s raining really heavily. We play football even if it’s a bit muddy and I play an active part in being in goal, or tackling them, and it’s fun too. I’ve also signed them up to various clubs like Beavers and the local football club, so they have a structured time being active with other children too. Local to us, are various parks and walks where we take a picnic or some games – I wouldn’t really expect them to go walking in the way that adults enjoy such things, but we look for sticks, collect conkers and leaves and turn it into a bit of a treasure hunt, which makes it more fun for everyone concerned. I also like them to try out new things like climbing – we are lucky in that we have a local climbing barn that have kids sessions. I think trying new things like that gives children confidence, as it’s a new way to experience success. One thing we haven’t yet mastered, is bike riding. My 6 year old has a mountain bike that I bought for him last year, but it’s way too heavy and I don’t really want to put stabiliers on it. So far it has sat in our garage unused, and I’m not sure what to do about that to be honest!
Getting our children out of the house is probably the biggest challenge, but once they are out and about and enjoying themselves, it all becomes worth it. I do think having a routine so the expectations are already set up definitely helps, especially with younger children.
Written by our regular contributor Heather.
All views expressed in this article are those of the authors and do not necessarily represent the views of Room To Grow.