How to Limit Your Kids Screen Time (Without Going Crazy)

by Sesame Lane Admin on 29/07/2016 10:14:58 AM
Some days there is nothing you need more than your kids to be entertained and it can often feel like sticking them in front of the tele is the only way to keep them from running amok.
 
We’ve all been there, feeling like you’ve got a million things to do and all the kids want to do is have your 100% undivided attention. So how do you keep them entertained, limiting screen time, without going crazy?
 
This article will tell you:
  • Why too much screen time is bad for your children
  • 3 ways to break the habit of screen time
  • X Practical fun ways to entertain your kids instead


Why Too Much TV Time is Bad

 Slightly worryingly, kids under the age of 6 can have  up to 2 hours of screen time (in whatever form) every day. It may not seem like a lot when you think about how active kids at the age are but according to the Kaiser Family Foundation, the more screen time a kid has the more likely they are to:
 
  • Have childhood obesity issues
  • Struggle with aggressive behaviour
  • Be more lethargic
  • Struggle with schoolwork
So every now and again sitting your child in front of their favourite program for a few hours isn’t the end of the world. But, if you notice it becoming a habit you need to take back control and reduce their screen time.
 
It’s easier than you might think. Here are 6 tips for reducing your children’s screen time and keeping your sanity.
 

Ways to Break the Habit

#1 Be an Example

This may be the toughest one, but it pays out the most in the long run. Kids follow what you do. That’s a given. So if they see you reading a book, they’re more likely to read a book. If they see you painting, drawing, or journaling, they’ll be more interested in doing something creative.
 
The same goes if you watch TV all the time. They’ll do exactly the same thing. So make a conscious effort to cut down screen time and take up some other hobbies (at least while your child is awake and around). They’ll follow suit and be more interested in other things.
 

#2 Play with Your Kids

This one’s not so helpful if you’ve got other stuff to do while your kids are playing. But, when you can, the best way to get your kids away from the TV is by giving them your undivided attention and playing.
 
Get all the cushions off the sofa and make a fort, pretend the floor is lava, or have some messy play out in the garden. Let your kids take the lead and ask them what they want to play, but join in, be present and be their playmate for a while rather than their parent.
 

#3 Eat at the Table

Do your kids eat in front of the TV? They’re not alone. But time and time again studies are showing the detrimental effects this has on children’s health (and adults too).
 
Over 53 studies have been looked at and they all show when children eat in front of the TV they are simply not paying attention to what they’re consuming. They begin to associate watching the TV with eating and will eat more unhealthy foods as a result.
 
Two of the most precious family times for great conversation and connecting as a family are at the dinner table and on car journeys. Why? Because there are no other distractions. You are together as a family so make a point of valuing this time together; it can make a huge difference.
 

    

 

Practical Ways to Entertain Your Kids

#1 Let Them Help You

Do you want to entertain your kids so you can do household chores? Let your kids help you instead. Children love to feel like they’re useful and are acting independently. It also teaches them the responsibilities of running a household.
 
Easy ways to do this?
  • Have your child tidy their own toys away
  • Let them help put the laundry in the washing machine
  • Give them a little brush and get them to brush the floors
  • Let them dust small, easy to reach pieces of furniture
 It may seem a little like child labour if you’re not used to it, but children love to help and be rewarded for it. Put some music on, have a list of chores you do together and have fun with it. It’s a great way to spend time together and get the household jobs done.
 

#2 Set up a Creative Space

Is there a particular room in your house that you don’t mind getting messy? I’m going to hazard a guess at yes given that you have young children…
 
But if you don’t, find a space in your house that works as an openly creative space for your kids. You can put all sorts of bits and bobs in there and let your child’s imagination run wild.
  • Coloured card
  • Glue/scissors (age dependant)
  • Bits of old wallpaper
  • Tissue paper
  • Glitter
  • Beads/buttons (age dependant)
  • String/fabric
 
You name it; your child will be able to use it. Set them a task and watch their creativity flourishes as they make something new and fun with old bits of scrap you have around the house.
 
You could go to your local charity shops and pick up all sorts of bits and bobs for next to nothing. The kids won’t care if there are bits missing, and you will be less bothered as things get broken (which they inevitably will).
 
Nowadays you can get all sorts of paint for walls which mean your kids can draw to their hearts content without causing any permanent damage. Think about having a chalkboard wall, or one they can use crayon on. This is completely dependant on whether you can trust your child not to draw on all the other walls in the house, but sometimes kids need a safe space where they can really let their imagination and creativity run wild.
 

#3 Teach Them Something

Do you love gardening or cooking? Why not teach your kids? Children are never too young to be learning something as useful as sustaining life, whether that’s through food or looking after plants and nature.
 
It doesn’t have to be elaborate, but there are really simple ways they can help you in the kitchen or garden, such as:
  • Teaching them to prepare vegetables/fruit for eating
  • Letting them mix things together in a bowl
  • Measuring ingredients out
  • Letting them be taste testers
  • Digging up soil
  • Watering plants
  • Helping plant seeds
  • Building a ‘wildlife hotel
  • Feeding the birds
Easy things, but your kids will love getting their hands dirty.


The Screen is Not Queen

Simply letting go of the idea that your kids need to be sat in front of a screen to occupy them can be all the change you need. Kids wants to be creative, helpful and have fun and watching TV doesn’t let them do any of these things.
 
These 8 tips are really simply and fun ways to have your children help around the home let them be creative, independent and always learning. Your kids will have much more fun and you won’t go crazy, hopefully.