How does one unplug their child from screens?
Unplugging your child from screens can be done with one's initiate and using some of the ideas from the five steps.
Unplugging a child from screens has many benefits; your child will sleep better, problem solves, use their imagination, and much more.
Remember back in the day when one was called to dinner by their mother calling outdoors to her children playing?
Or drinking from a hose?
The many adventures of endless mud pies, bike rides, playing at the park?
Today this is hard for a child to imagine because of all of the availability of having a TV, computer, laptop, tablets, phones are readily there.
The tired or busy parent diverting the restless child to some screen for entertainment and a moment of peace.
The child only knows what one is taught or sees around them.
They go to school and are taught how to work on computers.
They go home and see their parents on the phone or on the computer, maybe even watching TV or playing a video game and the child then believes "this is the life".
COVID came along and took away what little joy of venturing out to the parks had left.
The screens became, even more, the way to entertain the child, to babysit the child, to bring "social engagements" to the child, and to connect them with schooling causing an even bigger pandemic of plugged-in children, teens, and adults.
The pandemic of a plugged-in child has been on the uprise creating even more havoc of unengaged and obese children, children with anxiety, children with sleep problems, children who do not want to go outside or do anything with their friends; children who are argumentative; and children who do not hold very strong executive functioning.
The number of children turning to screens is rising and so the number of frustrated parents is growing as well.
So how does one unplug their child and help them to see the joys around them?
Here are five ways to help your child unplug and turn to enjoying adventure and creativity.
The adventures that await a child outdoors are endless and the summon still awaits the eager child who listens.
The creativity that is waiting to burst out of a child can happen inside as well as outdoors.
Step One: Set Time Limits
The most important step is to limit screen time.
Children should not have more than an hour a day of screen time whether it is playing video games, watching a show, doing something on the computer, social media, playing, watching, or talking on the phone (facetime, duo, skype, and so on), and so on.
I am sure some of you are wincing or saying, are you crazy?!
Yet, the goal is to help your child/ren to be able to find their adventurous and creative side within them.
Many children need to do some schoolwork on the tablets which are provided by the schools.
Caregivers should be monitoring their children while doing schoolwork on a screen to ensure they are focused on only the task of school and then they need to get off the screen when finished.
Caregivers you also need to try and be an example of how to unplug as well.
If your work is remote and calls you to have to be on a screen, try to find times this can be done when your child is not present.
This should be the same as talking on the phone, watching TV, playing video games, and so on.
Try to limit all screen time when the children are present.
Caregivers rest assured, it gets easier with practice.
Step Two: The Great Outdoors
Going outside has great benefits of soaking in nature's best and free vitamin D3.
"When one has enough vitamin D3 in their system it helps one to have healthy bones and teeth; it assists one's immune, brain, and nervous system; it helps one prevent diabetes by keeping insulin levels balanced; keeps lungs and cardiovascular systems fit; and can help keep cancer genes from emerging".
Going outside can help keep the blues/sadness/depression at bay by the natural lighting it provides.
The number of activities that one can do is endless, even if one does not live in a house. Invite friends to join if they can.
Here are some ideas of things that can be done outdoors:
The possibilities are endless.
Step Three: The Great Indoors
There are times when going outside is not an option because of inclement weather, sick children, poor air quality, time, and the list could go on. If this is the case… time to turn to the great indoors.
Playing inside is a great way to help your child to unplug and start to use skills of problem-solving, developing fine motor skills, time management, self-soothing, develops concentration skills, entertaining oneself, and best of all… it develops one's imagination! Invite friends to come to play, if one is able to do so.
Here are some ideas for activities indoors:
Step Four: Get Your Creativity On
Doing arts and crafts helps a child to open up their world of imagination while practicing skills they need for everyday functioning (fine motor, eye-hand coordination, sequencing, thinking outside the box, and so on).
Here are some creative ideas:
Big Box fun
Get boxes, water paints, crayons, markers, and whatever else you choose, and have the kids turn the boxes into something (cars, forts, castles, boats, the possibilities are endless). The magic of a box is amazing and can bring hours of joy to a kid.
Food Container fun
Keep cereal boxes, milk cartons, egg containers, peanut butter containers, and so on and have the kids create a store for them to play store.
The above containers can even turn into storage containers (cereal boxes can hold papers, magazines, and mail. Milk cartons can be planters, or watering cans, condensed frozen juice containers can be pencil and pen holders)
Step Five: Fun On the Run
As caregivers there comes the time when one must run errands or go to the grocery store.
This can become quite the challenge when bringing unwilling and unplugged children.
This time can be turned into a fun time by using these tips.
First off, make sure you are not running errands when the child normally sleeps, eats, or is in a grumpy mood.
This can make the errands daunting and complicated.
Bring a water bottle and a small Ziplock bag of snacks, if you are going to be gone longer than an hour.
Have a reward for good behavior ready for the child.
Rewards can consist of extra bath time, extra (short) book read before bed, a small, sweet treat, ride on the mechanical horse at the store, and the list can go on.
Be creative, it does not have too big or expensive.
Ideas when grocery shopping
When going to and from places (car time)
Have your child find and count as many white, blue, red, black, orange and so on cars they can find
Sing child songs with them, play who can find these items (street sign, tree, mailbox, truck, train, baby, dog, and so on)
Unplugging your child from screen time can be very difficult at first, yet the rewards of unplugging your child are bountiful with a little "stick to it" initiative.
The caregivers must be willing to work with the child/ren in getting in the habit of playing, exploring, creating, socializing, without a screen.
Be sold on "selling" your child the activity if you do not act excited then the child will not be excited.
The best reward is having children who are able to entertain themselves and building family memories.
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