Whenever a new video game comes out, or TV show is trending, it can cause a battle between children and their parents on how to best spend their time. Kids want to keep up with their friends by being up to date on the latest and greatest. Parents want their kids to be physically fit and well read. As parents, we struggle with finding just the right balance for all these activities, given that children have to be well rested for school and the homework load is getting longer not shorter.

Here’s what actually worked very well with my kids.


Develop Healthy Habits

Yoga Baby
Starting children very early when they are quite young is key.

Joining a sports team is a wonderful way to make friends and a certain way to make sure your child develops healthy body habits. My kids engaged in physical fitness exercise right from the start when they were babies. As babies, they did pull ups or knee bends while in my lap. Small children will happily join their mom in yoga exercises, dances, does cart wheels, hand stands, push ups, playing catch, racing, and other fun games that include physical exercise.

It’s easier for kids to join a team if they’re already in the habit of moving around. It is a great way to help children enjoy a healthy sense of self and it improves their self-esteem. If the children are strong, fast, agile, flexible they will enjoy sports naturally and they will be invited to join the team. 

 

Cultivate Reading Habits

Just like a love of physical fitness is best started from birth, a love of books is best started as soon as possible. The best time to start a love of reading is right after the child is born and some believe even before the child is born. 

My kids loved it when I read them a story before their naps. When they were tiny babies I loved to sit with them during their naps and read a book of my own. When they were able to read, they received equal time reading for us, as we read for them.

As they got older, we added fact-checking to our discussions using an encyclopedia. Our home was full of books, DVDs, about many topics, National Geographic, and the computer was another great place to verify. This helped develop a natural love for reading and gaining knowledge through reading.

 
Even the Beast learned to love reading.


Set Video Game Rules Everyone Can Agree On

Video Games are another issue altogether! Naturally you want your child to feel able to carry on a conversation with other kids. That includes knowledge and skills in playing video games. 

Dad Shreds Video Games
No need to shred video games with a lawn mower. Just set basic rules!

We had some strict rules about video games and had long discussions why violent and misogynistic games were not allowed. If you are concerned video games will be harmful to your kids, there are great games that promote math skills, actually teach programming, painting, and how to build their own video game.

 It is important to immediate set time limits on gaming. We had a rule in the home that video games would be played only after homework was completed and never instead of social time with family, and never instead of sports activities a child had signed up for. My kids were allowed to play video games instead of watching TV. During the week, TV was restricted to the news and to no more than 1 hour per day, if all the homework was completed.

Watch TV as a Family

We watched shows together to enjoy TV as a family. This allowed us to discuss the shows and allowed us to shape the opinions about what has been watched, instead of being shaped by it. This is a most important concept. We discussed why certain types of behaviors are unsuitable. TV provided a great opportunity to discuss family traditions, point of views, popular culture, and current events, etc.


The Balance Will Come Naturally

Introduce physical fitness and passion for reading and knowledge early in life. Limit time spent on TV and Video games and make sure that kids understand your reasoning for putting some games and shows entirely off limit and also make sure they understand your reasons for limiting the time. 

When kids develop a passion for knowledge and reading early, enjoy sports and fitness, you may well find that they don’t really want to spend much time watching TV and playing video games anyway.


About the All-Star Blogger

Edie

Edie Okamoto is a Bay Area resident who raised her children while running an international business consultancy from her home. Now that the children are grown she enjoys sharing her many wonderful parenting and business experiences, as well as observations about current events and culture.