5. What are some GREAT alternatives to screen use?
MOST PARENTS RELY ON SCREENS TO…
- RELIEVE A CHILD’S BOREDOM
- PASS THE TIME WHILE WAITING
- GIVE THEMSELVES UNINTERRUPTED TIME TO GET READY OR FINISH A PROJECT
-GIVE THEMSELVES A BREAK OR HAVE SOME QUIET TIME.
Use the below suggestions to PREPARE FOR THESE CIRCUMSTANCES, then you’ll be READY WITH screen free alternatives.
Making the effort to have less screen time in your family is exactly just that-AN EFFORT! Screen use is an easier way to occupy children- it’s less messy and requires so little effort on the part of the parent to accomplish- No preplanning, no gathering supplies, no clean up afterwards, and no tantrums to deal with because it’s what your child wants. But give alternatives a try and very soon your child will learn that the alternatives are more rewarding.
PROVIDING ALTERNATIVES TO SCREEN USE TAKES INTENTION, CREATIVITY AND DETERMINATION!
One idea: Prepare a cupboard or area of the house and label it with a sign “SCREEN FREE ACTIVITIES” so that children know whenever the need arises, they can go to this place to find something to do. You can put toys in there that just for this occasion and never come out otherwise.
For these occasions, use toys or things you have in your house but add in some “new” things or ways to play with them. This makes them seem special or more interesting-this can breathe new life into your existing toys and activities.
-Playdough- If age appropriate, add in some toothpicks, buttons, pipe cleaners, the real rolling pin, potato masher, pizza cutter, cookie sheet, etc. If the activity incorporates fine or gross motor opportunities children should engage in them longer.
-Build a fort- let them use kitchen chairs, stools, and pillows from the couch and blankets to create a hideaway. If they are old enough to write, have them create a name for their fort, or draw a map for others to find it, or create a story about it. Give them flashlights put in the fort and a snack if you are comfortable with food being in the place it is located. Have them take in a pile of their favorite books.
-Outside- A great quote; “There is no bad weather, only bad clothing.” Children need to be outside. In his book, Last Child in the Woods, author Richard Louv shares compelling research about the importance of daily time outside and how essential it is to a child’s healthy physical and emotional development.
-Puzzles, games- Time them to see how fast they can put together a puzzle. Play a game in a different way than you ever have before.
-Give them access to something they rarely get to look in or use- this can be your button or baseball card collection or the pots and pans drawer or food storage container cupboard (add in some fuzzy balls, plastic spoons, measuring cups etc.), a bathroom drawer with Q-tips and cotton balls etc. A dollar store can supply these items inexpensively but worth every cent!
-Make a mobile sand and water bin- Get a large storage container with a lid that slides under the bed and fill it with sand, rice, wheat or beans OR water if you get really brave. Roll it onto a large tarp. Add in scoops, funnels, empty 2 liter pop bottles or plastic dinosaurs or cars etc. For best effect, have it be something they only get to play with when you need 30 minutes to finish a work project or make dinner etc. That way they will look forward to this more than something on a screen.
-Fidget spinners and sensory toys- Especially great for toddlers. Keep some of these kinds of toys in your purse, they can hold them while in a shopping cart.
-Sorting objects- Have a container full of something children can sort like buttons, shapes or small objects that come in different sizes shapes and colors. Have child sort them into a muffin tin from largest to smallest or by color etc.
-Color and paint- find free printable pages on the internet of things your child is very interested in and have them ready for these times you need to get something done.
-Sticker books- special ones that can only be used during these situations of the day when you need to get something done.
-Crafting supplies box- special one that only comes out as an alternative to screens-glue, paper and sequins, buttons, fabric pieces, fuzzy balls, paper plates, napkins, yarn, popsicle sticks etc. Kids know what to do!
-Building toys- Legos, Magna tiles, tinker toys, car tracks, blocks etc. Have them build, then allow them to take pictures of their creations.
-Write letters or books- Create blank books by using half sheets of paper and folding in half. Add a cover using a half sheet of colored paper. Have these in a box ready to be used when needed. Children can create a new story and illustrate a book whenever they need something to do.
-Listen to stories- There are many read aloud stories on the internet that you could turn on and have your child sit in a cozy place and listen. Great for using their imagination as they envision the characters and places etc.
-While We’re Waiting app- (available on the app store for Android now and Apple soon). This app provides over 100 screen free activities to do with your child while in any waiting situation that build cognitive function and strengthen relationships. Can be a great resource when they are bored or you need to pass some time.
Determine the times of the day or occasions that you most resort to screens and if the above suggestions do not help, please email me and I will help you come up with something.