Adapted from Kick the TV Habit, by Steven and Ruth Bennett
What kids generally want more than anything else in the world is your focused time. And they have a marvelous, built-in “presence detector”; they know when you’re really focused on an activity with them or when your mind is somewhere else, thinking about paying bills, resolving work issues and the like.
Also, if you’re fully engaged in the play, your child is likely to learn how to sustain the activity on his or her own over time. Here’s a list of things to think about to make your activities a success.
* Remember that the more experience children have with appropriate and enjoyable non-electronic-based activities, the more skill they’ll develop at inventing their own. This ability will likely be greatly satisfying to them.
* Offer them the choice between different activities. Involving them in decisions about what to do with your time together provides them with greater motivation.
* Be open-minded. If your kids have a better idea than what you had in mind, or a different way to achieve the same goal—let them go for it! It’ll encourage them.
* Be patient. If your child’s play has become imitative because of heavy exposure to television and “single-purpose toys” associated with TV shows or video and computer games, he or she may need a hand in relearning how to play in creative and imaginative ways. Encourage activities that draw on his or her direct experience.
* Use the activities as opportunities to observe and cherish your child; doing so will sustain your interest and enhance the fun during repetitive play.
* Try to do activities when you’re rushed or hassled; you’ll just frustrate your child if the idea is to finish the game or project as fast as you can.
* Focus on the competitive aspects of an activity. If a “winner” is called for, deemphasize the importance of winning by praising all family members for putting forth their best efforts or topping their previous scores.