Experts recommend that children spend no more than one to two hours in front of the television, on the computer, or playing video games a day. Unfortunately, most kids get an average of 4-6 hours exposure to all of those combined media. Now, you know that your child needs to watch less television, but you're probably dreading the screaming, yelling and crying that may follow. You're not alone in this; many parents fight this battle daily. First and foremost, you have to remember that YOU are the parent. You run the show, and part of your job is to set limits. It may not be easy at first, but once your kids are conditioned into a routine of healthy activities (like educational games or yoga for children), it will become second nature to them, and they can carry those habits on into adulthood.
Here are a few ideas about how to limit your children's sedentary time.
* Develop a plan. Come up with a list of activities to offer your kids as options. Make sure they're both healthy AND fun. Be prepared to offer alternative activities to television or video games. You might consider a kids yoga DVD, a family game night, walking the dog, or exploring a park.
* Be active with your kids. Believe it or not, what kids want more than anything else is quality time with their parents in which they can do something fun as a family. To give them that gift, don't just send them out the back door to play. Go play with them!
* Try to avoid positioning your furniture so the television is the main focus of the living room and other common areas. Remove televisions from bedrooms as well.
* Plan television-watching time in advance. Discuss with your kids what shows they want to watch and schedule the time for them to sit down and enjoy them. Turn the television on for those shows and turn it off afterward. Don't just leave the television on as background noise, as it's likely to suck your kids in and deter them from other activities.
* Avoid using television or video games as rewards or taking them away as a punishment.
* Inquire as to what physical activities your kids are doing at school. Whether it's recess, gym class, or yoga in the classroom, make sure they're getting what they need at school as well as at home.
* Your kids won't easily accept being restricted to two hours of television watching if you or your spouse veg out in front of the tube for hours on end. The best way to influence your kids' behavior is through example, so practice what you preach.
The bottom line is that you have to be strong, stick to your plan, and never back down. Your child's health is worth fighting for, and they will thank you for it later.
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Written by Kacy Suther. Learn more about yoga for children with a kids yoga dvd. Offers yoga in the classroom, yoga poses for kids, more at yogakids.com
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