75 TV-Free Ideas for Kids!

We’ve been talking about TV-Free time this month. I don’t know many parents who would disagree with the general idea that less TV and more interaction time is great, but especially if you are actively trying to reduce a TV habit with your kids, it can be hard to think of awesome alternative activities to draw their attention away from the screen machine. So here’s a little help! Here are some ideas that have worked in my home or those of my clients:

TV-Free Ideas for Toddlers:
  • Good Clean Fun. Toss some bath toys or plastic dishes and cups in the sink or a Rubbermaid tub with water and some bubbles. Kids love to play with water! And while I was sometimes resistant to my children’s pleas to play with water as a young mom myself, I have come to realize that–it’s just water, right?! A few minutes in and the laughter and smiles from your little one with definitely hit your smile button
  • Shaping Good Habits. It’s play dough to the rescue! Now not all TV-free time has to be messy–haha, but it sort of helps! Letting kids be kids is way more enticing then the boob tube in the end. And learning to work with and manipulate clay/dough is a great development skill, not to mention that it opens the door to great imaginative play as well, which is excellent quality time for developing little minds.
TV-Free Ideas for School Age Children:
  • Your Little Sous Chef. Children love to do adult tasks and be given more responsibility helping with jobs around the house (the fun ones of course). Cooking, baking, and gardening are three of my favorite ways to involve children in daily tasks. Bring your sous chef into the kitchen to help with dinner, rather than a pre-mealtime TV show. Soon they will be asking what they get to help with tonight, rather than whining for a show. Starting a new habit and routine is easier than you might think.
  • Plan an Event. Be little event-planners, just because you can! Let the kids decide what the special day/theme will be. Decide to have Taco night on the weekend, an art show, or a board game party–whatever it is, use your weekly down time to create decorations, activities, or silly hats or costumes for the big day. 
TV-Free Ideas for Teens:
  • The At-home Coffee Shop. When your kids get to be teens, sometimes your best ideas will be ones for them to enjoy with their friends. But there are ways to keep them having a blast while still under your supervision. Let your budding young adult turn your kitchen into a coffee shop, rather than visiting one in town. Offer to help make some fancy brews and let them chill and bond. It can be a great alternative to lounging in front of an episode of Keeping Up with the Kardashians. (Source: http://teenadvice.about.com/od/entertainment/a/free_things_to_do_for_teens.htm)
  • Surprising simplicity. A good game of cards can be a great way to draw a teen into a family activity. Cards are much less “lame” then announcing that you’d like to play board games or charades. Try some more complex games that challenge them like: gin rummy, spit, poker, cheat (your teen may already know this one by another name), or President. And if they are the first in their circle of friends to learn some of these games and share them–whether they say so or not, I can guarantee they will think it’s pretty cool that you taught them. And that definitely beats them trying dangerous or disgusting pranks or challenges they’ve seen together on Tosh.O. (And if you don’t know what that is, ask your teen). 
Ration yourself a little screen time, to surf the internet for ideas for TV-Free time in your house. There are tons of ideas online and you’re bound to find some that work great for your child’s particular age and interests. Here’s a couple resources I found for you already:

http://www.notimeforflashcards.com/2012/02/75-tv-free-activities-for-toddlers.html
http://www.sheknows.com/parenting/articles/814008/12-tv-free-ways-to-keep-your-kids-busy-over-spring-break-1
http://teenadvice.about.com/od/entertainment/a/free_things_to_do_for_teens.htm

Attend my FREE Telelseminar for more ideas! Lions & Tigers and TV, Oh My! Can-Do Strategies to Avoid the TV Trap!



Peggy

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