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Helping Children Transition from Screens to Sunshine

The outdoors offers many benefits for a child’s physical, mental, and emotional well-being. More specifically, outdoor play can reduce stress, anxiety, and symptoms of depression in children. It can enhance a child’s imagination, and promote social skills. However, as springtime approaches it can be difficult to transition children away from screen time to sunshine. The following 9 tips can help ease this transition for both children and parents.

1. Set Clear Boundaries

Create clear rules and limits around screen time, including specific times and places in the household where video games and other online platforms are allowed. It can be helpful to create a schedule that your children have access to so that they are aware of when it is or is not appropriate to use screen time.

2. Lead by Example

Children are influenced by what they see. If a child saw their parent playing games on their phone, they would most likely think it is acceptable. Lead by example by showing excitement for and engaging in your own nature and outdoor activities. Remember you are your child’s role model!

3. Offer Alternative Activities

Build a list of outdoor activities or games that may attract your child’s interest. Examples include biking, gardening, a nature walk, playing sports, having a picnic, or hanging out in the backyard. Children are more likely to engage in activities when they are given choices!

4. Make It Fun!

When parents make outdoor play fun, children will be more engaged and motivated to continue participating. Some activities that can make outdoor play enjoyable include a nature scavenger hunt and an obstacle course.

5. Involve Children in Planning

Involving a child in planning activities gives them a sense of control and empowerment. Children who get anxious can feel more comfortable when they are involved in the planning process of games or activities. This gives them an idea of how things will unfold.

6. Offer Incentives

Children feel more motivated and encouraged when there is a reward or incentive. This can be as simple as earning a sticker, picking out a board game for family night, going to the park, or taking a drive out for a sweet treat!

7. Emphasize the Benefits

Educate your child on the benefits of getting outdoors. When children understand why they are being encouraged to get outside, they are more likely to do it!

8. Be Patient and Supportive

It can be challenging for children to transition off their screen time, especially if they are used to the stimulation and entertainment, it gives them. A parent needs to remain patient to ease any stress or frustration they may be experiencing. Offer support and validate your child’s emotions in this tough transition, this will most likely help your child openly communicate how they feel about this change.

9. Celebrate Successes

Praising a child can promote positive behaviors and foster motivation. Celebrate your child’s efforts in putting down the phone, remote, or video game controller and getting outdoors!

Parenting is a journey full of challenges but remember you’re not alone! Your efforts do not go unnoticed. Stay patient, consistent, and dedicated. You are making a difference in your child’s life, even if you do not feel you are.

Interested in parenting tips or talking through challenges as a parent? Ask about Worrywell’s Parent Management Training and therapeutic services.

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