28 Feb Replace Video Games Without Your Kids Even Noticing It!
Is your child nothing short of obsessed with electronics? I have really never met a child who is not enamored by a lit-up screen. Actually, in this day and age, aren’t we all a little too attached to our electronic devices (I know I am)?
I mean, even when you go into a restaurant, if there is a TV hidden in the corner of the room, your child will find it, right?
I see many parents giving their children (no judgment) their smartphones to keep them quiet, busy, and entertained. I know, it’s hard not to fallback on the ole’ faithful video games when life gets overwhelming.
I am not here to tell you to cut out all electronics from you and your child’s life. There are many benefits to video games and television for some children (although, they can also contribute to lack of sleep, poor focus, and behavior problems).
However, what I am here to say is, there are other activities out there that will entertain your child just as much as playing video games, and maybe even more so! Seriously!
And, what’s even more important is that these activities that I am about to share with you, can also encourage speech and communication, promote social skills, improve interactions, and help you connect with your child.
Ready to give a few of these activities a try?
1. Act out different scenes from a video game or cartoon.
You may have heard me talk about the importance of getting into your child’s world in order to connect with him. I have created entire trainings around this concept.
Well, one of the ways to connect with your child is to use his interests to interact with him. Most humans like to talk about and participate in activities that interest them. So, rather than playing video games with your child, take his favorite video game and act out different scenes with him.
Let’s take a popular game among many, Super Mario Bros. When playing with your child, one of you can pretend to be Mario, and the other person can be Luigi. You can set up an obstacle course in your house or outside and move through it like the characters in the game. This serves so many functions. You are encouraging the use of your child’s imagination, getting him moving, engaging in play with him, and having fun!
2. Video-record your own scenes to a video game or cartoon.
Many children love to see themselves on camera, so why not create a video by role-playing, recording it, and then watching it later? I know this involves a lit-up screen, but it also includes some interaction to get to the ultimate reward (watching the video).
Go outside in the fresh air to make your video.
You and your child can even write a script to read aloud. Now you are incorporating handwriting, reading, and language development into your activity!
When your child looks back at the video of himself reading the script, he may become more aware of his voice volume. You can work on reading louder, reading softer, using different facial expressions and emotions, and again using his imagination.
3. Draw scenes from a video game to make a book.
Have your child make his own scenes, make up a new character, or even create a comic strip. Let your child use his creativity to design and draw a video game. You are taking your child’s interests and helping to develop those interests in creative ways. You can even act out the scenes from his book. Imagine how much fun it could be to recreate Minecraft characters in your own home!
So, now not only is your child engaging with you, but he is also practicing literacy skills.
4. Have your child invite a friend over who is interested in similar things.
Kids love to talk about video games. I have observed many lunch times and recesses where children, with and without autism, stand around and talk about their favorite games (Don’t get me started on the topic of Minecraft…I know more than I’d like to admit).
A great way to promote social skills is to have your child invite a friend over who has similar interests.
Rather than letting your child and his friend sit for an hour playing a video game, use some of the creative ideas from above to get them engaged.
5. Last but not least, you can always use video games, television time, or smartphones as a reward.
Technology and food are two of the biggest motivators out there for so many children. Use this to your advantage. Limit electronics time and encourage your child to participate in other activities first. Then you can reward him with screen time.