Parenting: Getting your kids outside
March 30, 2012 (WPVI) -- With our unusually warm spring weather, it's time to encourage kids to get outside to play.
Over the winter, I admit my sons spent more time playing video and computer games than they probably should. But I feel lucky that once the weather gets warm, I don't have any trouble getting them into more active pursuits.
Our next-door neighbors have a basketball hoop over their garage, and are generous enough to keep their cars parked down their driveway so that the neighborhood kids can shoot just about every afternoon.
The boys across the street often setup hockey nets in their driveway, or even in the street itself, for games, too. And it doesn't hurt that within just a few houses we have eight boys and two girls between the ages of nine and fifteen, so there's almost always someone to play with outside.
Unfortunately, many children aren't getting an opportunity for outside play, even with our great weather. For many parents, safety is a concern.
In an article on Play and Development from GoodHousekeeping.com, the author suggests parents in the same neighborhood work together to coordinate people on the lookout when kids are outside playing. Find fenced-in areas, like schoolyards, where a few parents can keep an eye on a bunch of children at a time.
LiveStrong.com makes the point that kids may actually need lessons on how to play outside. They're used to computer games with specific rules and steps to be followed, so a parent or other guardian may have to spend time teaching them how to play stickballs, soccer, basketball, or even non-sports games like hide-and-seek.
Perhaps the best way to get your kids outside is to model that behavior yourself. I know it's hard after a long-day at work to get up the energy to go for a walk around the block, or to a nearby park. However if you and your children take that walk together, you'll get to spend quality time together, while encouraging healthy habits that will last a lifetime.
My husband took our 11-year-old son and his friend to the park yesterday to practice for baseball - and they all lost track of time. My husband was sore from pitching afterwards - but was as happy as the kids to be outside playing.
Don't forget to look into leagues for outside sports like Little League or what your local PAL Center is offering for Spring. Your kids will make new friends, while learning teamwork and getting some fresh air. It's a great combination.
Sometimes it takes some extra effort to get our kids outside to play, but the payoff can be enormous.
For more tips on encouraging outdoor play, check out these resources:
-Web MD -eHow Read more Parenting Perspective blogs by visiting the Parenting Channel on 6abc.com.
amy buckman parenting reports, parenting, amy buckman
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