What Parents Need to Know about Teens and Sleep

If you think your teen isn’t getting enough sleep, you’re probably right. A recent study at San Diego State University found that 40% of adolescents clock less than 7 hours a night, even though most experts recommend about 9 hours of sleep for teens.

According to this study, technology is one of the major culprits. The researchers found that the more hours teens spent online, the less they slept. Plus, when they compared the habits of today’s teens to past generations, one of the steepest drops in sleep time occurred around 2009, just when smartphone use soared.

The consequences are serious because sleep needs are greater during adolescence when important physical and mental developments are underway.

Protect your child’s health, safety, and academic performance by helping them to sleep well.

Technology Tips for Teen Sleep:

1. Think positive. Focus on using technology productively, rather than restricting it. Distinguish between using smartphones and computers for schoolwork and communications rather than prolonged browsing.

2. Work as a team. Give your teen a voice in the process. They’re more likely to follow rules that they help to write.

3. Set a curfew. Streaming before bed can interfere with sleep due to the bright lights from computer screens, along with the mental stimulation. Shut off any electronic devices for at least an hour or two before retiring.

4. Create quiet zones. If possible, keep computers and smartphones out of your teen’s bedroom, especially during the overnight hours. Family dinners could also be a phone-free event.

5. Provide other activities. Once your teen is spending fewer hours online, fill that time with other fun and rewarding pursuits. Plan family outings, read books, and encourage extracurricular activities.

6. Be flexible. Each family has its own way of dealing with technology. Experiment until you find what works for you. Welcome your teen’s feedback, and be willing to make reasonable exceptions and adjustments.

Other Tips for Teen Sleep:

1. Talk it over. Help your teen to understand why sleep is a top priority. Discuss how it affects the quality of their life and their ability to learn. Read books or watch documentaries that explain how sleep works.

2. Stick to a schedule. It’s natural for teens to go through a period of delayed-sleep syndrome when they don’t become drowsy until later at night. Unfortunately, many schools still have early start times, so sleeping in on weekends can actually make it harder to function during the week.

3. Teach time management. Late night studying can also conflict with sleep. Show your teen how to budget their time and coordinate their assignments.

4. Limit snacking. Your teen may be tempted to raid the refrigerator while they’re up at night. Keep a supply of light snacks on hand that are easy to digest. You can also start the day with a hearty breakfast so they’ll be less hungry after dinner.

5. Consult other parents. Seek advice and support from other parents. Discuss common challenges and share your most promising solutions.

6. Drive safely. Drowsy driving is a major safety hazard. Show your teen how to spot the symptoms and call you if they need a ride. Take away the car keys if necessary.

7. Provide a role model. Your children will follow your example. Show them that you believe in the importance of sleep by following the same rules you create for them.

Encouraging your teen to get enough sleep will help them to deal with daily stress and stay alert at school. They’ll also be building lifetime habits that will create a strong foundation for their mental and physical health.

A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Adult Child Find a Job

When your adult child is unemployed, it’s tough on you too. It can be heartrending to watch your son or daughter struggle to find a job. On the other hand, it can also be frustrating if it seems like they’re a little too comfortable living with you instead of trying to support themselves.

As a parent, you want to find the balance between helping them to launch their career, and giving them the room they need to take care of their own responsibilities.

Use these suggestions to guide you in becoming an ally and advocate for your child during their job search.

Teaching Job Hunting Skills to Your Adult Child:

1. Suggest campus resources. Remind your child to take full advantage of their college career office to find job and internship opportunities. Even if they’ve already graduated, they may still be eligible for some services.

2. Encourage networking. Demonstrate how to develop professional relationships. Go through your contacts to find individuals who may be able to assist your child. Make the introduction, and then let your child take the lead with following up while you offer feedback as needed.

3. Review paperwork. Your child needs to write their own cover letters and resumes, but you can edit and proofread. It may also be helpful to collect and copy personal documents such as their driver’s license and any certificates or letters of commendation.

4. Research opportunities. Your child may know more about LinkedIn and social media than you do, so how about teaching each other some valuable lessons? Collaborate on exploring various industries, identifying potential employers, and calculating salary ranges.

5. Rehearse interview questions. Successful interviewing requires practice. Act out different scenarios and go over responses to thorny questions like describing your greatest weakness.

Providing Job Hunting Support to Your Adult Child:

1. Listen closely. Ask your child what you can do to help them. Respect their choices and treat them like an adult.

2. Clarify expectations. You may need to set some ground rules, especially if your child is living with you. Do you expect them to contribute to rent and other expenses? Do you have a timeline in mind for when you expect them to find a position?

3. Strategize and organize. Your greatest contribution will probably focus on the overall game plan. Discuss how to set priorities, track activities, and evaluate progress.

4. Minimize anxiety. Try to avoid adding to the pressure your child may be feeling. Check in on their progress without making it the only topic of conversation. Suggest healthy ways to manage stress such as exercise and meditation.

5. Boost self-esteem. Rejection is usually a part of any job search. Balance the scales with some affirming gestures. Praise your child for making an effort and share activities that leverage their strengths, such as their favorite hobbies and sports.

6. Arrange transportation. If possible, you may want to pitch in with transportation expenses so that your child can have as many options as possible. Paying for airfare and lodging for out-of-town interviews could be a wise investment.

7. Cultivate a professional appearance. Your child may spend hours on the phone but still be unfamiliar with more formal business communications. Practice how to talk with employers, and offer tactful suggestions about wardrobe and hairstyle choices.

8. Reach out to others. Consider hiring professionals for services such as resume writing or career coaching. Family and friends can help too, when your child needs to hear a message from someone besides you.

If you’re trying to join your child on interviews, you’re probably going too far. However, there are many constructive things you can do as a parent to help your child transition from college to the workplace. Give them guidance and encouragement, and leave them in charge of blazing their own career path.

12 Tips to Boost Your Child’s Self-Confidence

The world can be a confusing and challenging place. This is especially true for a child. Children don’t have a lot of control over their lives. They also have to spend all day with other children, who can be less than supportive and encouraging.

It’s your responsibility as a parent to ensure that your child has a healthy level of self-confidence.

Try these tips to boost your child’s self-confidence and watch them bloom:

1. Work on your own self-confidence. If your self-confidence is low, others can see that, including your children. They grow to view that lack of self-confidence as normal and mimic your behavior and attitude.

2. Avoid helicopter parenting. You might think that you’re helping your child by protecting them from every little thing that might harm them, but you might be doing more harm than good. Dealing with life’s minor hiccups on their own teaches them how capable they can be.

3. Help your child to set and reach appropriate goals. Regardless of age, few things will do more to boost someone’s self-confidence than setting a meaningful goal and achieving it. Set goals that aren’t too challenging to achieve.

4. Too much praise can be a bad thing. When you’re constantly telling your child how perfect they are, they can fall into the trap of needing to be perfect all the time. Or, they might be confused by your obviously inaccurate praise.

5. Allow your child to make choices. Sure, your child’s blue shirt and bedazzled jeans might be the perfect outfit for the family reunion, but why not give your child a few choices that work for you and allow them to make the final decision? You’ll both win.

6. Encourage effort. It can be easy to feel overwhelmed when things don’t turn out as planned, especially for a child. Take the attitude that it’s not a big deal and that things often don’t work out. Encourage your child to keep trying and to not be upset.

7. Give your child chores and ensure that they perform them. Chores aren’t fun, but there is a sense of accomplishment when they’re completed. Let your child feel successful each day by completing their chores.

8. Be affectionate with your child. Affection lets your child know they are important and loved. Tell your child you love them at least once each day.

9. Avoid comparing your child to other children. Asking your child why they can’t do as well as little Johnny only destroys their self-confidence.

10. Compliment those things that are unique to your child. It might be their height, flaming red hair, or their imagination. Differences can be sources of self-doubt. Make your child’s differences a strength.

11. Encourage your child to try new activities. Pursuing a passion is a great way to build self-confidence. The process of making a decision and moving forward with it can boost self-confidence. Your child is also likely to find something they enjoy and excel at.

12. Think about other ways to boost your child’s self-confidence. Your child is unique, so the strategies that will raise their self-confidence might be unique, too.

Self-confidence can be challenging to develop for a child. They feel awkward and unsure about the world. Their peers are often unkind, too. Parents can do a lot to build or to undermine a child’s self-confidence. Help your child to face the world confidently.

A Parent’s Guide to Helping Your Child Cope with Cliques

Cliques can make school days rough for tweens and teens, but they’re no picnic for parents either. It hurts to see your child pushed off to the sidelines or facing peer pressures beyond your control.

Whether your child is being left out or running with the popular crowd, they need your support. After all, they’re learning about socialization as well as academic subjects when they go to school.

Try these tips for helping your child to look beyond cliques and start forming healthier connections.

Helping your Child to Deal with Cliques:

1. Empathize with their emotions. Feeling accepted is a high priority for most tweens and teens. They long to fit in, and may use their popularity to measure their worth. Think about your own adolescence and then factor in the impact of today’s social media. You’ll understand how much rejection can sting.

2. Watch for risky behavior. Cliques and their leaders exert a lot of power and their rules may be harmful. Be alert for signs of extreme dieting, bullying, or shoplifting.

3. Share your experiences. Let your child know that you went through similar trials back when you were in school. They may appreciate the solidarity and be more willing to open up.

4. Use stories. You can find lots of books, movies, and media stories to help you get your message across in an entertaining and compelling manner. Pick a recent title or suggest something that helped you when you were growing up. Be sure to discuss it afterwards.

5. Reach out to teachers. Ask your child’s teacher to talk about what they see going on at school. See if your school has resources that can help your family deal with cliques and related issues. Talk with other professionals, like guidance counselors or psychologists who work with adolescents.

6. Think long-term. Remind your child that high school is not forever. Cheer them up by giving them exciting things to look forward to. Send away for college brochures and plan campus visits. Use volunteer work and internships to start them thinking about the career of their dreams.

Helping your Child to Form Healthy Friendships:

1. Encourage outside activities. Balance out the influence of cliques by giving your child opportunities to pursue their interests and make friends in contexts other than school. Having diverse social circles can help them become more independent and inclusive.

2. Make your home inviting. Do your children feel comfortable bringing friends home? When you create a welcoming place to gather, your children have more chances to practice their social skills and interact with friends in a space where they feel secure.

3. Have deep conversations. Discuss big issues on an ongoing basis. Challenge each other to live up to your values, use power responsibly, and speak up for yourselves and others.

4. Act it out. Role playing can be an excellent way to explore complex subjects. Children can practice resolving conflicts without endangering their real friendships.

5. Start early. Children start forming attachments at a very young age. Even infants can benefit from having more face time with other babies, and toddlers can enjoy play dates or looking at books together.

6. Be a role model. Your children will learn from your example. When you cultivate positive connections, you teach your sons and daughters to do the same.

With your guidance, your child can maintain their confidence while they deal with cliques and prepare for more mature relationships in their adult life. Teach them how to be a good friend, treat others with kindness, and make their own decisions.

A Parent’s Guide to Talking with Your Children about School

Conversations screech to a halt in a lot of homes in the after school hours when parents ask “How was school today?” If that’s been your opening line, your child has probably told you that school was okay or even suggested that somehow the day went by without any activity occurring.

What you really want is for them to open up and talk about school and their friends. After all, you’re concerned about their education and happiness, and you want to be there for them.

Even if your children seem a little reticent, they need your support too.

Try these strategies that can help you communicate more effectively.

Nonverbal Communication Strategies:

1. Take a breather. If you arrive home looking forward to some peace and quiet after a day at the office, your children might feel the same way after school lets out. Give them a half hour to relax before mentioning homework.

2. Be affectionate. Touch is vital for healthy brain development and bonding. Hug your children regularly.

3. Play around. Small children may find it difficult to put their feelings into words. Tossing a ball around or jumping rope can help release stress. When they’re ready to talk, stuffed animals or sock puppets may help them express how they feel.

4. Use art. Study the drawings that your child brings home. They may give you insights into what they’re thinking about.

5. Stay informed. The more you know about your child’s schedule and studies, the more you’ll be able to support them. Talk with their teacher and other parents. Use the school website to stay updated on news and events.

6. Engage in activities. The most constructive conversations often develop naturally when you’re preparing dinner or taking a walk together. Spending time with your children creates more opportunities for deeper communication.

7. Schedule family dinners. One of the most beneficial activities is eating together. Regular family dinners provide a time to connect and practice conversation skills.

Verbal Communication Strategies:

1. Ask specific questions. Younger children often need targeted questions to help them organize their thoughts. If you want to understand what happened at recess, guide them through it step by step.

2. Be direct. Transparency will earn you more trust than skirting around sensitive subjects. Be gentle but firm when you need to explore behavior issues or failing grades.

3. Offer praise. Pay attention to your child’s accomplishments as well as the areas where they might be struggling. Let them know that you’re proud of them for making an effort to learn French or being kind to a new child who just transferred to their school.

4. Encourage solutions. It’s tempting to rush in and fix things when you see your child in distress. However, they’ll have a brighter future if you give them enough room to solve their own challenges.

5. Laugh it up. Use a little humor to defuse embarrassing situations. Share a story from your childhood about how you dealt with a teacher who scared you or tried to make yourself more popular.

6. Be a role model. Sharing details about your workplace will show your child how to talk about their experiences too. You may find that they’ll be asking you to tell them about your day.

7. Listen closely. Be an active listener. Set aside time to stop what you’re doing, and give your child your full attention. They’ll be more likely to open up when they see how much you care.

The way you talk with your children has a major impact on being able to share information and build strong connections. Let your child know that you’re interested in their school day, and ask them what you can do to help them learn and grow.

15 Valuable Life Skills to Teach Your Teen

As a parent, your job is to take care of your children until the day when they can strike out on their own. While they graduate from high school knowing how to read and write, there are other skills that are just as important that may not get covered in the classroom.

Before your teen leaves home, ensure they’re ready to fend for themselves and have a positive impact on the world.

Take a moment to run down this checklist of life skills your teen will need.

Practical Life Skills:

1. Manage time. Be a positive role model for establishing priorities and dealing with distractions. Show your teen how to use a calendar and work backwards from a deadline.

2. Study efficiently. While your teen won’t be taking geometry classes much longer, they will continue to benefit from knowing how to learn. Encourage them to love reading. Demonstrate how to recognize key concepts and design their own self-tests on any material.

3. Stick to a budget. The choices your teen makes today will help to determine how much debt they accumulate during college and what their options will be when they graduate. Give them a head start on developing financial responsibility by assigning them tasks like managing their allowance.

4. Eat well. Healthy eating habits start early too. Bring your teen along for grocery shopping and invite them to join you in preparing dinner. Stress the importance of eating a balanced diet rich in vegetables, fruits, and other whole foods.

5. Clean up. Kids who grow up doing chores will be more likely to take care of their first apartment and personal possessions. Teach them how to vacuum, dust, and do their laundry.

6. Stay safe. Talk with your teen about protecting themselves online and off. Provide common-sense warnings and share your own experiences.

7. Handle emergencies. Does your teen know what to do if they have a fender bender or there’s a severe storm in the forecast? Rehearse how to respond to common emergencies.

Social and Psychological Life Skills:

1. Clarify core values. The values your teen chooses will guide their behavior. Point them in a promising direction by ensuring they can articulate their beliefs and put them into action.

2. Give generously. Your teen is more likely to succeed if they help others to do the same. Encourage them to share their resources and volunteer their services.

3. Act mindfully. Mobile devices seem to be shortening the average attention span. If you want your teen to understand the power of mindfulness, you’ll need to teach by example. Give them your full attention when they’re talking, and turn the TV off unless you’re watching a specific program.

4. Deal with stress. Developing mindfulness will help protect your teen from depression and anxiety. They can also learn to relax by engaging in physical exercise and working on a hobby.

5. Master phone etiquette. Even if your teen spends much of their waking life on the phone, they may not communicate effectively. Train them to identify themselves and speak clearly. Rehearse scheduling appointments or calling a professor.

6. Talk face-to-face. Your teen may be more comfortable on social media than having a conversation in person. Hold regular family dinners where they can practice.

7. Cultivate relationships. Supportive relationships are vital to health and wellbeing. Coach your teen on how to make friends and network.

8. Be assertive. Help your child to develop healthy self-esteem and advocate for themselves. Knowing how to share their wants and needs will bring them closer to fulfilling their goals.

You can ease your teen’s transition into adulthood. Protect your children when they’re young, and then gradually give them more responsibility so they can acquire the skills they need to live independently.

12 Ways to Encourage Your Spouse

You can enjoy greater wellbeing and make your marriage more satisfying by helping your spouse to grow and change. It turns out that you’re more likely to pursue rewarding challenges if you have a supportive partner.

That’s the lesson from a recent study by Carnegie University. In this study, researchers divided couples into two roles: a decision maker and a support provider. Then, they gave them a choice between completing a simple puzzle or competing for a cash prize in a public speaking competition.

Spouses with an encouraging partner were much more likely to take on the greater challenge. Plus, when they were surveyed 6 months later, they reported increased personal growth and happiness, along with stronger relationships.

The study also identified what behaviors you need to be helpful and encouraging rather than too pushy or passive.

Discover the 3 essential elements of effective support, and how to use them.

Show Your Enthusiasm

Marriage gives you an opportunity to cheer each other on. Let your enthusiasm shine through. As a bonus, it will make your relationship more fun.

Try these activities to show enthusiasm:

1. Share meaningful activities. It’s easy to be enthusiastic when you love what you’re doing. Figure out your top priorities and devote your time to them, individually and together.

2. Ask questions. Do you find it hard to take an interest in your spouse’s job or hobbies? Becoming more knowledgeable could stimulate your curiosity. Ask them to give you an introduction to corporate litigation or gourmet cooking.

3. Give specific praise. Compliments mean more when you make them substantive. Tell your spouse precisely what it is you admire about their communication skills or leadership style.

4. Stay energized. How can you sound perky when you’re tired and hungry? Practice self-care by eating a balanced diet, exercising regularly, and sleeping well.

5. Manage stress. Learning to relax will also help you to keep your spirits up. Set aside time to meditate and pray. Listen to gentle music or go for a walk.

Provide Reassurance

Most worthwhile projects require effort and persistence. Having a reassuring partner can help you hang in there until you achieve results.

Try these ways to reassure your partner:

1. Remember your purpose. When obstacles arise, encourage your spouse to think about the reasons behind their work. Talk about your values and set goals that you both believe in.

2. Examine your assumptions. Many barriers are internal. Provide a sounding board so your spouse can recognize and overcome self-limiting beliefs that may be holding them back. Strive to be a role model for going beyond your comfort zone and making constructive changes.

3. Review your accomplishments. Go over the things that you and your spouse have accomplished together. You’ll feel more confident and empowered.

4. Get organized. Physical and mental clutter can trigger anxiety and slow you down. Maintaining an orderly home and creating efficient routines will give you both more peace of mind.

Focus on What You Have to Gain

It’s easier to take risks when you think about the benefits. Cultivate a cheerful outlook. Your hopefulness is contagious so your spouse will pick up on it too.

Turn these actions into daily habits:

1. Look on the bright side. Find the advantages present in any situation. Keep a list of the things you and your spouse have to be grateful for, including each other.

2. Reframe challenges. Look at setbacks as opportunities to learn. Give your partner a chance to express their feelings, and then move on. Direct your energy to coming up with solutions.

3. Adjust your environment. What types of influences surround you and your spouse? Be selective about the media you consume and search for inspiring stories. Develop a strong network of family and friends you can rely on.

Supporting your spouse can make you happier and more successful as a couple and as individuals. Nourish your relationship with enthusiasm, reassurance, and optimism.

What Parents Need to Know About Physical Activity and Your Teen

The average 19 year old in the US is as sedentary as a 60 year old, according to a recent study by the Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health. After checking fitness trackers placed on participants aged 6 to 84, researchers found that physical activity was lower than expected among kids and teenagers.

Experts such as the World Health Organization recommend at least one hour of moderate to vigorous physical activity a day for adolescents, but only 50% of males and 25% of females aged 12 to 19 are meeting that standard.

The study suggests focusing more on the times of day with the least activity, and paying more attention to low-intensity activity.

If you’re a parent concerned about helping your teen to manage their weight and stay fit, there are many things you can do. Take a look at these ideas to help you begin.

Activities for Different Times of Day

The study singled out two opportunities for modifying daily schedules. Try doing something different with your mornings when kids and teens are least active, and take advantage of afternoon hours between 2 and 6 pm.

Try these activities:

1. Wake up early. If you want to squeeze in more activity, you’ll need more time. Go to bed early and move your alarm up an hour or two.

2. Warm up. Even a brief workout helps. Gather the family together for a few whole body stretches and Pilates moves.

3. Walk the dog. If you love animals, a pet can motivate your family to get moving. Join your dog for a stroll around the park or a quick trip to the park.

4. Talk with your school. See what goes on in your teen’s physical education class. Ask about making time outdoors and exercise available during recess. Some schools even give students the opportunity to earn points by running around the track during any breaks.

5. Visit the gym. Buy a family gym membership and stop off for a while before returning home from school and work. Sign up for group classes, use the treadmill, or lift weights.

Low intensity Activities

Even if your teen plays soccer, that may account for just a one-hour burst of activity in the whole week. The study urged paying more attention to the big picture.

These low intensity activities will also help get your teen moving:

1. Stand up. Cut down on the amount of time spent sitting around. Limit hours on the TV and computer or use a standing desk.

2. Assign tasks. Burn calories while raking leaves and vacuuming the stairs. You’ll also be teaching your teens to take on responsibility.

3. Develop hobbies. Pay attention to your teen’s interests so you can suggest hobbies they’ll want to pursue. They may love modern dance or building robots.

Other Tips:

1. Be a role model. Your teen will follow your example. Show them that you work out on a regular basis, and lead an active life.

2. Discuss health issues. Talk about how physical fitness helps you to lead a longer and fuller life. Bring home interesting magazines or browse online for the latest news.

3. Make healthy choices. Look at your lifestyle and how it impacts your family’s health. Aim for a diet that’s rich in whole foods, including lots of vegetables and fruits. Manage stress with physical exercise and good quality rest. Show your teens how to choose supportive friends and build a strong social network.

Regular physical activity lowers your teen’s risk for obesity, helps them to build a strong body, and enhances their academic performance. Look for positive changes you can make to encourage more exercise at home and in school.

How to Motivate Your Child to Do Their Best

Some children are highly self-motivated. They possess a continuous drive to give their best 100% of the time. Other children are less enthusiastic. Some children require assistance in learning to do their best, particularly at school. Life is more challenging if approached with minimal effort. A child that learns to do her best with have a more fulfilling life.

Teach your child to give his best effort:

1. Set a good example. Do you want your child to do her best? Do your best. When your child sees you making an effort to do your best, she’ll be inspired to do her best, too. It’s challenging to motivate your child to do something you’re not willing to do yourself.

2. Give praise for effort. Only acknowledging results is insufficient, especially when a child is learning a new task. Ensure that your child knows you appreciate their hard work. Teach your child that effort is as important as the final results.

3. Avoid criticizing or yelling. There’s a more effective way. If you’re displeased with your child’s behavior or effort, try this process:

* Explain why your child’s behavior is unacceptable.
* Communicate what you expect in the future and why your alternative is better.
* Inform your child of the consequences if they repeat the behavior.
* Follow through.

4. Ask questions. People mention what they think is important. By asking questions about your child’s school work, friends, sports, or art work, you’re demonstrating that those things are important. Your child will take them more seriously.

5. Explain the benefits and the consequences. For example, you can explain to your child that if they perform well in school, they’ll have more educational choices after high school and a greater selection of careers. Failing to do well in school can result in a lifetime of low pay and unenjoyable jobs.

6. Your child needs to have a little power over her life. Allow your younger child to choose what she’ll wear for the day. Allow your teenager to choose the dinner menu. Give your children options, but allow them to make the final decision. Having control over their environment can boost their self-esteem.

7. Set your child up for success. Set goals with your child and ensure that those goals are accomplished. It feels good to be successful and success catalyzes future success. The goal can be easy, like reading for 20 minutes each night or eating one vegetable at dinner time.

8. Encourage persistence. Persistence is the critical component of success. When we feel uncomfortable, it’s natural to want to escape from the situation. Encourage your child to continue even if they’re struggling. It can be as simple as spending another 10 minutes on homework after they want to quit.

Motivating your children can be challenging. It’s never easy to influence the way someone views a task or life in general. Self-motivation is empowering to a child or an adult. Children are often motivated by extrinsic rewards, mainly praise and the opinions of their peers. Praise is a valuable tool to motivate a child.

Ideally, a child will eventually learn to motivate themselves. A child becomes more independent and successful as an adult when intrinsically motivated. Later in life, praise is rare, and the need to perform for one’s peers is diminished. This is why many successful high school students struggle later in life. The extrinsic motivation is gone.

Teach your child to motivate themselves and you’ll give them a gift that will benefit them for the rest of their life.

A Thrifty Parent’s Guide to Electronic-Free Activities for Kids

The average school-age child in the US spends 7 and a half hours a day in front of a digital device, according to the Kaiser Family Foundation. As a parent, you want your kids to have access to the technology they need to succeed in school and prepare for successful careers.

However, you also want them to lead balanced lives and appreciate the value of inexpensive and enriching offline activities.

Encouraging the moderate use of media gives your children more opportunities for interactions and experiences that are essential for healthy development. Take a look at the benefits of disconnecting, and ideas for what to do when you’re offline.

Benefits of Electronic-Free Activities:

1. Shape up. Too much time sitting in front of screens increases the risk of obesity. Give your children a head start on making exercise a regular part of their routine.

2. Sleep well. Bright screens and mental stimulation interfere with good quality rest and sleep. Set a curfew so electronic devices are turned off at least 2 hours before bedtime.

3. Promote learning. Digital devices can deliver excellent educational content, but a steady diet of empty entertainment or texting can distract from studying. Help your child keep their mind on their schoolwork.

4. Manage behavior issues. Using media wisely helps prevent aggression, substance abuse, and other risky activities. It also promotes the development of important social and communication skills.

5. Save money. Maybe you have trouble affording the latest devices. Inexpensive activities teach kids how to value relationships and creativity rather than material possessions.

Ideas for Electronic-Free Indoor Activities:

1. Make music. Your kids probably know how to stream music, but can they play an instrument or sing? Introduce them to the joys of expressing themselves through music.

2. Do crafts. Collect household items or visit an art supply store so you have supplies on hand to do arts and crafts anytime. Practice making origami animals or holiday ornaments.

3. Play board games. Pull out your old favorites or shop for new versions. Spend an evening with Monopoly instead of watching a movie.

4. Put on a play. Create your own productions. Turn a large cardboard box into a puppet theatre. Read a play out loud with each family member taking a different role.

5. Cook dinner. Prepare meals together. Even small children can rinse fruit or tear up salad greens.

Ideas for Electronic-Free Outdoor Activities:

1. Go for a walk. Make it a habit to take a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. Walking is a gentle form of exercise your children will be able to do anywhere with no special equipment needed.

2. Toss a Frisbee. A Frisbee makes it fun to move around, and even your dog can master the rules. For more variety, stock up on other simple toys like hula hoops and jump ropes.

3. Plant a garden. Grow your own vegetables and flowers. Gardening teaches your kids where food comes from and how to work with others.

4. Take a dip. Having an in-ground pool isn’t the only way to enjoy the water. Let your kids ride their bikes while you spray a hose around them.

5. Visit the library. Libraries are a community gathering place. In addition to bringing home books, check out the calendar for special events.

6. Camp out. Pick a campground that suits your idea of roughing it or just sleep in your backyard. Toast marshmallows and tell ghost stories.

In a digital age, your kids are bound to be surrounded by computers, smart phones, and televisions. Show them that it’s possible to have fun without any screens involved, and carve out boundaries to keep the overuse of technology from interfering with healthy development.