Physical Activity: Setting Limits on Sitting Time

Monday, April 22, 2013

A little girl, little body, and dad watching tv

Do you ever feel like wherever you turn there is another thing—cell phone, tablet, videogame, TV show—trying to lure your child into sitting more and moving less?  It's true that technology has a lot to offer, especially for kids. But all too often, time with technology means too much time spent sitting.

Try these tips for setting limits without starting a war:

  • Beyond “because I said so...”

If setting limits with technology is new for your kids, chances are they won’t be too excited about it. Let them know why you think setting limits with sitting time is important. Maybe you’re concerned that they aren’t getting their homework done because of too many distractions or you’re worried that they are spending too much time sitting and not enough time playing and being active. When your kids know why you’re making rules, they may be less resistant to them.

  • Master the Art of Negotiation.

If they have a voice in the decisions about rules on sitting time, your kids will feel more like they own the rules and less like you are just handing down rules from your parent throne. Being willing to hear their perspective on this and meeting them somewhere in the middle will open up the doors of communication—about sitting time and about other stuff too.

  • Plan a time to re-visit the rules.

Think of this as a household experiment. Try some new rules out and plan to check in with yourself and your child to see what’s working and what isn’t. If some of the rules aren’t working, try to figure out why, and talk with your child about how to make changes to the rules so that they work better with your life. This keeps the conversation going with your child so they can continue to be part of this process.

  • Make limit setting fun.

Turn limit setting into a family game. Try a family contest to see who can come up with the best ideas for how to spend 1 hour without technology. Or start by writing down what the kids think they will miss about all of their technology time. After they’ve tried the new limits for 1 week, ask them what they have gotten to do with the extra time without technology. Post the new list on the fridge.

  • Trade technology time for active family time.

This is a great opportunity to have more time together as a family and to do something fun! Head down to the park or go for a bike ride. Need to stay indoors? Pump up the volume and have a family dance party.

If the grown-ups in the house are spending too much time with technology, unhook from being over-wired and set a good example for your kids!

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