Tag Archives: Eco Friendly Parenting

How to Entertain Your Kids Without Electronics

Most kids these days love their electronic toys. It starts with the toys they get as babies and keeps going on. It’s a tough habit to break, as many of their friends will be enjoying electronic toys too.

It’s good to teach your kids that they don’t need electronic gadgets and toys to have fun. There’s a lot more out there for them to do.

Why Bother?

As this can be a frustrating thing to do, a big question may be why you should bother limiting your children’s use of electronics. Why not let them just go at it?

Much has to do with how children can become inactive due to their use of electronics, television, computers and video games in particular. Many kids spend several hours a day in front of one or another screen, rather than getting outside, playing and getting exercise and fresh air. It’s not healthy.

Board Games

While getting your kids to play outside is a good goal, there’s nothing wrong with playing a board game as a family, or even a more physically active classic game such as Twister.

Playing a game together as a family is a great way to spend time together. You can talk about whatever comes to mind, or just banter about the game. You can learn a lot about each other.

Send the Kids Outside

It’s best if you can get your kids to play outside every day. There’s a saying about how there’s no such thing as inappropriate weather, just inappropriate clothes. In other words, don’t worry about rain or snow. Dress the kids appropriately and let them have fun.

Do be careful about particularly hot days, of course, and use a safe sunscreen on your kids. Encourage them to wear hats outside as well to protect their skin. Have cold water ready for them to drink when they get thirsty.

You’ll have to be ready to deal with the mess of kids playing outside. Hot weather encourages the use of sprinklers and water toys, which can mean mud tracked in and water on the floor. So can rain and snow. Have towels ready to deal with the mess, and set limits about how much mess you can stand.

You can play games outside too. Teach your kids the classics, such as hide and go seek, Simon Says, Red Rover, tag and whatever else comes to mind. It’s good for you to get outside too.

Is It Safe to Let Your Kids Go Free Range?

I read an article yesterday that got me thinking again about free range kids. A mom let her 10 year old son walk 1/3 of a mile to the park, but he was stopped by the police and brought home. The officer claimed she was endangering him by allowing him to walk so far alone.

In a quiet, generally safe neighborhood.

Thank goodness the Chief of Police, when contacted, disagreed with what the officer had done.

My kids aren’t yet of an age that I’ll let them go free range. The older two are 4 and 6, and I already know that my 6 year old will still run out into the street without looking for cars first. That’s one of my big criteria for letting her do things like walk alone to school.

I strongly approve of letting children roam in age appropriate ways. It’s important for their development and self confidence.

Kids in my area are definitely walking home from school on their own by 10 years old. It’s a nice neighborhood, and certainly safe enough even for kids a bit younger than that to walk home alone. Heck, I was walking home with my older sisters when I was in preschool, and my oldest sister was just 3 years older than I was. There were some other daycare kids too, but I don’t know their ages. Just that no grown ups were involved.

Despite what some people think, the world hasn’t gotten more dangerous. We are significantly more aware of the dangers, and that’s a big part of why parents are so fearful of letting their children roam.

Think about it. We can look online and see maps of where registered sex offenders are living. We hear stories from across the nation about children being snatched, sometimes in broad daylight. It’s so easy to hear about the worst that can happen that it’s hard to recognize how rare it is.

My kids are starting to get a little more freedom, mostly due to the kids next door. The oldest ones there are old enough to supervise the others in the front yard. None of them roam like I did at their ages though, at least so far as I see.

They also get to roam ahead of me when we walk to school or go hiking. It’s a very small freedom, but it means they can explore at a bit more of their own pace rather than waiting for me or my husband to point things out to them.

No, letting your kids go free range isn’t completely safe. Nothing is. Accidents can happen no matter how careful you are.

But kids need to learn how to be responsible and confident when they are out on their own. You don’t want your kids to be adults who are afraid to do anything alone. You want them to be confident and competent. The way to develop those skills is to give them little freedoms as they grow and teach them how to do things on their own safely.