5 Alternative Activities to TV Hour

Are your kids stuck in a rut of watching TV every afternoon? Would you like to break them out of the habit? Here are five possible activities that may lure your kids away from the TV and towards more interactive, intellectually challenging and physically involved ways to spend their afternoons.

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alternatives to television after school activities

1. Find a Club or Sport

One of the easiest ways to avoid the TV hour is to have your kids not make it home between the end of school and dinnertime. Let them choose an after-school club or sport that's of interest to them. Giving them the power to make the decision helps to give them ownership over the activity and may encourage them to think about what activities they might truly enjoy. For reluctant kids, suggest that they find friends who might want to join with them.

2. Video Games to Board Games

Video games still involve sitting in front of the TV. But if you're having a difficult time pulling your kids away, offering video games as an alternative gives them something to do that's at least interactive. If you have a video game system like the Wii or Kinect, it has the added benefit of getting your kids off the couch and involved in a little exercise.

You can pursue a more low-tech option by bringing out cards or board games. Your kids may use their TV hour to unwind after a mentally taxing day at school. Board games offer a fun way to relax the brain, or at least the parts of the brain required for school, while still doing something challenging and interactive.

3. Reading Anything, Even Magazines

Telling your TV-addicted child to read a book may not get you anywhere. Your child may associate reading a novel too closely with homework, which might be the very activity your child is delaying by watching TV. But what if you expand the parameters of reading? Studies have shown that reading is good for the brain regardless of the content.

Let your child choose the style of reading and encourage him or her to think beyond literature. There are graphic novels, newspapers, puzzle books and, yes, even magazines. Don't be discouraged if your child chooses materials that looks as mind-numbing as TV; even reading about the Kardashians is still beneficial.

4. A New Job

Your child may be more ambitious than you or your child realizes; it may just take a little prompting. Suggest an after-school job as a way of not only getting off the couch, but also earning some extra spending money.

For a child who hasn't pursued a paying job before, it's helpful to provide a variety of possibilities. Younger children could walk a neighbor's dog, do yard work or even clean up around your house for allowance money. Older children can perform similar work, or try volunteering, interning or working for a local business.

5. Create an Activity List

Sometimes kids end up in front of the TV for no better reason than it being an easy option of something to do. Try taking an afternoon and brainstorming all of the things that your kids could be doing with their time that they would enjoy. Perhaps they like arts and crafts, like painting, drawing or scrapbooking. They may also like athletic activities, like skateboarding, basketball or rock climbing.

Once you create your list of all of the possible activities, post it somewhere central or near the TV. By making the list unavoidable, you remove the excuse of them just not remembering the list exists. It's possible that your child may get so caught up in these alternatives to TV that sitting on the couch begins to seem like waste of time even to them.

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