4 Ways to Help Your Child Develop Non-Screen Hobbies

How often is your child staring at a screen?

Probably a lot more than we realize, right? Now, there’s not anything wrong with having a bit of play time with video games or computers, or sitting your child down to watch some TV while you get dinner ready–things like that. Just like anything else, the key is mindfulness and moderation! 

But because it’s so easy to be entertained on screens now, we don’t give much thought to how non-screen play can help not only keep your child entertained, but aid in their development! Just like us, kids aren’t built to be staring at a screen 24/7. And just like our minds, their minds need to be engaged in other creative ways. 

Afterall, playtime isn’t just about entertainment

During play (or free time) kids do things like: 

  • Learn problem solving skills 
  • Learn sportsmanship/teamwork/cooperation
  • Develop social skills
  • Develop communication skills
  • Nurture creativity & strengthen their imagination 

And while some of these can be learned in screen hobbies (teamwork, for example, if they are playing a game with a friend) screen hobbies are much more passive activities. By nature they don’t ask you to engage a lot! Removing the screen however, takes away that instant entertainment. Now your child has to contend with something else: boredom. 

This boredom is where their creativity and imagination and problem solving skills live! Instead of them sitting and waiting for the game to decide where they go next or for the TV to just play a new episode of their favorite show, now the choice is in their hands. How will they spend their time? What will they enjoy doing? How can they find something new and fun to do? 

Here are a few things you can do to encourage non-screen playtime for your kids: 

Lead by example 

How much of your free time is spent in front of a screen? Kids are very aware of the adults in their life–that’s where they get their food, their shelter, their safety, their love. It’s also where they develop their own behaviors and habits. If your kids see you spending all of your free time in front of a screen, that’s what they’ll likely learn to do too. Of course, it’s a stressful world being a parent, so you don’t always have the energy to do more than pop the TV on–that’s okay! When you have time and energy to engage in other activities, do so, and see if your child would like to join you! 

Involve them in your hobbies 

Make an intentional effort to try and engage your child in your own non-screen hobbies when you do have the time for them. Do you like to cook? Invite them into the kitchen and teach

-Lindsay N. Sanner, LSCSW, RPT