Leave the technology inside and just play

Young Boy (8-10) Sitting on a Couch Playing a Video GameDear Dr. Renaud:

My kids don’t know how to play. They play with their tech toys but without them they don’t know what to do with themselves. They complain they’re bored and with summer break here I don’t know what to do with them. I hate the idea that they’ll just sit with their faces in their gadgets.

At wit’s end mom

Dear wit’s end mom:

Your complaint is one I hear frequently from parents. Kids aren’t taught how to use their imaginations for play anymore. All of their activities are very structured and organized and they don’t have to think. They can follow instructions but they can’t imagine.

So, I suggest putting away the tech toys for a short period of time and just playing. It may be hard for them to do at first. Try to think of some games — low or no tech ones, such as I Spy. We played games as kids that should be played again. Try going outside with balls and skipping ropes and making up games, or set up an obstacle course with bikes. Have they ever climbed a tree or built a fort?

Start with turning the tech off for a short period of time and gradually lengthen the period of time as this becomes easier. They may actually start to like it. Designate a no tech time each day for real play. Ask them to pretend, a concept that may be foreign to them outside of an alternate universe game.

There are several stages of play that children should develop through and if they don’t have the opportunity to engage in real play, then they won’t develop these skills. Have fun.

Dr. Renaud 

About Danielle Renaud

Danielle Renaud is a Doctor of Education and an Ontario Certified Teacher who helps parents deal with both everyday and unusual parenting and family issues. This column is intended to inform parents and Danielle welcomes all letters and questions. This column is not meant to provide therapy. Contact: drdrenaud@yahoo.ca