Most parents have a love-hate relationship with video games. While they give you a break from your child, help their problem-solving skills, ability to handle frustration, in some cases, and increase their cognitive abilities through puzzles, games also turn your child into a zombie. That glazed, slack jawed look can be frightening for some parents as you watch your son or daughter disappear so deeply into a game. You may wonder where that amazing kid went. Even more so, you may be wondering how to get them back? Your child has become moody, sullen, and irritated (or is that irritating?). You could glaze your doughnut three times over with the glaze that’s coming from their eyes. Seriously, how do you get your kid back? Here are eleven activities you can do to get your child’s attention away from the game and back into the real world.
#1 GIVE THEM A JOB
By this, I don’t mean just give them a task, I mean, hire them. Children are quite motivated when you attach money to jobs. Have your child organize the movies, do the dishes, or get out in the fresh air and weed the garden. Have them do all the grunt work you’ve been a parent too long to still be doing.
#2 PULL OUT THE PICTURES
Baby pictures, you as a nerd or a jock, grandma back when bell bottoms were cool, pull these out. You might be surprised how much your sullen teen, pre-teen, or, ahem, not even close to a teen, gets immersed in these memories. Not only does this get them away from their video games but it provides you with a moment to bond with your child. You’ll be able to tell them all the wild stories of your youth, but leave out any stories that involve any obsessions as your child might use this against you when you’re grilling them about their game usage.
#3 BAKE OR GRILL
Kids of all ages love to create things. You might think your video-game-obsessed-phone-drone (no offense!) won’t like baking or grilling, but kids love helping and learning, especially when under the tutelage of your mastery. So, pull out the brownies, pies, cookies, or something healthier, and teach them some new skills. Not to mention you can teach them about cleaning up after themselves.
#4 GET MESSY
Make a huge mess, preferably outside with some kind of paper down. Whipped cream, mud, let your kid make a huge mess. And also, let them pick the messy substance. This will give them control over the situation and encourage them to do it again. They won’t even be thinking about their video games while doing this. Maybe.
#5 FIND YOUR CHILD A FRIEND
When you have one child who has lost his/her video game privileges you may find yourself stuck with an irritable mountain of irritation, but when you have two game-losing kids they can put their heads together and find something else to do. Win-win. You don’t have to entertain your kid and you can relax. Also, your child can get some friendship skills. Though, these two kids might just spend the entire time talking about video games. Ah well, not much you can do about that.
#6 PAINT A WALL
Though watching paint dry is super boring, painting a wall isn’t. So, grab the paint, protective paper, and brushes, and get to painting. When the paint’s drying, you’re on your own. Sorry.
#7 DIG A HOLE WHEREVER YOU THINK IS BEST
While this seems simple, the truth is, children are easily entertained. They love to be physical, try new things, and hang out with their parents, even when they become older teens. Though, most won’t admit it. After you and your child have dug this hole, put a tree into it. Not only will your kid get some much-needed exercise but you’ll be contributing to the oxygen of the Earth.
#8 GET OUT OF THE HOUSE
Take your kids to the park or a grocery store. If they are young have them pick out the correct vegetables to earn more game time. If they are older, have them make the grocery list and gather all the items. This can give them a sense of responsibility and help them see that you believe in them. If you have multiple children, you can make this a competition, though you may want to send them to different sections of the grocery store.
#9 HOLD A CONTEST
With multiple children or with you and your child, hold a contest of your or your child’s choosing. Specify the rewards before starting. See how much faster one can do a task than the other or how much one can exhibit better behavior than the other. And yes the reward could be more game time unless they’ve already been on for hours in one day.
#10 WASH THE CAR
Your car has been looking rank for some time now, but you’ve been avoiding it. Why don’t you employ your handy dandy servants, ahem, children, to do it? There may be a huge water fight and missing sponges by the end of this activity, but dagnabit, that car might be cleaner. Maybe. This can also be made into a contest. Which kid or yourself can wash the car faster or vacuum it faster or drive it faster. Wait, that’s not right. Engage your kids and make this activity super fun. They’ll remember this and one day while on their video games may look at your beater and ask when all of you can wash it, again. Though no promises are being made.
#11 PLAY VIDEO GAMES WITH YOUR KID
Spend some time getting into their world while you’re trying to pull them out of theirs. Grab a controller and race them, fight them, or get on their team to beat the monsters. They’ll enjoy watching your horrible gaming skills, if you don’t play, and you’ll enjoy this time in their world. They might even tell you why they like video games so much. After you’ve played with them for awhile, ask them to join you in another activity.
Enjoy your children, just not their video games.