There are certainly many wonderful programs, shows, things to learn, and inspiring messages to be found on the TV. However, one thing we all can agree on is that the overwhelming majority of images, programming, and information we are bombarded by on a daily basis from the TV are not helpful, wholesome, educational, or inspiring in any way.
The list below includes only 20 of literally hundreds of ways parents can be more proactive in ensuring their children and homes are not influenced by the often inappropriate and immoral messages and images the TV portrays. Choose the ones you like and be creative and think of your own ideas. More importantly, make the effort to turn the TV off more, and simply make time for children and family – time spent playing, talking, laughing, educating, and uplifting.
1) Appreciate Nature: Take your child(ren) outside and learn about as well as enjoy nature. Watch the clouds or weather, collect bugs, go bird watching, learn about different plants and animals, etc.
2) Use Imaginations – Puppet Shows, Plays, & Super Heroes: Go through the house and gather some clothes, toys, and random objects. Then, let your child(ren) be creative and use their imaginations to just put on a puppet show or make up a play. Let them simply use their imagination and play – being a princess, super hero, or famous athlete, etc.
3) Books, Libraries, & Cultures: Go to the library and let your child(ren) check out the books they want to read. Develop within them a love for books and reading. Whether it is fictional, educational, or just for fun – let them read; and more importantly, read to and with them often. Also, get books to teach them about other countries, customs, traditions, foods, people, religions, races, etc.
4) Community Service & Help Others: Take your child(ren) to the local park, school, or church and pick up trash. Go help an elderly neighbor with their yard. Visit the local hospital, orphanage, or homeless shelter and help someone in need. When you are done, go out for ice cream.
5) Fun at the Park or Playground: Just turn off the TV and let your child(ren) do what kids love to do – run wild, have fun, use their imaginations, and play with each other (and you).
6) Kids Loves to Draw, Color, or Paint: Allow your child(ren) to not only develop their creative ability, but to have fun just drawing, coloring, or painting. For it to be more effective – do it with them!
7) Play Games Together: Turn off the TV and play: four square, hop scotch, tag, 20 questions, rock paper scissors, musical chairs, Simon says, kick the can, red rover, jump rope, hide and go seek, etc. Pull out the dictionary and make a game out of spelling words. Play a board game, card games, or any other fun family or children’s game.
Maps & Geography: Pull out a map and help your child(ren) learn the 50 states & capitals. Learn what countries are located where. Learn the world’s mountain ranges, oceans, rivers, capitals, forests, etc.
9) Build a Fort: You remember doing this as a kid and loving it, right? Get out some chairs and blankets, or some card board boxes, and just build a fort for the kids. Let them watch a movie, sleep in it, eat a treat in it, play in it … and you play with them!
10) Just Write: Get out some paper and pencils and let the children just write. Encourage them to use their imaginations, be creative, improve their vocabulary, and express their feelings by writing stories, poems, or in their journal, etc.
11) Bag of Stories: Grab a bag and place inside of it many random objects from around the house. Then, have the kids use the objects to make up stories, put on a puppet show, a play, etc. Play with them and let them use their imaginations and creativity.
12) Art With Play Dough: Get some clay or play dough and let the kids be creative, artistic, and have some fun building things out of play dough.
13) Make Money: Challenge your kids to think of ways they can make money (ideas might be: lemonade stand, yard sale, collect cans, fund raise, car wash, etc). Let them think of ways, and then teach them how to save and the principle of interest.
14) After School Extracurricular Activities: Rather than watching TV or playing video games – enroll them with a sports team, dance ensemble, scouting program, choir, church group, or any other extracurricular activity.
15) Work: Yes, work! Teach kids the importance of working by having them help around the house and yard: clean bedroom, bathroom, vacuum, sweep, mow grass, clean car, etc. Ensure they have, and complete a chore ever day.
16) Scrapbooking Fun: Have children cut out pictures from magazines, or print pictures from the internet of their favorite things and make a scrapbook. It could be: sports figures, heroes, animals, nature, own family journal, etc.
17) Pen Pals: Find a child from another country and become their pen pal. Write, send pictures and updates, develop a friendship, and seek to help them.
18) Play With Friends. That’s it! Just turn off the TV, and let kids play together. Let them use their imagination or just play games outside together.
19) Reach Out To People: Pick up the phone, send an email, write a letter to a family member, grandparent, friend, etc. Also, write kind ‘thank you’ notes to the elderly, sick, and military from your area.
20) Exercise & Eating Properly: Go on a run or walk together; take them grocery shopping and teach them about proper nutrition; let them help you make meals; etc.
Never forget that the activity you choose is not even what is important – children want love and attention, not entertainment and babysitters! In fact, this is far more important than simply turning off the TV or ensuring the entertainment of the world does not influence our children; this is about developing relationships, building friendships, and strengthening trust with our children. This is about making time for who and what is most important in life.
Does this require parents and mothers to be creative, think outside the box, and actually put forth effort? It does? Will it be difficult? In many ways, yes! Will it be worth it? Absolutely! And always remember that your children will not only be grateful for the time you spent playing, teaching, laughing, and loving them now – but they will certainly more fully appreciate it once they are old enough to realize that they had a parent who cared and loved them enough to turn off the TV and spend time with them!