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Wednesday, July 27, 2011

Turn off the TV's, throw out the junk and send your kids outside to play.


   I've noticed a trend of overweight kids and I had a theory. We all ponder why or how this came to be. Some blame the food the parents buy, some blame school foods, some blame the media and some blame the fast food joints. I don't think those are the main culprit, I think it started the minute parents got scared to let their kids out of their sight. When I was younger, we could roam the neighborhood all day out of sight of our parents and we had a good time. Hardly any of us were overweight. Some of us DID eat junk, but, that isn't ALL we did. Some of us played a LOT of video games and watched a LOT of TV, but again, it isn't ALL that we did. Once the attitude changed, so did our kids waistlines. Now that a kid isn't allowed outside or sometimes out of the same room as mom, that's when this shift began. It even started to affect many kids do you know that are   moved from one gadget to another and never just laid on their bellies on the floor to learn to play and develop those muscles. Those same kids aren't worn either which would develop the same muscles. These kids turn into toddlers that stuck in gadgets like the stroller or made to sit down to watch nonstop cartoons because they would "get into stuff" if not, or hurt themselves... These toddlers turn into kids that aren't allowed outside unless mom is there and mom is busy, so kid never gets outside time. He watches more cartoons and eats more junk. That kid turns into the teen that sits and plays video games while mom can't figure out why he doesn't go outside and why he is "always bored". She doesn't see that he never learned imaginative play, never learned how to explore, how to find something to do. He never learned that being active is fun. He never learned how to be active. Those muscles were never worked. His entertainment is something he can do while sitting. Food brings comfort because it is another activity that he knows how to do.

     My son was allowed outside from an early age. He played with other kids making "forts" in the woods, pretending to be a spy outside, running amok. Did he also eat junk and play video games, yes. That's the point though, he got to do those things along with getting to learn the basic skill of outside free play. His school had recess thank goodness. I'm not saying that eating junk is a great thing for a kid, but, it CAN be done and still not create a nation of obese, inactive kids that cannot play outside.

     To add, I really hate that schools are doing away with recess. That to me is a fatal mistake that schools cannot and do not need to make. It is a cause of behavioral problems in class and one more nail in the outside play coffin. It's bad enough kids can't play outside at home, but, now they can't play outside at school. What's a kid to do? I don't lump team sports into this because although it is great that kids are getting some exercise, it is severely structured. It doesn't allow freedom of body and mind and doesn't allow kids to freely learn, think, play and work there muscles. It it structured playtime. Same goes with P.E. although, that is varied and can be a good thing.

    Maybe I am wrong and the rise in obese kids is only because of kids that only eat fast food, but, I'd like to think that this is truly the solution and is an easy remedy. Turn off the TV's, throw out the junk and send your kids outside to play.


  1. Love it! I remember running outside either before or after dinner (depending on how late the sun stayed out and how much homework I had) with friends playing all types of games. We were always on the go. Today, I see my stepson complain when we make him go out for walks after dinner and get winded when he tries to run a block. He's so used to video games and TV that nothing else matters - even when he has playdates that all they want to do - games and TV. I'm really hoping to buck that trend with my daughter!

  2. I remember playing outside alone or with other children, but we lived in quiet neighborhoods or small towns with the "village" mentality. If I misbehaved, someone was likely there to reprimand me or call my parents. If I was in danger, someone was usually there to help. I admit I'm paranoid and overprotective. Cars drive fast within a yard of the patio where my daughter plays (four). I encourage active play and TV is more often off or background noise than the focus of her attention, but I can't seem to shake the fear that if I let her wander around something could happen to her. I drove through a different neighborhood the other day that felt more like the neighborhoods I grew up in, and there were kids my daughters' age outside playing without obvious supervision. One kid was fiddling with a gas meter outside a house...a little girl was riding her trike down into a wash and then dragging it back up and starting over...I'm sure I did similar or worse as a kid and survived, lol.