All parents want to do the best for their children but sometimes it seems like we’re fighting a losing battle. Limiting the screen time of children these days is becoming increasingly difficult as they play games, socialise and gain their entertainment from these devices. But as tablet devices and computers invade our lives more every day, the negative evidence continues to stack up. Children who spend too long on screen time are more likely to have issues with obesity, due to the sedentary nature of their activities. Studies show that during screen time children are more likely to snack, and if that is on sugary, fatty foods, then this compounds the problem. Other negative impacts of excessive screen time include sleeping problems, inhibited communication skills, poor attention span, anxiety and depression.
Sounds pretty serious, doesn’t it? Well, fortunately there are strategies we can employ as parents to prise them away from their screens, pointing them in the direction of more healthy past times. We need to engage them in different ways, in projects that offer rewards of a different but no less pleasurable kind.
A well chosen craft activity can engage and absorb children in many ways – they will be challenged to problem solve and come up with creative ideas and design concepts. Physical benefits of improved hand eye coordination and practical skills will be enjoyed. The boost to self esteem that results in creating something to be proud of can be a real confidence lift to children. The good thing about immersing children in craft projects is that it helps them to focus totally on one thing in an active, rather than passive way, and 100 per cent attention is required for success.
How to get started
It really helps if there is a place in the home that is purely dedicated to crafts. This could be a corner of the room, where a table, chairs, good lighting and craft equipment can be neatly stored away. It’s good to think about the practical details such as sweeping up afterwards and making a craft area an easy-clean environment – the more seamlessly it fits into the everyday running of the household, the more frequently it will be used.
Crafting doesn’t have to be expensive – go to online craft suppliers such as Handy Hippo Crafts who stock a wide range of merchandise for many different types of craft project. At Handy Hippo Crafts you will get inspiration and a glimpse of some of the amazing things that are possible to make at home with your kids.
Choose an easy project to start off with so they gain a real sense of achievement from the task. Craft kits are a good entry level project because they contain guidance, instructions and all the materials you’ll need. Alternatively, try one of the many ‘Ready for Art’ options – these are products such as gift boxes, trivets, paper fans, for example, which are in their raw state, awaiting decoration and embellishment from an artistic crafter. Other crafts that kids love to get into include clay and dough modelling, stamping, stencilling, paper mache and more. For improving fine motor skills which are so important in everyday life, arts and crafts are a fun way of sharpening up in this area. Using scissors, paintbrushes and fingers in fine movements help with things such as doing up buttons, tieing shoe laces, turning the pages of a book – all crucial to child development.
Keep it relevant
Another way of getting children interested in craft activities is to get them to focus on a project for somebody special in their life. Whether it’s a gift for a grandparent or something special for Father’s Day, when there is a clear focus to a project it can really ramp up the enthusiasm levels. Other ways of ensuring successful uptake of craft ideas, is to select projects that hold some relevance to a child. Making a vase may not appeal to many little boys, but creating a kite, mobile to decorate his bedroom or a special decorated box to store his treasured comics, might have more success. Things to wear are often very popular, so bead crafts, jewellery and T shirt painting are also usually greeted with smiles.
Tempting children away from screen time is all about offering a more engaging, interesting and fulfilling alternative. With just a little effort and research, it’s possible to identify a range of craft projects aimed at awakening the artistic streak in kids. Do your children (and yourself) a favour right now and embark upon a new arts and craft adventure in your home…