Assess your teenager’s behaviors and activities to determine whether he has a gaming problem. Common symptoms of excessive gaming include avoiding responsibilities and social interaction, devoting all free time to gaming, not getting enough sleep and “gaming binges,” in which the gamer plays for many hours nonstop, according to clinical psychologist Brent Conrad, with the TechAddiction website.
Discuss your concerns with your child. Without attacking or judging, tell your child you’ve noticed behavior that concerns you that's connected to his gaming habits. Give a few specific examples to show your child that you have given this considerable consideration. For example, you might say, “It seems like you don’t have time for your friends anymore and a few mornings I’ve noticed you looking like you didn't get enough sleep.”
Ask your child to keep a log of his time spent gaming for one week, suggests the WebMD website). Request that he record the beginning and the ending time that he engages in video gaming every time he plays. Monitor the gaming and the log-keeping to ensure that your teen is logging time accurately.
Examine the log after one week with your teen. Ask your child whether this was a typical week or whether he modified his time because of the tracking. Discuss the findings with him and invite his reaction and thoughts about the amount of time he spent playing video games.
Explore limiting or controlling the amount of time he spends playing video games and the types of games he plays, if necessary. You might find that multiplayer online games tend to be more addictive for your teenager. Perhaps your teenager can spend an hour or two playing games after he finishes all of his responsibilities and chores for the day.
Monitor your teen’s progress after instituting the limits. You will need to follow through to ensure that he upholds them.
Encourage your teen to spend his new free time engaging in other positive behaviors such as seeing friends, playing sports, playing games outside and spending time with family. When you notice your child making these positive changes, praise him effusively.
If your teen has a computer in his room, do not remove it or you risk inciting a wrathful response, advises psychologist Michael Oberschneider, director of Ashburn Psychological Services. You might control gaming time by installing surveillance software that blocks access to games. Surveillance software can also monitor gaming time, if necessary.
Leaning is fun when it involves online games with characters like WordGirl and Super Grover at PBS Kids. The interactive learning games reinforce reading, math and other educational skills on the preschool level. Children get audio encouragement while playing and winning virtual prizes. MarvelKids provides a number of online games suitable for preschoolers such as the Ironman Armored Popper. This memory matching game is great for developing hand-eye coordination. For online games, parents need to assist the preschooler with game selections, reading and demonstrations of how to play
A simple do-it-yourself preschool superhero game suggested by Coolest-Kid-Birthday-Party-Games is X-ray Vision. You can call it Spidey Sense for little Spider-Man fans. Parents or teachers fill a box with a variety of everyday items. While wearing a blindfold, the preschooler pulls an item out of the box. Using only their senses of touch, smell and hearing; the children attempt to identify the unseen objects.
On 18 index cards, paste two pictures each of nine different superheroes to create a custom memory matching game. Lay the cards out face down. Have the preschooler turns over two cards at a time to reveal the superheroes. The goal is for the child to remember where he or she saw the identical superheroes. Once two matches have been found, move the cards to the side in a stack, until all the cards have been matched. A variation on this same game is to paste images of nine different superheroes and images of each one's arch enemy on the 18 cards. In this version of the game, the preschooler matches the hero to his or her nemesis.
AmazingMoms recommends a variation on the traditional game of Follow the Leader for a group of preschoolers. A parent or teacher supplies a red hat decorated with a lightning bolt to represent Flash, the superhero with super-speed capabilities. The preschoolers take turns wearing the hat for an allotted time period. The child wearing the hat leads the group through a series of physical actions such as running, jumping, flapping arms, dancing and more.
Kryptonite Toss is a simple game that uses a small green ball and bucket or other container to serve as the planet Krypton. The goal is for the preschooler to toss the Kryptonite into the planet. Each time the child scores, scoot the planet a little farther away to increase the difficulty.
Finger plays, jump rope jingles and songs help with language development, as do telling stories. A good source of traditional fingerplays is National Network for Childcare Website. Actions go with these, which gives opportunity for large and small motor practice along with the words. Jump Rope Rhymes can be found at Games Kids Play, as well as hand-clapping rhymes. Story-telling can be encouraged by telling traditional stories to children and encouraging them to make up their own.
Running, jumping, dancing, skipping rope and climbing are all good for physical development. Games that incorporate these include tag, racing, jumping rope and organized sports. Circle games bring in an element of language development, as well. Ultimate Camp Resource has a long list, including classics such a Fruit Basket, Little Sally Walker, or Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves. Organized sports require players to remember the rules, to manipulate the game equipment such as bats and balls and to play well with others.
Games that require groups of players help youngsters learn to get along with others. Team sports encourage a sense of camaraderie that can last into adulthood. Playing on a team also helps build responsible habits, such as practicing skills needed for the game and showing up on time for practices and games. When directed by a responsible adult, team sports can instill concepts such as playing fair, good sportsmanship and even being kind to others.
Board games help with reading, math and strategy skills. Games such as Candy Land or Chutes and Ladders require matching and counting. Sorry, Mille Bourne and Monopoly are more easily played if everyone can read. Checkers, Chinese checkers, chess and Go require players to think ahead about their moves and develop a plan of action. Some indoor games, such as Tiddly Winks or Jacks require hand/eye coordination. Like team sports, these competitive games can be used to guide players friendly group behavior.
High-intensity games require a moderate to high level of exertion, with few breaks. Examples of such games include tag, man-on-man soccer or basketball, jumping races while wearing pillow cases or crab-crawl races or even sprints between opposite ends of the driveway or yard. High-intensity games are best for kids who already have some level of fitness or stamina and simply need more exercise.
Stop and Start
Games that integrate periods of rest with periods of exertion can make playing outside seem more enjoyable and less like exercise, particularly for children whose lifestyle is otherwise sedentary. Team sports such as softball and capture the flag encourage movement and exertion -- provided you're playing with a limited number of kids, otherwise your child could spend a lot of time waiting for her turn at bat. Three-person relay races, freeze tag and red rover also provide a mix of intensity and rest.
Light, but Consistent
Not every child is able or willing to run or leap for an hour or more everyday, and that's OK. According to Kids Health Club, anything that encourages continuous movement is beneficial, even if the movement comes in the form of walking. If you have a sizable yard or expansive, secure neighborhood, create a scavenger hunt that's fitness friendly by spacing the clues 1/8th mile apart or more. For younger children, take a walk while collecting rocks, leaves or flowers in a basket and make a game of how many types your child can find.
Introduce water games as a way to keep your child cool while she gets a workout. Set up a game where two or more people race to transfer water between a kiddie pool and another container on the opposite side of the yard using plastic pitchers. Water gun fights are another way to stay cool while getting the exercise benefits of crouching down, standing up, running and jumping. Set up a sprinkler and make a game of jumping over, under and through the stream of water in different positions, such as leaping or spinning or crawling.
You can break down large groups into teams of two or more and send them off on a search for items to help them learn about virtually any subject. Tailor a scavenger hunt list to fit the topic you want to teach and the age group of the children. For instance, young elementary school students might search for things found in pairs in nature for a math lesson. Alternatively, if you have enough computers for your group, you can host an online scavenger hunt to teach tech skills.
Around the World
This is another interactive game that works well with large groups of any age and for any subject. Have the group sit in a circle and instruct the first two children to stand. Ask a question related to the topic or display a flash card. The child that provides the correct answer first moves to stand next to the third child in the circle, while the other child sits back down. Keep going until one of the kids makes it all the way around the circle.
To use this interactive game that teaches teamwork, problem-solving and communication, you need an even number of participants. Instruct the kids to stand in a close circle, close their eyes and walk forward with their arms stretched in front of them. Each child should grab two other hands without looking. When everyone has joined hands, the children open their eyes and proceed to untangle the knot they have created without letting go.
Gather a piece of paper for every child and write a large letter on each sheet of paper (you can use letters more than once and don't have to use the entire alphabet). Pin or tape a letter to the front of each child and divide them into two groups. Instruct the kids to spell words by standing in order and linking arms. When they have created a word, the children should walk to a designated judge who will give them predetermined points based on the length of the word.
Indoor games can involve being quiet and sitting still, but they don't have to. Instead, choose games that incorporate things children can easily experience or locate indoors. An indoor scavenger hunt is a good game for older and younger children alike, with items ranging from a tablespoon or paper clip to a pair of socks. If there are two children, have one child hide an item and give directions to her partner using "hot" or "cold," depending on how close she is to the hidden item.
You don't need a big backyard for kids to enjoy plenty of outdoor games. Older, more energetic children can play "jumping tag," where a child who gets tagged has to jump up and down or on one foot continuously until they're tagged again by another player and allowed to resume participation in the game. A simple game of hopscotch helps younger children with number recognition and gross motor skills as they hop between the squares.
Cooperative games help children learn teamwork and communication skills. Since sharing a toy can be enough of a challenge for a 2 or 3 year old, cooperation games are best suited for children in elementary school and older. Shipwreck requires multiple children to move between two points, such as couch cushions or blankets, using cup-stilts or rolling on a scooter. The goal is to move the entire group -- whether it's two children or four -- between the two points without touching the ground. Everyone must reach the landing pad before the team can continue to the next obstacle.
Quiet games are great while you're waiting at the doctor's office or when you need to keep a younger sibling from waking up. Pictionary or charades work well for older children, while younger kids can play I Spy with a parent or partner. Other quiet games for younger children including Find a Letter, where children look at a book and try to find each example of a particular letter or, if they're already reading, a specific word on each page.
Brainteasers seem like games, but they actually provide vigorous workouts for the mind. Challenging, yet fun, brainteasers can help improve student grades within a few weeks or months. Brainteasers help improve memory, enhance literacy and increase numeracy and IQ, which can help children of all ages with lessons in their core curriculum courses. Video games, activity books and Internet websites are a few places where kids can locate and play brainteasers at home.
When kids role play, they rely upon imagination. When kids actively use their imaginations, they build social, emotional, language and thinking skills -- all of which can benefit a student’s grades. Role-playing games come in many forms -- dolls, costumes, kitchen sets, play work benches and other toys and props all promote imaginative role play, as do some video and board games.
Relay races, dance-offs and other physical contests do more than just promote physical activity. According to a 2005 study published in the "Journal of Exercise Physiology," student participants’ grade scores improved as they improved in overall fitness. Get the kids outside and see who can run the fastest, jump the highest, hula-hoop the longest, or turn other physical activities into fun contests to promote academic performance.
Sneak educational opportunities into a kid’s fun time without him even knowing it with other learning-based activities. If your child enjoys video games, choose ones that promote hand-eye coordination or problem-solving skills. Puzzles provide an enjoyable family activity that helps promote cognitive development. Word games can encourage reading and language skills, while card games or number games can boost math skills.